September 2019

Studios Tetris

Studios Tetris

Andy Waters, Head of Studios

We often compare running the studios to a giant game of Tetris as we try to accommodate all our customers’ shows. The whole team works really hard to put the pieces together and make it happen, and fortunately dock10 is designed and built for flexibility with any production gallery able to control any studio. This came in very handy today when an unusual series of events meant we had to move a few shows around. But, like the butterfly effect, sometimes a simple move can have mindboggling consequences and by the end of the day we found ourselves in a bizarre situation. Now, try to keep up…

Today, the BBC Philharmonic launched a wonderful educational live-streaming event called Bring the Noise. This was filmed (using our new HDR/UHD cameras, no less) in HQ9 BBC Philharmonic Studio. All good so far. But the event required the production galleries from our studio HQ1 (which at the time was not booked) as well as our multipurpose audio studio HQ10.

Meanwhile, BBC Sport were using our new virtual studio capability in HQ7 so Blue Peter, who are normally in HQ7 on a Thursday, were booked into HQ3. Fine. However, Blue Peter had a very special guest, Batman, who had brought the Batmobile. But the Batmobile didn’t fit into HQ3 so we moved Blue Peter to the larger studio floor of HQ1 - using the galleries of HQ3 (remember, the BBC Philharmonic was using the studio galleries of HQ1) and because they also had extra guests they also used the green rooms of HQ3 and HQ2. Still with me? There’s more…

Tonight, Watchdog is coming live from HQ12 The Open Centre, with its fantastic backdrop of MediaCityUK. However, HQ12 The Open Centre is being powered by the studio floor of HQ3 and the gallery of HQ4 as Blue Peter are using the gallery of HQ3. It’s worth remembering at this point that Countdown are in HQ2 while CBeebies, CBBC, and Newsround were all across HQ6 and HQ7 ‘as normal’. Now, don’t even ask me what was happening in HQ8, but we found ourselves with only the HQ4 floor free … until a last-minute booking snapped that up to make a TV commercial.

So, to sum up, that was all of our studios and all of our galleries in use – but not necessarily in use in the right order! I’ve got my fingers crossed that everyone remembers which studio, gallery and green room they are supposed to be in, or we could end up with an advert in which Newsround reveals Batman playing football with the BBC Philharmonic during an episode of Watchdog while completing the Countdown conundrum.

My thanks to our outside-the-box brained allocators and our fantastically flexible engineers for making this happen.

I think they all need a nice cup of tea and a lie down...

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