Lets take a look at the outline of a TV program production. Below are several components usually considered in producing TV Documentaries and Magazine programs:
- Research on subject matter
- Reference : books, magazines, internets, audio archives, visual archives
- Consult experts : telecalls, face-to-face discussions
- Get general opinions about subject matter
- Location survey and photographing
- Brain-storming & refinement with team about
- Subject matter
- Pre-production Planning & Sourcing
- Human Capital
- Audio technician
- Production Assistants
- Graphics/Animation designer
- Prop designers
- Wardrobe & Make-up artists
- Talents – stand-upper, compere, voice
- Production Accountant
- Legal advisor
- Other roles
- Royalty free
- Music producer
- Reusable Archive
- Any other materials
- Facility providers
- Shooting Equipment
- Post production
- Special Equipment
- Start of production
- Graphics & Animation
- On-Location Shooting
- Studio recording
- Offline Editing
- Post production
The list is long, isn’t it? Different programs require different resources. So, the list could be longer or shorter. But that is not the point of this article.
The point is, why are some TV documentaries awesome and some simply dry? What makes the difference?
Among the most popular documentaries is National Geographic. Viewers who are enjoying National Geographic transcends all ages, all races and all backgrounds. It is appealing to kids, parents, elderly, professionals, blue collar and almost everyone else.
Let’s breakdown the features of National Geographic a bit:
- More visuals than narration
- More natural sound than music
- Camera shots are just amazing and at times, mesmerizing
- Content coverage is indepth and factual, yet not boring
- Topics touch and connect viewers
- Meaningful and enlightening
Some say, successful programs need big budgets. True, National Geographic’s production cost millions per episode. It also takes more than a year to produce each episode.
Does that mean, we can forget about producing good TV programs with a smaller budget? “SMALL BUDGETS” seems to be the main reason behind the thousands of episodes of unpalatable dry documentaries shown on TV. At some private TV stations, producers have another reason, i.e. TIME CONSTRAINT. There is also an additional magic phrase, i.e. Short of Manpower.
It seems that the popularly accepted formula is : Appealing Documentaries = Big Budget + Long Production Period + Large Number of Manpower.
Well, that formula isn’t working for many Government TV Stations around the world. They sure have Big Budgets + Ability to Schedule Long Production Period + Large Number of Manpower. But the sort of documentaries and magazine programs they produce are not worth watching at all.
So what does it take to produce successful TV documentaries and Magazine programs?