The present and future of post production business and technology

Modern Logging and Pre-Editing Approaches: “House Hunters” Style Reality TV

This is the first time I’ve taken a deep look at a TV show and worked out what I think would be the perfect metadata workflow from shoot to edit bay. I chose to look at Pie Town’s House Hunters franchise because it is so built on a (obviously winning) formulae, and I thought that might make it easier for automation or Artificial Intelligence approaches.

But first a disclaimer. I am in no way associated with Pie Town Productions. I know for certain they are not a Lumberjack System customer and am also pretty sure they – like the rest of Hollywood – build their post on Avid Media Composer (and apparently Media Central as well). This is purely a thought exercise built around a readily available example and our Lumberjack System’s capabilities.

If you’ve never watched any of the House Hunters variations they all follow the same basic formula, which I’ve pasted in to the end of the post.

The first thing that became obvious was that there was no automatic editing going to be possible. No AI or Machine is taking over (at least this style) of reality TV editing.

When I first started to think about House Hunters I concluded that “classic” real time logging during the shoot (Lumberjacks starting point) would provide the most value, but upon reviewing an episode in depth earlier today I realized just how sound-bit heavy the show it. Why it was a surprise that a reality TV show would be sound-bit heavy I have no idea!

As assembled the show is very classic ‘Sound bites plus Voice Over,’ which is exactly where Lumberjack’s newest app, Builder, would be useful.

In this theoretical scenario, an assistant producer or even a PA logs the relevant broad details, such as who’s speaking; which house they’re at; are they inside or outside; is it a recap?; decision time?; etc. In the Lumberjack world this metadata flows through the Lumberyard app into Final Cut Pro X.

Being sound-bit driven, the show is perfect for Builder. Since this is theoretical I can project forward to the (theoretical, but being worked on) speech-to-text integration in Builder.

The Event of Library XML would be passed to Builder. At that time you can bring your own transcripts or order them inside Builder.

Less than half an hour later you have all the shoot transcribed, with all the on-set logged keyword ranges applied against the transcript, plus automatically extracted keywords, concepts and emotions. I think having emotional state indicated would be useful for reality TV, although not necessarily for this example.

In Builder a story producer (or similar role, even the editor if she wants) would be able to quickly search or scan for those elements they need, and build them into the basic show, with temp narration added in Builder.

The story producer/editor hands the story edit to editorial for B-roll and timing, et al. Note that B-roll is organized into location, time and type of shoot thanks to the real-time keywording on the shoot.

It’s a workflow that could take a day or two out of the post schedule. If someone would adopt it that is.

House Hunters

ACT 1: About 9 minutes

  • Establishing couple shot with voice over introduction
  • Snippets from house inspections confirming the requirements from the VO
  • Both positive and negative
  • 45 seconds in we get opening titles
  • Destination establishing shots.
  • Introductions to the couple/interview style
  • Where we live now. 
  • Why they want to move where they move
  • Spell out desires and requirements 
  • Price range discussion

First House

  • Walk up to it. Introduce agent
  • House introduction outside
  • Walk through, capture positive and negative comments.
  • Collect pick ups about extra positive or negative comments.
  • Trip outside then back to finish the inspection inside.
  • Visual recap and recap discussion, highlighting what they like and don’t like.
  • House 2 tease and out to ad break


Reintroduce couple and recap in VO the first house

House 2

  • Same set of shoot requirements.
  • House 3 tease out to ad break.


Reintroduce couple in informal situation and recap the first two houses.

House 3

  • Same shoot requirements as the other houses.
  • Finish segment with “need to take time” and VO recap of houses (and visual) with tease


Recap into “time to make decision”

  • Discussion between couple about the pluses and minuses of each house.
  • Visual recap
  • Decision.

Two months later

  • After move in. Affirm their correct decisions.