At a Glance
- Coast-to-coast collaboration
- Storyboard and edit reviews
- Remote casting
- Overdub sessions
It’s All Visual at King Size Productions
The Season 5 finale of CBS TV's hit legal series The Good Wife stars an unexpected special guest. "We made Polycom the center of the episode," says Robert King, executive producer at King Size Productions and co-creator, with his wife Michelle, of the series some critics have called the best drama on television. In the season finale, a Polycom system becomes a pivotal plot device when a rival law firm fails to disconnect on its end following a face-to-face video deposition. High intrigue ensues, and millions of viewers inadvertently learn the importance of properly ending a video call.
The Polycom system isn't there by accident. King Size Productions knows Polycom video collaboration well, having relied on it since production started in 2009 to connect its West Coast team, who write, cast, and edit every episode, with its team on the East Coast, where the series is shot. "The hardest thing in the world is to describe what a scene looks like in just words," says King, who shares storyboards over high-definition video from LA with East Coast creatives like Brooke Kennedy, an executive producer who also has served as director on the series. "The structure of a movie or TV show is best expressed visually."
Kennedy agrees. "We need to hook up visually," she says. "Audio's just not enough."
King says his staff of writers, editors, and producers connect face-to-face with Kennedy and other East Coast creatives three to four times a day to keep the series on schedule – not an easy feat for a team producing 22 hour-long episodes every season. "We have air dates, and we have to hit them," says David Dworetzky, an editor on the series. "It's very important that we keep moving forward. It really wouldn't happen without collaboration."
Directors and editors normally spend four days cutting the episode they just finished shooting, but directing commitments on the East Coast can quickly shrink those four days into two, or even one. "The video systems help us defy distance by replicating the experience of having somebody who might be 3,000 miles away actually be here in the cutting room," says Dworetzky. "They're not physically here, but it definitely feels like they are."
Polycom comes through for King Size in other ways. Michelle and Robert King often work from their home, but they rely on video to brainstorm with the show's other writers and to see the ideas outlined on whiteboards in the writers' room. And because the parts for single-episode characters naturally go to New York-based actors, the show's West Coast producers actually audition them over Polycom.
Then there are overdub sessions – where actors return to record dialogue a second time to correct problems with the original takes. These, says Dworketzky, almost always involve video collaboration. "It's always helpful to be able to look at somebody in the eye and say, 'Okay. I understand what you're asking of me.' It's pretty incredible."