Spike TV utilizes Apple technologies for TV spots

When cable television channel Spike TV decided to make some brand new spots to complement the station’s Super Bowl weekend coverage, they turned to Executive Producer and Director John Papola to pull the project together. Papola said there was no doubt when they started putting it together that they would need to turn to Apple hardware and software in order to get it done in the tight time and budget constraints they had to work with.

Papola’s overall task was to drive viewers to the station’s football coverage. Like many projects, it grew very quickly from a couple of spots to 20 different segments, each with its own versions for the different time slots they would run in.

A self-professed “geek” Papola has spent a lot of time with both Apple and Windows-based computer systems. During his work at MTV, Papola used Windows-based PCs to do motion graphics, but said he learned quickly that the days of having fun tearing apart computers and troubleshooting problems were gone.

“When you’re in college building and working on a computer is fun, but when you get past working on your computer and you want to use the computer to do other things that whole system starts to collapse,” Papola told MacCentral.

Papola and one other full-time editor edited all of the Spike TV segments. With only the two of them, each decision on the use of technology became crucial for the ballooning project. In choosing a broadcast studio to work in, Papola said that it was more than just an application like Final Cut Pro HD that factored into his decision.

Regularly working into the wee hours of the morning to get the project done in the tight time constraints, Papola said that even things like required system restarts that happen often on Windows systems took too much of his time.

“Even the Windows-based Avid systems exhibit that kind of quirkiness - it just doesn’t happen as frequently on the Mac,” said Papola.

In the studio Papola used Power Mac G5s and Final Cut Pro HD for the majority of the work, but he also utilized many other technologies like .Mac, iChat and Apple sponsored technologies like FireWire. While FireWire is available on Windows PCs, Papola said that Windows often assigns a new drive letter to the hard drive you lose the connection to all of your media.

“You have to spend 15 minutes just to reconnect all of your media,” said Papola. “You just can’t do that in a time crunch - it ruins the whole workflow.”

To have the segments reviewed by others at Spike TV, Papola would upload them to his .Mac account. Small folders and files that needed to be transferred were done using iChat, making much of the workflow and discussions about changes very interactive.

While on the road and with his FireWire hard drive, Papola was asked to make some changes to one of the segments. Using his mother-in-law’s iMac, he was able to plug in the hard drive and have access to all of the media, make the changes, send the files using iChat and upload the finished product to his .Mac account for all to see.

“Apple really made it possible for us to come in on budget - Avid can’t match that.”

This story, "Spike TV utilizes Apple technologies for TV spots" was originally published by PCWorld.

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