NEP UK helps power up The Circle with over 135 cameras
NEP UK played a role as key technical partner for the second series of Studio Lambert’s social media reality TV show The Circle for Channel 4.
The Circle returned to TV screens this autumn with the OB, fixed rig, remote production and media workflow solutions company remaining its trusted partner. Having worked on the large scale production since its inception in 2018, this year’s series saw NEP refine its team and adapt the equipment used to ensure it could meet the evolving requirements of the reality TV production.
More than 135 cameras covered a total of 18 apartments and breakout rooms, the largest number of cameras NEP has deployed on a single production to date, allowing up to 36 video streams to be recorded simultaneously, and editing is undertaken on an EVS backbone with a 25-minute turnaround.
One of NEP’s key workflow innovations, and one that distinguishes it from previous reality show successes for the company, is the use of 10 mini-galleries in the production each using a bespoke NEP camera control platform and router setup. Each of these galleries in turn feeds into a Master Gallery which stitches all the elements together.
“At NEP, we adapt our technology solutions accordingly to our clients’ needs and proactively take our existing technology knowledge and extensive experience to create new and original ideas,” said Jason Spencer, creative and commercial director at NEP UK.
“When preparing for the second run of The Circle, we asked [Studio Lambert/Channel 4] if there was anything that we could improve on the workflow design and material handling from Series One. Their answer was simply nothing – which is a great vote of confidence in what we do and how we understand the creative requirements, but yet we still strive to further refine our production offering.”
The Circle has a complicated technical set up, involving 24/7 monitoring by multiple teams across three interlinked sites which demands a rigorous production plan that was first put in place by NEP UK for the original series in 2018. With The Circle in control, there are games, surprises, twists and turns, with NEP facilitating the combination of new experiences for the players, additional live shows and the extension of transmissions, the 2019 production has followed an evolving production workflow to the first series of the popular late-night show.
“The Circle is a complicated build because it has to cover three large technical sites; the apartment block, the studio for the live programme, and the production building,” said Spencer. “The apartments are in fact on the other side of a busy road from the other two areas and are connected by over 130km of fibre. We also have to balance the ongoing 24/7 demands of the production, with the requirements of producing a massive live show from the middle of it, especially as any of the live sources can be put through to the live programme at a moment’s notice.”
The Circle completes its second series on Channel 4 on October 18.