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Low-tech TV recording secrets of 'The Daily Show'

Thanks to a commenter on PVRBlog, it's revealed that The Daily Show actually uses a rather low-tech solution to gather clips for the show: 15 rack-mounted TiVos.

Old-school TiVo power.

You might not think about it, but putting together The Daily Show requires sifting through a lot of television, then breaking it up into bite-size clips of funny. If you're like us, you probably figured The Daily Show had some professional-grade digital recording suite that put your rent-a-DVR from the cable company to shame--and you'd be completely wrong.

Instead, try 15 rack-mounted TiVos, many of which predate the Series2 era.

Thanks to a former Daily Show employee who commented on PVRBlog, we get an inside look at the technology that powers the show. Here are some choice snippets:

Nope, 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 that 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.

When TiVo footage is needed for TDS 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.

Re: MythTV--It's a very cool idea, but the show does not have anywhere near the IT staff that would be required to support a setup like this. They barely have any IT staff to speak of. Plus, dedicating the show's footage-gathering duties to a single machine running homebrew software is just asking for a disaster. The TiVo+Beta combination is rock-solid and extremely simple, and that's what they'll need in any replacement rig.

In addition to The Daily Show commenter, an intern from Late Night with Conan O'Brien commented on BoingBoing, noting that that show also has three TiVos to record content, which is then burned to DVDs to distribute around the office. We always thought of TiVo as one of the ultimate consumer electronics toys, but who knew it was used so frequently in the professional world?

What do you think? Should these shows upgrade to something more sophisticated, or should they stick with the low-tech method that works? Do you have any suggestions for a superior system? Sound off in the comments.

(Sources: PVRBlog via BoingBoing)