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Video
BASICS
6
The Wadsworth Series in Broadcast and Production
Albarran, Management of Electronic Media, Fourth Edition
Alten, Audio in Media, Eighth Edition
Eastman/Ferguson, Media Programming: Strategies and Practices, Eighth Edition
Gross, Digital Moviemaking, Seventh Edition
Hausman/Benoit/Messere/O’Donnell, Announcing: Broadcast Communicating
Today, Fifth Edition
Hausman/Benoit/Messere/O’Donnell, Modern Radio Production, Eighth Edition
Hilliard, Writing for Television, Radio, and New Media, Ninth Edition
Hilmes, Connections: A Broadcast History Reader
Hilmes, Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States,
Second Edition
Mamer, Film Production Technique: Creating the Accomplished Image,
Fifth Edition
Meeske, Copywriting for the Electronic Media: A Practical Guide, Sixth Edition
Osgood/Hinshaw, Visual Storytelling
Stephens, Broadcast News, Fourth Edition
Viera/Viera, Lighting for Film and Electronic Cinematography, Second Edition
Zettl, Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics, Fifth Edition
Zettl, Television Production Handbook, Tenth Edition
Zettl, Television Production Workbook, Tenth Edition
Zettl, Video Basics 6
Zettl, Video Basics Workbook 6
Zettl, Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0, Revised, DVD-ROM
BASICS
Herbert Zettl
San Francisco State University
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Video Basics, Sixth Edition
Herbert Zettl
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TO ALEX AND ANNE
Brief Contents
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Production: Processes and People
1
Chapter 1
Production Process
2
Chapter 2
Production Team: Who Does What When?
Image Creation: Digital Video and Camera
35
Chapter 3
Image Formation and Digital Video
Chapter 4
Video Camera
Chapter 5
Operating the Camera
Chapter 6
Looking Through the Viewfinder
36
50
70
94
Image Creation: Sound, Light, Graphics, and Effects
Chapter 7
Audio and Sound Control
116
Chapter 8
Light, Color, and Lighting
152
Chapter 9
Graphics and Effects
115
190
Image Control: Switching, Recording, and Editing
Chapter 10 Switcher and Switching
Chapter 11 Video Recording
Chapter 13 Editing Principles
209
210
226
Chapter 12 Postproduction: Linear and Nonlinear Editing
Part V
18
248
276
Production Environment: Studio, Field, Postproduction, and Synthetic
Chapter 14 Production Environment: Studio
298
Chapter 15 Production Environment: Field, Postproduction, and Synthetic
Part VI
Production Control: Talent and Directing
Chapter 16 Talent, Clothing, and Makeup
Chapter 17 Putting It All Together: Directing
297
322
343
344
362
Contents
About the Author
Preface
PART
I
CHAPTER
xviii
xix
Production: Processes and People
1
1
2
Production Process
PRODUCTION MODEL
4
PRODUCTION PHASES
4
IMPORTANCE OF PREPRODUCTION
5
PREPRODUCTION: GENERATING IDEAS ON DEMAND
Brainstorming
Clustering
6
7
PREPRODUCTION: FROM IDEA TO SCRIPT
Program Objective
Angle
8
9
9
Evaluation
Script
10
10
PREPRODUCTION: FROM SCRIPT TO PRODUCTION
Medium Requirements
Budget
6
10
10
12
MEDIA CONVERGENCE
12
Digital Cinema and Video
Studio and Field Production
12
12
vii
viii
CONTENT S
CHAPTER
2
Production Team: Who Does What When?
PRODUCTION TEAMS
20
Preproduction Team
Production Team
22
25
Postproduction Team
PASSING THE BUCK
25
26
TAKING AND SHARING RESPONSIBILITY
28
PRODUCTION SCHEDULE AND TIME LINE
30
INTERVIEW PRODUCTION SCHEDULE
31
TIME LINE: MARCH 9—INTERVIEW (STUDIO 1)
PART
II
CHAPTER
18
31
Image Creation: Digital Video and Camera
35
3
36
Image Formation and Digital Video
BASIC IMAGE FORMATION
Scanning Process
37
38
Digital Video Scanning Systems
HDV Systems
41
Flat-panel Displays
WHAT IS DIGITAL?
43
DIGITAL PROCESS
43
42
Analog and Digital Signals
Digital System
DIGITAL PROCESS RESTATED
Analog Signal
44
44
45
Digital Signal and Quantizing
45
46
Compression and Transport
WHY DIGITAL?
43
43
Downloading and Streaming
Sampling
40
46
47
Picture and Sound Quality in Dubs
Compression
47
Manipulation
48
47
ix
CONTENT S
CHAPTER
4
Video Camera
50
BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
Function
Lens
53
Beam Splitter and Imaging Device
Imaging Device or Sensor
Video Signal Processing
Viewfinder
58
60
61
Camcorders
61
ENG/EFP Cameras
Studio Cameras
63
64
Digital Cinema Cameras
5
57
60
TYPES OF CAMERAS
CHAPTER
51
51
68
Operating the Camera
BASIC CAMERA MOVEMENTS
70
72
CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
75
Handheld and Shoulder-mounted Camera
Tripod-supported Camera
Special Camera Mounts
Studio Pedestal
86
86
Adjusting Shutter Speed
Zooming
81
83
OPERATIONAL FEATURES
Focusing
75
78
88
88
White-balancing
GENERAL GUIDELINES
89
89
C H E C K L I S T: C A M CO R D E R S A N D E N G / E F P C A M E R A S
C H E C K L I S T: S T U D I O C A M E R A S
91
90
x
CONTENT S
CHAPTER
6
Looking Through the Viewfinder
FRAMING A SHOT
96
Aspect Ratio
96
Field of View
97
Vectors
99
Composition
100
Psychological Closure
104
MANIPULATING PICTURE DEPTH
Defining the Z-axis
107
107
Lenses and Z-axis Length
108
Lenses and Depth of Field
108
Lenses and Z-axis Speed
110
CONTROLLING CAMERA AND OBJECT MOTION
110
Controlling Camera Movement and Zooms
Controlling Object Motion
PART
III
CHAPTER
94
110
112
Image Creation: Sound, Light, Graphics, and Effects
115
7
116
Audio and Sound Control
SOUND PICKUP PRINCIPLE
MICROPHONES
118
118
How Well Mics Hear: Sound Pickup
How Mics Are Made
120
How Mics Are Used
122
SOUND CONTROL
132
Manual Volume Control
Audio Mixer
132
132
Audio Console
137
Cables and Patch Panel
SOUND RECORDING
118
139
141
Digital Audio Production Equipment
Analog Recording Equipment
AUDIO POSTPRODUCTION
143
144
Audio Postproduction Room
144
141
xi
CONTENT S
Sound Waveform
146
Automated Dialogue Replacement
SYNTHESIZED SOUND
147
SOUND AESTHETICS
Context
147
147
Figure/Ground
148
Sound Perspective
Continuity
Energy
CHAPTER
8
146
148
148
149
Light, Color, and Lighting
LIGHT
154
Types of Light
154
Light Intensity
154
Measuring Illumination
Contrast
SHADOWS
155
156
157
Attached Shadows
Cast Shadows
Falloff
COLOR
152
157
160
160
161
Additive and Subtractive Color Mixing
161
Color Television Receiver and Generated Colors
Color Temperature and White-balancing
LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS
Spotlights
165
165
Floodlights
169
LED Lights
171
Special-purpose Spotlights and Floodlights
LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
174
Operation of Lights
174
C H E C K L I S T: L I G H T I N G S A F E T Y
Studio Lighting
Light Plot
162
174
175
181
Field Lighting
182
GUIDELINES: FIELD LIGHTING
Last-minute-lighting Techniques
186
187
172
162
xii
CONTENT S
CHAPTER
9
Graphics and Effects
PRINCIPLES OF GRAPHICS
Aspect Ratio
Color
192
192
Essential Area
Readability
190
192
193
194
Animated Graphics
Style
196
196
STANDARD ELECTRONIC VIDEO EFFECTS
Superimposition
Key
196
196
197
Wipe
199
DIGITAL EFFECTS
201
Digital Image Manipulation Equipment
Common Digital Video Effects
Synthetic Image Creation
PART
IV
CHAPTER
201
203
204
Image Control: Switching, Recording, and Editing
10
Switcher and Switching
PRODUCTION SWITCHER
SWITCHER LAYOUT
213
214
Program Bus
214
Preview Bus
215
Key Bus
210
211
BASIC SWITCHER FUNCTIONS
216
Fader Bar and Auto-transition
Delegation Controls
SWITCHER OPERATION
216
216
217
Working the Program Bus: Cuts-only
Working the Mix Buses: Cuts
Working the Effects Bus: Wipes
217
218
Working the Mix Buses: Dissolves
209
219
220
xiii
CONTENT S
Working the Key Bus: Keys
220
Working the Downstream Keyer
Chroma Keying
Special Effects
222
222
222
AUTOMATED PRODUCTION CONTROL
APC Function
222
Control Panels
CHAPTER
11
222
223
Video Recording
226
VIDEO-RECORDING SYSTEMS
228
Tape- and Tapeless Recording Systems
Basic Videotape Tracks
228
228
Composite, Y/C Component, and Y/Color Difference Component Recording Systems
Types of Videotape Recorders
Time Base Corrector
235
VIDEOTAPE-RECORDING PROCESS
236
T H E “ B E F O R E” C H E C K L I S T
236
T H E “ D U R I N G” C H E C K L I S T
T H E “A F T E R ” C H E C K L I S T
TAPELESS RECORDING MEDIA
238
242
242
Hard Drives and Video Servers
Flash Memory Devices
USE OF VIDEO RECORDING
CHAPTER
12
244
244
245
Interactive Video
Digital Cinema
243
244
Read/Write Optical Discs
Multimedia
245
246
Postproduction: Linear and Nonlinear Editing
NONLINEAR EDITING
230
233
250
Nonlinear Editing System
251
Nonlinear Editing Phase 1: Capture
Nonlinear Editing Phase 2: Editing
252
253
Nonlinear Editing Phase 3: Export to Videotape or Disc
256
248
xiv
CONTENT S
LINEAR EDITING
256
Single-source Linear System
257
Multiple-source Linear System
258
Pulse-count and Address Code
260
Assemble Editing
Insert Editing
262
263
POSTPRODUCTION PREPARATIONS
264
PRODUCTION TIPS FOR POSTPRODUCTION
OFF-LINE AND ON-LINE EDITING
269
Linear Off-line and On-line Editing
269
Nonlinear Off-line and On-line Editing
Off-line Editing Procedures
270
On-line Editing Procedures
272
POSTPRODUCTION FACILITIES
Editing Bays
13
269
272
273
On-line Suites
CHAPTER
273
Editing Principles
EDITING PURPOSE
EDITING FUNCTIONS
Build
278
278
Condense
Correct
276
277
Combine
278
278
279
AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUITY EDITING
Mental Map
Vectors
264
279
279
282
On- and Off-screen Positions
Cutting on Action
286
291
AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF COMPLEXITY EDITING
Intensifying an Event
Supplying Meaning
292
294
292
xv
CONTENT S
PART
V
CHAPTER
Production Environment:
Studio, Field, Postproduction, and Synthetic
14
Production Environment: Studio
VIDEO PRODUCTION STUDIO
Physical Layout
300
302
STUDIO CONTROL ROOM
303
Image Control
304
Sound Control
308
308
STUDIO SUPPORT AREAS
310
Scenery and Property Storage
Makeup
310
310
SCENERY, PROPERTIES, AND SET DRESSINGS
Scenery
314
Set Dressings
315
316
Program Objective
Floor Plan
Prop List
316
316
319
Using the Floor Plan for Setup
CHAPTER
15
311
311
Properties
SET DESIGN
298
300
Major Installations
MASTER CONTROL
297
319
Production Environment:
Field, Postproduction, and Synthetic
ELECTRONIC NEWS GATHERING
News Gathering
Transmission
324
324
324
ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
326
Preproduction: Remote Survey
Production: Shooting
330
326
322
xvi
CONTENT S
C H E C K L I S T: F I E L D P R O D U C T I O N E Q U I P M E N T
Postproduction: Wrap-up
BIG REMOTES
335
335
POSTPRODUCTION ROOMS
336
Video Postproduction Room
336
Audio Postproduction Room
336
SYNTHETIC ENVIRONMENTS
338
Computer-generated Settings
Virtual Reality
338
339
Computer-controlled Environments
PART
VI
CHAPTER
340
Production Control: Talent and Directing
16
Talent, Clothing, and Makeup
PERFORMING TECHNIQUES
346
Performer and Camera
Audio and Lighting
346
347
Timing and Prompting
ACTING TECHNIQUES
349
355
Environment and Audience
Close-ups
CLOTHING
MAKEUP
357
357
358
Texture and Detail
Color
355
356
Repeating Action
AUDITIONS
330
358
358
359
Technical Requirements
Materials
360
359
343
344
xvii
CONTENT S
CHAPTER
17
Putting It All Together: Directing
SCRIPT FORMATS
364
Fact, or Rundown, Sheet
News Script
364
364
Two-column A/V Script
365
Single-column Drama Script
VISUALIZATION
371
371
PREPARING FOR A MULTICAMERA STUDIO PRODUCTION
CONTROL ROOM DIRECTING
Terminology
Time Line
Rehearsals
379
379
379
384
Directing the Multicamera Show
SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
Major Differences
389
389
390
Single-camera Field Production
391
396
Glossary
397
Index
387
Single-camera Studio Directing
Epilogue
411
362
373
About the Author
H
erbert Zettl is a professor emeritus of the Broadcast and Electronic Commu-
nication Arts Department at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He taught
there for many years in the fields of video production and media aesthetics. While
at SFSU he headed the Institute of International Media Communication. For his
academic contributions, he received the California State Legislature Distinguished
Teaching Award and, from the Broadcast Education Association, the Distinguished
Education Service Award.
Prior to joining the SFSU faculty, Zettl worked at KOVR (Stockton-Sacramento)
and as a producer-director at KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. While at KPIX
he participated in a variety of CBS and NBC network television productions. Because
of his outstanding contributions to the television profession, he was elected to the
prestigious Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
(NATAS), Northern California Chapter. He is also a member of the Broadcast Legends
of the NATAS Northern California Chapter.
In addition to this book, Zettl has authored Video Basics Workbook, Television
Production Handbook, and Sight Sound Motion. All of his books have been translated into several languages and published internationally. His numerous articles on
television production and media aesthetics have appeared in major media journals
worldwide. He has lectured extensively on television production and media aesthetics at universities and professional broadcast institutions in the United States
and abroad and has presented key papers at a variety of national and international
communication conventions.
Zettl developed an interactive DVD-ROM, Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0, published by
Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. His previous CD-ROM version won several prestigious awards, among them the Macromedia People’s Choice Award, the New
Media Invision Gold Medal for Higher Education, and Invision Silver Medals in the
categories of Continuing Education and Use of Video.
xviii
Preface
W
henever I had to read a book that had “basics” in the title, I felt slightly
put down before ever looking at what was in the book. I guess I took “basics”
to mean I was automatically classified as inferior or, at best, unenlightened. This
feeling grew even stronger when I thought I knew a little about the subject. Now
I know better. “Basics” does not imply an evaluation of the reader but describes a
necessary, if not essential, prerequisite for helping someone acquire the necessary
knowledge and skills to master a subject or an activity—such as video production.
As a matter of fact, I now get annoyed when I try to learn the basics of a subject but
find that many of the fundamental steps are left out.
Video Basics is written in the spirit of helping you learn video production from the
ground up so that your move from amateur to professional status will be maximally
efficient and effective. A solid knowledge of the basics of video will also give you the
confidence to go beyond the conventional—and to break the rules if necessary for
the optimal clarification and intensification of a message.
For the instructor, the text is streamlined so that its content can be taught in a
single semester.
VIDEO BASICS 6 HIGHLIGHTS: DEFINITIONS
Contrary to the previous editions of Video Basics, which reflected the transition from
analog to digital technology, Video Basics 6 acknowledges that digital video is firmly
established. References to analog are made only to help explain the digital process
or the analog equipment that is still in use.
To avoid confusion about what is meant by some popular terms, the following
definitions explain how the terms are used in this text. For specific definitions of
these and other terms, consult the glossary at the back of this book.
Video
As in all previous editions, video is used throughout the text as a more inclusive
term than television. Video encompasses the full range of today’s electronically
delivered moving images, from what we normally call “television” to corporate
videos and productions done in media departments, to documentaries or digital
filmmaking by individuals or a group of friends, to multimedia content and streaming video on the Internet.
xix
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P R E FA C E
Aesthetics
The term aesthetics does not refer to the theory of art or what is beautiful but rather
to media aesthetics, which deals with the understanding and the control of light
and color, space, time/motion, and sound. The few descriptions of some of the basic
aesthetic principles are not intended to detract from learning the technical aspects of
production equipment but rather to facilitate their optimal application. Traditional
media aesthetic factors such as picture composition, lighting, and shot sequencing
are relatively independent of technological advances and therefore become the anchor of all successful video productions. How to compose an effective shot, choose
the right music, or construct a successful sequence of close-ups must go hand-inhand with learning the more technical aspects of video equipment.
Digital
Digital, which describes the nature of an electrical signal, has become a catchword
for all types of video equipment, quality standards, and even production processes.
To clarify some of the often-puzzling terminology of digital television and the various
scanning systems, in this edition the scanning, sampling, and compression standards
of digital television (DTV), high-definition video (HDV), and high-definition television (HDTV) are explored and their major differences are explained. Despite the lure
of high-definition equipment, you will find that in many cases learning the actual
operation of equipment and production processes is the same regardless of whether
the equipment is a small consumer camcorder or a high-end HDTV one.
VIDEO BASICS 6 HIGHLIGHTS: FEATURES
To make full use of this text, you should be aware of some its special features. All are
intended to help you learn a complex subject in an expeditious and affable way.
Chapter Grouping
To cover the broad spectrum of video production, this book is divided into six parts:
◾ Production: Processes and People
◾ Image Creation: Digital Video and Camera
◾ Image Creation: Sound, Light, Graphics, and Effects
◾ Image Control: Switching, Recording, and Editing
◾ Production Environment: Studio, Field, Postproduction, and Synthetic
◾ Production Control: Talent and Directing
As you can see, the book describes how to move from an initial idea to an effective screen event regardless of whether you are doing a wedding video, a documentary, or large-screen electronic cinema. It discusses the people normally involved in
the production process, the major tools of video production, and how to use them
to get the intended job done effectively and on time.
P R E FA C E
Key Terms
Each chapter’s key terms appear at the beginning of the chapter, in the context
of the text, and again in the extensive glossary. They are intended to prepare you
for each chapter’s terminology and serve as a quick reference as needed. The key
terms are also identified in bold italic in the chapter text in the context in which
they are defined.
You should make an effort to read the key terms before moving to the actual
chapter text. There is no need to memorize them at this point—they merely serve as
the first part of the pedagogical principle of redundancy. Hopefully, they will trigger
an aha! response when you encounter them in context.
Key Concepts
The key concept margin notes emphasize each chapter’s principal ideas and issues
and are intended primarily as a memory aid. Once you learn a key concept, it should
be easier for you to retrieve the rest of the related information.
Main Points
These summaries recap the chapter’s most important points and key concepts. They
do not represent a true précis—a precise and accurate abridgment of the chapter
content—but are intended as a final reinforcement of the essential points. But beware
of thinking that all you need to do is read the summaries. They are no substitute for
the in-depth chapter content.
New to Video Basics 6
All chapters of this edition have been updated and, wherever necessary, the text
streamlined and the concepts clarified. Because digital video technology is firmly
established by now, analog is mentioned only when such equipment is still in use
or important for understanding the digital process. The convergence of video and
digital cinema with regard to equipment, aesthetics, and single- and multiple-camera
use is taken into consideration throughout the book.
The following list of new information is especially intended for instructors who
are already familiar with previous editions of Video Basics:
◾ The major differences among STV (standard television), HDV, and HDTV are
discussed throughout the text.
◾ The digital process, including sampling, compression, downloading, and
streaming, is explained with an easy-to-understand metaphor (chapter 3).
◾ Analog and digital signals as well as the sampling process are illustrated with
new graphics (chapter 3).
◾ The compositional needs for the various aspect ratios, including large-screen
and cell-phone displays, are stressed (chapter 6).
◾ Sound waveforms are explained and illustrated (chapter 7).
xxi
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P R E FA C E
◾ Because of the increased sensitivity of digital cameras, the latest lighting
instruments, such as LED lights, are introduced (chapter 8).
◾ Nonlinear recording and postproduction procedures are emphasized over
linear editing (chapters 11 and 12).
SUPPORT MATERIALS
Video Basics 6 offers a wealth of support materials for both students and instructors.
These thoroughly class-tested and highly praised print and electronic supplements
are available to assist you in making the learning—and teaching—experience as
meaningful, enjoyable, and successful as possible.
For Students
As a student you can reinforce the text with three additional learning aids: the Video
Basics Workbook 6 and Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 DVD-ROM. Both are intended primarily
to reinforce the material in Video Basics 6, but you can also use them as learning
aids independent of the text.
Video Basics Workbook 6 You can use the Workbook to test your retention and
retrieval of video production basics and as a primer for actual studio and field productions. When doing the Workbook problems, try not to seek the answers in Video
Basics until you have finished a particular Workbook section. This way you will get a
better idea of whether you have a sufficient grasp of a particular piece of equipment
or production process so that you can apply it in a variety of contexts.
Companion Web Site Newly revised for the sixth edition, this Web site is an excellent study tool for students. Key terms from each chapter are posted, available
as flashcards, and also used in each chapter’s crossword puzzle. Also located here
are a quick reference to the Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 exercises in each chapter as well
as tutorial quizzes. Free to all students, the site is located at www.cengage.com/rtf/
zettl/videobasics6e.
Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 The Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 DVD-ROM provides you with an
individual, private, and unintimidating learning experience. Combined with Video
Basics 6, it becomes a powerful instructional ally. You can manipulate production
equipment in a virtual studio or field environment and apply various production
techniques from the text. For example, you can mix audio, frame shots, zoom in and
out, create your own lighting effects, and have plenty of opportunity for editing. All
you need is a computer.
For Instructors
For instructors the following class preparation, classroom activity, and assessment
materials are available.
Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 Even if you lecture or conduct your lab activities in a studio, you may find it convenient at least initially to demonstrate some of the pro-
P R E FA C E
duction techniques by first showing the class examples from the VideoLab DVD.
Such a primer seems to facilitate the use of equipment in an actual production or
lab situation.
Video Basics Workbook 6 The Workbook retains many of the successful features
of the fifth edition. It can be used to test student retention and retrieval of video
production basics and also serve as a primer for actual studio and field work. I have
also successfully used the Workbook as a diagnostic tool for advanced production
students. Having students do various problems at the beginning of the semester
(without the aid of the text) quickly reveals the strengths and weaknesses of their
production knowledge and skills. Those students who feel they know everything
even before taking the class are usually surprised to find that there are quite a few
important areas in which they have plenty to learn.
Instructor’s Manual The Instructor’s Manual for Video Basics 6 with Answer Key
for Video Basics Workbook 6 includes chapter notes with teaching suggestions and
activities, multiple-choice questions, essay/discussion questions, and additional
teaching resources. The manual also includes the answers to the exercises in the
Workbook. Note that for the multiple-choice questions the correct answer is indicated
by a > symbol and the page number where the specific problem is first discussed
in the text.
Instructor’s Web site The password-protected instructor’s Web site includes access
to the online Instructor’s Resource Manual. To gain access to the Web site, request
a course key on the site’s home page. The site is located at www.cengage.com/rtf/
zettl/videobasics6e.
Powerlecture with ExamView® Computerized Testing This testing aid lets you
create or customize tests and study guides (both print and online) using the test bank
questions from the online Instructor’s Resource Manual. ExamView offers both a
Quick Test Wizard and an Online Test Wizard that guide you step-by-step through
the process of creating tests. The “what you see is what you get” interface allows you
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If you are a qualified adopter of the text, you can order these resources through
your local Wadsworth/Cengage representative. You may also contact the Wadsworth/
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www.cengage.com/wadsworth.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Despite some shifts and changes in my publishing company, I inherited an outstanding support team to whom I am greatly indebted: Michael Rosenberg, publisher;
Karen Judd, senior editor; and Ed Dodd, development editor. My very special thanks
go to Megan Garvey, assistant editor, and editorial assistant Rebekah Matthews,
who took over after Karen Judd left the company. Both not only continued the care
and attention with which Ms. Judd had spoiled me but also managed to keep me on
schedule despite the usual—seemingly inevitable—bumps in the road.
xxiii
xxiv
P R E FA C E
Once again I was privileged to have Gary Palmatier of Ideas to Images and his
team of superprofessionals translate my ideas into this book—a process just as complex as producing a television show. Elizabeth von Radics can add another medal
to her collection as my copy editor. I am lucky to be able to draw on her combined
skills as a language and media expert. As in previous editions, the photos by master photographer Ed Aiona make the book not only look more attractive, but also
contribute greatly to the understanding of equipment and production techniques.
Thanks too to eagle-eye proofreader Mike Mollett. Kristin Sladen and Catherine
Schnurr of Pre-Press PMG have my gratitude for dealing with numerous companies
to get the best product shots available. Thanks also to Bob Kauser, Global Rights and
Permissions Administration, Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, for his help on many
of my books.
This edition has benefited greatly from the following experts who reviewed the
previous edition of Video Basics and made valuable suggestions: Peter R. Gershon,
Hofstra University; Al Greule, Stephen F. Austin State University; Douglas Pastel,
Bunker Hill Community College; Cara Schollenberger, Bucks County Community
College; and Gregory Steel; Indiana University-Kokomo.
I am much indebted to Paul Rose, University of Utah, for his meticulous review
of my manuscript, his help with the Workbook, and his co-authoring of the Instructor’s Manual. As have previous editions, this edition of Video Basics benefited greatly
from Paul’s technical expertise and pedagogical experience.
Whenever I needed specific information or advice, I could always rely on my
colleagues in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department at San
Francisco State University. My sincere thanks go to Marty Gonzales, Hamid Khani,
Steve Lahey, Vinay Shrivastava, and Winston Tharp. I am also greatly indebted to
the following individuals in various branches of the video industry: Rudolf Benzler,
T.E.A.M. Lucerne, Switzerland; John Beritzhoff, Snader and Associates; Ed Cosci and
Jim Haman, KTVU Oakland–San Francisco; Sonny Craven, Virginia Military Institute;
Elan Frank and Reed Maidenberg, Elan Productions; Professor Nikos Metallinos,
Concordia University; Professor Manfred Muckenhaupt, University of Tübingen;
and Phil Sigmund, BeyondPix Communications, San Francisco.
Finally, I would like to thank all the people who appear in the photos: Socoro
Aguilar-Uriarte, Karen Austin, Ken Baird, Hoda Baydoun, Clara Benjamin, Rudolf
Benzler, Tiemo Biemüller, Gabriella Bolton, Michael Cage, William Carpenter,
NeeLa Chakravartula, Andrew Child, Laura Child, Renee Child, Christine Cornish,
Ed Cosci, David Galvez, Eric Goldstein, Poleng Hong, Michael Huston, Lauren
Jones, Olivia Jungius, Akiko Kajiwara, Hamid Khani, Philip Kipper, Christine Lojo,
Fawn Luu, Orcun Malkoclar, Johnny Moreno, Anita Morgan, Tomoko Nakayama,
Einat Nov, Tamara Perkins, Richard Piscitello, Ildiko Polony, Robaire Ream, Kerstin
Riediger, Joaquin Ross, Maya Ross, Algie Salmon-Fattahian, Heather Schiffman,
Alisa Shahonian, Pria Shih, Jennifer Stanonis, Mathias Stering, Heather Suzuki, Julie
Tepper, Takako Thorstadt, Mike Vista, Andrew Wright, and Arthur Yee.
My wife, Erika, deserves much credit for helping me get through yet another
edition of Video Basics.
Herbert Zettl
I
P A R T
Production:
Processes and People
CHAPTER 1
The small digital camcorder and digital editing software have made it possible to
Production
Process
run out and create a documentary that shakes the world and makes you rich and
famous. Right? Well, there is always the possibility that you get lucky—once. But as a
professional in the video business, you must be much more consistent and produce
CHAPTER 2
Production
Team: Who Does
What When?
high-quality programs on a more regular basis. To achieve this goal, you must
understand not only how a specific piece of equipment works but also how to get from
idea to video image efficiently and effectively—the production process. You must also
learn to work with people—a team of experienced production experts—all of whom
must collaborate to create a worthwhile program and bring it to its intended audience.
This book will help you become such a professional.
Part I explores how the production process works and how to move systematically from
the initial idea to the finished production with confidence and minimal wasted effort.
You are also introduced to the standard technical and nontechnical production teams.
1
1
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
angle The particular approach to a story—its central theme.
preproduction The preparation of all production details.
field production Production activities that take place away
from the studio.
process message The message actually perceived by the
viewer in the process of watching a video program.
medium requirements All personnel, equipment, and facilities
needed for a production, as well as budgets, schedules, and
the various production phases.
production The actual activities in which an event is recorded
and/or televised.
multicamera production The use of two or more cameras to
capture a scene simultaneously from different points of
view. Each camera’s output can be recorded separately
(iso configuration) and/or fed into a switcher for instantaneous editing.
postproduction Any production activity that occurs after
the production. Usually refers to video editing and/or
audio sweetening.
production model Moving from the idea to the program
objective and then backing up to the specific medium
requirements to achieve the program objective.
program objective The desired effect of the program on
the viewer.
single-camera production All the video is captured by a single
camera or camcorder for postproduction editing. Similar to
the traditional film approach. Also called film-style.
studio production Production activities that take place in
the studio.
Production Process
You are ready to roll. You’ve got a million ideas for shows, each of which is considerably
better than what you ordinarily see on television. But how exactly do you get them
out of your head and onto the screen? This step—the production process—is the
core of all successful programs. It cannot be done intuitively; it must be learned. But
don’t be dismayed. This chapter provides you with a useful guide to moving from idea
to image—your prizewinning masterpiece. It also explains the production phases
and leads you through the preproduction steps. Finally, it helps you generate useful
program ideas on demand and points you toward the ever-closer convergence of
video and digital cinema productions, regardless of whether they are done as singleor multicamera productions in the studio or in the field.
▶ PRODUCTION MODEL
Organizing the details for moving from original idea to finished product
▶ PRODUCTION PHASES
Preproduction, production, and postproduction
▶ IMPORTANCE OF PREPRODUCTION
Moving from idea to script and from script to production details
▶ PREPRODUCTION: GENERATING IDEAS ON DEMAND
Brainstorming and clustering
▶ PREPRODUCTION: FROM IDEA TO SCRIPT
Program objective, angle, evaluation, and script
▶ PREPRODUCTION: FROM SCRIPT TO PRODUCTION
Medium requirements and budget
▶ MEDIA CONVERGENCE
Digital cinema and video and single- and multicamera use in the studio and in the field
3
4
CHAPTER 1
PRODUCTION PROCESS
PRODUCTION MODEL
Don’t be dismayed. A model is not a set of absolute rules; it is strictly a suggestion of
how to approach and accomplish a difficult task. In our case it is meant to help you
organize the many details necessary to move from the original idea to the finished
product. The production model is not a foolproof system that works every time you
use it but more of a road map for how to get from idea to screen image with the least
number of detours.
The production model is based on the realization that the message that counts
is not necessarily the one you start with but the one that is perceived by the viewer.
This process is a bit like cooking: the final success of your undertaking is measured
not by the ingredients you use (the initial idea) but whether your guests like the meal
(the message actually received). Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to start with an idea
of how the meal should finally look and taste and then figure out what ingredients
you need to make it?
This production model works on the same principle: once you have developed
the initial idea, you move directly to what, ideally, you want the viewers to learn,
feel, or do.1 The production model suggests that rather than move from the initial
idea to the production, you jump from the initial idea to a program objective—the
desired effect on the viewer. Then and only then do you back up and decide on the
medium requirements necessary to produce the intended communication effect.
The message that counts is not necessarily the one you start with but rather the
one that is perceived by the viewer. Because the final effect is a result of a process
between what you present on-screen and what the viewer actually perceives, this
all-important message is called the process message. SEE 1.1
As you can see, this model shows four distinct processes: (1) moving from
the basic idea to the program objective (desired effect on the viewer, or process
message) and the angle; (2) determining the necessary medium requirements in
preproduction; (3) generating the program objective in the production phases; and
(4) distributing the message (the production) to the target audience. ZVL1 PROCESS
Effect-to-cause basic idea | desired effect | cause | actual effect
PRODUCTION PHASES
Note: The ZVL icons point to related
segments on the Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0
DVD-ROM. You can run each module
when you see its cue in the text, or
you may prefer to wait until you have
finished reading the chapter and run
all relevant modules at one time. The
DVD-ROM is not an essential part of this
book; it is meant to reinforce the text and
to facilitate the transition from reading
to actual practice.
Over the years certain routines—production processes—have evolved that can facilitate the complex job of the production team. These processes include chores that
need to be done before the production, during the actual production activities, and
after the production. In production lingo we call these the preproduction, production, and postproduction phases. ZVL2 PROCESS Process introduction
Preproduction includes all the planning and coordination of details before the
actual production activities.
Production starts when you open the studio doors and turn on the equipment
or when you load your vehicle with the gear for a field production. In production
1. This concept is based on the classic instructional design by Mager. See Robert Mager, Preparing
Instructional Objectives, 3rd ed. (Atlanta: Center for Effective Performance, 1997).
5
I M P O R TA N C E O F P R E P R O D U C T I O N
1.1 PRODUCTION MODEL
Program Ojective (Desired Effect)
You move from the basic idea directly to the desired
effect on the viewer—the program objective.
Basic idea
Content elements
Production elements
People
Distribution
The production model shows how to
move from the show idea to the finished
program with maximum efficiency.
Desired effect
Medium Requirements
The program objective and the
angle will determine the specific
medium requirements—
what production elements are
necessary to meet the objective.
Message Actually Received
(Real Effect or
Process Message)
The message moves through the
phases of production and is
delivered to the target audience.
Real effect
you actually encode, or translate, the original program objective into a series of
video segments. Production involves the medium requirements—the coordination
of production and technical people and the operation of the production equipment.
In postproduction you select the best bits and pieces of the recorded event,
enhance their picture and sound quality as necessary, correct some of the minor
production mistakes, and assemble the shots and the scenes into a coherent whole—
the video program. For complicated programs that require a great deal of editing, the
postproduction phase may take as long as, or even longer than, the preproduction
or production period. ZVL3 PROCESS Phases production | postproduction
This chapter focuses on preproduction. The details of production and postproduction take up the rest of the book.
IMPORTANCE OF PREPRODUCTION
In preproduction you develop the initial program idea, define the program objective, and select the people and the equipment necessary to translate your idea into
effective video and audio images.
Meticulous preproduction is a key factor in maximizing your video production efficiency and effectiveness. There is a proven formula that you must not only
6
CHAPTER 1
PRODUCTION PROCESS
remember but also always apply, even if the production you are doing is relatively
simple: the more attention you pay to preproduction, the more effective the production and postproduction phases will be. Remember this advice especially when you
are tired of organizing details and are itching to go on-location and start shooting. ZVL4 PROCESS Phases preproduction
Normally, the preproduction activities require two distinct approaches: the
move from idea to script and from script to production details.
PREPRODUCTION: GENERATING IDEAS ON DEMAND
All good productions start with a good idea. As obvious as this sounds, you may
be surprised to find that one of the more difficult demands in professional video is
coming up with good ideas on a consistent basis. Often the calendar or clock dictates
when to be creative. Unfortunately, tight production schedules will not tolerate your
waiting for divine inspiration. You must call on techniques that help you jolt your
imagination even on a down day. Two well-known and effective devices for unlocking ideas are brainstorming and clustering.
Brainstorming
Brainstorming involves freeing your mind of the restrictions you impose on it because
you feel, however unconsciously, that you have to think and say something that
fits the situational framework and others’ expectations. It is a form of “conceptual
blockbusting” that ignores or breaks down traditional barriers to creative expression.2
Picture yourself for a moment as an observer of a brainstorming session of advertising people who are supposed to come up with a new approach to a shampoo
commercial. Seven people sit in a circle; in the middle of the circle is a small audio
recorder. One of the people (P-1 = person 1) starts with:
P-1: “Knock, knock!”
P-2: “Who’s there?”
P-3: “Your hairdresser.”
P-4: “What’s new in town?”
P-3: “Bubbles.”
P-5: “Make it French Champagne.”
P-6: “Rainbow colors.”
P-7: “Soft as rain.”
P-1: “Watercolor.”
P-2: “Einstein.”
P-3: “Getting wet.”
2. See James L. Adams, Conceptual Blockbusting, 4th ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 2001).
P R E P R O D U C T I O N : G E N E R AT I N G I D E A S O N D E M A N D
P-4: “The worst—ever.”
P-5: “Paris.”
And so forth. (If you like, you can continue this brainstorming session).
The session develops into several bizarre exchanges that generate much laughter. Once all ideas are recorded, the team reviews the comments several times and
looks for relevant ideas or associations in the context of a shampoo commercial.
This review session shifts quite readily from a hairdresser who creates soft, rainbowcolored bubbles on somebody’s head, to the effect of gentle rain and the wet hair
of a woman standing in front of a Paris skyline. “Watercolor” may even define the
visual style of the video. But what about “Einstein” and “the worst—ever?” Aren’t
these remarks just a little too far removed from the idea of a shampoo commercial?
Not in the beginning. In brainstorming, all ideas are equally valid; their relevance
to the basic idea (shampoo commercial) is determined later in the review session.
In fact, it was the Einstein remark that provided the angle for the commercial: this
shampoo can even tame Einstein’s hair on a bad hair day.
Still, successful brainstorming depends on a number of conditions:
◾ It is best done with several people.
◾ You start out with a general idea or related image (shampoo commercial) and
let everybody call out whatever springs to mind.
◾ It’s important to let all minds roam freely and not pass judgment on any of the
ideas, however irrelevant they may seem.
◾ Document all ideas by either recording them on audiotape or writing them
down.
◾ In the review stage, recite the list of comments several times to discover novel
connections.
If necessary, you can do brainstorming by yourself, but you will need some way
of recording it or writing it down. One of the more popular solitary brainstorming
techniques is clustering.
Clustering
In the middle of a piece of paper, write a single word that seems somehow central
to your basic program idea or program objective and circle it. Now write down and
circle another word that is somehow associated with your key word and connect the
two. Write down other word associations and connect them to the last one circled.
In a short time, you will have created a cluster of words or ideas. Don’t try to
design a cluster or be logical about it. Work fast so that you will not be tempted to
ponder your associations. Let your mind flow freely. When you feel that your ideas are
exhausted, don’t force yourself to find more connections or more-logical ones. The
idea cluster seems to have a natural limit. You will most likely know when you have
enough branches and it is time to stop. If one word or phrase is especially intriguing
yet seems out of place, start a new cluster but leave the old one alone. Once you are
at that point, look at the finished diagram and search for patterns. These patterns will
7
8
CHAPTER 1
PRODUCTION PROCESS
1.2 CLUSTERING
Note that clustering starts
with a central idea and then
branches out in various
directions. Clustering must
be done quickly and uncritically; it is much like written
brainstorming.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Successful brainstorming
and clustering depend
on a free, intuitive, and
noncritical flow of ideas.
inevitably reveal some novel connections and relationships that were not obvious
before and can serve as springboards for the program objective (process message)
and the medium requirements. SEE 1.2
As you can see, clustering is similar to brainstorming except that during clustering you create an immediate visual pattern that yields quite readily the major
interrelationships of the various ideas.3 But it is also much more restrictive than
brainstorming. ZVL5 PROCESS Ideas
PREPRODUCTION: FROM IDEA TO SCRIPT
You must have some idea of what meal to prepare before starting to cook. The same
is true in video production. Running around with your camcorder before deciding
on what it is you want to tell your viewers is a wasteful activity at best. An effective
production process depends on a fairly clear idea of what you want to communicate.
As we all experience, however, most initial production ideas are rather vague and
are rarely concise enough to serve as a definition of the desired communication
effect—the program objective. This way of thinking is perfectly normal. As a matter
3. Clustering as an idea-unlocking technique for writing was developed by Gabriele Lusser Rico
in Writing the Natural Way, rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 2000).
9
PREPRODUCTION: FROM IDEA TO SCRIPT
of fact, you should weigh the potential effectiveness of several similar ideas before
settling on a single one, but you should not move on to specific production details
without first having a clear program objective.
For example, suppose you have just moved to Big City, and your daily commute
prompts you to “do something about these crazy Big City drivers.” You are certainly
not ready at this point to plunge into production. Changing your idea to “do a documentary on the crazy Big City drivers” is no improvement. You need to think more
about exactly what you want viewers to learn about becoming better drivers. The
more precise your definition of the intended effect—the program objective—the
easier it is to decide on the appropriate production format and the necessary procedures. ZVL6 PROCESS Effect-to-cause basic idea
Program Objective
Exactly what is it that you want the audience to know, feel, or do? To “do something
about these crazy Big City drivers” says little about what to do and how to go about
achieving that “something.” You need to construct a precise program objective.
Rather than tackle all the bad habits of the “crazy Big City drivers,” you may
want to isolate a single problem that is especially bothersome and that you consider
important. As in most learning or persuasion tasks, specific objectives are usually
more effective than general ones, and small steps are more easily managed and
accomplished by the viewer than large ones. For instance, you may find that the
misuse or nonuse of turn signals has become a serious threat to traffic safety. So,
rather than address all the bad habits of Big City drivers, you can isolate a single
objective: Demonstrate to Big City drivers that turn signals help other drivers react
to your changing directions and contribute to traffic safety.
Once you have a clear program objective, you can start visualizing some possible approaches. Because you are a creative person, you come up with several good
approaches to this video. But which one should you choose? What you now need is
an effective angle. ZVL7 PROCESS Effect-to-cause desired effect
Angle
In the context of designing a show, an angle is a specific approach to the story—
a point of view of the event. Effective video programs often have an angle that is
different from the usual treatment of the same subject and is more relevant to the
viewer. Although the requirement of “finding an angle” has been abused by many
newspeople in their attempts to sensationalize a basically uninteresting story, it is
a valuable and positive way of clarifying and intensifying an event.
In our example one of the possible angles could be to show the terrible consequences of an accident that was caused by a driver who failed to signal his lane
change. Or you may show the misuse or nonuse of turn signals from a bicycler’s
point of view—one who has a hard time avoiding reckless drivers even during her
relatively short ride to campus. You may find, however, that these drivers are not
really reckless but simply absentminded or discourteous.
Isn’t this now an entirely new angle on how to approach the turn signal problem? Yes, it is. Instead of telling Big City drivers that they are reckless and had better
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The program objective
describes the desired
communication effect
on the viewer.
10
CHAPTER 1
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The angle describes
the specific approach
to the story.
PRODUCTION PROCESS
learn to use turn signals because it is the law, you may want to persuade them to
be more courteous and helpful to one another and to the traffic around them. To
accommodate and assist the less-than-perfect drivers, rather than accuse and attack them, may be a more effective angle for all sorts of traffic education. Instead
of using threats as a means to make them use turn signals, you now appeal to their
pride and self-esteem.
Unless you are the writer, you will find that scriptwriters often come up with a
useful angle. Most writers will be happy to accept suggestions for an angle even if
they later discover a better one.
