Colbert Lives in No-Formula Zone With Avid Deko

The Colbert Report is the tastiest news parody show on TV right now, as Stephen Colbert makes clear with his recent shot across the bow of the salad dressing industry. Excoriating a leading salad dressing manufacturer for its blatant diss of American-as-apple-pie mayonnaise, he lands an offbeat punch with almost every line.

One of the things that keeps him at the top of his game is the graphics capability provided by the show’s key graphics tool, the Avid® Deko® 3000. On The Colbert Report, graphics are dictated by whims and imagination of the writers, so unlike news or sports shows with specific templates, the show lives in a no-formula zone.

Seat-of-the-Pants Production

While templates for pre-produced elements can be used, graphics on this show are more often than not created on the fly. Sometimes built on similar elements created previously, clips, motions, animations, lower thirds, full screen pull quotes, etc., are all primarily dictated by how the joke or bit evolves.

The problem is that requirements for these elements may not be available until literally minutes before rehearsal or air-time, which means graphics have to be created on the spot and, even then, many last-second changes cannot be anticipated.

Deko graphics has built a reputation for meeting these extraordinary challenges. Long familiar with the seat-of-the pants production environment, veteran Deko operator, Liz Maunder, works on both The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live. She prefers the Deko machine based on its ability to make changes quickly and keep pace with the fast-changing show dynamics.

“There are ways to create things on Deko you just can’t do with other machines,” Liz says. “For instance, you don’t need to exit the program to create elements in Photoshop, then re-import them for display.”

Elegant Simplicity

Deko is based on an elegant simplicity. With no templates required, it is significantly easier to employ a sequencer to meet the demands of rapid and unexpected show variations.

“While the A side is happening,” Liz explains, “the B side can be clearing. So, I can go from A to B and back again really fast. It’s a very logical and reliable solution.”

Text animation is another Avid sweet spot. Recent software updates have resolved the issue of graphics depth and now equal or surpass competitive offerings. Like its ability to generate on-the-fly graphics, Deko’s superior text animation again provides the ability to create on the spur of the moment when the show demands high-quality content with a minimum of lead and planning time.

And the Benefits Just Keep Coming

Options as simple as fancy frames offer a level of versatility that enables an operator to quickly react to a changing situation and respond by delivering the necessary build. In addition, the system can accommodate multiple compositions providing simultaneous production of specific formats in SD and HD aspect ratios. An advanced composition tool even produces text that fits-to-fill a layer boundary and auto-branding frames applicable to every manual or automated text entry.

Best Known Solution of Choice

While speed and ease of use top its list of advantages, Deko also offers significant flexibility and reliability of playback. For instance, Deko provides the ability to create a static image, then give it the option to animate by attaching motion. With a primary Deko competitor, every graphic has an attached timeline. This means operators have to be careful about the mode they are in, since any graphic created on a given canvas will be automatically captured as an animation.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that, as Liz reports, Deko is best known as the solution of choice for entertainment shows, including high-profile award and recognition events.

“I have a friend who works on both Deko and HyperX,” Liz says. “She had an option to choose which she wanted for a new show and chose Deko for the same reasons we use it on The Colbert Report. It’s a beautifully intuitive solution that supports seat-of-the-pants creativity with minimal pre-production.”

A Perfect Match

Given The Colbert Report’s nature, it is a virtual requirement that graphics gear be both easy to use and easy to learn. While competitive solutions employ an array of menus and sub-menus that can be hard to master and utilize, Deko’s short learning curve and flexible real-time functionality make it a perfect match for The Colbert Report’s fast-paced, mercurial environment.

“Avid Deko makes both the show and the operator look good,” declares Liz, “because the machine can simply do what I need, when I need it.”