Until recently, little work had been conducted on television acting per se, let alone the various coalescing factors that underpin and help shape it. This book addresses that lack, utilising a selection of science fiction case studies from the world of BBC television drama to investigate how small screen performance has altered since the days of live production. This then-and-now comparison of performing for British television drama focuses on science fiction case studies to provide a multi-perspectival examination of the historical development of acting in UK television drama. By the mid-1970s, studio realism might be expected to have reached its apotheosis, yet it was by no means all-encompassing as a style of television acting. A new approach was therefore required, with much of the performance preparation now taking place on location rather than being perfected beforehand in a separate rehearsal space: the seeds of location realism. One of the most notable contrasts between early television drama and the modern day is the shift from multi-camera studio to single camera location filming. Comparing the original versions of The Quatermass Experiment, Doctor Who and Survivors with their respective modern-day re-makes, the book unpacks the developments that have resulted from the shift from multi-camera studio to single camera location production. Examining changing acting styles from distinct eras of television production, the book makes a unique contribution to both television and performance studies, unpacking the various determinants that have combined to influence how performers work in the medium.
Yet what there is here should be enough to introduce the working practices of multi-camerastudios. The content is based on my own observations and experience both of those practices and what newcomers to them generally seem to find useful.
The technology is developing fast and I would expect many changes to conventions and practices and to what is possible and affordable over the next few years. The ‘History’ sections show, in part, how much things have changed. You can expect to see as much change in your
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-camerastudio is not the ideal place to try to shoot major action sequences. Multi-camerastudios are great for speech-based content and fine, contained detail – demonstrations and the like. They are also great for a range of music
length) will talk about the focal length of the lens. Those used to multi-camerastudios are more likely to think in terms of the horizontal angle of view. This was true even before the introduction of zoom lenses on all studio cameras. A zoom lens has a variable focal length, so it has a variable angle of view.
Lenses bend light. They can do this because of the refractive properties of glass. If a beam of light from a point source with parallel rays hits a convex lens, the beams will be deflected and will meet at a point behind the lens. The
Multi-camerastudio drama provides some of the most popular programming on British broadcast television, judging by the figures in the weekly Broadcast magazine. As I write, the techniques are usually limited to low-budget dramas such as ‘soap operas’, though they can also be used on situation comedies where there is a live studio audience.
Having said that, every so often, at least in the UK, events are staged that feature ‘serious’ multi-camera dramas. In 2005, there was the Quatermass Experiment , which added being shot on location to the stresses of
the ability to work within a team are essential for surviving in this field.
Despite television’s changing surface, I believe that most of what is written here will continue to be relevant. This is precisely because a multi-camerastudio does need a team to communicate their thoughts and ideas quickly, clearly and effectively. As long as there are multi-camerastudios, this must continue to be true. In a conversation with Stuart McDonald, one of the UK’s most experienced Event Directors, he kept returning to the importance to him of teamwork, of knowing the
neglected, and given its commonalities with studio realism (rehearsal process, multi-camerastudio production –but with the added ingredient of a live audience) and the more recent move towards a single camera model,
this might provide some interesting contrasts and similarities. The
particular styles employed for other dramatic formats such as the
soap, the episodic drama and the single play also warrant investigation, and given the increased reliance in British drama schools
upon Stanislavski –so often confused with the ‘Method’ style of
C o n cl us io n
television itself, its case studies offering a valuable index to the times
in which they were produced.
One of the most notable contrasts between early television
drama and the modern day is the shift from multi-camerastudio
(initially transmitted live, and later pre-recorded on videotape) to
single camera location filming. The consequences of this were felt
only gradually, and due to various other contributing factors were
in a constant state of flux. However, studio and location provide a
useful starting point for analysing both the changing determinants
and one camera can be fixed on, perhaps, a group shot.
2.2 A The side of a typical studio camera head; B shows the back. You will find many variations. The pan and tilt locks should allow the head to be locked in any chosen position. If there is the equivalent of a sliding tilt lock, this is for safety and locks the head level.
On many heads there is another sliding lock, also to prevent accidental tilting.
There are all kinds of mounts used in multi-camerastudios. The cheapest is the rolling tripod – a tripod on a set of (detachable
. However, a weather forecast, for instance, of 90 words should run close to 30 seconds, given an average delivery.
My own experience as a new Director in a multi-camerastudio was that everything seemed to be happening very fast. This led to my feeling that delivery was on the fast side. However, when I got to the edit, where things were usually calmer, the delivery could seem too slow! If the (less experienced) Director feels the delivery is a bit fast, it’s probably about right – but this is where the Producer can be very helpful. With a mind less cluttered by the