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Television Production offers you a very practical guide to professional TV and video production techniques. You will find straightforward description and explanations of the equipment you will use, and discover the best ways to use it. You will also learn how to anticipate and quickly overcome typical everyday problems.
You will explore in detail all the major features of television production, learning the secrets of top-grade camerawork, persuasive lighting techniques, effective sound treatment, as well as the subtle processes of scenic design and the art of video editing.
Successful program-making is about communication and persuasion. It is not merely a matter of knowing which buttons to press, but how to influence and persuade your audience, hold their attention, develop their interest, and arouse their emotions. This book tells you how to do all this - and much more.
The fourteenth edition has been completely revamped:
* New: Coauthor Jim Owens brings his wealth of teaching and international broadcasting experience
* New: In brilliant full color for the first time, hundreds of new photos and illustrations demonstrate the techniques presented in the book
* New: Thoroughly overhauled with the latest developments in tools and technology
* New: Focus on the latest equipment, delivery methods, and convergence of digital technology
Audience: Students on television production courses. Professional broadcasting personnel needing to brush up on their knowledge.
I believe that good television can make our world a better place." Christiane Amanpour, CNN Reporter
DVE: Digital video effect equipment, working with the switcher, is used to create special effects between video images. A DVE could also refer to the actual effect.
Linear editing: The copying, or dubbing, of segments from the master tape to another tape in sequential order.
Nonlinear editing: The process in which the recorded video is digitized (copied) onto a computer. Then the footage can be arranged and rearranged, special effects and graphics can be added, and the audio can be adjusted using editing software.
Prosumer equipment: Prosumer equipment, sometimes known as industrial equipment, is a little heavier-duty and sometimes employs a few professional features (such as interchangeable lenses on a camera), but may still have many of the automatic features that are included on the consumer equipment.
Switcher (vision mixer): Used to switch between video inputs (cameras, graphics, video players, etc.)
Teleprompter: A device that projects computer-generated text onto a piece of reflective glass over the lens of the camera. It is designed to allow talent to read a script while looking directly at the camera.
Although the television medium has experienced transforming technical changes in the past few years, it is important to keep in mind that the key to great television is still storytelling. As equipment has evolved and become increasingly adaptable, production techniques have also evolved in order to take advantage of new opportunities.
Equipment Has Become Simpler to Use
You've probably already discovered how even inexpensive consumer high-definition (HD) camcorders can produce extremely detailed images under a wide range of conditions (Figure 1.1). Camera circuitry automatically adjusts and compensates to give you the best picture. A photographer needs to do little more than point the camera, follow the subject, and zoom in and out. To pick up audio, we can simply clip a small lavaliere microphone onto a person's jacket, give them a handheld microphone, or just use the microphone attached to the camera. As for lighting, today's cameras are so sensitive that they work in daylight or whatever artificial light happens to be around. So where's the mystery? Why do we need to study television/ video techniques? Today, anyone can get results.
The Illusion of Reality
"You must use the camera and microphone to produce what the brain perceives, not merely what the eye sees. Only then can you create the illusion of reality." Roone Arledge, Former Producer, ABC Television
One of the basic truths about photography, television, and film is that the camera always lies. On the face of it, it's reasonable to assume that if you simply point your camera and microphone at the scene, you will convey an accurate record of the action to your audience. But as we shall see, in practice the camera and microphone inherently transform "reality."
There can be considerable differences between what is actually happening, what your viewers are seeing, and what they think they are seeing. How the audience interprets space, dimension, atmosphere, time, and so on will depend on a number of factors, such as the camera's position, the lens angle, lighting, editing, the accompanying sound, and, of course, their own personal experience.
We can use this gap between the actual and the apparent to our advantage. It allows us to deliberately select and arrange each shot to affect an audience in a specific way. It gives us the opportunity to devise different types of persuasive and economical production techniques.
If a scene looks "real," the audience will invariably accept it as such. When watching a film, the audience will still respond by sitting on the edge of their seats to dramatic situations. Even though they know that the character hanging from the cliff is really safe and is accompanied by a nearby production crew, it does not override their suspended disbelief.
Even if you put together a disjointed series of totally unrelated shots, your audience will still attempt to rationalize and interpret what they are seeing. (Some pop videos and experimental films rely heavily on this fact to sustain interest.) If you use a camera casually, the images will still unpredictably influence your audience. Generally speaking, careless or inappropriate production techniques will usually be confusing, puzzling, and a bore to watch. The show will lack a logical and consistent form. Systematic techniques are a must if you want to catch and hold audience attention and interest.
Television versus new media
"I would like to try to clarify the question of terminology, particularly the term 'new media.' How can we distinguish 'television' from 'new media'? The distinction is linear service or nonlinear service.
"Traditionally, television has been a linear service, that is, the broadcasting of a program service where the supplier decides on the moment those programs will be offered to the public no matter the distribution platform used.
"On the other hand, the nonlinear services equal the new media, which means making video available for on-demand delivery using any distribution platform.
"It is the demand that makes the difference."
Jean Réveillon, General Secretary of the European Broadcasting Union
It's Not Just Academic
At first thought, learning about television production would seem to be just a matter of mastering the basic equipment mechanics. But let's think for a moment. How often have you heard two people play the same piece of music yet achieve entirely different results? The first instrumentalist may hit all the right notes but the performance may sound dull and uninteresting. The second musician's more sensitive approach stirs our emotions with memorable sound.
Of course, we could simply assume that the second musician had greater talent. But this" talent" generally comes from painstaking study and effective techniques. Experience alone is not enough—especially if it perpetuates incorrect methods. Even quite subtle differences can influence the quality and impact of a performance. You'll find parallel situations in television production practices.