Evaluation
Whatever angle you choose, always ask yourself two questions: Is the proposed video
worth doing? and Is it doable? Despite your good intentions and desire to rival in
your production the style of an elaborate Hollywood movie, you will not succeed
unless you have the Hollywood budget and the production time to match. Money
and time are production factors as real as cameras and microphones.
You will find that your clients—the school board, a big corporation, or a local
cable channel—become more and more demanding. They expect you to come up
with a superior product in an unreasonably short time for an unbelievably low
budget. Give up right now? Not at all! But you may have to scale back your grand
intentions and come up with ideas that are realistic, that is, that can actually be accomplished by you and your team and that will provide the client with the promised
project on time and within budget.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. It is wise to accompany your creative
leaps with the two reality factors: available time and money. You simply cannot do
a million-dollar production if you have only $500 to spend. Or, if you have only four
weeks to complete a show, don’t attempt a production that requires on-location
shooting in different parts of the world and two months of postproduction.
Script
You are now ready to write the script or hire a writer. You need a script, even if all
it says is “no script.” The script is an essential communication device among all
nontechnical and technical production personnel. We discuss the various script
formats in chapter 17. SEE 1.3
PREPRODUCTION: FROM SCRIPT TO PRODUCTION
In preproduction the script becomes the key for the actual production preparations.
You must now translate the script into medium requirements, which include various
people and production elements.
Medium Requirements
Normally, the medium requirements are expressed as workflow that includes selecting talent, determining technical and nontechnical personnel, and requesting
studio or field facilities and equipment. SEE 1.4
11
PREPRODUCTION: FROM SCRIPT TO PRODUCTION
Is it worth doing?
Idea
Program
objective
Angle
Evaluation
Script
Is it doable?
1.3 PREPRODUCTION: FROM IDEA TO SCRIPT
This preproduction phase involves the major steps that lead from idea generation to scriptwriting.
Talent
Script
Producer
Budget
Director
Technical
personnel
Art director
Floor plan
Storyboard
1.4 PREPRODUCTION: FROM SCRIPT TO PRODUCTION
This preproduction phase involves the major steps that lead from the script to the actual production process.
As you can see in figure 1.4, the script now serves as the main guide for all further technical and nontechnical production requirements. As the producer your
main preproduction contact will now be the director. Under your close supervision, the director chooses the talent, assigns the art director to design a set, and
discusses with the technical supervisor the necessary personnel, facilities (studio,
location, and postproduction facilities), and equipment (camera, lighting, audio,
and video recorders).
Note that who does what in preproduction is not always as clear-cut as the figure
implies. For example, you may find that sometimes the producer rather than the
Facilities and
equipment
12
▶K E Y
CHAPTER 1
C O N C E P T
A good producer triplechecks everything.
PRODUCTION PROCESS
director will choose the talent or request a set design from the art director. This is all
the more reason for you, the producer, to communicate frequently with all technical and nontechnical personnel involved in preproduction and to make sure that
they all complete their assigned tasks on time—and let you know about it. A good
producer triple-checks everything.
Budget
As you determine the medium requirements, you will also have to prepare the budget. This is a typical chicken-and-egg proposition: you can determine a reasonably
accurate budget only when you have all the information on the necessary personnel,
facilities, and equipment, but you cannot really hire people or request equipment
unless you know how much money you have available.
Although budgets are extremely important, we won’t worry about money just
yet but rather concentrate on how to make the video production process maximally
efficient and effective. SEE 1.5
MEDIA CONVERGENCE
Media convergence is a fancy way of saying that various digital devices can fulfill
various functions. We can take pictures with a cell phone and even watch television
on one. In our context, it usually refers to the overlapping functions of digital cinema
and video production and of studio and field production.
Digital Cinema and Video
For some time now, film production has made extensive use of video and audio
postproduction equipment. All film footage, regardless of whether it was shot for a
major motion picture or a short commercial, is immediately converted to a digital
format for video and audio postproduction. Once the footage is stored in digital
form, the editing or audio-mixing equipment for both film and video production is
identical. To show the final movie version in a theater, the edited video is sometimes
transferred back to film, mainly because many movie houses have not changed from
traditional film projectors to digital ones. The only part of film production that has
been retained to a large extent is the film camera that uses actual film as its recording media. But even this last holdout faces a serious challenge from digital cinema
cameras, which are basically extremely high-resolution television cameras. You will
read more about them in chapter 4.
Studio and Field Production
Up to now it has been convenient to divide the video production or film process into
studio operations and field operations. After all, a studio production takes place in
the studio, and a field production occurs outside of it—and you will certainly have
to learn about both. But today more and more field techniques are brought into the
studio, such as the use of a single handheld camera, highly flexible sound pickup
devices, and low-powered lighting instruments for general, nondramatic lighting.
13
MEDIA CONVERGENCE
1.5 BUDGET SAMPLE
This budget example shows
the basic cost summary,
which lists the essential preproduction, production, and
postproduction categories.
Such a summary is normally
accompanied by a more
detailed breakdown.
PRODUCTION BUDGET
CLIENT:
PROJECT TITLE:
DATE OF THIS BUDGET:
SPECIFICATIONS:
NOTE: This estimate is subject to the producer’s review of the
final shooting script.
__________________________________________________________________
SUMMARY OF COSTS
ESTIMATE
ACTUAL
PREPRODUCTION
Personnel
Equipment and facilities
Script
_________
_________
_________
________
________
________
PRODUCTION
Personnel
Equipment and facilities
Talent
Art (set and graphics)
Makeup
Music
Miscellaneous (transportation, fees)
_________
_________
_________
_________
_________
_________
_________
________
________
________
________
________
________
________
POSTPRODUCTION
Personnel
Facilities
Recording media
_________
_________
_________
________
________
________
INSURANCE AND MISCELLANEOUS
_________
________
CONTINGENCY (20%)
_________
________
TAX
_________
________
GRAND TOTAL
_________
_________
________
________
Similarly, many field productions employ studio techniques, such as complex multicamera and audio pickups of live sporting events and the relatively simple two- or
three-camera setup of a wedding or charity fashion show in which each camera’s
output is recorded separately for later postproduction editing.
14
CHAPTER 1
PRODUCTION PROCESS
As you can see, this convergence of production techniques requires your
thinking about not only whether to do your production in a studio or in the field
but also whether it will be a single-camera production that produces all video for
extensive postproduction (sometimes called film-style); a multicamera production
in which each isolated, or iso, camera records simultaneously a different angle of
the same event; or a multicamera setup for live transmission, in which the output
of all cameras is fed into a switcher that allows the director to do instantaneous
editing. SEE 1.6–1.8
This convergence means that you must be conversant with both systems, even
if you later decide to concentrate on one or the other. Initially, you will find that
starting with multicamera production—regardless of whether you work in the
studio or outside of it—will make it easier for you to work in single-camera production later on. This is because when using two or more cameras simultaneously, you
can actually see different camera angles side-by-side and how they cut together;
in single-camera production, you see only one camera angle at a time and have to
wait until the postproduction phase to find out whether they cut together smoothly
during editing.
Close-up shots
Medium shots
Event
Single camcorder
Long shots
Extreme long shots
1.6 SINGLE-CAMERA (FILM-STYLE) APPROACH
In this production technique, only one camera is used to record all shots for postproduction.
Postproduction editing
selects and sequences
various shots from
a single camcorder
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MEDIA CONVERGENCE
C1
Records viewpoint 1
Postproduction editing
of source footage from
all three camcorders
C2
Records viewpoint 2
C3
Records viewpoint 3
Event
1.7 MULTICAMERA SETUP IN ISO CONFIGURATION
In this setup several cameras are used to simultaneously record the same event from various viewpoints.
C1
Transmitter
C2
Event
C3
Switcher selects and
combines shots for
instantaneous editing
Video recorder
C4
1.8 MULTICAMERA SETUP FOR SWITCHING
In this setup several cameras are used to feed their output to a switcher. The switcher enables its operator to select the appropriate
shots and sequence them. This is also called instantaneous editing.
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CHAPTER 1
M A I N
PRODUCTION PROCESS
P O I N T S
▶ Production Model
This production model shows four distinct processes: (1) moving from the basic idea to
the program objective (desired effect or process message) and the angle, (2) determining
the necessary medium requirements, (3) generating the program objective, and (4)
distributing the message (the production) to the target audience.
▶ Production Phases
The production phases are preproduction (planning and coordinating all production
details), production (encoding the program objective into a series of video segments),
and postproduction (selecting and sequencing the best video segments for a coherent
video program).
▶ Importance of Preproduction
Preproduction is a key factor in maximizing your video production efficiency and
effectiveness.
▶ Preproduction: Generating Ideas on Demand
In video production, creativity means coming up with good ideas on a consistent basis
on time and within budget. Two helpful methods are brainstorming and clustering. Both
techniques demand a spontaneous and noncritical delivery of ideas.
▶ Preproduction: From Idea to Script
This preproduction step includes formulating a program objective, deciding on the angle,
evaluating the entire concept, and writing the script.
▶ Preproduction: From Script to Production
This production phase concerns all medium requirements as well as the budget. It
requires deciding on the nontechnical and technical personnel and on the facilities and
equipment for the actual production.
▶ Medium Requirements
The medium requirements include content elements (program objective, angle, and
audience analysis), production and postproduction elements (equipment, facilities, and
schedules), and people (talent and nontechnical and technical personnel).
▶ Media Convergence
The media convergence concerns the overlapping functions of digital cinema and video
production and of studio and field production. Multicamera productions are sometimes
instantaneously edited through switching and sometimes recorded as iso sources for
postproduction. Single-camera productions usually resemble film production in shot
acquisition and postproduction editing.
ole or in part.
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MEDIA CONVERGENCE
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
PROCESS Effect-to-cause basic idea | desired
4
effect | cause | actual effect
ZVL2
PROCESS Process introduction
ZVL3
PROCESS Phases production | postproduction
ZVL4
PROCESS Phases preproduction
ZVL5
PROCESS Ideas
ZVL6
PROCESS Effect-to-cause basic idea
ZVL7
PROCESS Effect-to-cause desired effect
4
6
8
9
9
5
2
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
EFP team Usually a three-person team consisting of the talent,
a camcorder operator, and a utility person who handles
lighting, audio, and/or video recording, and, if necessary,
the microwave transmission back to the studio.
nontechnical production personnel People concerned primarily with nontechnical production matters that lead from
the basic idea to the final screen image. Includes producers,
directors, and talent. Also called above-the-line personnel.
postproduction team Normally consists of the director, a video
editor, and, for complex productions, a sound designer
who remixes the sound track.
preproduction team Comprises the people who plan the
production. Normally includes the producer, writer, director, art director, and technical director. Large productions
may include a composer and a choreographer. In charge:
producer.
production schedule A calendar that shows the preproduction, production, and postproduction dates and who is
doing what, when, and where.
production team Comprises a variety of nontechnical and
technical people, such as producer and various assistants
(associate producer and production assistant), director
and assistant director, and talent and production crew.
In charge: director.
technical production personnel People who operate the
production equipment, including camera operators, floor
persons, and video and audio engineers. Also called belowthe-line personnel.
time line A breakdown of time blocks for various activities on
the actual production day, such as crew call, setup, and
camera rehearsal.
Production Team:
Who Does What When?
If you are a painter, you can do everything yourself: come up with the idea, buy the
materials, prepare the canvas, struggle with form and color, and finally sign and date the
finished work. You could even do the selling without other people involved. The entire
creative process is under your control.
This is not the case with video production, unless you are simply video-recording your
vacation adventures or working for a news department that has its VJs (video journalists)
not only determine the best way to report a story but also do the camera work, the
editing, and the voice-over narration. Although this is technically possible, it rarely
results in a high-quality product.
Most professional video productions involve a group of people—a production team—
with each member performing a clearly defined function.
This chapter focuses on the many roles in video production: what the people do and
how they work together.
▶ PRODUCTION TEAMS
The preproduction, production, and postproduction teams
▶ PASSING THE BUCK
What happens when production people do not work as a team
▶ TAKING AND SHARING RESPONSIBILITY
What happens when production people know their functions and work as a team
▶ PRODUCTION SCHEDULE AND TIME LINE
How to set up a production schedule and develop a realistic time line
You may best understand who does what by dividing the team into people involved
in the preproduction, production, and postproduction phases. The preproduction
team includes the people primarily involved with planning the production; the
production team comprises the people who translate the ideas into actual video
pictures and sound; and the postproduction people put together all the selected
video clips, which contain the optimal video and audio segments, and give the whole
production the final polish.
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Some production people are involved in only one of these phases; others may
be involved in all three. As you can readily see, no single individual has complete
control over the entire creative process. Unlike the painter, you must learn to work
as an effective team member, which means that you know exactly what is expected
of you when assigned to a specific production position and also what everybody else
is supposed to be doing. Once you know who is supposed to do what, when, and
where, you can establish effective communication among the team members and
let them know when specific tasks need to be done. A production schedule and a
time line are essential in coordinating the different production steps and the efforts
of all team members.
Regardless of whether you are a member of the preproduction, production,
or postproduction team, you will find that some team members are more engaged
and interested in what they are doing than others and that even the most conscientious team members have an off-day. But it is usually the weakest link in a chain
that needs attention, not the strongest one. Rather than complain about the weak
contributions of some team members, help them improve their performance. You
must also get used to the idea that, in such a complex and high-pressure job as video
production, occasional mistakes are inevitable. Fixing blame should then be done
not to vindicate the other team members but to define the problem so that it can be
avoided the next time.
The primary requisites for any kind of team are that all members respect one
another and work for a common goal. A famous football coach and television commentator was once asked how to improve a team’s sagging spirit and attitude. His answer: “By winning!” Winning in video production means enabling each team member
to do his or her best to produce exceptionally good shows on a consistent basis.
PRODUCTION TEAMS
The size and the makeup of the production team depend on the scope of the production. Electronic news gathering (ENG) for simple stories could be done by a
single person, who simultaneously acts as reporter, camcorder operator, and editor/
narrator. While financially profitable for the news operation, this one-person-band
approach is very hard on the individual who is doing it. Even relatively simple electronic field productions (EFPs) are usually done with three people. The EFP team
consists of talent, camcorder operator, and a utility person who takes care of the
lighting, audio, and, if necessary, additional video-recording devices. A big-remote
telecast, such as a live sporting event, may keep 30 or more people very busy (see
chapter 15).
The accompanying tables summarize the major nontechnical production
personnel and technical production personnel and their principal functions.
SEE 2.1 AND 2.2
Sometimes the production people are divided into above-the-line and belowthe-line personnel. These designations are not clear-cut and have more to do with
who pays whom than who does what. In general, above-the-line personnel are
preproduction and supervisory people; below-the-line personnel are involved in
production and postproduction. ZVL1 PROCESS People nontechnical | technical
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PRODUCTION TEAMS
2.1 NONTECHNICAL PRODUCTION PERSONNEL
PERSONNEL
FUNCTION
Executive producer
In charge of one or several programs or program series. Coordinates with
client, station or corporate management, advertising agencies, investors,
and talent and writer’s agents. Approves and manages budget.
Producer
In charge of an individual production. Responsible for all personnel
working on the production and for coordinating technical and nontechnical production elements. Often doubles as writer and director.
Line producer
Supervises daily production activities on the set.
Studio and field producers
In large operations, studio and field producers are assigned different
producing responsibilities: the studio producer takes care of all studio
productions, and the field producer handles all field productions.
Associate producer (AP)
Assists producer in all production matters. Often does the actual
production coordination jobs, such as telephoning talent and making
sure that deadlines are met.
Production assistant (PA)
Assists producer and director during the actual production. Takes notes
of comments made by the producer or the director during rehearsals,
which serve as a guide for the crew to fix minor production flaws
before the final recording.
Director
In charge of directing talent and technical operations. Ultimately
responsible for transforming a script into effective video and audio
messages. In smaller operations also assumes the producer’s
responsibilities.
Associate, or assistant,
director (AD)
Assists director during the actual production. Often does timing for
director. In complex multicamera productions, helps to “ready” various
operations (such as presetting specific camera shots or calling for a
graphic effect).
Talent
Refers, not always accurately, to all performers and actors who
regularly appear on video.
Actor
Someone who portrays someone else on-camera.
Performer
Someone who appears on-camera in nondramatic activities. Always
portrays himself or herself.
Announcer
Reads narration but does not appear on-camera. If on-camera, the
announcer moves into the talent category.
Writer
Writes video scripts. In smaller-station operations or in corporate
video, the writer’s function is often assumed by the director or
producer or by somebody hired on a freelance basis.
Art director
In charge of the creative design aspects of show (set design, location,
and graphics).
Music director/conductor
Responsible for music group in large productions, such as the band
that plays on a variety show. Can also be the person who picks all the
recorded music for a specific show or series.
Choreographer
Determines all movements of dancers.
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2.1 NONTECHNICAL PRODUCTION PERSONNEL (continued)
PERSONNEL
FUNCTION
Floor manager
Also called floor director or stage manager. In charge of all activities on the
studio floor, such as setting up scenery, getting talent into place, and relaying all director’s cues to talent. In the field the floor manager is basically
responsible for preparing the location for the shoot and for cueing all talent.
Floor persons
Also called grips, stagehands, or facilities persons. Set up and dress sets.
Operate cue cards and other prompting devices. Sometimes operate microphone booms. Assist camera operators in moving camera dollies and pulling
camera cables. In small operations also act as wardrobe and makeup people.
Set up and ready all nontechnical facilities in the field.
Makeup artist
Does the makeup for all talent (in large productions only).
Costume designer
Designs and sometimes constructs costumes for dramas, dance numbers,
and children’s shows (in large productions only).
Property manager
Maintains and manages the use of set and hand properties, such as tables,
chairs, and office furniture (set properties), and telephones, coffee cups, and
flashlights (hand properties)—for large productions only. In smaller operations props are managed by the floor manager.
Let’s find out who is normally involved in the three primary production stages:
preproduction, production, and postproduction.
Preproduction Team
The primary responsibility of the preproduction team is to develop the idea for the
video and plan its production so that the translation of idea to pictures and sound
is as efficient as possible. For most standard EFPs, the preproduction team consists
of the producer, the director, and sometimes the talent. In larger field or studio
productions, the people involved in this initial idea-generating phase include the
producer, writer, director, and scene designer or art director and sometimes the
technical supervisor or the technical director.
The original idea may come from the corporate manager (“Do a 10-minute video
showing that the customer is our most precious commodity”) or the producer (“Do
a piece on your campus food service”), or it may come from a concerned citizen (“I
would like to do a show on the pros and cons of timber clear-cutting”). Often specific
show ideas are the product of several people’s brainstorming.
Producer Once the general idea is born, it is nurtured through all preproduction
stages by the producer, who states the specific purpose of the show (the program
objective) and sometimes the process message (the message that the viewer should
ideally perceive while watching the show). The producer also prepares a budget for
the entire production.
As soon as the budget has been approved, you, as producer, need to hire and/
or coordinate all additional personnel, equipment, and production activities. You
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PRODUCTION TEAMS
2.2 TECHNICAL PRODUCTION PERSONNEL
This category includes engineers who are actually engaged in engineering functions, such as
installing and maintaining new electronic equipment; it also includes people who operate such
equipment. Because operating much of the electronic equipment, such as cameras, switchers,
character generators, and video-editing machines, does not require engineering knowledge,
most of the operation of television equipment is performed by nonengineering personnel.
PERSONNEL
FUNCTION
Chief engineer
In charge of all technical personnel, budgets, and equipment. Designs
electronic systems, including signal transmission facilities, and oversees
installations, day-to-day operations, and all maintenance.
Assistant chief engineer
or technical supervisor
Assists the chief engineer in all technical matters and operations.
Is often involved in preproduction activities of large productions.
Schedules crews and participates in big-remote surveys.
Technical director (TD)
In charge of all technical setups and operations during a production.
Does the actual switching in a studio production. Often acts as technical
crew chief.
Lighting director (LD)
In charge of studio and field lighting; normally for large productions only.
Director of
photography (DP)
Carryover from film production. Takes care of lighting and camera
operation in single-camera productions.
Camera operators
Also called videographers or shooters. Operate studio and field cameras.
Sometimes also do lighting.
Video operator (VO)
Also called video engineer or shader. Adjusts the camera controls for
optimal camera pictures (also called shading ). Sometimes doubles as
maintenance engineer.
Video-record operator
Operates video recorders (VRs) during the production. In small field
productions, the audio technician doubles as VR operator.
Video editor
Operates video-editing equipment. Often makes creative editing decisions as well.
Sound designer
In charge of creating the sound track of a complex production, such as
a drama, commercial, or large corporate assignment.
Audio engineer
Often called audio technician. In charge of all audio operations in production and, in the absence of a sound designer, in postproduction. Sets up
microphones and operates audio console during the show.
Maintenance engineer
A true engineering position. Maintains all technical equipment and
troubleshoots during productions.
or your associate producer will then have to devise a production schedule that indicates who is supposed to do what and the times when the assigned tasks should be
completed. This calendar is essential for coordinating the activities of all the people
involved in the production.
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Writer The next step is writing the script. The writer interprets the program objective into a video production and writes down what he or she wants the viewers
to see and hear. This production step is obviously crucial. It often determines the
production format, such as instructional show, interactive multimedia show, or
documentary, and the style and the quality of the production. Like the production
schedule, the script serves as the guide for all production activities.
Scripts are almost always revised several times. Sometimes the original content isn’t accurate and needs some corrections. At other times the words sound
too stilted and pedantic when actually spoken, or there may be some shots that are
unnecessary or too difficult to produce. For all these reasons, good video writers do
not come cheaply. Settle on a fee before the delivery of the script. (There are various
script samples in chapter 17.)
