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Zee TV's Aparna Bhosle on changing the content game in television

She believes every broadcaster must bring their A-game to sustain audience interest.

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MUMBAI: Traditional television broadcast has long been a staple of entertainment. But as the fast-growing internet and over-the-top (OTT) video platforms make inroads into the consumer market, more and more people are beginning to cut the cord and move to a digital viewing experience. The rules of the content game have changed. Digitisation has lifted barriers and offered a multitude of opportunities to tell stories that were once impossible to tell and it has become more important than ever for broadcasters to up their game in terms of content quality.

Indiantelevision.com’s Shikha Singh spoke to Zee TV business head Aparna Bhosle on how this transformation has impacted the audiences’ demands, the use of newer technologies, shooting techniques to meet the ever-growing need of viewers for quality entertainment and more.

Edited Excerpts:

On what has led to the growth of TV shows.

Technology has evolved over the years and has certainly contributed significantly to our shows looking much better visually. We have more sophisticated cameras and lenses today, much better visual effects, and cutting-edge post-production software. But, at the end of the day, it is more about a maker's intent. Our audiences are far more exposed to global content than they ever were. Hence we, as makers, have started putting in a lot more effort into every small detail which makes the content look more aesthetic and visually appealing. It is not only about monetary investment but also investment in terms of time and thought. A lot more thought goes into production design which overall results in shows looking much better.

On changes they have introduced to improve the look and feel of the shows.

Shooting on Sony F5 is a standard in today's time. We even shoot on more sophisticated cameras such as Arri Alexa, Sony FX9. These are some cameras that have given great results even in low lighting conditions and the picture quality is top-notch. And with the advent of specialty equipment such as drones, Go-Pros, one can bring alive the scale of production values.

Apart from that, more and more technicians are now experimenting not only with cameras but also lighting techniques. The days of flat lighting are long gone. Today's storytelling requires different shows to have different lighting. It is not just about having the latest technology at your disposal, it is more about how one leverages it to narrate a story more effectively. Technicians today love to experiment and create new looks for the show. They play with camera angles, lighting techniques which overall helps in achieving a new contemporary look. Sound, too, plays a very important role in storytelling. Today, our shows come with a Dolby digital 5.1 output which gives our viewers a high-quality sound experience while watching TV.

On advantages of shooting in 4K.

Shooting in 4K means more resolution, deeper colours, more creative options to work with during post-production. But the 4K files are heavy, which means more time to grab, hence for daily shows, it becomes time-consuming and not viable as a process. Shooting in 4K is possible in the case of certain events or promos that provide sufficient timelines between the dates of the shoot and on-air telecast.  

On what kind of discussion goes on with production houses before creating any property.

Detailed discussions between the channel and the production house right from the concept of a show, the narrative and the pace at which the storytelling should unfold, the key drama spikes, the characterisation, casting, core communication pitch, the production design, and the overall look and feel of the show are an integral part of the show’s making. As one moves closer to the show going on the floor, aspects such as set design, art direction, costume styling, camera treatment, and edit patterns get discussed.  

Today, with the audience being far more exposed and discerning,  it is imperative for every broadcaster to display their A-game to hold and sustain audience interest.

On how shows are made and changes introduced in the script.

Just a few years ago, a tape used to be delivered from the editing studio to a channel’s office for transmission. Today, the same is achieved by a simple file transferring process. Content production is a dynamic process, and we are always eager to introduce new technology into our ecosystem. The journey from envisioning to execution is always a challenging one. As far as scripting is concerned, technology has given far more creative freedom to content creators as a lot of sequences that were earlier unthinkable in terms of execution have now become possible and even cost-effective.

On how digitalisation has changed content production on TV.

It has certainly lifted a lot of barriers. The camera quality is far better. Cameras can now shoot much better in low light conditions; they are lighter in weight, there is sophisticated equipment to shoot underwater, action sequences, etc. Our requirement for lights has considerably reduced. Shooting in uncontrolled environments, outdoors has become far easier. Footage transfer has become faster. The advancement in visual effects has empowered us to bring our viewers stories that were once impossible to tell.

The post-production process has gone through a mammoth leap. The process of DI (digital intermediate, or digitising filmed content and manipulating the colour and other image characteristics), colour grading, sound effects, and background music were all very time-consuming and today can be achieved in a decent timeline. From a viewer's point of view, they are experiencing content with never-seen-before visual and audio quality and further advances in digitisation will only help us to up our ante.

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