The figures, revealed to Broadcast by senior figures in F&L, amount to a 3% saving in post-production costs thanks to the introduction of new technology such as low-cost creative desktops, which can be used for rough cut offline editing, online editing and some audio work.
The saving is part of a 13% overall budget cut across the department; other savings will be made in management and procurement. Smarter buying and reconfiguring office space have also been cited as ways to reduce spending.
BBC's director of F&L, John Willis, told Broadcast that two pilots are planned on Apple's Final Cut Pro (FCP) system in the F&L and arts departments, with around 30 more creative desktops in place by June 2006. According to the department's project director, Jim Dobel, F&L expects "the majority of our London output to be cut in these suites by March 2007".
F&L's plans initially sparked concern that there could be a 75% reduction in work for external post facilities from one of the BBC's biggest production departments. But the BBC insists that the move does not mean production teams being asked to do the work of editors.
BBC creative director, arts Mark Harrison said that the "extra capacity" of editing and "a vast majority" of grading, dubbing and special effects work will still be farmed out.
Willis added: "We want to spend as little money as possible on kit and more on screen; we want craft skills to be paramount." He said that far from being negative about it, F&L's production teams wanted to use FCP.
Some producers at the BBC have criticised the moves as being driven by cost cutting and insisted they would mean more work for them. However, F&L said it will still use craft editors whenever necessary and believes the new technology is easier to use.
Willis admitted that the BBC's first outing on FCP for Full on Food, whereby production staff did the offline editing (Broadcast, 12.8.05), was not entirely successful and the new set-up would use a different model. "It didn't work that well, because that project was a pilot. They [programme-makers] shot and cut their own material, but it's very rare for there to be benefits in both shooting and editing. They were too close to their own material."