Director The director translates the script into specific video and audio images and
selects the necessary production crew and equipment. In large productions, such as
a drama for digital cinema, the director is greatly aided in this translation process by
a storyboard artist (see figure 12.17). The sooner the director is brought onboard in
preproduction the better. The director may work with the writer early on, for example,
to ensure the most effective interpretation of the program objective. He or she may
even help the writer with the basic approach, such as changing the original idea of
producing a brief instructional video into an interactive multimedia experience, or a
documentary into a dramatic format, or a company president’s address into a town
hall–type forum. The director can also define or change the angle or help with ideas
about the specific environment in which the event is to take place.
When directing an electronic field production or a big remote, the director is
part of the survey team (see chapter 15).
Art director The art director uses the script and the director’s comments for the
set design or the specific location for the show. He or she is also in charge of decorating the set and designing the graphics, such as the titles for a show. The art director
must create an environment that fits the overall style of the show and that facilitates
the anticipated production procedures. Even the most beautifully designed set is
useless if there is not enough room for camera movement and microphones or if it
cannot be properly lighted.
The art director prepares a floor plan, which is a diagram of scenery, stage
properties (tables and chairs), and set dressings (wall hangings, lamps, and plants)
drawn on a grid. (See chapter 14 for a more detailed discussion of the floor plan.)
The floor plan is an important preproduction guide for the director and, for large
productions, the lighting director (LD), audio engineer, and floor manager as well.
With a good floor plan, these people can visualize the major shots and place the
cameras, lights, and microphones accordingly. The floor manager needs the floor
plan to set up and dress the studio set.
Technical director The preproduction team may also include a technical director (TD), or a technical supervisor, especially if the production is a live telecast of a special event, such as a parade or the dedication of a new building. The
PRODUCTION TEAMS
TD can determine ahead of time the major technical facilities necessary for the
proposed production.
Small production companies or television stations often combine roles. The
functions of the producer and the director, and even the writer, might be carried out
by a single person—the producer-director; and the floor manager might also act as
art director and property manager.
Large productions may include on the preproduction team a graphic artist, a
costume designer, a sound designer, and a choreographer. ZVL2 PROCESS Phases
preproduction
Production Team
As mentioned earlier, even if some news organizations send out a single person to
do the reporting, camera operation, and postproduction, most routine EFPs are accomplished by a three-person production team: the talent, the camcorder operator,
and a utility person who takes care of audio, lighting, recording, and/or transmission.
If you use two cameras for a multicamera shoot, you have to add a second camcorder
operator. In single-camera EFPs that are more ambitious, the camera operator may
also take care of the lighting; this dual job is carried out by the director of photography (DP)—a carryover from film production.
In most multicamera productions, the production team is considerably larger.
The nontechnical members include the producer and various assistants—associate
producer (AP) and production assistant (PA)—the director, the associate or assistant
director (AD) if it is a complex show, and the talent. Whereas the major part of the
producer’s job is in preproduction, the director is totally involved in the actual production phase. Sometimes there are several producers for a show series: a producer
who arranges the budget and negotiates with talent, and a line producer, who supervises the daily activities on the set or in the studio. Some productions have a studio
producer who is responsible for the studio segments of a show and a field producer
who takes care of the segments video-recorded outside the studio.
The production crew, which is made up of technical and nontechnical personnel, normally includes the floor manager and floor persons (grips or utility persons),
the technical director, camera operators, the lighting director, video and audio engineers, the video-record operator, the C.G. (character generator) operator, and the
video operator (VO), who adjusts the cameras during the production for optimal
video output. Large productions add an engineering supervisor and a maintenance
engineer as well as various costume people, a property manager, makeup artists, and
hairdressers. ZVL3 PROCESS Phases production
Postproduction Team
The postproduction team is relatively small and normally consists of a video editor and the director. The editor will try to make sense of the various video-recorded
segments and put them in the order indicated by the script. The director will guide
the editor in the selection and the sequencing of shots. If you, as the director, have
a good editor and a detailed script, you will have relatively little to do. You may
want to see a rough-cut, or an “off-line” editing version, before you give the editor
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the go-ahead to prepare the final “on-line” video recording. If the project requires
complex editing, you may have to sit with the editor throughout the process to select
most of the shots and determine their sequence.
Complex postproduction may also include extensive manipulation of sound,
called audio sweetening. It consists of remixing, adding, or replacing small or large
portions of the original sound track and can take more time and effort than editing
pictures. Major sound postproduction is done by a sound designer.
Most producers do not get involved in postproduction, at least not until the first
rough-cut is done. Some producers cannot stay away from the editing room, however, and get intimately involved in every decision. Such fervor is, despite all good
intentions, not always appreciated by the editor and the director. ZVL4 PROCESS
Phases postproduction
PASSING THE BUCK
Let’s visit a television studio to watch the video recording of a visiting rock group.
When you arrive at the studio well before the scheduled start time, the production is already in the wrap-up stage. Neither the musicians nor the production people
look too happy. The PA tells you that the recording session had been pushed ahead
three hours because of the band’s tight schedule. It becomes obvious that the session
did not go as planned. There are small groups of people on the studio floor engaged
in lively discussions. Let’s listen in on what they are saying.
In one group, the band manager is complaining about poor scheduling and the
“static look” of the show, and the lead singer is kvetching about the “bad sound.”
The executive producer tries to appease the band members, while the producer accuses everybody of not communicating with him. The director defends his overall
visual concept and personal style and accuses the musicians of not understanding
the “true nature of video.” The band manager mutters something about the sloppy
contract and the lack of coffee during rehearsals.
Some crew and band members vent their frustrations about technical problems.
They argue about which microphones should have been used and where they should
have been placed and about light levels that were much too uneven for good pictures.
The LD counters by saying that she had practically no time for adequate lighting,
mainly because she lost three hours of setup time. The musicians complain that the
sound levels were too low, while the camera operators say that the music was too loud
for them to hear the director’s instructions in their headsets. They felt lost, especially
because the director had not briefed them ahead of time on what shots to get.
The floor manager and his crew wonder aloud why they had no floor plan.
It would have saved them from having to move the heavy platform on which
the band performed from place to place until the director was finally satisfied
with its location.
Everyone seems to be passing the buck and blaming everybody else for the
production problems. What could have been done to minimize or avoid these
issues? Before reading on, write down the major complaints of the band and the
production members and, by referring to figures 2.1 and 2.2, try to figure out who
should have done what.
PA S S I N G T H E B U C K
Ready? Now compare your notes with the following recommendations.
Situation: The video-recording session was pushed ahead by three hours because
of the band’s tight schedule.
Responsibility: Producer. He should have coordinated the band’s schedule
more carefully with his production schedule. Moving up a shooting schedule
by three hours forces the crew to work unreasonably fast, causing stress and
inviting serious production mistakes.
Situation: The band’s manager complains about poor scheduling and the “static
look” of the show. The lead singer is unhappy with the sound as recorded.
Responsibility: Again, the producer is responsible for scheduling and should
have double-checked with the band manager about exactly when the band
would be available for the studio production. The “static look” complaint is
aimed at the show’s director; and the “bad sound” is directed at the audio engineer, who chose the type and the position of microphones and did the sound
mixing. Ultimately, the TD is responsible for all technical processes, including
the sound pickup and mixing. The producer should have brought together the
lead singer, band manager, and audio engineer in the preproduction phase to
discuss the sound requirements. The producer should also have arranged for
the band manager to meet with the director to discuss the visual requirements
and the overall look of the performance. The director could then have discussed
his ideas about the “true nature of video” with the band manager. Even if the
initiative did not come from the producer, the director and the audio engineer
should have pressed for such a meeting. Obviously, there was little communication among the members of the production team. The blame for the sloppy
contract goes to the band manager and the executive producer, and the PA
should have arranged for coffee.
Situation: The choice of microphones and their placement is being challenged. The
band members complain that the sound levels of the foldback—during which
the sound as mixed was played back to the band members—were too low. The
camera operators could not hear the director’s instructions because of the music’s high volume and were without direction.
Responsibility: The type of microphones used and their placement is clearly
the responsibility of the audio engineer. Again, despite the drastically reduced
setup time, a preproduction meeting with the key members of the band could
have prevented most of the sound problems, including the low playback levels.
The director or TD should have anticipated the intercommunication problems
between the director and the camera operators. Even the best intercom headsets will not function when used close to high-volume sound sources such as
the speakers of a rock band. The director could have minimized this problem
by meeting with the camera operators ahead of time to discuss the principal
shots for each camera.
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Situation: The light levels were too uneven for good pictures.
Responsibility: The LD is responsible for the uneven light levels. Her excuse is
that she lost three full hours of setup time and that she had no floor plan with
which to do even the most rudimentary preproduction planning. She could
have contacted the director during the preproduction stage, however, or at least
two days before the production, and asked about the floor plan and the lighting
requirements for the show. In addition, when time is tight it is more sensible
to illuminate the set with a generous amount of overall light rather than with
highly specific light beams in limited areas. This would have made the lighting
more even. (See chapter 8 for lighting techniques.)
Situation: The floor manager and his crew lacked a floor plan, which resulted in
needlessly moving a heavy platform.
Responsibility: A floor plan would have told the floor crew the exact location
of the platform on which the musicians perform. It would also have helped the
LD decide on the basic lighting setup and the director on the basic camera positions. The lack of a floor plan is a direct result of poor communication among the
preproduction team and, therefore, the ultimate responsibility of the producer.
The director should have consulted the art director about the set and the floor
plan during preproduction and then asked the art director why the floor plan
was not done according to schedule. The TD, LD, and floor manager should have
asked the director for the floor plan before the actual production date.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Know the functions and
the responsibilities of
each member of the
nontechnical and technical
production staffs.
As you can see, a production team can operate successfully only when each
member knows his or her assignment and all members are in constant communication with one another during the preproduction and production phases. Just as with
team sports, if a single member of the production team makes a major mistake, the
show goes down despite the superior performance of everyone else. More thorough
preproduction could have averted many of these problems.
TAKING AND SHARING RESPONSIBILITY
Fortunately, a subsequent visit to an elaborate multicamera EFP of an MTV segment
turns out to be a much more satisfying experience than our studio encounter.
When you get to the location of the MTV shoot, you find a whole section of the
street already blocked off by local police, and you have to show your pass. You see
action everywhere. The audio engineer and his assistants are adjusting the loudspeakers, and the camera operators are checking out some shots. You are greeted
by the floor manager and introduced to the producer and the director. Despite the
bustling activity, the producer seems amazingly calm and takes time out to explain
the concept of the MTV segment: the lead singer drives an old Cadillac convertible
down the street to a stop sign, where the dancers mob his car.
TA K I N G A N D S H A R I N G R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y
Some of the dancers are already practicing their routine, while others are coming out of a large trailer that serves as the talent’s makeup and dressing facility.
Everybody seems relaxed, and you sense purpose and competence in what each
team member is doing.
The director checks the time line (the schedule for the production day), posted
by the trailer, and asks the floor manager to call for a run-through. There is instant
activity: the dancers take their positions, the car is moved to the starting point, the
camera operators get their opening shots, and the audio people start the sound track
playback. So far as you can tell, the run-through goes very smoothly; the crew and
the talent also seem happy with the outcome. Nevertheless, the director calls for a
brief meeting of crew and talent to discuss some production problems.
The PA reads the notes that were dictated to him by the producer and the director during the run-through:
◾ “Dancers in the back can’t hear the music.”
◾ “Johnny [the lead singer driving the Cadillac] can’t see the mark.”
◾ “Shadows on him are too harsh when the car stops.”
◾ “Need a tighter shot of Johnny.”
◾ “We should be looking up at Johnny, not down on him.”
◾ “Johnny is sweating too much. Light reflects off his nose.”
◾ “Lots of dirt in the dancing area.”
◾ “We can see audio cables in the background.”
◾ “Some dancers are blocking Johnny on a close-up.”
Which people would you ask to take care of these minor production problems?
Let’s look at the notes again.
“Dancers in the back can’t hear the music.”
Correction by the audio engineer.
“Johnny can’t see the mark.”
This means that Johnny can’t see the mark on the curb that tells him exactly where
to stop the car. The mark has to be moved to the stop sign.
Correction by the floor manager.
“Shadows on him are too harsh when the car stops.”
Correction by the floor crew under the direction of the LD.
“Need a tighter shot of Johnny.”
Correction by the director and, ultimately, the camera operator.
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“We should be looking up at Johnny, not down on him.”
The producer looks at the director. She turns to the specific camera operator.
Correction by the director and, ultimately, the camera operator.
“Johnny is sweating too much. Light reflects off his nose.”
The director looks at the makeup artist. This problem has nothing to do
with lighting.
Correction by the makeup artist.
“Lots of dirt in the dancing area.”
Correction by the floor manager and the floor crew.
“We can see audio cables in the background.”
The audio engineer says that he will take care of it.
Correction by the audio assistant and the floor persons.
“Some dancers are blocking Johnny on a close-up.”
Correction by the director and the choreographer.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Establish and maintain
effective communication
among all production
personnel.
After this brief meeting, the director calls for a 15-minute reset break during
which the production crewmembers go about correcting the problems. After the reset
the director checks the time line and calls for another run-through. The following
three hours are taken up by more rehearsals, two more such brief production meetings (often called “notes”), and several takes. The floor manager calls for a wrap (the
completion of all production activities) a half-hour ahead of schedule.
Unlike the studio show of the rock band, this MTV field production was obviously
well prepared in preproduction. During production the members of the technical
and nontechnical staffs knew what they had to do, how to communicate constructively, and how to share responsibilities. The notes meetings were an effective and
efficient way to identify major and minor production problems and to ensure that
the appropriate people took care of them. Some directors in complex productions
schedule as much as one-third of the total rehearsal time for notes and resets.
PRODUCTION SCHEDULE AND TIME LINE
Like the script, a production schedule is essential to proper production coordination.
It shows the specific dates for preproduction, production, and broadcast. Although
the terms production schedule and time line are sometimes used interchangeably,
they are quite different from each other and fulfill different functions. The production schedule, compiled by the producer, is the overall calendar for a production,
which can span weeks. The time line, on the other hand, is usually drawn up by the
director and shows the allotted time segments for a single production day.
Here is an example of a production schedule for a 15-minute studio interview
with the president of City College.
PRODUCTION SCHEDULE AND TIME LINE
INTERVIEW PRODUCTION SCHEDULE
March 1
Confirmation by college president.
March 2
First preproduction meeting. Interview format ready.
March 4
Second preproduction meeting. Script ready. Floor plan ready.
March 5
All facilities requests due, including set and prop requests.
March 9
Production. Studio 1.
March 10
Postproduction, if any.
March 14
Air date (broadcast).
Note the four-day lead-time from the due date for all facilities requests (March 5)
to the actual production date (March 9). This lead-time is necessary to ensure that
the studio and all facilities requested are available.
The time line for the actual production is much more detailed and breaks a
single production day into blocks of time for certain activities. As you recall from
the MTV field production, the director, floor manager, and PA periodically checked
the time line to see whether the production was on schedule. Following is the director’s time line for the interview of March 9, as indicated on the producer’s production schedule.
TIME LINE: MARCH 9—INTERVIEW (STUDIO 1)
8:00 a.m.
Crew call
8:30–9:00 a.m.
Technical meeting
9:00–11:00 a.m.
Setup and lighting
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Meal
12:00–12:15 p.m.
Notes and reset
12:15–12:30 p.m.
Briefing of guest in Green Room
12:30–12:45 p.m.
Run-through and camera rehearsal
12:45–12:55 p.m.
Notes
12:55–1:10 p.m.
Reset
1:10–1:15 p.m.
Break
1:15–1:45 p.m.
Video recording
1:45–1:55 p.m.
Spill
1:55–2:10 p.m.
Strike
Let’s examine more closely each of the time line’s activities.
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Crew call This is the time when all production crewmembers (floor manager and
assistants, TD, LD, camera operators, audio people, and other equipment operators)
are expected to show up and start working.
Technical meeting This meeting includes the major nontechnical and technical
people: producer, director, interview host, PA, floor manager, TD, LD, and audio
engineer. The director briefly explains the program objective and how she expects
the show to look (simple interview set, bright lighting, fairly tight shots of the college president). This meeting is also to double-check all technical facilities and the
scenery and props.
Setup and lighting According to the floor plan, the setup is relatively easy for the
floor manager and his crew. The lighting is routine and does not require any special
effects. The two hours allotted should be sufficient for both activities.
Meal It is important that everybody be back from lunch at exactly 12:00 p.m., which
means that everyone has to be able to leave the studio at exactly 11:00 a.m., even if
there are still minor setup and lighting details remaining. Minor adjustments can
be made during the reset time.
Notes and reset If there are no major setup and equipment problems, the period
set aside for notes may be considerably shorter. The available time can then be spent
on a more leisurely reset—fine-tuning the lighting, moving a plant that may interfere
with the person in front of it, cleaning the coffee table, and so forth.
Briefing of guest While the production crew is getting ready for the first runthrough and camera rehearsal, the producer, the interview host, and the PA (and
sometimes the director) meet with the college president in the Green Room to go
over the program concept. The Green Room is a small, comfortable room specifically
set up for such a briefing.
Run-through and camera rehearsal This run-through is to familiarize the guest
with the studio environment and procedures, to check on the camera shots, and to
rehearse the show’s opening and closing. It is intentionally brief to keep the guest
as fresh as possible. Because of severe time constraints, news interviews are normally not rehearsed. The producer may brief the guest during camera setup and
lighting.
Notes and reset The run-through and camera rehearsals will inevitably reveal
some minor problems with the lighting or audio. The floor manager may ask the
makeup person to straighten the president’s tie and put a little makeup on his forehead to hide the perspiration.
Break Even when working on a tight schedule, it is important to give the talent
and crew a brief break just before the production. This will help everybody relax and
separate the rehearsal from the actual video recording.
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PRODUCTION SCHEDULE AND TIME LINE
Video recording The time allotted allows for a few false starts or closings. The
fewer takes there are, however, the fresher the interview will be.
Spill This is a grace period to fix things that went wrong unexpectedly. For example,
the director might use this time to redo the introduction by the host because the
president’s name was inadvertently misspelled in the opening titles.
Strike This activity does not refer to a protest by the crew but to the clearing of the
studio of all scenery, properties, and equipment.
Such a detailed time line is especially important for an electronic field production. The EFP schedule normally includes additional items, such as loading and
unloading equipment and transportation to and from the remote location.
Once you have a production schedule and a time line, you must stick to them.
The best schedule is useless if you don’t observe the deadlines or the blocks of time
designated for a specific production activity. Experienced producers and directors
move on to the next segment according to schedule, regardless of whether they have
accomplished everything in the previous segment. If you ignore the time limits too
often, your schedule becomes meaningless. ZVL5 PROCESS Phases production
As you can see, knowing the functions of every member of the production team
and coordinating them according to a precise schedule are essential to effective and
efficient video productions.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Team Members
The members perform nontechnical and technical functions. Nontechnical people do
not normally operate equipment; technical people do. The nontechnical people are also
called above-the-line personnel; the technical people, below-the-line personnel.
▶ Preproduction Team
These people plan the production. This team normally includes the producer, writer,
director, art director, and, occasionally, technical director (TD). Small production
companies or television stations often combine preproduction functions, such as
producer-director. Larger productions employ additional preproduction personnel, such
as a sound designer or a choreographer.
▶ Production Team
An electronic news gathering (ENG) “team” may consist of a single VJ (video journalist),
who not only reports the story but also operates the camera and does the postproduction
editing. The typical EFP (electronic field production) team comprises the talent, a
camcorder operator, and a utility person. Larger field and studio productions employ a
much larger team. It may include the producer and various assistants, such as associate
producer (AP) and production assistant (PA); the director and the associate director (AD);
and the talent. The production crew usually includes the floor manager and floor persons
(grips or utility persons), technical director, camera operators, lighting director (LD), video
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Establish a realistic
production schedule and
time line and stick to them.
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operator (VO), audio engineer, video-record operator, and C.G. (character generator)
operator. In preproduction the producer is in charge of coordinating the various people
and production details; in the production phase, the director is in charge.
▶ Postproduction Team
This team normally consists of the director, the editor, and, in complex productions, a
sound designer who remixes the sound track. The director and occasionally the producer
guide the editor in the selection and the sequencing of shots.
▶ Communication
Always establish and maintain regular communication among all production personnel.
▶ Production Schedule and Time Line
A production schedule, prepared by the producer, is a calendar that shows the major
preproduction, production, and postproduction activities. A time line, drawn up by the
director, shows a breakdown of time blocks for a single production day.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
PROCESS People nontechnical | technical
ZVL2
PROCESS Phases preproduction
ZVL3
PROCESS Phases production
ZVL4
PROCESS Phases postproduction
ZVL5
PROCESS Phases production
25
25
26
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II
P A R T
CHAPTER 3
Image Formation
and Digital Video
Image Creation:
Digital Video and Camera
Now that you have some idea of what video production is all about and who does
what in producing a program, you are probably eager to produce a knock-your-socksoff movie or documentary. But you must exercise a bit more patience and realize that
mastering the art of video capture includes a healthy dose of technical know-how.
CHAPTER 4
Before you embark on an ambitious production, learning the technical basics of video,
Video Camera
the workings of a video camera, and how to use the camera to capture compelling
CHAPTER 5
Even if a camera’s automated features enable you to produce acceptable images,
Operating
the Camera
images will save you time, money, and especially nerves.
there are many instances in which the automatic video controls work against rather
than for you. You probably notice that when photographing your friends against a
bright window, they appear as silhouettes or, at best, look woefully underexposed.
CHAPTER 6
Looking Through
the Viewfinder
As a professional, you need to know how to override the camera’s automatic features
when the circumstances or your artistic intentions require you to go beyond the default
settings. The basic knowledge of how an electronic image is formed is a prerequisite to
understanding how to use a camera to its fullest technical and artistic potential.
