From October all BBC programme-making departments will be able to install one of two low-cost desktop editing systems - either Final Cut Pro on the Mac or Avid Xpress on PC - and train production staff to perform basic in-house editing tasks.
According to the BBC's head of technology, production, Paul Cheesbrough, over the next 12 months up to 500 of the editing systems - dubbed the Creative Desktop - could be deployed at the BBC, at an estimated cost of£2m, in collaboration with BBC Technology partner Siemens. So far Final Cut Pro seems more popular, with the BBC understood to have already ordered 70 FCP desktops.
Last month, Broadcast(12.8.05), revealed that the FCP version of the Creative Desktop has been tested in the BBC's factual and learning department on magazine show Full on Food. Other programmes testing the system are The Gilmayo Mysteries(working title), a BBC Birmingham drama, which is being shot and posted simultaneously on a five-seat FCP system, and the Cambridge regional news opt-out.
According to Cheesbrough, it will be up to each department to decide how it uses the system, but it could be used to take programmes right up to the online edit. "Programme-makers are under pressure to become more efficient and this is one of the tools they can use to deliver those savings," he told Broadcast.
BBC programme-making departments have been charged with cutting costs by 15% within three years.
Cheesbrough admitted that the trials had provoked a mixed response, but said: "Productivity improves the third or fourth time [programme-makers] use it." Help will be available from external support partners.
Cheesbrough will be meeting members of UK Post on Thursday this week to explain how the Creative Desktop will work with external facilities. "It should make it easier for post houses to work with the BBC because we are standardising leading industry tools."