The second series of the BBC's multimillion pound reality TV show Fame Academywill air for the first time tomorrow night (26 July) despite suffering serious technical difficulties during pre-production, writes Sam Espensen.
The Initial-produced talent search show ran into engineering problems at its Highgate set last week when editing equipment purchased for the series by post-production company Resolution failed to work properly.
With the transmission date approaching, Endemol was forced to call in equipment reseller Root 6 to deal with the problem. Resolution's chief engineer Mark Openshaw offered his resignation as a result of the problems but was turned down.
A source close to the production team told Broadcastthat problems arose when it was discovered that the new machines - Avid non-linear editing systems called Adrenaline - were not compatible with the Avid Unity storage system being used by Resolution to aid editing of the show. Apparently some of the system's components were not shipped with the new products.
It is understood that in order to solve the problem, Avid subsequently loaned Resolution a collection of older Media Composer machines - the product that Adrenaline was designed to replace - that will work alongside Unity.
Resolution, Endemol and Avid all declined to comment on the problems.
A BBC Fame Academy source has admitted that there "are always technical difficulties with projects of this size, which is why we moved into the academy several weeks beforehand. Everything has now been ironed out and and we're looking forward to going on air."
Resolution bought around 15 new Adrenaline machines at a cost of£17,000 each earlier this year. The deal was done directly with the manufacturer rather than via a reseller, making it the first big direct sale for Avid.
The controversy surrounding Avid's decision to deal directly with larger customers caused concern last year, with many suggesting that customers would suffer.
Root 6's John Harris for one expressed concern that Avid would not be able to cope with providing support as well as sales: "Avid wants to have contact with its big users but it can't offer the support - we have twice as many support staff. The reality is that customers need to have resellers to integrate the products." ( Broadcast, 18.11.02).