35
3
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
480p A scanning system of digital television. The p stands for
progressive, which means that each complete television
frame consists of 480 visible lines that are scanned one
after the other.
frame A complete scanning cycle of the electron beam. In
interlaced scanning, two partial scanning cycles (fields)
are necessary for one frame. In progressive scanning, each
scanning cycle produces one complete frame.
720p A scanning system of digital television. The p stands
for progressive, which means that each complete television frame consists of 720 visible lines that are scanned
one after the other. Generally considered high-definition
television.
frame rate The time it takes to scan a complete frame; usually
expressed in frames per second (fps). In analog (NTSC)
television, there are 60 fields, or 30 frames, per second. In
DTV the frame rate is flexible, ranging from 15 fps to 60 fps.
HDTV cinema cameras have adopted the film standard of
24 fps, but you can change their frame rate.
1080i A scanning system of high-definition television. The i
stands for interlaced, which means that a complete frame
is formed from two interlaced scanning fields. Generally
considered the high-end HDTV system.
analog A signal that fluctuates exactly like the original stimulus.
binary digit (bit) The smallest amount of information a computer can hold and process. A charge is either present,
represented by a 1, or absent, represented by a 0. One bit
can describe two levels, such as on/off or black/white. Two
bits can describe four levels (22 bits); 3 bits, eight levels
(23 bits); 4 bits, 16 (24 bits); and so on. A group of 8 bits (28)
is called a byte.
codec Stands for compression-decompression. Can be one of
several compression systems of digital video, graphics, and
audio files.
compression The temporary rearrangement or elimination of
redundant picture information for easier storage and signal
transport.
digital Pertaining to data in the form of binary digits (on/off
pulses).
digital television (DTV) Digital systems that generally have a
higher image resolution than standard television. Sometimes called advanced television (ATV).
field One-half of a complete scanning cycle, with two fields
necessary for one television picture frame. In analog (NTSC)
television, there are 60 fields, or 30 frames, per second.
high-definition television (HDTV) Includes the 720p, 1080i,
and 1080p scanning systems. Because the 480p system
produces high-quality video, it is sometimes, though erroneously, included in the HDTV category.
high-definition video (HDV) A recording system that produces
images of the same resolution as HDTV (720p and 1080i)
but with inferior colors. The images are much more compressed than those of HDTV, resulting in a slightly lower
image quality.
interlaced scanning The scanning of all the odd-numbered
lines (first field) and the subsequent scanning of all the
even-numbered lines (second field). The two fields make
up a complete television frame.
progressive scanning The consecutive scanning of lines from
top to bottom.
quantizing A step in the digitization of an analog signal. It
changes the sampling points into discrete numerical values
(0’s and 1’s). Also called quantization.
refresh rate The number of complete scanning cycles per
second. Also expressed in frames per second.
sampling Taking a number of samples (voltages) of the analog
video or audio signal at equally spaced intervals.
scanning The movement of the electron beam from left to right
and from top to bottom on the television screen.
Image Formation
and Digital Video
Digital video is firmly established. All video production is done with digital equipment,
perhaps with the exception of some high-quality analog camcorders that are still
working and were just too expensive to throw away. Even if the video acquisition is
analog, however, all other production steps, such as editing, require digital facilities.
Although we are often made to believe that all digital is by definition high quality, you
will find great quality differences in digital video. But how can you tell? This chapter
gives you some answers to this question and further explains what digital is all about
and why we switched from analog to digital video processes. Before we get into
the digital discussions, however, you need to know how a video image is created
in the first place.
▶ BASIC IMAGE FORMATION
Interlaced, progressive, and digital video scanning systems; HDV systems; and flat-panel
screens, including LCD and plasma panels
▶ WHAT IS DIGITAL?
The on/off principle of the binary system
▶ DIGITAL PROCESS
Analog and digital signals; the digital system, including sampling, quantizing, and
compression; and downloading and streaming
▶ DIGITAL PROCESS RESTATED
A user-friendly metaphor to explain analog and digital signals and the digital process
▶ WHY DIGITAL?
Picture and sound quality in dubs, compression, and picture and sound manipulation
BASIC IMAGE FORMATION
The basic principle of image formation is dependent on the process of scanning,
which is the same for black-and-white television, color television, standard analog
television, and digital high-definition television. The basic scanning process is still
best explained by using a standard monochrome (black-and-white) television set
that uses a cathode ray tube (CRT).
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3.1 VIDEO IMAGE FORMATION
The electron gun in the back of the picture tube generates an
electron beam. This beam is guided through the long neck of
the tube to scan the thousands of dots covering its face.
Shadow
mask
Electron
guns
The back end of the monochrome picture tube
houses the electron gun, which emits a tiny but sharp
electron beam. In a standard television set, this beam is
guided through the long neck of the picture tube to scan
the face of the tube, which is covered with thousands
of tiny phosphorous dots. The stronger the beam, the
brighter the dots light up. SEE 3.1 When the beam is too
weak to illuminate the dots, the screen appears to be
black. When the beam hits the pixels at full strength,
the screen looks white.
A color set, on the other hand, has three electron
guns in the back of the tube that emit three separate
electron beams. The face of the color picture tube
has neatly arranged groups of RGB—red, green, and
blue—dots or tiny rectangles, which are activated by
the three beams. One of the beams is designated to hit
the red dots, the second to hit the green dots, and the
third to hit the blue dots. In digital television these dots
are called pixels (a contraction of picture element), a
term borrowed from computer lingo. A pixel, similar to
the tile of a mosaic, is the smallest element of a digital
picture that can be identified by a computer. SEE 3.2
Various combinations of these three beams provide all
the colors you see on the video screen. (See chapter 8
for a discussion of these three primary colors of light
and how they mix into all other colors.)
Scanning Process
Red
Green
Blue
Blue dot
Green dot
Red dot
3.2 COLOR VIDEO IMAGE FORMATION
The color receiver has three electron guns, each responding to
the red, green, or blue part of the video signal. Each beam is
assigned to its specific color.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
An interlaced television
frame is made up of
two scanning fields.
The electron beam, emitted by the electron gun, uses
scanning to “read” the television screen, much like
how you read a printed page: from left to right and
from top to bottom. There are two basic scanning systems: interlaced and progressive. All standard analog
television is interlaced; digital video can be interlaced
or progressive.
Interlaced scanning Unlike a person reading line
by line from top to bottom, in interlaced scanning
the electron beam skips every other line during its first
scan, reading only the odd-numbered lines. SEE 3.3A
Then the beam returns to the top of the screen and reads
all the even-numbered lines. SEE 3.3B Scanning all the
odd-numbered lines yields one field. The subsequent
scanning of all the even-numbered lines produces
another field. The two fields compose one complete
picture, called a frame. SEE 3.3C
39
B A S I C I M A G E F O R M AT I O N
3.3 INTERLACED SCANNING
A In interlaced scanning, the electron beam first scans all the
odd-numbered lines, from left to right and from top to bottom.
This first scanning cycle produces one field.
...
1
3
5
7
B The electron beam jumps back to the top and scans all the
even-numbered lines. This second scanning cycle produces a
second field.
...
2
4
6
8
C The two fields make up a complete television picture,
called a frame.
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Starting position
I M A G E F O R M AT I O N A N D D I G I TA L V I D E O
Horizontal retrace
1
2
3
4
Vertical retrace
Last line
3.4 PROGRESSIVE SCANNING
In progressive scanning, the electron beam scans each line from left to right and from top to bottom. This scanning cycle produces
one complete frame. The beam then jumps back to the top to start a new scanning cycle to produce another complete frame.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
In progressive scanning,
each scanning cycle reads
all the lines and produces
one complete frame.
Progressive scanning In the progressive scanning system, the electron beam
scans each line in sequence, much like the way we read. The beam starts at the topleft corner of the screen and scans the first line, then jumps back to the left and scans
the second line, then the third, and so forth. After the last line has been scanned,
the beam jumps back to its starting point at the top left and begins the process all
over again. The lines are, indeed, scanned in an orderly progression. All computer
screens and a majority of digital video use progressive scanning. SEE 3.4 Contrary
to interlaced scanning, which produces half a frame (one field) for each scanning
cycle, progressive scanning reads all the lines and produces a full frame for each
scanning cycle. The number of frames progressively scanned per second is called
the refresh rate.
Digital Video Scanning Systems
Although digital video, also called digital television (DTV), is generally superior in quality to analog systems, not all digital video is high-definition television
(HDTV). You will find that there is some confusion about just what constitutes
“high-definition.” The introduction of high-definition video (HDV) and similar
formats has made the distinction even fuzzier.
Let’s try to sort out some of the many and often-confusing abbreviations, all
of which seem to describe video of superior quality. Generally, DTV has become
synonymous with superior picture quality. One of the reasons for the improved
quality of digital video over standard television (STV) is that DTV has a higher picture resolution (sharper picture detail), truer color, and a wider contrast ratio (more
subtle grays between the brightest and darkest picture areas).
41
B A S I C I M A G E F O R M AT I O N
Three DTV systems have emerged as the most practical for all kinds of video
production: the 480p and the 720p systems (p stands for progressive scanning) and
the 1080i system (i stands for interlaced scanning).
480p system The picture of the 480p system is composed of 480 visible lines (just
about what you actually see of the 525 lines of the standard analog system) that
are progressively scanned. It normally produces 60 complete frames (not fields)
per second. Because of the striking picture quality, the 480p system is sometimes
regarded as HDTV, although technical classifications do not include it in the highdefinition category.
720p system The 720p system produces 720 visible lines that are progressively
scanned. Its normal refresh rate is 60 frames per second. The high number of lines
results in very sharp pictures that are absolutely high-definition. The 720p system
is in the HDTV category.
1080i system The 1080i system uses interlaced scanning to save bandwidth.
This means that its signals can be transported through a smaller pipeline than if its
scanning were progressive. Although the 1080i system produces only 30 frames (60
fields) or less per second, its extremely high number of scanning lines contributes to
higher-definition video than with either the 480p or the 720p system. It is currently
the highest-quality broadcast HDTV system. Digital cinema, however, uses still other
scanning systems that result in even higher video quality. You will learn more about
digital cinema in chapter 4.
Note that video quality also depends on the number of pixels that make up each
scanning line and on how little, or how much, the video signal is compressed. The
more compression imposed on a signal, the less high-fidelity it becomes. You will
learn more about compression later in this chapter.
HDV Systems
What about high-definition video? Although the HDV system was originally developed for small consumer camcorders, it soon was used in larger, professional camcorders as well. High-end HDV camcorders can record video in the 720p and even
1080i scanning formats. HDV produces such high-quality pictures that you would
likely have a hard time distinguishing between HDV and HDTV by looking at the
two videos even on a HDTV monitor. What, then, is the difference?
So far as resolution is concerned, there is virtually no difference between HDV
and HDTV. Both systems produce excellent detail, but the color rendering is usually
less accurate in HDV, especially in low-light conditions. Another factor is compression: HDV has a higher compression ratio than HDTV, which inevitably reduces the
overall quality of the HDV pictures. A major distinction between the two camcorders
is not electronic but physical: high-definition picture quality depends not only on the
camcorder’s scanning system but also on its lens. The lenses in professional HDTV
camcorders can cost many times more than an entire HDV camcorder. Nevertheless,
if you want high-quality video at a reasonable price, HDV is the way to go.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The established DTV
scanning standards are
480p, 720p, and 1080i.
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I M A G E F O R M AT I O N A N D D I G I TA L V I D E O
Variable scanning systems Some cameras that are used primarily for digital
cinema have a variable scanning system. Their normal frame rate is 24 frames per
second (fps), which is identical to film, but it can be lowered to 15 fps or boosted
to 60 fps or even higher. This variable refresh rate allows for smooth accelerated or
slow-motion effects.
Format conversion To make digital scanning systems even more flexible, you can
use a frame-rate converter to change the scanning system, say, from 720p at 24 fps
to 1080i at 30 fps. This conversion takes place in the postproduction phase.
Flat-panel Displays
The need for larger monitors has spurred the development of flat-panel displays. One
of the great advantages of flat-panel displays is that the screen can get bigger—from
the familiar small video display on a laptop computer to a large home theater–type
screen—without getting thicker. Other advantages of flat-panel displays over the
standard television CRT are improved color rendition (colors that are more subtle),
greater contrast ratio and more shades in between, and generally a higher resolution (more pixels per square inch). One of the major quality criteria for flat-panel
displays is the black level, that is, how black the black looks. The darker the blacks
are, the more vivid the rest of the colors.
You may find, however, that sometimes video images on flat-panel displays
take on a pasty, almost posterized look, which despite the high resolution smacks of
low-quality VHS pictures. This usually happens when standard-definition or highly
compressed video is shown on the high-definition flat-panel television set. But if
you don’t get too close to the screen or view it from too sharp an angle, flat-panel
displays look simply stunning.
The two most popular albeit incompatible flat-panel systems are the liquid
crystal display (LCD) panels and the plasma panels.
LCD panels The LCD panel comprises two transparent sheets that contain, sandwichlike, a liquid whose crystal molecules change when a video signal is applied.
The many tiny transistors that compose the basic dots of the picture orient the liquid
crystals in certain ways to allow back light to shine through.
Plasma panels Instead of sandwiching a liquid, the two glass panels of the plasma
system contain a thin layer of gas. When the gas receives the varying charges of the
video signal, it activates the myriad tiny red, green, and blue dots that are arranged
much like the ones on a standard television receiver.
Despite the technical differences between the two flat-panel systems, you would
probably be hard-pressed to tell the difference when looking at their pictures.
Before we continue praising the virtues of digital video, let’s find out what digital
actually means.
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D I G I TA L P R O C E S S
WHAT IS DIGITAL?
All digital video and the way computers process information are based on a binary
code that uses on/off, either/or values for all their operations. The on state is represented by a 1, and the off state is represented by a 0. These binary digits, or bits for
short, operate on the light-bulb principle: if you have a 1, the light bulb is on; if you
have a 0, the light bulb is off. In the digital world there is nothing between the 1 and
the 0; the light bulb cannot burn at half-intensity.
DIGITAL PROCESS
Digital usually refers to the binary system in which data are represented in the form of
on/off pulses. At first glance this either/or system of binary digits may seem clumsy,
but the overwhelming advantage of the digital process is that it has great resistance to
data distortion and error. It also permits any number of combinations and shuffling
around—an extremely important feature when manipulating pictures and sound.
Analog and Digital Signals
An analog signal is an electrical copy of the original stimulus, such as somebody’s
singing into a microphone. The technical definition is that the analog signal fluctuates exactly like the original stimulus. The analog signal is also continuous, which
means that it never intentionally skips any part of the signal, however small the
skip may be.
The digital signal, on the other hand, is purposely discontinuous. It takes the
analog signal and selects points (instances) at equal intervals. These successive points
represent the original signal—a process called sampling (explained below).
Digital System
In the digitizing process, the analog signal is continuously sampled at fixed intervals;
the samples are then quantized (assigned a concrete value) and coded into 0’s and 1’s.
Sampling In this process a number of samples (voltages) are taken of the analog
video or audio signal at equally spaced intervals. When you take and measure a relatively large number of instances at shorter intervals from the original analog signal,
you have a high sampling rate. When you take a reading of relatively few instances
at larger intervals, you have a lower sampling rate. A higher sampling rate produces
better signals. The sampling rate of a video signal is usually expressed in megahertz.
Quantizing The quantizing step in the digitizing process changes the sampling
points (instances) into discrete numerical values (0’s and 1’s) by giving each point
a specific number.
Compression This process of compression includes the temporary rearrangement or elimination of all data that are not absolutely necessary for preserving the
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
All digital systems are
based on the on/off
principle of binary code.
An electric charge is either
present or it is not. The
on state is represented by
a 1, the off state by a 0.
44
▶K E Y
CHAPTER 3
C O N C E P T
Compression rearranges
digital data (picture and
sound information) or
eliminates redundant
data to increase storage
capacity and speed
up signal transport.
I M A G E F O R M AT I O N A N D D I G I TA L V I D E O
original quality of the video and audio signals for storage and signal transport. The
process of rearranging rather than throwing away is called lossless compression; the
compression that actually deletes redundant data is the lossy kind.
The advantage of lossless compression is that it maintains the original makeup
of the digital video and audio signals. The disadvantage is that the system still has to
manage overly large files. Such files are usually too bulky for streaming your favorite
music for uninterrupted listening or for watching a movie trailer on your computer
without having to wait for a prolonged download.
The advantage of lossy compression is that it can make a large file considerably
smaller, which will then take up less space when stored on a computer disk. The files
can also be transported faster, which allows streaming. With the help of compression,
you can listen to your favorite song from beginning to end without occasional interruptions to wait for the rest of the data to catch up, and you can squeeze an entire
motion picture onto a single digital disc. The disadvantage is that higher compression
inevitably reduces picture and sound quality.
Recall that HDV has higher compression than HDTV, which shows up mainly
as reduced color and contrast fidelity. There are lossy compression systems, such
as MPEG-2, however, that produce amazingly high-fidelity pictures. They are designed to ignore certain picture detail that does not change from frame to frame.
For example, MPEG-2 might not bother with repeating the green of the grass from
frame to frame when showing a close-up of a golf ball rolling toward the cup but
will simply add the digital data that show the rolling golf ball. Whenever necessary,
the compression system borrows the green-grass information from the frame that
initially showed the grass the first time.
To complicate matters, there are many different codecs—compressiondecompression systems—used for a variety of compression purposes. Apple QuickTime, for example, has several codecs, such as a high-quality, less lossy one for
screening your masterpiece and a fairly lossy one for sending it over the Internet to
share with friends.
Downloading and Streaming
When downloading, the files are sent as data packets. Because these packets are
often transferred out of order, you must wait for the downloading process to finish
before you can watch a video or listen to an audio file.
When streaming data, the digital files are sent as a continuous data flow that can
be viewed and listened to while the delivery is under way. You can listen to the first
part of a song while the rest of it is still being delivered.
DIGITAL PROCESS RESTATED
You are probably tired by now of all the technical talk, so let’s restate the digital
process in a more user-friendly way, using a metaphor that helps explain the important difference between the two signal types and why we go through such technical
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D I G I TA L P R O C E S S R E S TAT E D
3.5 ANALOG SINE WAVE
This figure shows a visual representation
of a simple analog electrical wave.
Time
maneuvers to change an analog signal to a digital one. Note that this metaphor is
not necessarily technically accurate but is merely intended to simplify and illustrate
the complex digital process.
Analog Signal
Let’s look at a graphic representation of a simple analog electrical wave. Such waves,
which are normally variously shaped, make up audio and video signals. SEE 3.5
Now assume that such waves are quite long, have slightly different shapes (different frequencies and amplitudes), and are made from garden hoses. These hoses
(analog signals) must now be shipped by truck to different locations (video and audio
signal transport and recording). The requirement is that the original shape of the
bent hoses (signals) cannot be disturbed even to a slight degree (no signal distortion) during shipping. But even the most expensive shipping company (high-end
equipment) cannot prevent the long hoses from getting some kinks (signal noise)
during packing into the long and cumbersome crates (analog recording) and during
transport (signal transport). When the hoses with the kinks are then used as models
for wave duplication (dubbing), the various distortions from the original curves are
not only maintained but often exacerbated by additional kinks (added signal noise
and artifacts).
Digital Signal and Quantizing
Somebody very smart in the packing division comes up with a radical idea: why
not cut up the hoses into smaller pieces and number each piece before shipping
(quantizing)? This way the hoses can be more easily packed and shipped in smaller
crates (packets) and in smaller trucks (bandwidth). Because the shipment contains
a plan of the hoses’ original curves (computer software), the numbered pieces can
be reassembled to look like the original hoses (analog signals).
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CHAPTER 3
A
A high digital sampling rate approximates
the original signal.
I M A G E F O R M AT I O N A N D D I G I TA L V I D E O
B
A low digital sampling rate results in
the loss of signal information.
Many samples per second
Fewer samples per second
Time
Time
3.6 SAMPLING
To convert an analog wave into a digital one, it is divided and measured at equally spaced intervals.
A A high sampling rate looks more like the original wave; most of the original wave is retained.
B A low sampling rate looks less like the original wave; not much of the original wave remains.
Sampling
An equally smart colleague in the assembly division discovers that when you cut
a hose into very small, equally spaced pieces (sampling), you don’t need all the
pieces to represent the hose’s original curves (high sampling rate). If, however, you
cut the hose into just a few large pieces to save time and money, they can no longer
accurately simulate the original curves (low sampling rate). As a result, the digital
representation of the analog signal would be of much lower quality. SEE 3.6
Compression and Transport
The sampling gave the person in the packing division another idea: because each
piece of hose has a specific number, you may be able to repack the pieces so that
all the straight pieces can be squeezed in one small box and the curved ones in
another (lossless compression). This would certainly save space (smaller files) and
allow smaller trucks to be used for transport (smaller bandwidth). Or, he might even
get away with throwing away some of the pieces before packing them, such as the
parts that make up long stretches before the first curve, which serve no real function
when simulating waves (lossy compression). Nobody would notice the missing parts
anyway. The smart packer was right on both counts.
While testing how much he could throw away, however, he also discovered that
the more hose pieces (data) you throw away, the less accurate the reassembly of the
waves will be (low picture and sound quality).
The transportation manager decided that the pieces can be shipped in two
ways. One way is to load all the straight pieces in one truck, all the curved pieces in
a second truck, and a mixture of both in a third. With this method the receiver has
to wait until all trucks have arrived and all boxes are opened (downloading) before
the assembly of the various curved hoses can begin (opening the file).
W H Y D I G I TA L ?
The second method is to load several trucks with boxes that contain enough
pieces to get started with the assembly of some of the hoses. The first hoses are
already functional (the beginning of the file can be opened) while the rest of them
arrive one after the other (streaming).