Techniques Will Tell
It's common for three directors to shoot the same action, and yet produce quite diverse results:
* In a "shooting by numbers" approach the first director may show us everything that's going on, but follow a dull routine: the same old wide shot to begin with, followed by close-up shots of whoever is speaking, with intercut "reaction" shots of the listener.
* The second director is busy getting "unusual" shots that actually distract us from the subject itself.
* The third director's smooth sequence of shots somehow manages to create an interesting, attention-grabbing program. The audience feels involved in what is going on.
Clearly, it's not simply a matter of pointing the camera and staying in focus.
Similarly, two different people can light the same setting. The first person illuminates the scene clearly enough, but the second somehow manages to build a persuasive atmospheric effect that enhances the show's appeal. These are the kinds of subtleties you will learn about as we explore techniques.
Having the Edge
Working conditions have changed considerably over the years. Earlier equipment often required the user to have technical understanding to operate it effectively and keep it working. Some of the jobs on the production crew camera, audio, lighting, videotape operation, and editing were all handled by engineers who specialized in that specific area.
In today's highly competitive industry, in which equipment is increasingly reliable and operation is simplified, there is a growing use of multitasking. Individuals need to acquire a variety of skills, rather than specialize in one specific skill or craft. Also, instead of permanent in-house production crews, the trend is to use freelance operators on short-term contracts for maximum economy and flexibility. Now it's even possible for a single person to go out on location with a lightweight camera, record the images and sound, use a laptop computer system to edit the results, and return with a complete program ready to put on the air (Figure 1.2).
The person with greater know-how and adaptability has an edge. Job opportunities vary considerably. The person who specializes in a single craft can develop specific aptitudes in that field. However, the person who can operate a camera today, light a set tomorrow, and subsequently handle the sound has more opportunities in today's market.
Although a single person can accomplish many roles, television still relies on teamwork. Results depend not only on each person knowing their own job, but also on their understanding of what others are aiming to do. In many shows for which the action is live or cannot be repeated, there is only one opportunity, and if that is lost—if, for instance, a camera operator misses the shot—not only will that one shot be substandard, but the whole show can be affected.
Studying this book will give you a number of major advantages:
* By taking the trouble to understand the fundamentals of the equipment that you are using, you'll be able to rapidly assimilate and adapt when new gear comes along. After that, it's just a matter of discovering any operational differences, or different features, and so on.
* It will help you to anticipate problems and avoid problems before they happen.
* When unexpected difficulties arise, as they inevitably will at some point, you will recognize them and quickly compensate. For example, when the talent has a weak voice, you may be able to tighten the shot a little to allow the sound boom to come a little closer without getting into the shot.
Before we begin our journey, let's take an overview of the terrain we will be covering. This will help to familiarize you with the areas that you are going to have to deal with and give a general idea of how they interrelate.
Although organizational basics follow a recognizable pattern for all types of television production, the actual format the director uses will always be influenced by such factors as the following:
* Whether the production is taking place in a studio or on location.
* Whether it is to be transmitted live or recorded for transmission later.
* Whether the action can be repeated (to correct errors, adjust shots) or is a one-time opportunity that has to be captured the first time around.
* Any restrictions due to shortage of time, equipment limitations, space problems, and so on.
* How the director decides to shoot the action (camera viewpoints, shot changes, and so on).
* Whether there is an audience.
In some situations, a multicamera setup is the best solution for shooting the action effectively. (This is when the cameras are controlled by a production team in a separate control room.) At other times, the director may choose to stand beside a single camera, guiding each shot from a nearby video monitor (Figure 1.3).
PLANNING AND PERFORMANCE
In order to create a smooth-flowing live television production, the director needs to understand the event; for example, what is going to happen next, where people are going to stand, what they are going to do, their moves, what they are going to say, and so on. Although there will be situations in which the director has no option but to extemporize and select shots spontaneously, quality results are more likely when action and camera treatment are planned in advance.
In more complex productions, it is usually necessary for performers and crews to work following a production schedule, which is based on the script. This serves as a regulatory framework throughout the show. Action and dialogue are rehearsed to allow the production team to check their camera shots, lighting, set sound levels, rehearse cues, and so on. These rehearsals give the crew a chance to see what the director is going to do. They also allow the director to see what does or does not work. In a drama production, actors have usually memorized all their dialogue (learned their lines), and every word and move is rehearsed before the actual shoot begins.
However, in many productions, the talent does not have the time or opportunity to remember a detailed prepared script. Instead, they read their lines from a teleprompter, which displays the script in front of the camera lens (Figure 1.4). In addition, talent may also be guided by instructions or advice picked up on an inconspicuous earpiece; this is typically done in newscasts, magazine programs, and similar productions.
Excerpted from Television Production by GERALD MILLERSON JIM OWENS Copyright © 2009 by Elsevier, Ltd. . Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Part I The Foundations of Television Production
Chapter 1 Overview of Television Production
Chapter 2 The People Who Make It Happen
Chapter 3 The Television Production Facility
Chapter 4 How TV Works
Chapter 5 The Production Process
Part II The Crafts of Television
Chapter 6 The Script & Production Plan
Chapter 7 What the Camera Can Do
Chapter 8 Handling the Camera
Chapter 9 The Persuasive Camera
Chapter 10 Creating the Image
Chapter 11 Lighting
Chapter 12 Audio for Television
Chapter 13 Television Graphics
Part III Sets, Makeup and Costumes
Chapter 14 Backgrounds & Sets
Chapter 15 Makeup and Costumes
Part IV Recording and Editing the Production
Chapter 16 Recording the Program
Chapter 17 Editing the Production
Part V Production Techniques
Chapter 18 Production Practices
Chapter 19 The Studio Production
Chapter 20 Production Style
Chapter 21 Remote Production
Part VI Engineering
Chapter 22 Engineering