TiVo Working at The Daily Show

Who doesn't love their TiVo? Who would love to take their TiVo to work with them every day? If you're on the staff at The Daily Show, you don't have to.

If you've watched the show, you know that they pull clips from a wide range of sources. Did you ever wonder how they recorded all those clips? Most studios can record to a few machines from a few sources, but how does The Daily Show manage all those clips? A huge wall of high-end tape recorders? Massive dish-farms scouring the skies? Surely they have something more high-tech than we have at home, right?

A former employee of the show dished the dirt on PVRBlog after this comment from the show's host, Jon Stewart appeared in The New York Times: "The day begins with a morning meeting where material harvested from 15 TiVos and even more newspapers, magazines, and Web sites is reviewed."

You'll be surprised at what was revealed on the blog.

Full_tivoplushdoll "It's literally 15 rack-mounted TiVos of various models, many from the pre-Series 2 era. Some Philips boxes, some Sonys. And because there's a limited number of remote codes, when a staffer operates one, he has to hold the remote directly against that box's IR receiver so the beam doesn't hit any of the other boxes (i.e., so he's not inadvertently controlling multiple boxes at once). No joke! It's pretty primitive."

Tivoremotes "When TiVo footage is needed for The Daily Show that day (i.e., every day), the clips are dubbed off to Beta tape and brought to an editing bay. Yup, sneakernet. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is. I wouldn't be surprised if the show upgrades to a networked PVR system - especially with an imminent move to HD - but I don't know what their plans are."

Who posted these gems? The author responds, "I was a researcher at the show for a couple years and still visit the office from time to time. It's fun to watch people speculate about the magical, super-high-tech inner workings of the show. Truth is, it's less about technology or cutting-edge production and more about the staff being really good at their jobs.

"A good rule of thumb when theorizing about cable TV production is that everything is less expensive and less elaborate than you think it is."

He concludes, "I suppose the system remains in place for now because it's cheap, it works, and everyone knows how to use it. The grind of putting out a quality show every day tends to push thoughts of sweeping equipment upgrades to the back-burner."

There is professional gear that could easily replace the rack-o-TiVos, but if it ain't broke-o . . . -Leslie Shapiro