WHY DIGITAL?
Returning from transporting garden hoses to the digital process, you may wonder
why we bother with such a complicated system when we already have an analog
signal that perfectly represents the original stimulus. Your computer and how you
use it can give you all the answers.
This seemingly crude either/or, on/off principle lets you dub video and audio
with virtually no deterioration, compress the signals to save storage space and facilitate signal transport, and manipulate pictures and sound with relative ease.
Picture and Sound Quality in Dubs
Because each sample point is numbered through quantizing, the robust either/or
digital system identifies only two types of data: the good type that contributes to
the creation of pictures and sound and the bad type that does not. In the either/or
system, there is no room for “perhaps some of them might be good for something
sometime.” This means that the digital system is relatively immune to artifacts and
can even eliminate, or at least minimize, all unwanted signal elements that will
interfere with, rather than preserve, the integrity of the original signal.
For example, when you print several copies of a letter that you just typed with
your word-processing program, the third or fourth copy, and even the hundredth
one the printer delivers, looks just as clean and sharp as the original.
When you use digital video recorders, all subsequent generations produce
pictures and sound that are identical to the original recording, an attribute called
transparency. The first copy of the original is called the first generation, the second
copy, the second generation, and so forth.
This is not the case with an analog signal. In its true nature of being seamless,
all values are equal: the analog signal does not distinguish between the desirable
signal elements and the artifacts (signal noise). This problem is compounded in subsequent analog dubs. With analog equipment each generation adds another layer of
artifacts, much like how printed text deteriorates when you progressively duplicate
photocopies. Analog video equipment will yield marked picture deterioration after
just a few generations.
Compression
You cannot compress analog signals. This means that you must deal with the complete analog video and audio information during capture, transport, and storage.
As you have just read, digital compression not only saves storage space but speeds
up signal transport.
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Manipulation
Because digital video and audio signals consist of 0’s and 1’s, they can be changed
by simply rearranging the numbers. The fonts in your word-processing program, the
opening titles of your favorite television show, and an animated weather map—all
are the result of calculated manipulation of digital data. In fact, you can create synthetic images by applying certain programs that let you “paint by numbers.” Again,
such extensive and predictable manipulation is not possible with analog signals.
(See chapter 9 for more about digital video wizardry.)
Editing is probably the most evident form of digital flexibility. Once the source
clips are on your computer’s hard drive, you can order the various clips into a specific
sequence, and then, if you or your client doesn’t like it, you can change it around at
will. Such manipulation would take considerably more effort and time if you were
working with analog video.
As you can see, the digital process has revolutionized video production; and
because most of the tricky operations discussed are done by the computer, you can
now concentrate more on the aesthetic elements of picture and sound control.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Interlaced and Progressive Scanning
An interlaced television frame is made up of two scanning fields, which are necessary
for one complete frame. Interlaced scanning scans every other line, then goes back and
scans the lines that were skipped. Progressive scanning scans every line. In progressive
scanning, each scanning cycle produces not fields but a complete video frame. The frame
rate, or refresh rate, can vary.
▶ Digital Video Scanning Systems
The most prevalent digital television (DTV) scanning systems are 480p, 720p, and 1080i.
All DTV systems produce video with higher resolution than standard analog television,
improved color, and more subtle shadings between the brightest and darkest picture
areas. High-definition television (HDTV) uses the 720p and 1080i scanning systems;
high-definition video (HDV) uses the 720p and 1080i scanning systems but has less color
information and higher compression than HDTV.
▶ Variable Scanning Systems
Some video cameras, especially high-end digital cinema cameras, have a variable
scanning system that can produce the standard movie frame rate of 24 frames per
second (fps) or even lower, as well as the HDTV 60 fps and even a very high frame rate
for slow-motion effects.
▶ Flat-panel Displays
Flat-panel displays have myriad tiny transistors (pixels) that are sandwiched between
two transparent panels. There are liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma panels. When
a video signal is applied, the pixels light up or orient liquid crystals or gas to let light
shine through. The advantage of flat-panel displays is that they can be quite large while
remaining relatively thin.
W H Y D I G I TA L ?
▶ Analog and Digital Signals
An analog signal fluctuates exactly like the original stimulus. A digital signal is based on
a binary code that uses on/off, either/or values represented by 0’s and 1’s; it is purposely
discontinuous.
▶ Sampling and Quantizing
Digital signals sample the analog signal at equally spaced intervals and assign each
sample a specific binary number—the process of quantizing. Each number consists of a
combination of 0’s and 1’s. The higher the sampling rate, the higher the picture quality.
Digital signals are very robust and do not deteriorate over multiple generations.
▶ Compression and Codecs
Digital signals can be compressed; analog signals cannot. Compression eliminates
redundant or unnecessary picture information to increase storage capacity and speed
up signal transport and video and audio processing. Lossless compression rearranges the
data into less space. Lossy compression throws away redundant or unimportant data.
There are several codec (compression-decompression) systems that offer various ways
and degrees of compression.
▶ Downloading and Streaming
Downloading means that the data are sent in packets that are often out of order. You
need to wait until all packets have arrived before you can open the file. Streaming means
that you can open the file and listen to and watch the first part while the data delivery of
the balance of the file is still in progress.
▶ Manipulation
The digital process permits a great number of quick manipulations of audio and video
information. Nonlinear editing is made possible through sorting and ordering digital
video and audio files.
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4
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
aperture Iris opening of a lens; usually measured in ƒ-stops.
beam splitter Optical device within the camera that splits the
white light into the three additive primary light colors: red,
green, and blue.
camcorder A portable camera with the video recorder built
into it.
camera chain The camera and the associated electronic equipment, consisting of the power supply, the sync generator,
and the camera control unit.
camera control unit (CCU) Equipment, separate from the actual camera, that allows the video operator to adjust the color
and brightness balance before and during the production.
charge-coupled device (CCD) A solid-state imaging device
that translates the optical image into a video signal. Also
called chip.
focal length With the lens set at infinity, the distance from the
iris to the plane where the picture is in focus. Normally
measured in millimeters or inches.
ƒ-stop The scale on the lens, indicating the aperture. The larger
the ƒ-stop number, the smaller the aperture; the smaller
the ƒ-stop number, the larger the aperture.
iris Adjustable lens-opening mechanism. Also called lens
diaphragm.
luminance channel Contains the black-and-white part of a
video signal. It is mainly responsible for the sharpness of
the picture. Also called luma, or Y, channel.
slow lens A lens that permits a relatively small amount of light
to pass through (relatively high ƒ-stop number at its largest
aperture). Requires higher light levels for optimal pictures.
chrominance channel Contains the RGB video signals or some
combination thereof. Also called color, or C, channel.
viewfinder A small video screen or flat-panel display on a
camera that shows the black-and-white or color picture the
camera generates. The flat-panel displays are also called
monitors.
ENG/EFP camera Highly portable, high-end self-contained
camera for electronic field production.
zoom lens Variable-focal-length lens. All video cameras are
equipped with a zoom lens.
fast lens A lens that permits a relatively great amount of light
to pass through at its largest aperture (lowest ƒ-stop
number). Can be used in low-light conditions.
zoom range How much the focal length can be changed from
a wide shot to a close-up during a zoom. The zoom range is
stated as a ratio, such as 20:1. Also called zoom ratio.
Video Camera
Your friend brags about the new digital camcorder he just purchased. It has a three-chip
imaging device that allows video capture in both a 4 × 3 and a 16 × 9 aspect ratio, a
fast 15:1 optical zoom lens, a high-resolution black-and-white viewfinder, and a foldout
color LCD monitor. It uses mini-cassettes to record 720p or 1080i high-definition video,
and it connects to the computer with a FireWire or HDMI cable. He encourages you to
get the same model because it produces superior video and audio and is especially well
suited for nonlinear editing. But how do you know that these features really justify the
relatively high price of the camcorder?
This chapter will help you answer this question. You will also learn how a video camera
works, as well as the relative advantages of various camera types and systems.
▶ BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
Function, lens, imaging device or sensor, video signal processing, and viewfinder
▶ TYPES OF CAMERAS
Camcorders, ENG/EFP cameras, studio cameras, and digital cinema cameras
BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
Whether digital or analog, and regardless of their size, cost, and quality, all video
cameras operate on the same basic principle: they transduce (translate) the optical
image that the lens sees into a corresponding video picture. More specifically, the
camera converts an optical image into electrical signals that are reconverted by a
television receiver into visible screen images.
Function
To fulfill this function, each video camera needs three basic elements: the lens, the
imaging device, and the viewfinder. SEE 4.1
The lens selects a portion of the scene at which you point the camera and
produces a sharp optical image of it. The camera contains a beam splitter and an
imaging device, or sensor, that convert the optical image of the lens into weak electric currents, which are amplified and further processed by a variety of electronic
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VIDEO CAMERA
components. The viewfinder reconverts these electrical signals into video pictures
of the lens-generated scene. SEE 4.2
To explain this process, we start with how a lens operates and sees a particular
portion of a scene, then we move on to how the beam splitter and the imaging device work, and, finally, to how the video signal is reconverted into a video picture
by the television receiver. Why bother with knowing all this, especially since most
camcorders have automatic functions that can produce pretty good pictures and
sound? The problem is that such automatic functions produce good pictures and
sound only under ideal conditions. But what are ideal conditions? And what can
4.1 BASIC CAMERA
ELEMENTS
Viewfinder
The video camera has three
main elements: the lens,
the imaging device, and the
viewfinder.
Lens
Imaging device
Viewfinder
Object
Lens
Processor
Amplifier
Beam splitter
Charge-coupled devices (CCDs)
4.2 FUNCTIONS OF THE CAMERA
The video camera translates the optical light image as seen by the lens into a corresponding picture on the screen. The light
reflected off an object is gathered and transmitted by the lens to the beam splitter, which splits the white light into red, green,
and blue (RGB) light beams. These beams are then transformed by the imaging device into electric energy, which is amplified
and processed into a video signal. It is then reconverted into video pictures by the viewfinder.
53
BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
you do when conditions are less than ideal? Knowing the basics of how a camera
works will help you decide when and how to override the automatic functions to
produce optimal video. It will also aid you in understanding how other production
elements such as lighting must be manipulated to meet the requirements of the
camera. Most importantly, such knowledge will help you become a video professional. ZVL1 CAMERA Camera introduction
Lens
Lenses determine what cameras can see. They are classified by focal length, which
is a technical measure of the distance from the iris inside the lens to the plane where
the projected image is in focus. This measurement assumes that the lens distance
calibration is set at infinity (∞). This distance is normally given in millimeters (mm);
thus a still camera can have a 24mm or a 200mm lens. Lenses can also be classified
by how wide a view you get from a specific camera position. A wide-angle lens (short
focal length) gives a relatively wide vista. A narrow-angle lens (long focal length)
gives a relatively narrow vista with the background greatly magnified.
The optical quality of the lens determines to a great extent how good the video
picture will look. Regardless of the quality of the camcorder itself, a good lens is
one of the principal prerequisites for good pictures. This is why the lenses for highend cameras can cost many times more than your entire camcorder, including its
built-in lens.
Focal length The zoom lens on a camera can change from a short-focal-length,
or wide-angle, position to a long-focal-length, or narrow-angle, position and back
in one continuous move. A short-focal-length zoom position gives you a wide-angle
view: you can see more than with a lens in the narrow-angle position. To bring a
zoom lens into the extreme-wide-angle position, you need to zoom all the way out.
You will see a relatively large portion of the scene in front of you, but the middle- and
background objects look quite small and therefore far away. SEE 4.3
Zooming all the way in puts the zoom lens in a long-focal-length, or narrowangle, position. The zoom lens will now give a much narrower, but enlarged, view of
the selected scene. Because the narrow-angle lens functions similarly to binoculars,
it is also called a telephoto lens, or telephoto zoom lens position. SEE 4.4
4.3 WIDE-ANGLE VIEW
The wide-angle lens shows a wide
vista, with the faraway objects looking
quite small.
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4.4 NARROW-ANGLE VIEW
4.5 NORMAL VIEW
The narrow-angle, or telephoto, lens shows only a narrow portion of the scene, with the background objects appearing much
larger relative to the foreground objects than in a wide-angle
view. The tugboats now look much closer together.
The normal lens shows a vista and a perspective that are similar
to what we actually see.
When you stop a zoom in the middle of the zoom range (between the extremewide-angle and narrow-angle positions), you are more or less in the normal lens
position. The angle of view of a normal lens approximates what you would see when
looking directly at the scene. SEE 4.5
Because the zoom lens offers a great variety of focal lengths between its extremewide-angle and narrow-angle positions, it is also called a variable-focal-length
lens. ZVL2 CAMERA Zoom lens focal length
Zoom range The zoom range, also called zoom ratio, refers to how close a view
you can achieve when zooming in from the farthest wide-angle position to the closest narrow-angle position. The higher the first number of the ratio, the closer you
can get to the object from the farthest wide-angle position. A 20:1 zoom lens lets
you narrow the field of view (your vista) 20 times when zooming in from the farthest
wide-angle position to the closest narrow-angle position. In practical terms you can
move in to a pretty good close-up from a wide-angle shot. The 20:1 zoom ratio can
also be indicated as 20×. SEE 4.6
Small camcorder lenses rarely go above an optical zoom ratio of 20:1. Field
cameras, however, need much higher zoom ratios. Most studio lenses have a zoom
ratio of between 15:1 and 30:1. A 30× zoom gets you a good close-up without moving
the camera in even a large studio. Covering sports or other outdoor events demands
lenses with zoom ratios of 40:1 or even 60:1. With such a lens, you can zoom in from
a wide shot of the entire football field to a close-up of the quarterback’s face. The
large zoom range is necessary because these cameras are usually at the top of the
stadium, far from the event. Instead of moving the camera closer to the event, as is
possible with a camcorder, the zoom lens must bring the event closer to the camera.
Unfortunately, the higher the zoom ratio, the larger the lens gets. A 60:1 field lens is
quite a bit larger and certainly heavier than the camera to which it is attached.
The focal length of a lens influences not only the field of view (how close or far
away an object seems) but also how far apart objects appear to be. (You will learn
more about these and other aspects of framing and perception in chapters 5 and 6.)
BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
4.6 MAXIMUM WIDE-ANGLE AND NARROW-ANGLE POSITIONS OF A 10:1 ZOOM LENS
A 10× zoom lens can narrow the angle of view by 10 times. It appears to bring a portion of the scene closer to the camera.
Digital zoom There is a great difference between an optical zoom and a digital
zoom. In an optical zoom, the elements inside the lens change its focal length. In a
digital zoom, the center of the digital image is gradually magnified; we perceive this
gradual magnification as the image coming closer. The problem with digital zooms
is that the enlarged image becomes progressively less sharp and eventually displays
squares that look like oversized pixels or tiles of a mosaic. Inevitably, a digital zoomin to a fairly tight shot produces a slightly fuzzy image at best. An optical zoom does
not influence the sharpness of the picture, which is why optical zooms are preferred.
Lens speed This term refers to how much light can pass through a lens to the
imaging device. A fast lens can let a relatively great amount of light to pass through;
a slow lens is more limited in how much light it can transmit. In practice a fast lens
allows you to produce acceptable pictures in a darker environment than does a slow
lens. Fast lenses are therefore more useful than slow ones, but they are also larger
and more expensive.
You can tell whether a lens is fast or slow by looking at its lowest ƒ-stop number,
such as ƒ/1.4 or ƒ/2.0 (see figure 4.7). The lower the number, the faster the lens. A lens
that can open up to ƒ2.0 is pretty fast; one that can’t go below ƒ4.5 is quite slow.
Lens iris and aperture Like the pupil of your eye, all lenses have an iris that controls the amount of light transmitted. In a bright environment, your iris contracts to
a smaller opening, restricting the amount of light passing through; in a dim environment, it expands to a larger opening, admitting more light.
The lens iris, or lens diaphragm, operates in the same way. Like your pupil, the
center of the iris has an adjustable hole, called the aperture, that can be made large
or small. The size of the aperture controls how much light the lens transmits. When
there is little light on a scene, you can make the aperture bigger and let more light
through. This is called “opening the lens” or “opening the iris.” When the scene is well
illuminated, you can make the aperture smaller, or “close down” the lens, to restrict
the light going through. You can thus control the exposure of the picture so that it
looks neither too dark (not enough light) nor too washed out (too much light).
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4.7 IRIS CONTROL RING
The ƒ-stop calibration is printed on a ring
that controls the iris opening, or aperture,
of the lens. The C on the control ring of this
lens refers to cap, which means the iris is
totally closed, letting no light pass through
the lens, thus acting like a physical lens cap.
Iris control ring with ƒ-stops
Now you can explain a fast or slow lens in more technical terms: a fast lens
transmits more light at its maximum aperture than does a slow one. ZVL3 CAMERA
Exposure control aperture
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The lower the ƒ-stop
number, the larger the
aperture and the more
light is transmitted.
A fast lens has a low
minimum ƒ-stop number
(such as ƒ/1.4).
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The higher the ƒ-stop
number, the smaller the
aperture and the less
light is transmitted. A
slow lens has a relatively
high minimum ƒ-stop
number (such as ƒ/4.5).
ƒ-stop We measure how much light is transmitted through the lens with the help of
the ƒ-stop. Normally, lenses have a ring at their base with a series of ƒ-stop numbers
(such as 1.4, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22) printed on it that controls the iris opening. SEE 4.7 You won’t find such numbers on many studio camera lenses, however.
Studio lenses are encased in a protective cover, so you couldn’t see the markings
even if they were on the lens. Camcorders usually display the ƒ-stop numbers in the
viewfinder menu.
When you turn the ring so that ƒ/1.4 lines up with the indicator, you have
“opened” the lens to its maximum aperture; it now transmits as much light as it possibly can. When you turn the ring to ƒ/22, the lens is “stopped down” to its minimum
aperture, letting very little light pass through. A fast lens should have a maximum
aperture of ƒ/2.8 or better. Good lenses go as low as ƒ/1.4 and occasionally even
ƒ/1.2. With these lenses you need considerably less light to produce good pictures
than with slower lenses whose maximum aperture is ƒ/4.5.
Notice that the ƒ-stop numbers mean just the opposite of what you would
expect: The lower the ƒ-stop number, the larger the aperture and the more light is
transmitted. The higher the ƒ-stop number, the smaller the aperture and the less
light is transmitted. SEE 4.8 ZVL4 CAMERA Exposure control ƒ-stop
Auto-iris Most camcorders enable you to choose between the manual iris control
and an auto-iris feature. The auto-iris adjusts the aperture automatically to its optimal
setting. The camera reads the light level of the scene and tells the auto-iris to open
up or close down until the resulting picture is neither too dark nor too light. Such
an automated feature is not without drawbacks, however.
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BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
ƒ/22
ƒ/16
ƒ/4
ƒ/1.4
4.8 ƒ-STOP SETTINGS
The higher the ƒ-stop number, the smaller the aperture and the less light is transmitted by the lens. The lower the ƒ-stop number,
the larger the aperture and the more light is transmitted by the lens.
Beam Splitter and Imaging Device
A second main system within the camera comprises the beam splitter and the
imaging device, which transduces light into electric energy. ZVL5 CAMERA
Camera introduction
Beam splitter The beam splitter consists of a series of prisms and filters locked into
a prism block. SEE 4.9 Its function is to separate the ordinary white light of the lensprojected image into the three primary light colors—red, green, and blue (RGB)—and
to direct these light beams at the corresponding imaging devices, normally solid-state
charge-coupled devices (CCDs). In most larger camcorders, there are three such
CCDs: one for the red beam, one for the green beam, and one for the blue beam.
Each of the three sensors is solidly attached to the prism block. SEE 4.10
4.9 BEAM-SPLITTING PRISM BLOCK
CCD for
red channel
Beam-splitting
prism block
CCD for
green
channel
Zoom lens
CCD for
blue channel
The prism block contains prisms and filters that
split the incoming white light into its three basic
light colors—red, green, and blue—and direct
these beams to their corresponding CCDs.
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4.10 VIDEO CAMERA PRISM BLOCK
In this photo of an actual prism block,
you can see the three CCDs firmly attached to the port (opening) for each
RGB light beam.
Red CCD
USED BY PERMISSION OF SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.
Green CCD
Blue CCD
Imaging Device or Sensor
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The CCD converts the
light variations of an
image into electric
energy—the video signal.
The function of the imaging device is to transduce light into an electrical charge,
which, after processing, makes up the video signal. This imaging device, also called
pickup device or chip, is usually a CCD or a CMOS (complementary metal oxide
semiconductor) chip, which is a variation of the CCD.
A CCD consists of a very small solid-state silicon chip that contains horizontal
and vertical rows of thousands or even millions of light-sensing pixels that are arranged in horizontal rows (representing each scanning line) and vertical stacks
(representing the number of scanning lines). This is quite an accomplishment considering that most chips are no larger than your thumbnail. Each pixel can translate
the light energy it receives into a corresponding electric charge.
When counting pixels from the top to the bottom, the number is fixed by the
number of scanning lines, such as 480, 720, or 1,080. As you recall, 1,080 lines produce
a better image than 480 lines. But resolution also depends on how many pixels are
used for each scanning line. When squeezing pixels horizontally onto a scanning
line, you are no longer bound by the customary line standard but simply by technical
limitations. Some high-end high-definition television (HDTV) and digital cinema
cameras use as many as 5,000 pixels per line (“5K” in industry lingo). SEE 4.11
All pixels function like the individual tiles in a mosaic or the dots in a magazine
photo. The more pixels in a given picture area, the sharper the image will be. SEE 4.12
Generally, the larger a CCD is and the more pixels it contains, the sharper the resulting screen image will be. This statement assumes, however, that the quality of the
lens and the signal processor are the same in this comparison.
