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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

This chapter provides some general points about safety in TV studios, whether student or professional. There are some points about safety on location because it is sometimes necessary to include one or more single-camera sequences in a predominantly studio-based project. There are two aspects to safety: the readers' own protection and their responsibility to others. In almost all circumstances, whether on location or in a stage or studio, a production will have to generate a risk assessment form. This will indicate the level of risk associated with the production and the precautions that have been taken. Film and TV studios and locations are notorious for cables snaking across the floor. Most studios have a fire lane, which may extend all around the studio. The readers must learn safe procedures for each piece of equipment they use. It is advisable that professionals should each have their own public liability insurance.

in Cue and Cut
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Roger Singleton-Turner

This chapter provides an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The 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 also 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.

in Cue and Cut
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Communication
Roger Singleton-Turner

The traditional sequence for scripted sequences would be as follows: blocking, stagger, run or run-through, dress run, and recording or transmission. Even on dramas, there was not always time for steps 3 and 4. Blocking, staggering and a final or dress run were usually adequate. When it comes to run-throughs, all scripted pieces and links should be played out in full. As directed sections can be played through with real guests, proper introductions and dummy questions, or with stand-ins. The Director needs to make it quite clear when it is time for a take. In the first few year of the twenty first century, the commonest recording media for students' recordings were DV and mini-DV. It is surprising, though, how often a project has developed unnecessary complications because 'common sense' disappeared in the heat of the moment. Making TV content really does depend on good communication and teamwork.

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

This chapter contains information about camera scripts (studio shooting scripts). It also tells how to create a professional-looking script with MS Word Tables, whilst assuming very little or no experience of working with tables. The camera script is the 'bible' of a multi-camera production. It is like the orchestral score in a concert performance: it's also the primary source of information in the studio giving instructions for each moment of a rehearsal or recording session and is relevant for each member of the crew and cast (or presenting team and guests). Each camera will need a set of camera cards giving shot information for that particular camera. Companies like Granada and the BBC developed their own softwares for creating camera scripts.

in Cue and Cut
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Roger Singleton-Turner

Set design is a highly complex area. In a drama-based production, the Designer would need to read the scripts to understand how the look of the set could reinforce the story, perhaps adding its own comments about period and the style of the sets' fictitious owners. The Designer will also work closely with the Costume Designer, especially in the matter of colours. A professional Costume Designer might be expected to buy, hire, design or make costumes for particular characters. Naturally, the Costume Designer must work within the allocated budget and schedule. Visual Effects Designers come from many backgrounds and all have strong practical training in at least one field of expertise. Working in films and television calls on an expansion of those skills, and, as ever, the ability to work safely to a deadline and to a budget.

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

Job titles and duties change over the years. All paperwork needs to be identified and page numbered. In the professional world, a vital member of the team is the Script Supervisor who (sometimes with a Production Secretary) is responsible for generating most of the practical paperwork and converting the sloppy scrawls of the Director into a clear and efficient means of communication that is relevant to each member of the studio team. As the Vision Mixer cuts to each new camera-scripted shot, the Script Supervisor calls out the new shot number, as showing on the programme or TX monitor, and identifies which camera is next to be used. An experienced Script Supervisor will also note stop or end timecodes. Traditionally, notes were hand-written directly onto a hard copy of the script. In a tapeless environment, the software on the server notes the duration and start and finish timecodes automatically.

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

This chapter is intended to help cover two forms of studio demonstration: presenter plus guest demonstrator and demonstrations with a single presenter and no guest. Underlying them are the general principles for covering any kind of shooting of detail. Whatever the item and whichever method of staging the demonstration, the object is generally to show the audience how to do something that they are presumed to know little of. Clarity of thought, speech and shooting is essential. The safety shot does not have to be on the same camera all the time; the director will have seen the demonstration and should be able to make a good guess as to which camera will be most interesting at any given moment. In addition to the challenge offered by speakers reacting unpredictably, the studio team must work out how best to cover each contestant's movement across the set.

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An introduction
Roger Singleton-Turner

Lighting Directors are highly skilled people and highly paid. This chapter presents a very basic introduction for the non-specialist. In order to record a pleasing picture, the readers will have to manipulate even ambient light to use it creatively. Sometimes, the best way of disguising a small, moving boom shadow might be to create a larger, static shadow, as though there is a building or tree just out of shot. The chapter relates mainly to locations and is relevant to multi-camera working when the readers are on location with an outside broadcast unit. To a camera that has been white-balanced in daylight, tungsten light tends to look orange; if the camera is balanced for tungsten, daylight tends to look blue. Some understanding of the term 'colour temperature' is essential to anyone dealing with lighting for cameras.

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

This chapter shows in detail how to prepare and shoot some as-directed set-ups. They are based on notes for some of the practical classes the author teach and on the classical methods taught for decades at the BBC and elsewhere. The chapter includes at least one exercise using a camera script, that are the basis of many real programmes. The chapter presents as-directed exercises, though building a structured script as an introduction for each would be perfectly straightforward. If used as a practical exercise, the work would fall into the four parts described in this chapter: research, preparation, rehearsal and recording. The chapter provides general points applying to any kind of interview, discussion or chat on any topic for any kind of show, formal or informal. The BBC used to teach that an interview should start with a mid-shot on the Presenter, and then show mid-shots of the guests.

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