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In TV's golden age, that's entertainment (2)

By Han Bingbin  (China Daily)

09:03, October 06, 2012

Chinese producers used to duplicate a foreign show by copying its every detail in a new program. But it didn't work well because the producers got only superficial experience that way. By buying the right to use the format, Zheng said, they have a chance to gain a full measure of production experience in addition to learning from the concept editing done by the original channels. The producers are usually given a formula, which they call the "bible". This offers guidelines on production processes, some as detailed as where to place a camera and how to switch a scene.

But even with this imported technological support, many reproductions in China are far from successful. Most have had mediocre success, earning less than a rating of 1 - far from satisfactory, considering the reported millions of yuan Chinese broadcasters have thrown into the purchase.

Canxing Production Publicity Director Lu Wei thinks the reason is obvious: The atmosphere and tempo of many programs are far from ideal, and it's definitely a problem with their technical production.

"The program format itself is not omnipotent. If the local production team is not well trained, the final result won't be good. What the bible offers is simply a framework of ideas. You can only effectively apply it after you think out why they are doing it so," Lu said.

"After all, it's a matter of how hard and quickly you can learn. You have to know what exactly other people are good at before you create something new to overpower them."

With such devotion to learning, Lu said Canxing has trained a high-level editing team while producing the Chinese version of Got Talent, which has become the first huge success in the reproduction genre. The show reached 600 million viewers and had a whopping 5.91 rating in its Sunday primetime slot on Dragon TV in July last year - in China, shows with as little as a 1.3 rating are usually seen as hits.

The team had two of their innovations included in the latest issue of the format's bible, according to Lu. One is adding a live voting session by media representatives across the country. The other is giving more importance to personalizing the contestants. Both have contributed to the success of a talent competition in a Chinese cultural context.

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