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Jim Krause | Classes | P356 TV Studio Production

Week 9


  • Continue visualization, storyboarding & blocking
  • Scripts & rehearsals
  • Start in on production people & unions

Announcements/Reality Check

  • PSAs. Let me know if you have any changes to the schedule this week by Wednesday.
  • Dramatic Scene proposals are due this week. Will pitch scenes in lab & select projects & teams.
  • Upcoming Lab/Production Schedule:
    • The week after Spring break we'll produce Performance Pieces: Kevin MacDowell & Lara Weaver on Monday (3/18) & Jacobs School of Music vocal artists and master class on Wednesday (3/20)
    • PSAs will be produced the following week (Monday 3/25 & Wednesday 3/27)
    • Then it's two weeks of Dramatic Scenes
    • Two weeks of Final Projects


Quick Notes on producing projects:

Your lighting plots and floor plans are not just for us (and a grade) but for your portfolio and your classmates. It's impressive when producers start their setup by giving someone a floor plan and saying, "Here build this. Let me know if you have any questions." When producing a project you should always bring:

  • lighting plot & any special cues outlined
    • floor plan
    • camera shot sheets
    • Scripts/Cue sheets marked in advance
    • USB stick w
      • teleprompter script
      • sound effects / music / thematic interludes
      • graphics
    • props
    • costumes

Producers and their teams should delegate and take charge. Don't hesitate to ask someone to do something.

If you or your group isn't in charge, volunteer to help. These acts don't go unnoticed.

Pre-Production / Visualization ----------------------------------

Visualization is part of pre-production. Many make the mistake of focusing on dialog, and ignoring the visual storytelling component.

Consider the shots and their blocking & camera movement in a soap opera scene.

Blocking refers to not only moving the character's position, but the camera as well.

Storyboarding is a great way to approach this.

Try to cut cameras as you would make edits - motivate the cuts and change the shot enough so it's not a jump cut.

Think about what you want to see in the frame- the close-ups in particular. Key story points (surprise, love, loss, anger, etc.) are best told with a close-up. These are the hardest to capture.

The more time you spend blocking out your script with appropriate shots before production, the smoother and quicker it will go.

Visualize every single shot! Beethoven could write his music entirely in his head. You can do the same thing. Imagine the first fade up from black. What do you see? You can do this with every single shot along with the soundtrack. Put it in writing in the form of your script and shot sheets. If you can learn to do this you will have great success producing your projects.

Blocking a scene - don't forget the basics:

  • Establish time & location. - You can shoot and edit an intro, which mght include theme music and a title sequence. At the minimum, use a still/photo to show where/when we are.
  • Opening shot - Grab the viewer's attention. Start with something interesting. You can start with a dolly, jib shot, or close up of a key prop and then show us the establishing shot.
  • Block close to the line - For example when blocking two-person exchanges try OTS (over the shoulder) shots. (avoid profiles and backs to the camera unless for a dramatic effect).
  • TV is a close-up medium - Use close-ups to show key story points

The Role of the Director

The Director has many roles- these aren’t clear-cut
  • Artist - convey message with style
  • Psychologist - get different personalities to work at their best and as a team. Be positive & confident. Don't ridicule or blame. Find solutions.
  • Technical Advisor - Have enough of a technical background to know the possibilities and limitations of people and equipment.
  • Coordinator - must be able to coordinate a lot of different tasks that might not have a lot to do with each other.

Pre-production Activities

The more time you spend on pre-production activities, the easier the production phase will be. You will need to focus on the following:

Process message (objective)- What will the program accomplish? Know your communication goals. Keep these at the forefront at all times.

Production method - The most appropriate method of production (live, field, multicam etc.)

Production team & communication - The producer is responsible for organizing the team. Establish communication methods early. (E-mail, meetings, phone numbers)

Scheduling - The producer is responsible for creating a master production schedule. Know who needs to do what when. (Establish artistic needs- then storyboard)

Scripts ------------------------

Script formats (there are many types of scripts- often you need more than one) Students should be able to identify at least three different scripts and describe their purpose.

  • Fully scripted: includes every piece of dialog, every single shot, VTR cues) There are different versions of these for news, film, documentary). Here are a few examples:
  • Semi-scripted: indicates only partial dialogue. The opening and closing remarks are included. Our Studio 5 Perspectives talk show is a good example
  • Drama script: focuses on dialogue and action, not specific camera instructions. (Link to Cybercollege example) There are some famous examples on-line at .
  • Show format: lists only the particular show segments (intro teaser, title sequence, welcome, on-location, roll-out bumper, etc.), Useful for producing live shows when parts have been pre-produced.
  • The fact sheet or rundown sheet: performers ad-lib based on this which resembles bullet points/list. Popular for fund drives and shopping channels.

