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allow acquired studio content to be
passed instantly to in-house post or to
either of the broadcasters.
That JV is dock 10
Originally known as MediaCity Studios Ltd (or The Studios), the re-brand
took place in 2012 to better reflect the breadth of services it offers. Or, to
put it another way, so that it wasn’t pigeon holed as being just a studios
operation. Incidentally, if you’re interested, the name dock 10 is a reference to the
location of the studios. The original plans for the Manchester ship canal
included provision for a tenth dock. As it was, only nine were ever built. So
dock 10 is continuing that legacy. Albeit in a more digital way and with less
need for a bilge pump.
Operating as a standalone business with a highly commercial mandate
it has grown from being merely a service provider to the BBC Sport and
Children’s departments (and a studios operator for hire) to something much
bigger that also incorporates entertainment shows as well as comedy and
Clients now include Channel 4 and ITV as well as indies Red, Objective,
Endemol and Wall to Wall while Saturday night talent search reality show
The Voice is amongst its credits.
From a small launch team, the headcount has now hit 100, turnover is circa
£20m (and I can assure you that this is not all from the BBC contract) and
investment is ongoing.
As their marketing will tell you, they are now a fully-fledged digital media
services provider. This has been achieved on the back of continued
investment in people and technology.
This is the story so far...
Dock10 has seven HD TV studios (four full production studios and three for
presentation) ranging in size from 12,500 sq. ft to 1000 sq. ft and enough vision
and sound galleries to go around. That last piece of information is worth noting
because, at launch, there were just two galleries - although any studio could be
routed to either.
The largest studio is capable of working with up to 22 camera channels and
is the biggest in the country outside Fountain Studios in London. On my most
recent visit, in August this year, installation was about to begin on a saturated
lighting rig that will allow for fast turnaround between shows. Similar rigs are
available in other studios too.
The improvement in lighting capabilities follows quickly on the heels of an
investment in seven new Sony HDC-2500 camera channels and assorted
XJ27s, HJ22s and HJ14s lenses from Canon.
While dock 10 is a standalone operation, being able to dovetail with the adjacent
BBC and ITV buildings is still crucial. Tapeless workflows have been devised that
48 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 81 SEPTEMBER 2013
This is done via a significant fibre optic
network that underpins MediaCityUK
and also includes facility for broadcast
services such as file content delivery
networks and base band video (also
operated by dock 10).
Who works there? Well, at last count
there were more than 20 client facing
staff including studio managers and
bookings people plus 40 engineers,
media managers and workflow
architects. That’s fairly unusual for
a TV studio in the age of the casual
workforce and big leap from what it
was at launch.
Along with good sized and highly
specced vision and sound galleries,
one of the key features of the studios
is that they are future-proof with
3G-SDI video paths throughout. This
three-gig infrastructure allows for both
1080p50 and 3D operation (although
the latter would appear to be less and
less relevant as time goes on).
POST-PRODUCTION While there have been changes in the
studio set-up, the biggest movement
can be seen in post-production.
dock10 was originally established
to deliver fast turnaround post and
multi-format content ingest. Little
more. It started life with 12 offline and
online editing suites (based on Avid
Symphony and Media Composer) plus
Avid Isis, Isilon nearline and Spectra
Logic archive storage, QC capabilities
and a single 5.1 Pro Tools dubbing
theatre. In essence it was for BBC and
studio add-on work.
This set-up was well received by
dock 10’s potential competitors at the
time as it meant that any additional
production work coming to Greater
Manchester would need to use the
local market for its post-production.
Things have certainly moved on since
then. High-end finishing is now the order of
the day and dock 10 now has 27 edit
suites, a second 5.1 dubbing theatre
and even a grading suite. A Baselight
TWO was picked up earlier this
year and a staff grader, Jamie Parry,