Photo credit: Heath Racela. (from left) Host Kevin O’Connor, Producer Sarah Chasse, Landscape Designer Jenn Nawada, Mason Mark McCullough, Director of Photography Jay Maurer
When This Old House (TOH) first began broadcasting on WGBH in 1979 there was nothing like it. Although initially frowned upon by contractors (who believed the show was giving away their trade secrets), TOH actually increased demand for professional restoration and renovation services and spawned an entire television genre.
“They’ve always led the genre from the point of view of content and talent,” says Dave Talamas, Founder and President of Talamas, the Newton, MA-based Broadcast Sales and Rentals house that first provided TOH with an integrated Electronic Field Production (EFP) kit in 1983. “To this day, they remain highly relatable and determined to keep things fresh and spontaneous.”
Four decades on, TOH has evolved substantially, but its core mandate – ‘to demystify home renovation one project at a time’ – remains constant. Innovation has always been a key driver of TOH’s success: from their early groundbreaking implementation of EFP systems, through their successful transition to digital technology, to the present, which finds TOH streamlining workflow, adopting a new look, and deepening their online presence with a wide range of recorded and live-streamed content.
“Our relationship and the technology have always gone hand in hand,” Talamas adds; citing the cutting edge, integrated solutions they’ve engineered to meet TOH’s evolving needs.
Talamas’ long-term leasing program has enhanced TOH’s ability to consistently update their signature brand of storytelling and workflow, which has received such high praise from the industry and viewers alike.
“Leasing long term really helps ensure production runs smoothly,” adds Talamas Senior Account Manager, Ted Driscoll. “We provide maintenance, tech support and training to clients who lease with us, and are always ready to upgrade them to new technologies with better tools and features.”
“We maintain all their equipment and work closely with TOH on an ongoing basis to inform them about, and to provide them with, the latest technology,” explains Video Operations Manager, Mike Duca. “That allows them to express their vision with the most modern, efficient and cost effective systems.”
The most recent overhaul of TOH’s production package began in late 2018 – an effort to augment the show’s ability to live stream from any location.
As Heath Racela, Senior Producer and Director of Ask This Old House, puts it: "In much the same way that Talamas was able to come up with a reliable solution for bringing a camera onto a construction site with Russ Morash all those years ago, we feel that we’re in a similar situation of having to design a new workflow model, a holistic, engineered solution that takes into account our current capacity and where we hope to be in the near future.”
As TOH further defined their goals, Talamas continued to refine the system. “They needed roll-ins, bumpers, music,” Duca says. “It takes quite a bit of networking brainpower to stream content to social media, and the process is constantly changing. So rock solid wireless and an extremely stable interface with the ability to send content to multiple destinations was key.”
To meet that mandate, Talamas constructed a compact fly pack system – a highly adaptable, turnkey solution, custom designed to work with TOH’s existing camera systems, that also integrates program audio, wireless intercom, and IFB.
“It allows them use any combination of four cameras in and out,” Duca says, “all prewired in two racks. So they just plug in the cameras, turn it on and they’re ready to go. We also added enhanced graphics processing power and multi-view touch screens, which are very handy for live capture, as well as Teradek Bolt 703 wireless monitors, paired with Teradek 3000s, so you just slap a battery on them and you’re up and running. All of that came out of TOH defining what their needs are and our identifying recent trends and solutions to get them there,” he continues, “and we’re in constant contact with them to provide more functionality as they need it.”
“Our core value is service,” Dave Talamas says. “We listen closely to our clients and then incorporate the latest technology to provide sophisticated solutions to meet their aesthetic and technical requirements perfectly.”
About This Old House:
This Old House was created by producer/director, Russell Morash, who is widely considered ‘the Father of the How-To Genre. The show began with a ‘one-off’ run of 13-episodes on Boston’s Public Broadcasting service, WGBH, in 1979. Since, This Old House has demystified home improvement for millions of viewers via its unique and entertaining format and expanded its offerings with spinoffs such as Ask This Old House, Inside This Old House, This Old House Classics, and This Old House: Trade School (2017). The show continues to embrace new platforms and formats to educate and entertain viewers. Though often emulated, with 18 Emmy Awards (the most recent in 2019), and 82 Emmy Nominations to its credit, This Old House remains one of a kind.