Script marking:

Whatever you use, it must be clear, readable and consistent. Look at the examples in Zettl. Think about how you would mark a script. The idea is to present as much precise information with as few markings as possible. Don't write out "Ready to roll VTR" cues. This will only work to disassociate you with what's really going on.

Unless specified, the default transition is a cut In other words, you never have to have the word "cut" in a script.

If possible, walk through the scene in rehearsal, marking cameras and shot numbers with pencil.

Once finalized, your AD can mark everyone else's script.

Make a numbered shot sheet for the individual cameras. This way if you want to delete a shot, you can refer to it by number.

For scripts used for post-production (editing) note the take number along with the other info (E.g. timecode numbers)

Floor plan & location sketch

Make an accurate one that actually depicts the shooting location. (not necessarily just a studio)

If you make one that is accurate, to scale and show the cameras and talent, you ought to be able to block the production on paper.

Immediate Support Staff

Floor manager (floor director, stage manager)

  • Coordinates all activities on the floor
  • Oversee setup of scenery, props & displays
  • Responsible for striking the set (or seeing that it gets done)

Zettl has a list of duties the floor director carries out Students should be able to list at least 4 things on this list for the quiz.

Assistant Director

  • The AD mainly assists the director during the production phase. In complex productions, he/she can give the director ready cues and prompt cameras to line up shots in advance.
  • The AD also is responsible for timing the segments and the entire show.
    Sometime they will stand in for the director during rehearsal so that the director can carefully observe the shots
  • The AD should always be ready to stand in for the director

Production Assistant

They do anything that the producer or director assigns them. (copying scripts, getting coffee, picking up talent, getting releases signed, etc)

Rehearsals --------------------------------

Ideally anything that goes onto tape should be rehearsed.

  • Script reading
  • Dry Run/Blocking rehearsal
  • Walk throughs

Start with a script reading. Your talent should be present along with the producer, PA, AD, and floor director. (All key production people) You should have a floor plan handy to help people visualize their places.

Next comes a dry run or blocking rehearsal. The idea is to work out the basic actions of the talent. In the dry run you can:

  • Work in a large room if you can't get access to the studio.
  • Mark the camera positions and the major set pieces.
  • You can use a camcorder to see how your elements work in the frame.
  • You should run through the scenes in the order they are taped.
  • Practice your cues (cue John to enter)
  • Time each segment

Walk-Through – Occurs shortly before the production is taped.

Technical walk-thru (don’t need talent. Go over lighting, audio, camera moves etc.)

Talent Walk-thru (don’t need technical personnel.

  • Mark precise positions
  • Props
  • Go through opening lines and skip to individual cue lines

Combined walk-thru: Can combine, talent, camera & tech in any combination.

Camera rehearsal/Dress Rehearsal

Review Dramatic Scene Exercise

Production People & Personnel ------------------------

Production people are often classified as either above the line or below the line.

Zeetl views above-the-line people as non-technical (writers, producers, directors, talent, etc.) and below-the-line people as technical (TDs, camera operators, lighting directors, grips, electricians, etc.).

Above the line Personnel (Non-technical, influence creative direction)

Executive Producer

In charge of one or more programs/movies. Manages money/promotional matters in broad strokes.


In charge of an individual production. Is responsvbile for all people working on a particular production.

Field Producer

Takes charge of remote production


In charge of directing talent and technical crew.

Assistant Director

Assists director & keeps timing. Helps "ready" shots in a multicam production.


Refers to all performers & actors


Portray other characters


Portray themselves

Below the line Personnel
(Often technical crew members)

Chief Engineer

The main tech person in charge of all others.

Technical Director

Runs the switcher and often serves as crew chief.

Camera Operator

Opertaes the camera (often called videographer)

Video Operator

Adjusts camera CCU (shades the cameras)

CG Operator

Runs the CG

Audio Engineer


Lighting Director

In charge of lighting


Review: Production People & Personnel

Production people are often classified as either above the line or below the line.

Unions & Legal Matters: most writers, directors, talent belong to a guild or union as do almost all below the line personnel.

Non Technical Unions

  • Actor's Equity Association - American actors and stage managers in the theatre. (Affiliated with the AFL-CIO)
  • SAG - AFTRA Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of TV and Radio Artists.
    • These two unions recently merged
      • Screen Actors Guild was the major union for screeen talent.
      • Aftra was the major union for TV talent.
  • AGMA American Guild of Musical Artists. The major union for stage singers. It represents opera and concert singers, production personnel and dancers at principal opera, concert and dance companies throughout the United States.
  • (Affiliated with the AFL-CIO)
  • AFM American Federation of Musicians of the US and Canada. The major union for musicians.
  • DGA Directors Guild of America
  • WGA Writers Guild of America

Technical Unions

  • IBEW International Brothers of Electrical Workers
  • NABET National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians - A subset of the Communication Workers of America
  • IATSE International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators of the US and Canada

If you work with unions you should be familiar with their rules (breaks, overtime, salaries etc.).

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