Creative Group Solves the Puzzle for Top Game Shows

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NEW YORK, NY ─ Creative Group, the industry’s premier full-service post-production facility, is a major behind-the-scenes player when it comes to some of America’s most popular game shows.

The post house’s talented team of editors added the finishing touches to The Newlywed Game and the primetime and syndicated versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, among other well-known brands, playing a key role in helping the shows get ready for their close-ups with TV audiences.

Creative Group’s team has put the final gloss on several incarnations of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, including the primetime version that ran on ABC from 1999 to 2002, the syndicated version that is currently running and the 10th anniversary special run of 11 episodes on ABC last summer.

Of these versions, the primetime show presented the most challenges for the Creative Group editing team. The Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? producers, wary of news being leaked of a contestant winning, required an extremely fast turnaround time: The show would be shot on tape at around 4 p.m. in the afternoon, then delivered to the editing team, who would work on it overnight in order to deliver it back to ABC at 7 a.m. the next morning. ABC would then insert the commercials and closed-captioning information before airing it at 8 p.m. that evening.

To meet these rigid deadlines, Creative Group Editor Jason Williams used a linear, tape-to-tape-based online editing workflow. He did this because, unlike nonlinear editing, there is no need to digitize anything before editing starts. “It was a very fast turnaround,� he recalls. “Typically, you have one line cut and six isolated cameras for every episode. In Avid, that would mean you’d have to digitize nearly 10 hours of tapes before you could start editing a show. The problem with this is that by the time you’ve digitized all the cameras, the show’s master tape is due for delivery. When we edit tape-to-tape in a linear edit suite, there is no loading, so you just put the tapes in and you’re ready to edit.�

In addition, Williams said that since the assistant directors took such careful notes in the control room, he basically had a rough cut on paper before the editing process began.

Williams, along with fellow Creative Group Editor Mari Keiko Gonzalez, also worked on the most recent incarnations of The Newlywed Game, which recently began its third season on the Game Show Network (GSN). For the first two seasons of this show, GSN presented an interesting challenge: It wanted Creative Group to deliver an SD version of each episode, along with a version that would fill a typical 16:9 HD television screen.

To solve the issue of delivering HD and SD masters of originally SD anamorphic video, Creative Group and GSN decided to shoot the first two seasons of episodes in SD anamorphic so that Creative Group could then deliver the footage, edited in Avid, in both SD anamorphic (for future up-conversion to HD when needed) and SD 4:3 full frame (not anamorphic) for the GSN’s current method of distribution.

For the third season, the footage was shot in HD with the intent of creating SD 4:3 full frame and an HD version for future use with no up-conversion necessary.

“One of the things I love most about what we do at Creative Group is when we get a project that really challenges us and forces us to come up with a unique approach in order to accomplish a specific end result,� adds Williams. “Whether it’s editing a project in a linear fashion or shooting something in SD anamorphic, we have the perfect blend here of technical know-how, old-fashioned ingenuity and the right mix of technology to get the job done for our clients.