Singapore has just become a hotbed for large-scale film and TV productions. In August 2013, Singapore’s Infinite Studios welcomed its first long-term production – popular preschool series Hi-5. Adrian Lim and Melody Uy spoke to Julie Greene, Executive Producer and Neal Kingston, Supervising Producer, at the Infinite Studios Hi-5 set.

     

Julie Greene                               Neal Kingston

Q: Give us an overview of the production and post-production process.

J: We’re doing seven weeks of shooting and we’ve done all the songs upfront and then at the end of this week, we’ll also be doing the new segment called the Chatterbox. That’s all puppets and a new character called Tinka. There’s no principal cast in that segment although Mary, one of our new cast members, is doing Chat’s puppet and we’ve also got two new characters, little bookworms.

 A new character: Tinka

New puppets for “Chatterbox” segment

So we’re shooting that this week and then next week we go into tech-run where we just rehearse everything, make sure everything is working from a technical point of view even though we’ve done songs, because we’re in the new sets. They’ll go and shoot in those and make sure the lighting is working. And then, we go through in the next five weeks, where we shoot all the segments.

Q: So all in all, how long would the pre and post take?

J: Well, pre and post together would be four months.

N: Post takes us up into November. We’ll be going through to mid November by the time it’s all finished.

(Post-production) is all part of frameworks, so Infinite Frameworks have set up a purpose-built post-production suite for us on the studio facility. It’s right next to our office, so for Julie who has to spend a lot of time on the floor and in post because it all happens at the same time – it has to be really convenient for her rather than her travelling offsite.

Q: What are the challenges and problems (anticipated or otherwise) you have encountered?

J: You know, I’ve been working on this show for nine years but I sort of arrived to this show and it was already set; signals already working; there was already a system to roll the show out.

When we’re in a new place, things are done differently; there’s different equipment; there’s different lines of authority and reporting. So we had to start off from the beginning. It’s been good because I’ve learned so much about building a show from scratch, rather than going on to a production that’s already happening. That’s been a challenge but when you see the result, that’s a lot more rewarding because you know the current set used to be a shell, and it’s now a studio that works.

N: And additionally, it is a brand new re-invention of the show. So, it meant new sets, and a new way to approach things from Julie’s creative point of view. I think Singapore has a good history of good television within its established television entities, but for television in the freelance market place for something like this which is effectively a shiny-floor show, it’s very much about trying to adapt to equipment that’s here because Singapore is not really geared up for that sort of thing. So, we’ve had to invent that along the way which has been really challenging and really rewarding.

With the re-invention of Hi-5, each cast member gets a “room” in the Hi-5 “house”. Pictured here is new cast member Ainsley’s (playing the piano) room.


Cast member Lauren Brant in her dedicated room in the new Hi-5 House.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about the equipment set-up, like the cameras, are you shooting in HD?

N: Yes. We’re shooting on Sony, I think they’re 100’s. So for us it’s been about working with Cameraquip (Singapore), for them to provide what they think is necessary for us and then for us to take that and tweak it into what we’re used to working with; what we believe the show would need to be able to be shot and produced to the standard that we’ve done over the years. Also for us, it’s the first time that we’re going into HD, so that in itself, is new for us as well, so we’re all new in the same HD world.

Singapore’s Oak3 Films is the local production partner for the latest season of Hi-5.

Q: You mentioned that this is quite a different set-up, so what is the control room set-up like, is it different from the one that you have over in Australia?

J: Yeah, the last three years we shot at the ABC studios in Sydney, and we were at the studio where all their big OB vans were, and you can simply come and put a big plug in, (laughs), and they switch the switch on and the studio would go live, and then we shoot, and then the truck would go away. But here, we’ve had to cable it all and make that connection between capturing what we’re shooting and all the communications from scratch.

Q: You have designed the set in Australia. Did you work with the local system integrator to do the rest of the studio, like your control room?

N: There are three entities. We’re doing effectively a first-point kind of production with Oak3 films; Oak3 as a service company brought in the expertise of camera crew to supply the equipment, to supply the technical aspect of it and Infinite came in with their studios and also their post-production, and as well as providing their animation people – we’ve given the briefs to them – and the other side of it was to use a couple of people that we knew and have worked with in Australia to set up areas like set design, wardrobe design and construction, and so on, because we knew that those people could handle it and knew what was expected from Julie and from the production.

Q: Are you working with a sound studio or will that also be handled by Infinite?

N: That’s actually through Oak3.  

J: Yeah, through a company called Two Rooms.

N: So that is an off-site thing, but within our incredibly timely schedule, we just had to manage that, the reviews that are necessary; Julie can leave here to go and deal with them, so that’s probably the most challenging, geographically, to do because everything else is here. 

Q: So, are you doing onset dailies on codex?