12 December 2011 ~ Comments

5 Tips for Stress-Free Delivery of Holiday Programs

“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. It’s the hap -happiest season of all,” …unless a re-run replaces your holiday programming because of a missed deadline!

It seems that television production is always finished at the very last minute.  No matter how many times goodhearted producers attempt to get ahead of schedule, something unexpected happens and the race against the clock begins.  Almost everyone producing TV content has a story about racing to the FedEx dropbox before the final pickup of the day.  Hopefully these tips will help you avoid making your own dropbox story this year.

During the holidays, additional factors come into play that can leave even the most prepared production team scrambling.  How do we know?  We live it.  During every holiday season, requests for “rush” closed captioning projects increase dramatically.  Although we are happy to help our customers in a pinch, we thought we might serve them better by helping them before panic sets in.  So here’s our list of five tips to help you plan.

  • 1- Know Your Station’s Traffic Deadlines. The kind folks who receive, log, ingest and error check your program prior to air usually have days off during the holiday season.  But because the broadcasting of television programming gets no break during the holiday, the traffic department has to prepare all the programs in advance.  This means that they need your show sooner than usual.  A simple phone call or email to the station will help you determine how soon your program needs to arrive.  Be proactive – don’t wait for them to contact you. By asking questions in advance, you can prevent that surprise call that your tape is due tomorrow.
  • 2- Make Sure Your Entire Team Is on Board. Producing television usually involves the effort of many people.  In order to reduce stress, make sure you set realistic goals and deadlines for production and over-communicate those deadlines to your team.  Assuring the entire team understands the “big picture” and is on board with the vision will help reduce last minute pressure.
  • 3- Don’t Rush. Whenever there is a tight deadline, it is easy to fall into the trap of rushing through it.  Too many times, however, this mistake will cost more time and money in the long run.  Take the necessary time to check your program content, audio / video levels, audio phase, closed captioning, time-code, slates, etc.  A mistake in any of these areas could result in mistakes on the air or rejection from the station, which may require either rushing a new tape or missing your airplay.
  • 4- Expect Shipping Delays. UPS and FedEx experience peak demand during the holidays.  This year, UPS alone expects more than 25 million shipments a day, through Christmas.  Although the increase is anticipated, the large number of packages being shipped around the country means higher chances that your package may not be delivered on time.  FedEx and UPS suspend their “on time” guarantees during the holidays, so don’t expect the same delivery time in December that you receive in June.  If you normally use ground service, ship your package a day earlier or plan on upgrading to an “air” service.  If you already use a Next Day service, remember most morning delivery timeframes are no longer guaranteed, so make sure afternoon is acceptable with your station.  For FedEx Holiday Schedule, click hereFor UPS Holiday Schedule, click here.
  • 5- Confirm With The Station. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to confirm with the station that your program has been received and it is acceptable for broadcast.  Because things are very busy before the holidays, waiting for the station to contact you about a problem may mean that you won’t have ample time to create a fix.

This holiday season is a great time to celebrate with friends, family and co-workers.  A little preparation ahead of time can prevent unneeded stress and late nights at the office.  We hope you put these tips to use and have a safe and fun holiday.

Merry Christmas!

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