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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

Although a dedicated news studio can operate on a minimal crew, most television studios can take a dozen people to operate them, sometimes many more. There might be set, costume and make-up designers, specialist engineers, camera operators, sound assistants, floor or scene crew as well as lighting and gallery staff. Role names and duties may vary from company to company and region to region. In different projects, students could work in any of the following capacities and others not listed here, but remember that it takes time to train properly for each one

in Cue and Cut
Hervé Le Roux’s Reprise as case study
Guillaume Soulez

On 10 June 1968, in front of the Wonder battery factories in Saint-Ouen, an outraged young woman refuses to return to work despite the trade union’s vote to end the strike. Filmed by an anonymous camera operator, the altercation gives rise to the fabled ten-minute direct film Reprise du travail aux usines Wonder. Tracking down this same woman twenty-five years later, French documentarian Hervé Le Roux makes another film, the aptly titled Reprise (1995), which charts the evolution since 1968 of the working class in the former ‘red belt’ around Paris. His investigation, which results from a negotiation between a place, its inhabitants and a film crew, aims to reconstruct, trace by trace, the relevant places and their social makeup. Arguing for Reprise as a film de banlieue in the strongest possible sense, the author shows how Le Roux weaves working-class left activism back into the site in Saint-Ouen, letting himself be swept along in his depiction by neighbourhood dynamics and popular memory. Rather than trying to revive a more or less faded ‘red suburb’, the film works with the place as it is, providing stark contrast in tone and purpose to its virtual screen contemporary, La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995).

in Screening the Paris suburbs
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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
Roger Singleton-Turner

). 2.1 A Focus control, twist grip, (i) can be mounted on right or left of Camera Operator. B Zoom control rocker (ii) here shown right of Camera Operator (UoS). C At the BBC, the focus control is often via a capstan (iii) mounted on the right of the camera. There will be a locking nut and a ring or lever. Often, a fault in tracking is caused by this system having been disturbed. This is relatively straightforward to correct, but there are variations from one lens to another, so I won’t go into more detail here. More seriously, damage within the lens

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

in the correct order so that the Sound Supervisor has only one disc to deal with and does not have to search for the next track. Camera Operators Camera Operators operate the cameras. In a professional setting, this would include rigging the cameras – that is, ensuring each camera is on its correct mount, is properly placed in the studio and is cabled ready for its first sequence. At the end of the day, they would de-rig – that is, disconnect and coil the cables and put the cameras away. Operation of the cameras is carried out in accordance with the Director

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

largely replaced the job title ‘Production Assistant’. The term ‘Production Assistant’ can now be applied to a member of the technical crew, someone I’ve described as a Camera Operator or a Technical Assistant. Stand-bys The protocol of using ‘stand by’ and a countdown is useful to co-ordinate everyone, even though many devices now have instant starts. That is to say, it is no longer necessary to have a ten-second countdown so that a video machine can start up and stabilise. To avoid sloppy cuts to a frozen frame, though, and to give the Sound Supervisor a chance

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

time and date, if a live show, or the recording date and the transmission date. Anything that is not known may be listed as TBA (to be arranged) or TBC (to be confirmed). After the title, there is a list of staff, starting with the Executive Producer or Producer, then the Director and immediate production team. Other people are listed as appropriate, usually grouped into disciplines. If the list is very long, then you might list, for example, ‘Camera Supervisor’ rather than all the Camera Operators and so on. This page is also helpful at the edit as a reference for

in Cue and Cut
Roger Singleton-Turner

. This will also bring up the subject of ‘looking-room’ and ‘head-room’, which is easier to show in a diagram than to describe. There is an obvious symmetry about the framings in figure 3.4A and B and they would work reasonably well as intercut MCUs. Ideally, the looking-room and the head-room in each intercut frame should match. 3.4A and B Looking-room and head-room for (more-or-less) matching shots. Stills of Chloë Narine and Nick Dudman (UoS). Once the Director has made it clear what kind of shot is required, the Camera Operators, working as a

in Cue and Cut
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Roger Singleton-Turner

the skill-level of the crew, will also have to work out if there is time for the Camera Operators to get from one shot to the next. (The process for a music video, not shot in real time, is much more fluid.) The Director can write a full camera script, but there is always room for improvements in the studio. Events Director Stuart McDonald told me, ‘if the camera crew offer only what’s there, it’s disappointing’. The Camera Operators should be able to offer developing shots or moves the Director might not have considered or might have thought unlikely. Of course, it

in Cue and Cut