Case Study: BBC's Shelf Isolation Series

When the UK went into lockdown as a result of the international COVID-19 pandemic, the television industry found itself needing to adapt fast to the new normal. Content needed to be created safely and quickly whilst still engaging a now even more demanding audience.

The 5-part series is currently available on BBC iPlayer The 5-part series is currently available on BBC iPlayer

Remote Hothead Cameras used on BBC Shelf Isolation Remote Hothead Cameras used on BBC Shelf Isolation

WilkieTV was delighted to help IWC Media remotly shoot a wonderful fast turnaround lockdown series for BBC Scotland, with award-winning author and playwright Damian Barr at the helm. In Shelf Isolation, Damian Barr remotely meets five famous Scots to get their tips on what to read, watch and listen to during lockdown.

The series was shot with fixed-rig, our live streaming app, and the magic of remote production.

IWC Media knew they wanted to shoot the intimate conversations as though the viewer was in the room with Damian. We were able to help the client get this look and feel with a portable mini-rig made up of three of Panasonic's latest AW-HE130s, covering both Damian's eyeline and the profile shot with screen featuring Damian's guest.

The team had to ensure that everything was inline with social distancing and government guidelines, and that crew and contributors were safe. Therefore we sent one of our experienced engineers with our OB vehicle, to prepare equipment outside Damian's home and record locally on location. Once set up, the equipment was sanitised and left at Damian's front door. The host took in each item to place in position, having been given a pre-set microphone already set up and tested.

"Right now we can't leave home but we can still travel and meet new people and have new experiences in books, TV and film Shelf Isolation gives us a unique glimpse into how some well-known folk are self-isolating as they reveal what's getting them through – the classics they're returning to or their latest box-set binge."

Guests for the series included Mark Bonnar, Denise Mina, Greg Hemphill, Kirsty Wark and Alan Cumming. Several lived in remote areas of Scotland and one is based in the US. For conversation to flow naturally, we needed to create a reliable two-way link between each contributor and Damian, whilst still offering great quality recording for broadcast. A simple Zoom call was out of the question due to the platform's unreliability and poor video quality. Instead, we delivered using our live streaming app - compatible with any modern iOS or Android smartphone, by receiving live full-HD video to our Master Control Room (MCR) in Surrey. The quality delivered and recorded using this method typically exceeds Skype or Zoom recordings by a factor of 5-10x and is recorded in full HD.

We remotely filmed contributors both across the UK and the USA, with all shots recorded in the highest quality possible at our Surrey-based Master Control Room (MCR).

IWC Media's team worked entirely remotely and we were able to offer a smooth remote experience for the team. Using our bespoke Director View portal we were able to offer both director and production team "eyes on" every shot in real time. This allowed for framing up, colour matching, set dressing and communication to be an easy process. The director was able to remotely (from their own laptop at home) simultaneously see all angles being recorded both with the host and guest, and have two way communication with both to direct proceedings.

The series has been very well received and has encouraged the nation to pick up their favourite novel or find something new in order to get reading during lockdown.

Mark Bonnar, Shelf Isolation Series 1 Episode 1 on BBC Mark Bonnar, Shelf Isolation Series 1 Episode 1 on BBC

The delivery offered 'Zoom' style chats, but at broadcast quality The delivery offered 'Zoom' style chats, but at broadcast quality

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