Lights, camera, action – all need reliable power

Game of Thrones is synonymous with popular modern culture and the 110-time Emmy nominated television series is credited with raising standards across the film and TV industry. These increased standards have also caused viewer expectations to rise. With an average budget of $10 million per episode, and the penultimate episode of the last season alone requiring 500 extras, 600 crew members and 25 days to film[1], it would appear that no expense is spared to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

But is that really the case?

Game of Thrones set

Budgets for any film or TV production are under tight control and even the smallest delay can cause costs to escalate. It is therefore crucial to ensure reliable power and to mitigate the risk of disruptions, however minor. The remoteness of some shoot locations and the considerable power capacity filming demands means this isn’t always straightforward for many TV shows and film productions.

On-site, modular power creates flexibility that is vital to meeting the needs of production sets, as it is scalable and easily mobilised and presents no permanent impacts on the local environment. Modular power also enables some remote filming locations to become feasible - such as Game of Thrones’ sets in Northern Ireland, Malta and Croatia, where there are no or insufficient grid connections.

On-site power creates greater creative opportunities, and without it some of our favourite scenes would not be possible.

It plays a key role throughout the lifecycle of a TV and film production, from construction of the set to special effects. In 2009, the set of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince required a 10 MW power package – many times the MW needed to power a family home – and an 8 MW heating package to supply the stages and workspace areas at Leavesden Studios in London. Nearly 10 years later, films like Alice Through the Looking Glass or next year’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, continue to face this high capacity demand.

It is common for additional or supplementary power to be installed on movie sets, especially where a production requires significant generation capacity, perhaps to power extensive special effects equipment. On-site power not only alleviates pressure on the grid, but it also provides a reliable back-up that eliminates risk associated with relying entirely on the grid connection.

Our mantra on any project is ‘plan for the unexpected and back up the back-up’. We work with customers as far in advance of a new project as possible - to consult on feasibility, and identify and mitigate risks, to ensure that we design the most appropriate plan and have the opportunity to customise this where required. Mobilising equipment to a remote site on time often requires some creative planning and innovative thinking.

Live broadcasts in particular require extensive planning, including contingencies, to give directors and producers the confidence that the production will go on without any disruptions. Broadcasting live to millions of viewers, whether it’s on election night or a highly publicised charity event like the BBC’s Children in Need, already comes with many risks and continuous power generation should not be one of them.

Another consideration is fuel efficiency and ensuring generators do not de-rate as a result of high temperatures, or where possible, even using renewable hybrid systems. Again, planning ahead to see what works best for the project and in the environment is key.

Producers and directors are in a constant quest for increasingly dramatic scenes, set locations and special effects. They also demand reliable power, while keeping a close eye on costs and the environmental impact of their productions. Modular power is well suited to the unpredictability and changing needs of a production, and offers movie makers the peace of mind they need to get on with the shoot.

 

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2016/06/19/game-of-thrones--series-6-episode-9-battle-of-the-bastards-will/

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