High-quality cameras usually contain three CCDs—one for each of the RGB
light beams as delivered by the beam splitter. Many smaller camcorders, however,
have just a single chip. In this case the incoming white light is divided by an RGBstriped filter into the three primary colors, which are then processed as individual
signals by the single CCD. Although standard single-chip camcorders can produce
59
BASIC CAMERA FUNCTION AND ELEMENTS
4.11 PIXEL ARRANGEMENT ON A CCD
Vertical row of pixels determines
scanning lines (480, 720, or 1080)
The CCD contains thousands or millions of
pixels that are arranged in a vertical stack of
horizontal scanning lines. The number of pixels
in the vertical stack is defined by the scanning
system (480p, 720p, or 1080i). The number of
pixels per horizontal line greatly influences the
overall picture resolution.
Horizontal row of pixels contributes
to resolution (the more pixels per
row, the higher the resolution)
4.12 PICTURE RESOLUTION
The picture on the right is composed of more pixels than the one on the left. It has a higher resolution and looks sharper.
The more pixels a CCD contains, the higher the resolution of the video image.
as sharp a picture as three-chip cameras, their color fidelity is generally inferior.
The big advantage of a single-chip camcorder is that it is small, lightweight, and
relatively inexpensive—important considerations when aiming at a large consumer
or prosumer market.
Some electronics companies produce high-end HDTV and digital cinema
cameras that operate with only a single chip. But such a sensor is exceptional and,
as mentioned above, has as many as 5,000 (5K) pixels on each horizontal line and
produces ultrahigh-definition images intended primarily for movie making.
Note that the video signal leaving the imaging device is always analog, regardless
of whether the camera is digital. This analog signal is then immediately digitized for
further signal processing.
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Video Signal Processing
Signal processing—how the RGB signals are amplified when they leave the imaging
device and how they combine to match the colors of the scene—is another significant
factor in producing optimal picture quality. Basically, color signals consist of two
channels: a luminance channel, also called the luma, or Y, channel (lumen is Latin
for “light”), which produces the black-and-white image of the scene and is mainly
responsible for the picture’s sharpness; and a chrominance channel, also called
the color, or C, channel. In high-quality video, these channels are kept separate
throughout signal processing and transport.
In the old analog standard television (STV) both the Y and C signals must be
combined into a composite analog signal, called the NTSC signal, or simply NTSC,
for transmission. (NTSC stands for National Television System Committee.) In
digital transmission, the Y and C channels are kept separate and no such translation into an analog composite signal is necessary, unless you are using an analog
television receiver.
Viewfinder
The viewfinder is a small video monitor attached to the camera that shows an image
of what the camera sees. Most small camcorders have the familiar viewfinder tube,
through which you can view a black-and-white video picture, as well as a flat-panel
LCD display that can be folded out or attached to the camera for more convenience.
Because the black-and-white viewfinder produces a sharper picture than the
standard foldout color display and does not wash out in sunlight, most camcorder
operators prefer the viewfinder over the foldout monitor. SEE 4.13
4.13 LARGE-EYEPIECE VIEWFINDER
AND FOLDOUT LCD MONITOR
This camera has a relatively large viewfinder and an
LCD foldout monitor that gives the operator great
flexibility in camera handling. Such flat-panel displays
can wash out in bright surroundings.
High-definition flatpanel color viewfinder
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T YPES OF CAMERAS
4.14 LCD MONITOR
ATTACHED TO CAMCORDER
To optimize the handling of a large
camcorder, you can attach a monitor
panel to the camcorder handle. This
way you can frame a shot while carrying the camera close to the ground.
Because large camcorders do not always have a foldout flat-panel display, some
camera operators opt to connect the camera’s video output to a larger, independent,
high-resolution monitor panel. SEE 4.14 This detachable flat-panel screen is mounted
on a flexible arm, or “hot shoe,” which lets you see the camera output even while taking the camcorder off your shoulder for certain shots. Note that all flat-panel screens
tend to drain the camera battery significantly faster than the built-in viewfinder, and
they are worthless if the sun shines on them.
TYPES OF CAMERAS
We normally classify video cameras by how they are used: shoulder-mounted (large)
and handheld (small) camcorders, ENG/EFP (electronic news gathering/electronic
field production) cameras, studio cameras, and digital cinema cameras.
Camcorders
As pointed out before, a camcorder (for camera and recorder) is a portable video
camera with its recording device attached to it or built-in. The large ones are usually called shoulder-mounted camcorders, and the small ones are called handheld
camcorders. Of course, this classification should not prevent you from carrying your
large camcorder in your hand or carrying your handheld one on your shoulder.
The recording device in a camcorder is either a videotape recorder (VTR) or
some kind of nontape device, such as a hard drive, optical disc, or flash memory
device. The advantages of the solid-state flash memory devices are that they have
no moving parts and the recorded data can be transferred more quickly and easily to a computer for postproduction editing than can data recorded on videotape.
SEE 4.15 AND 4.16
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A camcorder has its
video recorder built-in.
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USED BY PERMISSION OF SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.
62
4.15 HIGH-END HANDHELD CAMCORDER
This high-end small HDTV camcorder has three large
(½-inch) CMOS chips, a 14× optical zoom lens, highcapacity flash memory cards instead of a VTR, and two
professional (XLR) microphone inputs. It records in all
HDTV standards and can output 24 frames per second
(fps) as well as higher and lower frame rates.
4.16 SHOULDER-MOUNTED CAMCORDER
This large camcorder has three large, high-density CCDs; a lens
mount that accepts a variety of zoom lenses; and four separate
audio channels. It can hold four flash memory cards for continuous
variable-frame-rate recording.
All camcorders—large and small—have two audio inputs: one is normally
used for the camera mic, and the other is for an additional, external microphone.
In small camcorders the camera mic is built-in. Larger, more high-end models have
two jacks (inputs) that let you plug in specific mics (see chapter 7). Most camcorders also have a camera light for illuminating small areas during ENG or to provide
additional illumination. Note that if you run the camera light off the camcorder’s
battery, the battery will run down considerably faster; it’s best to use a separate
battery pack for the light.
HDV camcorders To make high-definition video (HDV) more accessible to a
wider community of videographers, high-end handheld HDV camcorders have
been developed by the major camera manufacturers. The HDV camcorder differs
from the standard consumer-type digital camcorder in several ways: it has a highquality lens; it usually has three high-resolution chips that produce accurate colors
and sharp video images; its chips produce a native 16 × 9 aspect ratio (see chapter
6 for more about aspect ratio); it has a superior signal-processing system; and it has
an excellent high-definition video recorder.
HDV camcorders normally use high-speed VTRs with mini-cassettes, optical
discs, or high-capacity flash drives that can be inserted into a camera slot. HDV
camcorders can produce high-definition 720p or 1080i images. SEE 4.17
Quality difference When you compare the pictures your friend took with his
digital camcorder to a similar scene shot with an expensive and much larger and
heavier camcorder, you will probably not see much difference in how the pictures
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T YPES OF CAMERAS
USED BY PERMISSION OF SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.
4.17 HDV CAMCORDER
This high-end HDV camcorder has three CCD
image sensors and can record all scanning formats,
including 1080i. It lets you select various frame rates
(24, 30, or 60 fps) and records all digital formats
(480p, 720p, and 1080i) on a mini-cassette. It has a
standard eyepiece viewfinder and a high-resolution
foldout monitor. Audio is recorded on two channels.
look. Why, then, do you still see professional ENG shooters lugging around heavy
camcorders on their shoulders? One of the main reasons is that television stations
are reluctant to dump a perfectly fine camera that they purchased for a hefty price
not too long ago. But there are also some technical advantages to using the larger
camcorder for critical shoots.
Most small camcorders have a built-in zoom lens that cannot be exchanged.
When using a large camcorder, however, you can choose the lens that best suits
your purpose. For example, you can use a very-wide-angle lens when shooting in
confined quarters, such as the inside of an automobile, or a lens that lets you get a
close-up view from far away. Additionally, the lens of a large ENG/EFP camcorder has
better optics (high-quality lens elements) and a smoother zoom mechanism. Large
camcorders also have more video and audio controls, robust recording devices, and
usually a better processing system with better color sampling that ensures faithful
colors even when shooting in low-light conditions.
But don’t worry: even if you don’t have a shoulder-mounted ENG/EFP camcorder, you can still produce professional-looking video programs. You will find
that shooting good video depends more on what shots you select and how you
frame them than on the technical specifications of the camcorder. (The discussion
in chapter 6 about looking through the viewfinder will help you achieve maximally
effective shots.)
ENG/EFP Cameras
The basic difference between an ENG/EFP camera and a camcorder is that the
ENG/EFP camera does not have a built-in video recorder but must feed its output
via cable to a stand-alone video recorder. Like a camcorder, the ENG/EFP camera
is self-contained, but it can be, and often is, connected with a camera cable to a remote control unit (RCU) and an external recording device. Why use an RCU when
the camera is basically self-contained and has automatic controls?
First, although an ENG/EFP camera is capable of running on batteries, it is often
better to power it with an external source. External power frees you from worrying
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4.18 ENG/EFP CAMERA
CONNECTED TO RCU AND
EXTERNAL VIDEO RECORDER
Intercom
This high-end ENG/EFP
camera has no built-in video
recorder but is connected to a
remote control unit and from
there to a high-capacity hard
drive or studio VTR for highquality recording.
Hard drive
Cable length up to 300 feet
Camera
RCU
Record VTR
about battery life during a long shoot or a live pickup. Second, in situations where
optimal pictures are critical, the RCU allows the video operator (VO) to override the
camera’s automatic circuits and tweak the camera for optimal performance under a
variety of shooting conditions, thus freeing the camera operator to pay full attention
to composing effective shots. SEE 4.18
Third, because the director can see on a monitor what the camera operators
see in their viewfinders, he or she can give them the necessary instructions over the
intercom headsets while the event is in progress. All these production advantages
considerably outweigh the slight disadvantage of having the cameras tethered to a
remote truck or a temporary video control. The ENG/EFP camera is now operating
much like a highly portable studio camera.
Studio conversion of ENG/EFP camera Because ENG/EFP cameras are considerably cheaper and easier to handle, they are often used in place of studio cameras,
even if they can’t quite match the quality. To adapt an ENG/EFP camera to studio
conditions, you replace the small viewfinder with a larger one, attach a faster lens
(lower maximum ƒ-stop number) that has a zoom range more appropriate for studio dimensions (15× or 20×), affix cables for focus and zoom controls, and install a
frame and mounting devices for a tripod or studio pedestal. Unless the P.L. (private
line or phone line) is wireless, an intercom connection box must be attached to the
mounting frame. SEE 4.19
Studio Cameras
The large HDTV cameras you normally find in television studios are, appropriately
enough, called studio cameras. They are built to produce exceptionally good pictures
under a variety of conditions. They usually contain a high-quality (fast) zoom lens,
three high-density CCDs or CMOS chips as sensors, extensive signal-processing
equipment, and a large, high-definition viewfinder.
Studio cameras are usually bulky and too heavy to be maneuvered without the
aid of a pedestal or some other kind of camera mount. What makes the equipment
so heavy is not necessarily the camera itself but the large zoom lens and, typically,
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T YPES OF CAMERAS
4.19 STUDIO CONVERSION
OF ENG/EFP CAMERA
High-quality
ENG/EFP camera
Converting a high-quality ENG/EFP
camera for studio use usually requires
adding a large viewfinder, a faster lens
with a zoom range appropriate for the
studio size, cables that allow zooming and focusing from the operator’s
position, and a frame and mounting
devices for a tripod or studio pedestal.
the teleprompter attached to it. SEE 4.20 Studio cameras are used for such programs
as news, interviews, game shows, music and dance spectaculars, and of course soap
operas. These cameras are also taken on big remotes, such as football games and
parades. For this function they are equipped with higher-ratio zoom lenses (40× or
even 60×) and mounted on field dollies or heavy-duty tripods (see chapter 5).
Wherever studio cameras may be located, they are always connected by cable
to their CCUs (camera control units) and to other essential equipment, such as the
sync generator and the power supply. These three elements constitute what is called
the camera chain.
4.20 STUDIO CAMERA
Tally light
Viewfinder
Zoom lens
Camera
Panning handle
with focus control
Mounting head
Panning handle
with zoom control
Studio cameras normally use
three high-density CCDs or
CMOS chips and a variety of
picture-enhancing electronic
circuits. This studio camera
uses a high-quality 25× zoom
lens and a large 9-inch highdefinition viewfinder. Most
studio cameras also have a
teleprompter attached, which
makes the whole camera
head considerably heavier
than an ENG/EFP camera
or camcorder.
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4.21 STANDARD
CAMERA CHAIN
Sync generator
The standard camera chain consists
of the camera head (the actual
camera), the power supply, the
sync generator, and the CCU.
CCU
Camera head
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The camera chain consists
of the camera head
(the actual camera), the
power supply, the sync
generator, and the CCU.
Power supply
Camera chain The standard camera chain consists of four parts: the camera itself,
the power supply, the sync generator, and the camera control unit. SEE 4.21
As the front part of the camera chain, the camera itself is called the camera head.
It cannot function by itself without the other parts of the chain. The power supply
feeds the electricity to the camera head through the camera cable. Unlike ENG/EFP
cameras or camcorders, studio cameras cannot be powered by batteries.
The sync generator produces the uniform electrical pulse that is necessary to
synchronize the scanning of the video pictures in all cameras used in a multicamera
telecast. This pulse also keeps in step the scanning of a variety of other equipment,
such as viewfinders, video monitors, and video recorders.
Camera cable The camera cable carries the power to the camera and transports
the picture signal, the intercommunication signal, and other technical information
between the camera and the CCU. Most studio cameras use triaxial cables, which can
reach about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). For extremely long cable runs (up to 2 miles or a
little over 3 kilometers), fiber-optic cables are used. Studio cameras need such a great
reach because they are used not only in the studio but also at remotes—scheduled
events that happen outside the studio.
Camera control unit The camera control unit (CCU) has two major functions:
setup and control. Setup refers to the adjustments made when the camera is first
powered up. The video operator, who is in charge of ensuring that each camera
produces optimal pictures during recording, makes sure even before the show that
the colors the camera delivers are true, that the iris is at the proper aperture, and
that the camera is adjusted for the brightest spot (white-level adjustment) and the
darkest spot (black-level or pedestal adjustment) in the scene so that we can see all
the major steps within this contrast range. Fortunately, the VO is greatly aided in
this task by a computerized setup panel. During production the VO usually needs
to adjust only the lens aperture, by moving a remote iris control knob or a lever on
the CCU. SEE 4.22
Connectors Is a discussion of connectors necessary in a book on video basics?
Absolutely. Whenever you work with several pieces of equipment that must be
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T YPES OF CAMERAS
4.22 CAMERA
Waveform monitors
(for brightness adjustment)
and vector scope
(for color adjustment)
Monitors showing
preview or line video
CONTROL UNIT
Operation of video controls:
The CCU has a variety of
controls with which the video
operator can continuously
monitor and adjust picture
quality. The remote version of
a CCU is called an RCU.
Iris control adjusts exposure
(reduces glare or
lightens shadows)
Adjusts all luminance
(grayscale) steps together
Video controls for 10 cameras
hooked together to form a video or audio system, you need the appropriate cables
and especially the right connectors; and despite careful preproduction, many productions have been delayed or even canceled because the connectors for camera
or audio cables did not fit. Though you may hear production people call all connectors “plugs,” regardless of whether they represent the male or female part of the
connector, it is more precise to call the male part of the connector a plug and the
female part a jack.
The most widely used video connectors are the BNC, S-video connector, RCA
phono, HDMI, and FireWire (IEEE 1394). Some systems allow you to use a USB cable
to transfer video. SEE 4.23 (The standard audio connectors are shown in figure 7.26.)
A variety of adapters let you change from one plug to another, such as from a BNC
to an RCA phono, but don’t rely on them. An adapter is strictly a makeshift solution
and always presents a potential trouble spot.
4.23 STANDARD VIDEO CONNECTORS
BNC
S-video
RCA phono
HDMI
FireWire
The standard video connectors are the
BNC, S-video, RCA phono (also used for
audio), HDMI, and FireWire. Adapters enable you to connect BNC, S-video, and
RCA phono in various configurations.
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Digital Cinema Cameras
Digital cinema cameras or camcorders are highly
specialized super-HDTV video cameras. They contain
ultrahigh-quality imaging devices (either high-density
CCDs or CMOS chips or a single custom-made sensor
with 4,000 (4K) or more pixels per horizontal scanning line), viewfinders and flat-screen monitors with
high-resolution images, and various attachments that
are adapted from standard film cameras. One of the
most useful electronic features for filmmaking with the
digital cinema camera is its variable frame rate, which
permits a change from 24 fps scanning (modeled after
the standard film frame rate) to a slower rate for fastmotion effects, called undercranking, or a higher rate
4.24 DIGITAL CINEMA CAMERA
for slow-motion effects, called overcranking. No, this is
The HDTV electronic cinema camera contains high-density
not a mistake: you need fewer frames per second than
CCDs, produces 16 × 9 images, and can adjust its frame rate
the normal speed to accelerate the screen action and
to the film frame rate of 24 fps. Its VTR records the highdefinition signals on a DVCPRO cassette. It also has various
more frames to slow it down.1 SEE 4.24
cinematographic features, such as a matte box. The top, which
Fortunately, you don’t need such cameras to prolooks like a film magazine, is a large-capacity solid-state flash
duce
your documentary or even short movies. Many
drive video recorder.
documentaries and even feature films have been shot
with standard HDTV or even HDV camcorders and successfully shown in motion
picture theaters. It is, after all, your creativity and aesthetic judgment that make
for a good film rather than high-end equipment. Yes, you knew that all along, but
it is worth repeating from time to time, especially if you feel that you would rather
upgrade your equipment than rewrite your script.
1. See Herbert Zettl, Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics, 5th ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008, pp. 260–63.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Basic Camera Elements
These are the lens, the imaging device or sensor, and the viewfinder.
▶ Lenses
Lenses are classified by the focal length (short and long), angle of view (wide and
narrow), and speed (largest aperture expressed in the lowest ƒ-stop). The zoom lens has a
variable focal length. The zoom range is stated as a ratio, such as 20:1 or 20×. A 20:1 lens
can show the angle of view 20 times narrower than the extreme-wide-angle position with
the background magnified.
▶ Lens Iris and Aperture
The speed of the lens is determined by the maximum aperture, or iris opening. A fast
lens lets a relatively large amount of light pass through; a slow lens, relatively little. The
specific aperture is indicated in ƒ-stops. The lower the ƒ-stop number, the larger the
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T YPES OF CAMERAS
aperture and the more light is transmitted. A fast lens has a low minimum ƒ-stop number
(such as ƒ/1.4). The higher the ƒ-stop number, the smaller the aperture and the less light
is transmitted. A slow lens has a relatively high minimum ƒ-stop number (such as ƒ/4.5).
▶ Beam Splitter and Imaging Device
These devices change the light of the optical image as produced by the lens into electric
charges of various strengths. The beam splitter divides the light that comes through
the lens into red, green, and blue (RGB) light beams. The imaging device—the chargecoupled device (CCD) or CMOS chip—is attached to the beam splitter and transduces
the colored light beams into electric charges, which are then further processed into
the video signal.
▶ Types of Cameras
Camera types include small handheld and large shoulder-mounted camcorders—
portable cameras with the recording device attached or built-in; ENG/EFP cameras, which
are high-end, shoulder-mounted field cameras; high-definition television studio cameras,
which with a different lens are also used in the field; and digital cinema cameras, which
are highly specialized super-HDTV video cameras.
▶ Camera Chain
The studio camera chain consists of the camera head (the actual camera), the power
supply, the sync generator, and the camera control unit (CCU). A camcorder contains the
entire camera chain plus the recording device.
▶ Connectors
The most widely used video connectors are the BNC connector, the S-video connector, the
RCA phono connector, the HDMI connector, and the FireWire (IEEE 1394).
▶ Digital Cinema Cameras
Digital cinema cameras are highly specialized super-HDTV cameras or camcorders that
produce extremely high-resolution pictures. They are also equipped with high-resolution
viewfinders and other attachments carried over from film.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
CAMERA Camera introduction
ZVL2
CAMERA Zoom lens focal length
ZVL3
CAMERA Exposure control aperture
ZVL4
CAMERA Exposure control ƒ-stop
ZVL5
CAMERA Camera introduction
53
57
54
56
56
5
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
arc To move the camera in a slightly curved dolly or truck.
calibrate the zoom lens To preset a zoom lens to keep in focus
throughout the zoom.
shutter speed A camera control that reduces the blurring of
bright, fast-moving objects. The higher the shutter speed,
the less blurring occurs but the more light is needed.
cant To tilt the camera sideways.
studio pedestal A heavy camera dolly that permits raising and
lowering the camera while on the air.
crane To move the boom of the camera crane up or down. Also
called boom.
tilt To point the camera up or down.
dolly To move the camera toward (dolly in) or away from (dolly
out) the object.
jib arm A small camera crane that can be operated by the
cameraperson.
mounting head A device that connects the camera to its support. Also called pan-and-tilt head.
tongue To move the boom with the camera from left to right or
from right to left.
tripod A three-legged camera mount. Also called sticks.
truck To move the camera laterally by means of a mobile
camera mount. Also called track.
pan To turn the camera horizontally.
white balance The adjustments of the color circuits in the camera to produce white color in lighting of various color temperatures (relative reddishness or bluishness of white light).
pedestal To move the camera up or down using a studio
pedestal.
zoom To change the focal length of the lens through the use of
a zoom control while the camera remains stationary.
Operating the Camera
Let’s watch a tourist who is itching for something interesting to shoot with his brandnew camcorder. He quickly takes aim at one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge,
tilts his camera up to the top, zooms in, zooms out again, tilts down to the bay just
as a freighter passes below, zooms in on the containers, zooms out again, tilts up to
the rail where some seagulls have perched, zooms in on one of the more aggressive
birds that refuses to stay in the frame, and finally zooms out to catch a passing jogger,
who waves at him.
