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A practical approach to working in multi-camera studios

This book is about producing video content with a multi-camera set-up. The principles apply whatever the form of distribution: digital network, Internet, mobile phone or 'other'. It is intended to be used alongside practical courses or modules, both in teaching institutions and in professional training environments. The book centres on Health and Safety in TV studios, which are potentially dangerous places. It gives a lot of key information about television studios and the people who work in them. The book focuses on exercises to practise some basic principles and shows how to build on these and develop proposals and projects. It goes into more detail on Drama, Music and Action, both in the context of student projects and in the professional world. The book explains detail of television aspect ratios; and a little about the meanings of Continuity. Since many multi-camera video productions use inserts shot on single camera, there are several references to single-camera shooting. The necessary elements in multi-camera production are: a vision mixer (switcher) for selecting the images to be recorded or transmitted; a Director co-ordinating the content; an assistant to keep track of timings and where the Director is in the script; and a Camera Operator for each camera, with a tally-light to show when the particular camera is on-shot.

Roger Singleton-Turner

The Vision Mixer The Vision Mixer (in the USA, ‘Switcher’) is responsible for switching between the output of different cameras and other sources available in the particular production. No matter how complex or simple the kit, at any given moment the Vision Mixer’s principal concern is switching between only two sources: what’s on and what’s next! (That’s according to one of the BBC’s most experienced Vision Mixers.) The Vision Mixer cuts, wipes, dissolves (mixes) or applies a range of video effects as desired by the Director. Complex effects might need a

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

still need a 10-second countdown. The Script Supervisor will say, ‘stand by’ to anyone in the gallery with an imminent cue: for instance, ‘Stand by AVS/Sound’ (or Disc or Grams/Graphics or Character Generator, etc.), though it would usually be the Director who would say, ‘Go/run’ etc. (The Character Generator may provide still frames or a roller or crawler, which will have to run on time and to time.) Specifically with reference to this section, the Vision Mixer could add or superimpose the output from the Character Generator on top of an existing shot

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

and it needs considerable experience to master each one! Producer Lighting Director Director Lighting Assistant Floor Manager Character Generator (Graphics) Researcher Video Operator/Editor Script Supervisor Teleprompter Operator Vision Mixer or Switcher Set Designer Sound Supervisor Presenter or Actor Sound Assistant Technical Resources Manager Camera Operator Scene Crew The rest of this chapter looks at the responsibilities of the production team and presenters. Chapter 5 covers the technical roles. The Producer In

in Cue and Cut
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Communication
Roger Singleton-Turner

subsequent shots are right. (See, ‘We’ll go from shot . . .’ on page 164 .) Once the Camera Operators and Vision Mixer have seen what is intended in a sequence, it should work by the second or third attempt. If it does not, the Director must decide what’s wrong and make any necessary changes. These can be tiny: a cut delayed by half a second; a ‘beat’ pause from the Presenter; starting a line after the beginning of a move (or vice versa); slightly repositioning an artiste, camera or a prop, and so on. Sometimes, it’s best to add a shot or two or to take some out

in Cue and Cut
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Roger Singleton-Turner

Assistant or PA) and, when necessary, the Vision Mixer (Switcher). Usually, there is also the facility for the Lighting Director or the Technical Resources Manager or Vision Engineer to speak to the Camera Operators and for the Sound Supervisor to speak to his or her staff. There is always a lot going on between the floor and the gallery (see next section). Most talkback mikes pick up any sound made in their vicinity. Good studio discipline therefore demands that unnecessary chatter is kept to the minimum. Dock doors Most studios will have high, wide doors to

in Cue and Cut
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Roger Singleton-Turner

music – and you still pay by the second used. If you are going to do this, it helps if some of the music cues have relatively long tails that can be faded out, rather than abrupt (and therefore fixed-time) endings. Working with existing music It is possible, sometimes, to find existing music that fits your action well enough at the dub. Alternatively, if you play it into the studio, the Vision Mixer can cut to the beat of the recorded music. This presents another challenge if you wish to shorten or edit a sequence later – the music probably won’t match across

in Cue and Cut
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Roger Singleton-Turner

This chapter is not about great movie stunts, though these often use a number of cameras so that expensive and destructive effects do not need to be repeated. Each camera runs independently for the entire take, so all the angles are fully covered, but they are not linked through a vision mixer or switcher. Frankly, a multi-camera studio is not the ideal place to try to shoot major action sequences. Multi-camera studios are great for speech-based content and fine, contained detail – demonstrations and the like. They are also great for a range of music

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

! The emphasis in this exercise is on planning, so that we know more at the end of the piece than we did at the beginning. This includes using effective close-ups! Directors must be sure to give crisp instructions to cameras. The director can say to Camera X, while it is on shot, ‘Next time, give me the Mid-2S’, or ‘Next time, give me a BCU of the mixing bowl’ (and so on). As soon as the Vision Mixer cuts off it, the camera will re-frame as requested and will be ready seconds sooner than if the director had waited until after the cut it to give the instruction

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

ready to type in new information and the camera details, as shown in Figure 8.5 . Adding shot or cut lines Without special software, there are three basic ways to add shot lines. Method 1 Use a combination of Ctrl + U or underline from the toolbar and underscore (__) from the camera number (not the shot number) to the end of the line in the first column. Underline/underscore in the next column and end with ‘/’, which defines the cut point for the Vision Mixer. After printing the camera script, draw in all the missing bits with a ruler, then photocopy. An

in Cue and Cut