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T356 - Week 9 Spring 2015


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

Announcements/Reality Check

  • PSAs. Some have been doing a wonderful job with this, others have dropped the ball. I'm scheduling timeslots this weekend. Please let me know by the end of this week if your client needs a specific time slot. We're going to wrap 10 minutes early so I can meet with the Wednesday lab about their PSA times.
  • Dramatic scene pitches and proposals are due in lab this week. Will pitch scenes & select projects & teams.
  • Next week we'll produce the Performance Pieces
  • PSAswill be produced the following week.
  • Following 2 weeks: Dramatic Scenes, then Final Projects


Quick Notes on producing your projects:

You need accurate lighting plots and floor plans. Not just for us, but for your classmates. Nothing impresses me more than when producers start their setup by giving someone a floor plan and saying, "Here build this. Let me know if you have any questions."

Delegate. 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.

Finishing up Visualization:

Visualization is part of the pre-production, or planning stage.

Nothing saves you more time and makes your project better than pre-production- a.k.a. planning.

Simply put, spend time thinking about your projects. The more time you spend picking your script and shots apart 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.

When blocking a scene - don't forget the basics, such as establishing time and location. When in doubt start with an interesting shot (a dolly or jib shot, a close up of a key prop, etc.) and then show us the establishing shot.

When blocking two-person exchanges OTS (over the shoulder) shots work well. Avoid profiles.

TV is a close-up medium.

Avoid using too many long shots and medium long shots. Use close ups and extreme close-ups to to tell your story. Try to use close-ups for key dramatic or information moments.

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)


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 http://www.filmscriptwriting.com/samplescripts.html .
  • 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. Students should be prepared to 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 the cameras to line up specific shots.
  • 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)


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.).

Non-technical (Above the line) Personnel (condensed from Zettl)

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



Technical (below the line) Personnel

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)
  • AFTRA American Federation of TV and Radio Artists. The major union for TV talent. (Affiliated with the AFL-CIO)
    • it recently merged with SAG
  • SAG Screen Actors Guild. The major union for screeen talent. (Affiliated with the AFL-CIO)
    • SEG Screen Extras Guild. SEG no longer exists. AFTRA and SAG have contracts to cover extras.
  • 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 know their rules (breaks, overtime, salaries etc.).

Floor Director Cues (from Zettl - Chapter 16)

Standby - Show about to start

Cue - Show goes on air

Half-minute - 30 seconds left in show. Can form cross with two index fingers.

15 seconds - 15 seconds left in show

Cut - Stop speech or action immediately

On time - Go ahead as planned

Roll VTR (and countdown)

Speed Up - Accelerate what you are doing (You're going too slow)

Slow down - too much time left

5, (4, 3, 2, 1) minutes left until end of show

Wind up - Finish what you are doing. Come to an end.

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