Transforming Video Production at analytics leader, SAS
SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services, SAS helps its customers at more than 83,000 sites to make better decisions.
Around eight years ago the organisation invested in basic media production equipment for its education department, with a view to setting up a simple room with facilities to create web-based training courses. However, the equipment purchased wasn’t always the right tool for the job, or properly maintained or updated. Reduced technical staff resources also meant that the equipment wasn’t utilised as much as it could have been.
In 2012 Richard Peace was tasked with implementing an internal creative services capability, and as part of that remit wanted to maximise the value of the video production facilities; beginning with consolidating and updating the equipment.
“We had a lot of equipment that had been made obsolete, and some gear that had been purchased for a particular use but was now redundant due to advances in technology. With technology moving so fast, we needed help to understand what we had, what we needed and how to get the most out of it.” says Peace.
SAS put out a tender to overhaul the production studio but found that most of the bids were prohibitively expensive – except TSL Systems.
“TSL showed that they had the expertise to evaluate the equipment we had and suggest additional kit based on our existing needs and future plans, while remaining within our budget,” he says. “TSL Systems quickly became a trusted partner - we are comfortable that they know the industry, the best products and technology for the job.”
Driven by reduced resources, Peace’s vision was to deliver single operator functionality for creating internal and external video content. He wanted to remove the complexity normally associated with the construction and running of a production facility, reducing both technical risk and cost, and enabling a focus on creativity rather than technology. As well as consultancy, equipment recommendation and installation, TSL Systems provided a maintenance contract, which provides full access to their team of industry experts to support the production team. This maintenance contract was required due to internal resource constraints within I.T.
The new studio set-up, comprised of existing and new equipment, including a three-camera interview set with Sony EX3 cameras, a NewTek TriCaster live multi-camera production system with green screen and Kinoflow lighting. Audio is captured with Sennheiser lapel mics and receivers. The studio also houses an Autocue prompter, while Adobe Creative Cloud on a Mac enables SAS to edit, add graphics, create a final cut and archive. TSL also arranged training on TriCaster and studio lighting.
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“It was really important that the system could be operated by one person, and this set-up allows us to do that. We can also shoot and edit as-live, which cuts down production time from over three days to half a day or less,” says Peace.
SAS also has a mobile production unit based on Sony A7s, Atomos Shogun and Kinoflow lighting.
This professional grade equipment set up in an efficient production workflow makes production much easier and quicker, thus encouraging SAS to make more video content.
“We now produce video for a variety of purposes: to create marketing tools and to support sales opportunities; for internal sales and training presentations; and to engage with its customer’s customers to help tell the story of the services that SAS provides,” says Peace. “It’s far more cost effective than bringing in external production companies, and because it’s set up on site, the executive team can walk in and record a piece in around an hour instead of booking out a half or full day as they used to do.”
The maintenance element means that the system is regularly checked for updates, and the TSL team can make recommendations for improvements.
“I don’t have time to do everything myself, so having TSL come in regularly and reassess the set-up makes such a difference,” he says. “They offer advice when needed, remind us about firmware upgrades and warranty deadlines, and have built a database of suppliers, warranty information so we have everything to hand when we need it.”
For SAS, the studio provides competitive advantage. As one of the executive team said “In any other organisation I wouldn’t bother with video as it’s too much effort to go off site, but because we have the facility in-house, we create communications that wouldn’t normally happen”.
This has led to a higher degree of employee engagement through video support for internal communications and other strategic HR initiatives. This has contributed to SAS being ranked in the 2017 Great Places to Work Awards.
About Richard Peace:
Richard (Ric) has been with SAS for over 26 years, working across all areas of the business from customer support to pre-sales and consulting. He is currently Head of Creative Services for SAS UK & Ireland. Ric is famous for working with his internal, and external clients to take the apparently complex, and create a simple, compelling message from it.
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Richard Peace, SAS