BBC's Shelf Isolation: Series 1 and 2

When lockdown #1 hit the UK the television industry found itself needing to adapt fast with creating content safely and quickly, whilst still engaging a now even more demanding audience. Shelf Isolation features Damian Barr interviewing authors to find out what to read, watch and listen to during lockdown.

  • Contributor Capture
  • Fixed Rig
  • Remote Production
Project

IWC Media approached Limitless to remotely 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 captured with a Limitless mini-rig, our live streaming app for remote contributor capture, and the magic of remote production with the entire production team remotely linked in.

Mission

IWC Media wanted to capture the conversations as though the viewer were in the room with Damian, although each guest was remote. We enabled producers to achieve this with a Limitless portable mini-rig, including a pair of Panasonic's AW-HE130 hot-heads, covering both Damian's eyeline and a 2nd shot in profile, with a TV monitor featuring Damian's guest.

We sent a Limitless engineer with an OB vehicle, to prepare equipment outside Damian's home, before sanitising and leaving at Damian's front door. Damian took in each item to place in position, having been given a pre-set microphone already tested. Our engineer remained on-hand outside with backup equipment and to oversee the remote link.

Challenge

Remote 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 created a reliable two-way link between each contributor and Damian, whilst offering great quality recording for broadcast. We recorded each guest with our Limitless live streaming app - compatible with any modern iOS or Android smartphone. 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.

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) see all angles being recorded both with the host and guest, and have two-way communication with both to direct proceedings.

Impact

The recording could happen naturally between the host and the guest, and the use of the app and mini-rigs meant that the flow of conversation wasn't interrupted - giving the team plenty of material for the edit.

The first series has been very well received, being praised for its production value for remote recording. The series encouraged the nation to pick up their favourite novel or find something new in order to get reading during lockdown. We're delighted to say that Shelf Isolation has been recommissioned for another series airing Spring 2021.

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