facilities houses

facilities houses
   Facilities houses are companies that offer various production facilities that can be hired by film and television production companies. In Britain, they tend to be clustered around the large television production centres of Leeds, Manchester and Soho in London. These facilities usually include an editing suite and sound mixing equipment, all backed up with trained personnel. The equipment is used either for on-line or off-line editing. Off-line editing is where a rough edit of a film is put together; online is when the finished edit is made. Editing can either be linear (in the sense that the editor has to find the correct place on the physical tape or film), or non-linear with digital editing suites. In non-linear editing, images are stored digitally on computer disks and can be accessed at any point regardless of their position in the filmic flow. Such a shift towards digital editing is expensive, and costs are only retrieved if the machines are in constant use. Thus, one of the advantages of facilities houses for users is that the facility house bears the brunt of the capital outlay, while the user only pays for the time needed. Indeed, for large broadcasters there is not always any great advantage in having their own facilities, as these are often underused. The number of facilities houses has increased in recent years, helped by the increases in independent television productions, corporate videos, advertisements and music video. Most companies undertaking corporate video, advert and music video work are independent companies without their own facilities. In the case of productions for broadcasting, the use of in-house facilities is declining. This is partly because some new broadcasters have no facilities (such as Channel 4) and rely instead on a large amount of commissioned material from independents, or because they are trying to introduce competition into their internal markets (such as the BBC). The BBC has a policy called ‘producer choice’, by which producers are allowed to use facilities or services from outside the BBC if they so wish. Indeed, some internal departments of large broadcasters, in an attempt to gain extra revenue, rent out part of their own premises and equipment just as facilities houses do.
   Further reading
    Tunstall, J. (1993) Television Producers, London: Routledge.
   PAUL RIXON

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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