Compared to other businesses, unscripted production operates with such little data. It feels like ratings are the only time when anyone is held accountable to any sort of number. But in the world of analytics, this seems crazy to me, and I think the NLE companies should step-up their game in this area.
One feature I’d love to see added to an NLE is a table that breaks down a sequence by source tape. This table would report that 3 minutes of a sequence came from tape A, 2 minutes from tape B, and 5 minutes from tape C, etc etc. When supplemented with additional meta-data, this would be a rich source of information for producers.
I imagine that this would be useful to producers because it would help them identify trends such as; did their show draw from the source material evenly, or did they overwhelming rely on one or two sources? Perhaps one cameraperson was more effective at shooting usable footage. For a television series this information could be compiled into seeing bigger trends; such as were some types of shots completely unnecessary?
For example; a few years ago while working on a competition show, I manually dug through sequences and budgets and told a production company executive that the cost of Loading, Grouping, and Storing the car camera footage for the entire season was approximately thirty thousand dollars. And yet we only used the car camera footage for one scene in the entire twelve episode season. How they continued to use a car camera in future seasons without a serious conversation about the purpose of this type of footage was beyond me.
Another area ripe for analytics is the talent interview. At the end of a docu-drama season, how useful would it be for the producers to see where most of their interview bites came from? I could see myself analyzing which field producers created the interview bites most heavily drawn on by the story producers.
In a business of shrinking budgets, efficiency is more important than ever. I’m not looking to have analytics drive decisions, but they should at least inform them. (And perhaps curb some of the crazy.) The primary tool of our trade, the NLE, is grossly behind in this area and I’d like to see Adobe or Avid rise to the challenge.