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Celebro Media Celebrates Expansion

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It's been an unusual few years in the studio sector in London; the closure of several bigger studios has hit the industry hard – as well as the temporary loss of capacity while Riverside Studios and BBC Television Centre are out of commission for rebuilding.

Into that market – a new studio in central London has arrived on the scene. Despite being only in their second year of trading – they have already tripled their capacity and unveiled an ambitious expansion plan for the coming years.

Celebro Media came to market initially as a media consultancy – providing start-up support and launches for some of the world's biggest broadcasters, predominantly in the live news sector. The company was also producing content for clients such as MTV and the BBC so needed to hire in-studio space both in London and Moscow for their own operations.

The company is owned and run by Wesley Dodd, a former BBC News Output Editor and Senior Producer in Russia.

"We just couldn't find studios that offered everything we were looking for. I was used to the level of automation and sophistication of a broadcast studio – but you either had two choices, a big film studio with little in the way of installed broadcast kit or a broadcast studio that was too small to make anything beyond a small 3 camera live show."

It was for that reason that Celebro decided to build their first studio. They are in a prime location in Oxford Circus – just off Market Place with its busy cafes and bars.

As well as being a fully robotic studio space, the facility was one of the first to be truly able to call itself a 4K studio.

Shortly afterwards the firm brought their Moscow Studio on-line to service contracts for MTV and Russian broadcasters. Then in January of this year – Celebro expanded to occupy a further two floors in Portland House in central London – allowing for a new 2,000sqft news studio, an additional inject studio as well as a 40-person newsroom and additional edit suites.

This month they take on a fourth floor in London giving them over 12,000sqft of production and studio space – while they plan to open a similar facility in New York by the second quarter of 2017.

Wesley says the company's main competitive advantage is their approach to automation: "Our main studio is a 6-camera environment and it would simply not be cost effective to run that without robotics. We do often have manned cameras or jibs too – but news clients have come to expect a studio that can run using reliable automation."

The studio currently broadcasts hundreds of hours a month of live news and sport content for a variety of broadcasters, both in the UK and overseas.

Connectivity is also a key to the company's success. Ryan Deans is the company's Lead Director: "You can't make live shows if you can't get them to the point of transmission."

With 3 x BT lines to the tower, a series of EBU lines and connectivity to TATA – Celebro have the traditional broadcast pathways covered, but, explains Ryan, increasingly clients are looking for IP solutions – especially for ad-hoc arrangements: "We make a lot of use of IP options such as Streambox – that gives us both HD and 4K capacity. We also use IP based service solutions though companies like Auriga and Ateme. Our clients already see us as experts in the IP sector – so it really gives us a competitive advantage."

Celebro Studios believe that by acting as a 'cross-point' between traditional broadcast infrastructure and IP based delivery they are able to offer their clients a more flexible and cost effective solution but still leverage the robustness of a traditional broadcast link.

Celebro has also found themselves increasingly moving into live social media video, as the arrival of Periscope and Facebook Live means that more and more people are starting to want to use live video as part of their branded content or marketing push. For that reason, Celebro have formed a new venture with 3Screens London, a specialist branded content production company, who have traditionally made video content for the corporate and consumer-brand market.

John Chadwick-Jones is the new Managing Director of 3Screens Celebro: "Achieving cut-through in the crowded branded video content space, at an economical cost, is becoming increasingly difficult. But the high quality and innovative live formats we are able to offer via our experience in the live/broadcast market, coupled with a unique filming facility has generated huge interest."

With the arrival of IP based delivery, the challenges of 4K and increasing commercial pressure to provide cost-effective solutions – the studio industry is going through a radical change. But Celebro believe the future is looking good for studios like themselves. They say they will continue to expand over the next few years – with plans for similar facilities in a number of other cities.

"We think that we are focusing on a niche market – live broadcasting for those who want a studio for a few hours a day – but need something a little more sophisticated than a contribution studio. This is the key to our growth over the next few years."

This article is also available to read at BFV online here, page 58.

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