Behind The Scenes In ITV Content Services – Content In Team17 August 2020
Ever wondered how programmes make their way into ITV? Tom Westwood, Content In Supervisor tells us all about it!
My name is Thomas Westwood and I’m the Content In Supervisor at ITV Content Delivery, responsible for content arriving into ITV. I have been in the department for three-and-a-half years but working in TV for 11 years. We’re one of the smaller teams in ITV Content Delivery, with just myself and 3 other coordinators. Small but perfectly formed.
The Content In team has a couple of different responsibilities. The main body of work is managing programmes in the Global Distribution workstream. What’s the Global Distribution workstream I hear you cry! Well you may or may not know that ITV not only operates in the UK but on a huge global scale, selling it’s content world-wide through ITV Studios Global Distribution (or GD to us). So when the new series of Love Island arrives not only is it enjoyed here in Blighty but also in places like the US, Australia and Canada, and many other territories.
But here’s the tricky part, we can’t simply use the same UK version, things like licenced commercial music, ad breaks etc… need to be removed or changed, so we get a second edited version, the GD international version. This version is ready for distribution around the world, but not before the Content In team have run their beady eyes over it. Obviously if you’re sat enjoying ITV content you don’t want to miss Vera’s next big case, or a blurry celeb’s grimacing face on a bush tucker trial, or even your favourite contestant’s song to be distorted on The Voice, so we need to check all these files and make sure the ITV content distributed around the world is just as high quality as the content we see at home. That’s where the Content In team comes in, we make sure all these files which are needed arrive to us on time, we then check the quality and manage or fix any issues. Our job doesn’t end there, once we’re happy with the quality, most of the content goes to the ITV Studios website so buyers globally can peruse our catalogue. At this point the content is ready to send to audiences around the world. Finally we archive the master files, ready to be enjoyed another day.
As you may be able to imagine, this takes a bit of time (and clever logistics) for HD and UHD files to arrive to us from production, and for us to check the files and sort any problems, so we usually have the content weeks before transmission to buy us as much time as we can to process the files. However near-live programmes such as Jonanthan Ross and I’m A Celebrity mean we have to work super quickly to make sure we have time to fix any problems, so time scales vary from weeks and days to a matter of hours, which is all part of the fun!
If that didn’t keep us busy enough we also perform Quality Control (QC) for partners such as ITV SignPost as well as customers from outside ITV’s internal ecosystem. The purpose of the eyeball QC is to make sure the content and the file’s technical aspects are suitable for broadcast and up to the DPP (Digital Production Partnership) standard.
In terms of throughput, each month, depending on what shows are in production, we process around 300 hours of new programmes coming into the team for checking.
For the simple content checks we have a profile set up in Premiere Pro, which we use to validate audio tracks, format and metadata. We also use Premiere for any fixes or edits that may be required.
The files move through a series of AWS S3 Cloud buckets before arriving to the Content In team in Leeds. How the content is delivered and how we interact with content in S3, is via Signiant Media Shuttle portals (‘Submit’ and ‘Share’). Vantage transcodes the files and provides us with a browse proxy with telestream Vidchecker running the AQC.
When I started at ITV I was aware of the main channel content; Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Murdoch Mysteries etc… However it never ceases to amaze me how much content ITV and Global Distribution controls. For instance, titles like Little Birds (Sky), Snowpiercer (Netflix) and Bodyguard (BBC), ITV is providing all this content, so ITV, it’s digital channels and the ITV HUB is just the tip of the iceberg, ITV Content Services have many fingers in many pies!