Although such camera handling may be good exercise for the arm and the zoom
mechanism, it rarely results in satisfactory footage. Such unmotivated camera motion
produces images that seem restless and unsettling for anyone except, perhaps, the
person who shot them. The tourist would have done much better had his camera been
mounted on a tripod.
When handling a small camcorder with a foldout monitor, you are virtually unrestrained
in moving the camera. But when the camera is mounted on a tripod, its movements
become much more restricted. Initially, you will probably feel that a tripod constrains
your artistry and that it is much better to handhold the camera, so long as it is not too
heavy. After some experience with camera operation, however, you will discover that
it is actually easier to operate the camera and control picture composition when the
camera is mounted on some kind of support. In fact, the art of operating a camera is not
as dependent on its electronic design or basic operational controls as it is on its size and
especially on how it is mounted.
This chapter explores basic camera movements and operation and how they can
be accomplished.
▶ BASIC CAMERA MOVEMENTS
Pan, tilt, cant, pedestal, dolly, truck, arc, crane, tongue, and zoom
▶ CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
Handheld and shoulder-mounted cameras, tripods, special camera mounts,
and the studio pedestal
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▶ OPERATIONAL FEATURES
Focusing, adjusting shutter speed, zooming, and white-balancing
▶ GENERAL GUIDELINES
Checklists for camcorders, ENG/EFP cameras, and studio cameras
BASIC CAMERA MOVEMENTS
The various camera mounts are designed to steady the camera and help you move
it as smoothly and easily as possible. To understand the features and the functions
of camera mounting equipment, you should first learn about the major camera
movements. The terms are the same regardless of whether the camera is carried
on your shoulder or mounted on a tripod, a studio pedestal, or some other camera
support.
There are nine basic camera movements: pan, tilt, cant, pedestal, dolly, truck, arc,
crane, and tongue. Sometimes zoom is included in the major camera movements,
although the camera itself does not normally move during a zoom. SEE 5.1
Pan To pan is to turn the camera horizontally, from left to right or from right to left.
To pan right means to swivel or move the camera clockwise so that the lens points
more to the right; to pan left means to swivel or move the camera counterclockwise
so that the lens points more to the left.
Tilt To tilt is to make the camera point up or down. A tilt up means to point the
camera gradually up. A tilt down means to point the camera gradually down.
Cant To cant is to tilt the camera sideways. You can cant the camera either left or
right. When you cant right, the horizon line will be slanted uphill; its low point will
be screen-left, its high point screen-right. Canting left will produce the opposite effect. Canting is easy with the handheld or shoulder-mounted camera, but you cannot
cant a camera supported by a standard camera mount.
Pedestal To pedestal is to elevate or lower the camera on the center column of
a tripod or studio pedestal. To pedestal up you crank or pull up the center column,
thereby raising the camera. To pedestal down you crank or pull down the center
column, lowering the camera. This motion puts the camera into different vertical
positions, which means that the camera sees the scene as though you were looking
at it from the top of a ladder or while kneeling on the floor. You can “pedestal” a
handheld camera by simply raising it slowly above your head or lowering it to the
ground.
Dolly To dolly is to move the camera toward or away from an object in more or
less a straight line by means of a mobile camera mount. When you dolly in, you
move the camera closer to the object; when you dolly out or dolly back, you move
the camera farther away.
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5.1 MAJOR CAMERA
MOVEMENTS
Cant
The major camera movements are pan, tilt, cant, pedestal, dolly, truck or track, arc,
crane or boom, and tongue.
Tilt up
Tilt down
Pan
right
Crane or
boom up
Pan
left
Pedestal
up
Arc right
Pedestal
down
Dolly out
Truck or
track right
Crane or
boom down
Tongue
right
Arc left
Dolly in
Truck or track left
Tongue
left
With the handheld or shoulder-mounted camera, you simply walk the camera
toward or away from the scene. Some directors call this “dollying” in or out, even
though the camera is not mounted on a dolly; others simply ask you to get closer
or back up.
Truck To truck, or track, is to move the camera laterally by means of a mobile
camera mount. When you truck right or truck left, you move the camera mount
to the right or left with the camera lens pointing at a right angle to the direction of
travel. If you want to follow somebody walking on a sidewalk, you would truck with
the camera alongside on the street, with the lens pointing at the person.
Tracking often means the same as trucking. Sometimes tracking refers simply to a moving camera’s keeping up with a moving object. With a handheld or
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shoulder-mounted camera, you walk parallel to the moving object while keeping
the camera pointed at it.
Arc To arc is to move the camera in a slightly curved dolly or truck movement.
To arc left means that you dolly in or out in a camera-left curve, or you truck left in
a curve around the object. To arc right means that you dolly in or out in a cameraright curve, or you truck right in a curve around the object. With the handheld or
shoulder-mounted camera, you simply walk in a slight arc while pointing the lens
at the scene. Arcing is often required to reveal more of the camera-far person in an
over-the-shoulder shot when the camera-near person is blocking or nearly blocking
our view of the camera-far person. SEE 5.2 AND 5.3
Crane To crane, or boom, is to move the camera up or down on a camera crane or
jib arm. A crane is a large and bulky device that can lift the camera and its operator,
and sometimes a second person (usually the director), up to 30 feet aboveground
in one impressive sweep. The crane itself is moved by a driver and an assistant. A jib
arm is a simpler crane that can be handled by a single camera operator (as shown
in figure 5.19).
To crane up or boom up means to raise the boom with the attached camera;
to crane down or boom down means to lower the boom and the attached camera.
Simply holding a small camcorder high above your head and then swooping it down
close to floor level will not duplicate the feeling of a crane motion. Unless you are
10 feet tall, there is simply not enough height difference between the extreme high
and low camera positions to simulate a crane motion.
Tongue To tongue is to move the whole camera from left to right or from right to
left with the boom of a camera crane or jib arm. When you tongue left or right, the
camera usually points in the same general direction, with only the boom swinging
left or right. Tonguing creates an effect similar to a truck except that the horizontal
arc of the boom with the camera is usually much wider and can be much faster.
Tonguing is often combined with a boom-up or boom-down movement.
5.2 CAMERA-FAR PERSON PARTIALLY BLOCKED
5.3 ARC CORRECTS BLOCKED SHOT
In this over-the-shoulder shot, the camera-near person partially
blocks the camera-far person.
By arcing left you can properly frame the camera-far person.
CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
The crane and tongue movements are somewhat of a special effect. Even if you
have access to a crane, use such extreme camera movements sparingly and only if
they contribute to the shot’s intensity.
Zoom To zoom is to change the focal length of a lens through the use of a zoom
control while the camera remains stationary. To zoom in means to change the lens
gradually to a narrow-angle position, thereby making the scene appear to move
closer to the viewer; to zoom out means to change the lens gradually to a wide-angle
position, thereby making the scene appear to move farther away from the viewer.
Although the effect of a zoom is the object’s moving toward or away from the screen
rather than the camera’s moving into or out of the scene, the zoom is usually classified as one of the camera “movements.” ZVL1 CAMERA Camera moves dolly | zoom |
truck | pan | tilt | pedestal | try it
CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
You can support a camera in four ways: by carrying it with your hands or on your
shoulder, with a tripod, with special camera mounting devices, and with a studio
pedestal. They all influence greatly, if not dictate, how you operate the camera.
Handheld and Shoulder-mounted Camera
We have already mentioned that the small, handheld camcorder invites excessive
camera motion. You can point it easily in any direction and move it effortlessly,
especially if it has a foldout monitor. Although such high mobility can be an asset,
it is also a liability. Too much camera movement draws attention to itself and away
from the scene you want to show. Unless the camera has a built-in image stabilizer
to absorb minor camera wiggles, you will find it difficult to avoid some wobbling,
especially if you plan on a long uninterrupted shot. When zoomed in all the way
(with the lens in the narrow-angle, or telephoto, position), it is almost impossible
to avoid some shaking and unsteadiness in the handheld shot.
To keep the handheld camera as steady as possible, support the camera in the
palm of one hand and use the other hand to support the camera arm or the camera
itself. SEE 5.4
With a foldout monitor, press your elbows against your body and use your arms
as shock absorbers. Avoid operating the camera with your arms outstretched, which
invites annoyingly quick pans and tilts. Inhale and hold your breath during the shot.
The lack of oxygen will obviously limit the length of the shot, and that is probably a
good thing. Shorter shots that show a variety of viewpoints are much more interesting than a long one with constant panning and zooming. Handheld camera mounts
can reduce the wobbles of small camcorders (see figure 5.16). When using your arms
as a camera mount, bend your knees slightly when shooting or, better, lean against
a sturdy support, such as a building, wall, parked car, or lamppost, to increase the
camera’s stability. SEE 5.5
If you or the event moves, keep the lens in the wide-angle position (zoomed out)
to minimize camera wiggles. If you need to get closer to the scene, stop the video
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5.4 HOLDING THE SMALL CAMCORDER
5.5 STEADYING THE CAMERA OPERATOR
Hold the small camcorder with both hands,
with the elbows pressed against the body.
Leaning against a support will steady both
camera operator and camera.
recording, walk closer to get the tighter shot, and start to record again. If you need
to zoom, work the zoom controls gently during the shot. For a relatively long take
without a tripod, try to find something stable on which to place the camera, such as
a table, park bench, or the roof or hood of a car.
When moving the camera, do it smoothly. To pan the camera, move it with your
whole body rather than just your arms. Point your knees as much as possible to
where you want to end the pan, while keeping your shoulders in the starting position. During the pan your upper body will uncoil naturally in the direction of your
knees and will carry the camera smoothly with it. SEE 5.6 If you do not preset your
knees, you will have to coil your body rather than uncoil it when panning, which is
much harder to do and usually results in jerky camera motion.
When tilting the camera (pointing it up or down), try to bend forward or backward at the waist as much as possible while keeping your elbows against your body.
As with a pan, your body motion makes the tilt look smoother than if you simply
moved your wrists to point the camera up or down.
When walking with the camera, walk backward rather than forward whenever
possible. SEE 5.7 While walking backward you will lift your heels and walk on the balls
of your feet. Your feet rather than your legs will act as shock absorbers. Your body,
and with it the camera, will tend to glide along rather than bounce up and down.
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For unconventional shots you can tilt the camera sideways, raise
it above your head, and shoot over the people or other obstacles in
front of you, or you can lower it close to the ground to get some lowangle views. Most regular viewfinders can be adjusted (at least tilted
up and down) so that you can see what you are shooting during such
maneuvers. The foldout monitor offers a great advantage in such situations, especially if you find that the only way to get a good shot is to
hold the camera high above your head and aim the lens more or less
in the direction of the event. The foldout display still enables you to
see the shot the camera is getting. In normal lighting conditions, the
foldout monitor displays crisp color images; in bright light, however,
you can see nothing or, at best, a very dim image. In such situations,
you may find that you might get usable shots by simply pointing the
camera in the general direction of the event without ever looking at
the monitor screen.
Larger camcorders that are too heavy to be handheld for long
are best supported by the shoulder. Although the shoulder-mounted
camera is slightly more restrictive than the small handheld camcorder,
the basic moves are much the same. SEE 5.8
When carrying the camcorder on your shoulder, you need to
adjust the viewfinder to fit your prominent (usually right) eye. Some
camera operators keep the left eye open to see where they are going;
others prefer to close it and concentrate on the viewfinder image.
Most viewfinders of large camcorders can be flipped over for the left
eye, and there are lenses with straps and zoom operating controls for
the left hand.
5.6 PANNING THE CAMCORDER
Before panning, point your knees toward the
end of the pan, then uncoil your upper body
during the pan.
5.7 WALKING BACKWARD
5.8 THE SHOULDER-MOUNTED CAMCORDER
Walking backward rather than forward makes it easier to keep
the camera steady.
Carry the camcorder on the shoulder. One hand slips through
a strap attached to the lens, leaving the fingers free to operate
the zoom control. The other hand steadies the camera and
operates the focus ring.
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5.9 TRIPOD WITH SPREADER
The tripod has three adjustable legs that
are sometimes secured by a spreader.
Spreader
Tripod-supported Camera
Unless you are running after a breaking news story, the best way to keep the camcorder or ENG/EFP camera steady and the movements as smooth as possible is to
support it on a tripod, called “sticks” in production lingo, or some other camera
mount. A good tripod should be lightweight but sturdy enough to support the camera
during pans and tilts. Its collapsible legs must lock securely in place at any extension
point and should have rubber cups and spikes at the tips. The rubber cups prevent
the tripod from slipping on smooth surfaces, as do the spikes on rough surfaces.
Most professional tripods come with a spreader, a triangular base mount that
locks the tips in place and prevents the legs from spreading no matter how much
weight is put on them. Some spreaders come as part of the tripod. SEE 5.9
Some tripods have a center column that enables you to elevate and lower a small
camcorder without having to adjust the tripod legs. Unless the camcorder is very
small, such columns may not be sturdy enough for smooth shots, especially when
the column is fully extended. All good tripods have a leveling bubble at or near the
top ring so you can ensure that the tripod is level.
Camera mounting head One of the most important parts of a tripod is its camera
mounting head. This device, also called the pan-and-tilt head, permits smooth pans
and tilts. It also lets you attach the camera and remove it from the tripod quickly.
Many mounting heads have an additional leveling bubble so you can quickly adjust
the head even if the tripod is on uneven ground.
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CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
Quick-release plate
Panning handle
5.10 MOUNTING HEAD WITH PANNING HANDLE
The mounting head permits smooth pans and tilts for
a small camcorder. Its pan-and-tilt mechanism can be
adjusted to various degrees of drag and can be locked.
Tilt lock
Most big tripod mounting heads have a load limit of 30 to 45 pounds—ample
to hold even a large camcorder and a teleprompter. These days the problem is not
whether the mounting head can support a heavy camera but whether it can function smoothly with a small, lightweight camcorder. Even with a midsized camcorder,
use a mounting head with a rating of 10 pounds or below. If the weight rating of the
mounting head is much higher than the actual weight of the camera, even the lowest
drag position will be too tight for smooth pans and tilts.
All mounting heads have similar basic controls. You move the mounting head
(and with it the camera) with the attached panning handle. SEE 5.10 Lifting the handle
makes the camera tilt down; pushing it down makes the camera tilt up. Moving the
panning handle to the left pans the camera to the right; moving the handle to the
right pans the camera to the left. Right and left always refer to where the camera lens
is supposed to point, not to movement of the panning handle.
To prevent jerky, uneven movements, a mounting head must provide a certain
degree of drag, or resistance, to panning and tilting. The pan and tilt drags can
be adjusted to fit the weight of the camera and your personal preference. A small
camcorder needs a lighter drag adjustment than does a large camcorder. Now you
know why the weight rating for cameras is important: the heads for large camcorders have a much higher minimum drag than is necessary or even desirable for small
camcorders.
The mounting head also has pan and tilt lock mechanisms that prevent the camera from moving horizontally or flopping forward or backward when unattended.
Lock the mounting head every time you leave the camera unattended, no matter
how briefly. Never use the drag mechanism to lock the camera.
Quick-release plate This mechanism consists of a small rectangular plate that
attaches to the bottom of the camera. The quick-release plate makes it easy to attach
a camcorder in a balanced position. This feature is especially useful when you want
to take the camera off the tripod to run after a new shot and then reattach it quickly
when returning to the tripod position. You simply slide the camcorder into the plate
receptacle on the mounting head, and it is locked in place and ready to go without
your having to rebalance its weight (see figure 5.10).
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Lock the mounting head
every time you leave the
camera unattended. Don’t
use the drag mechanism
to lock the camera.
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When switching from a handheld to a tripod-supported camera, you will initially
find that the tripod severely restricts your use of the camera. You can no longer run
with the camera, lift it above your head, shoot from close to ground level, cant it, or
swing it through the air. You are limited to panning and tilting and, if there is a center
column, a rather modest camera elevation. So why use a tripod?
◾ The tripod steadies the camera, whether you are zoomed in or out.
◾ Pans and tilts are much smoother than with a handheld camera.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Whenever possible, put
the camcorder or ENG/
EFP camera on a tripod.
◾ The tripod prevents you from moving the camera excessively—a positive
rather than a negative factor in good camera work.
◾ You get less tired with the camera on the tripod than on your shoulder or in
your hand.
Tripod dolly To dolly or truck with a tripod-mounted camera, you must put the
tripod on a three-caster dolly, which is simply a spreader with wheels. SEE 5.11 With
the casters in a freewheeling position, you can dolly, truck, and arc. Most professional
dollies let you lock the casters in position for straight-line dollying. Be sure to check
that the floor is smooth enough for an “on-air” move while the camera is “hot,” or
operating. When moving the tripod dolly, you usually push, pull, and steer with your
left hand while guiding the panning handle and
the camera with your right hand.
When a camera or camcorder is connected to
a camera cable, you must adjust the cable guards
so that the cable does not get wedged under the
dolly casters. It is also a good idea to tie the cable
to one of the tripod legs so that it is not pulled by
its connector. SEE 5.12
Cable guards
5.11 TRIPOD DOLLY
5.12 CABLE GUARDS
The tripod can be mounted on a three-wheel dolly, which permits
quick repositioning of the camera.
Cable guards prevent the dolly wheels from running
over the camera cable. They must be close enough to
the studio floor to push the cable aside.
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CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
Field dolly When dollying on a rough surface, such
as gravel or grass, you need to mount the tripod on a
field dolly—a platform supported by four wheels with
pneumatic tires. The steering mechanism works like
the one you may remember from your red Radio Flyer
wagon: a large handle turns the front wheels in the
desired direction and lets you pull or push the entire
platform. SEE 5.13
To operate the camera, you can stand on the dolly or
walk alongside while the dolly operator pushes or pulls
it along the dolly path. When the surface is especially
rough, you can underinflate the tires to make the trip
smoother. Many dollies are homemade and constructed
from parts readily available in hardware stores.
Special Camera Mounts
Special camera mounts range from beanbags, skateboards, and wheelchairs to heavy Steadicam mounts.
This is an area in which you can put your imagination
and creativity to work.
5.13 FIELD DOLLY
The field dolly has a platform with four pneumatic
tires that supports the tripod-mounted camera and
the camera operator.
Homemade devices A simple beanbag, made from a
pillowcase filled with foam packing peanuts, can serve
as a reasonably good device for mounting a camcorder
on the hood of a car or on bicycle handlebars. Professional “beanbags” are filled with a very flexible synthetic material that adjusts to the shape of the camera
yet remains highly shock absorbent. SEE 5.14
Mounting a small camcorder on a skateboard
and pulling it along a smooth surface can give you an
interesting low-angle dolly shot. And a wheelchair or
shopping cart is a cheap but effective device for transporting camera operator and camcorder for a long
tracking shot. If the floor is smooth, such tracking shots
can rival the ones done with a much more expensive
studio pedestal.
Handheld camera mounts A variety of handheld
stabilizers allow you to carry a small camcorder with
one or both hands and keep the shot relatively steady
so long as you don’t jump up or down.
A simple yet highly effective handheld camera
mount consists of an extendable bar to which you can
attach the camera. This bar allows you to lower the
camera close to the ground for from-below-eye-level
5.14 BEANBAG AS CAMERA MOUNT
A pillowcase filled with foam packing peanuts cradles the
camera and prevents minor wiggles. Professional beanbags
are filled with a flexible synthetic material.
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5.15 STUNT BAR
5.16 HANDHELD STABILIZER
This extendable bar lets you lower the
camcorder close to the ground for low-angle
shots or raise it above your head for highangle shots. Note that it does not absorb
camera wobbles.
This handheld stabilizer is built for small camcorders. If you’re strong enough, you can carry
it with one hand. The foldout monitor helps you
get the right shots.
shots or to raise it above your head while walking, running, or sitting
in a shopping cart for low-angle tracking shots. You keep track of what
the camera sees by looking at the foldout monitor. Note, however, that
such a device will not absorb any camera wobbles. SEE 5.15
If you want the shots to appear wobble-free while you are running
with the camera, you need a stabilizer. Once you have used one a few
times and practiced operating the camera while walking or running,
you will be surprised by how smooth your shots look. But don’t be
tempted to tell your whole story while running with the camcorder!
SEE 5.16
5.17 BODY-MOUNTED STABILIZER
FOR SMALL CAMCORDERS
This camera support vest facilitates camera
operation better and is certainly less tiring
than the handheld stabilizer. The harness has
a spring-loaded mechanism that lets you walk
or even run with the camera, using the foldout monitor as your primary viewfinder.
Body-mounted stabilizers A more elaborate but more comfortable
way to operate a camera relatively wobble-free is by wearing a stabilizer
harness. SEE 5.17
For large camcorders, the operator wears a harness that is similar
to the one for small camcorders except that the stabilizing system of
gimbals and springs is built for the heavier camera. Despite the relative comfort of the vest, you will find that wearing such a device and
operating the camcorder for even a relatively short period of time can
be, at least initially, a challenge for even a strong person. SEE 5.18
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CAMERA MOUNTS AND HOW TO USE THEM
5.18 BODY-MOUNTED STABILIZER
5.19 JIB ARM
FOR LARGE CAMCORDERS
This camera support operates like a big camera crane except
that one person can operate both the jib and the camera. You
can use it in the studio or in the field, and you can disassemble
it for easy transport in a van to a remote location.
This sturdy harness is designed to support a large camcorder or an ENG/EFP camera. The mechanism of gimbals and springs allows you to walk, run, or jump, with
the camera remaining steady. Part of the counterweight
is a large monitor.
Jib arm The jib arm operates just like a crane except that it is lighter, easier to
operate, and less expensive. Jib arms are designed for shooting on-location and in
studios. You can operate the jib arm and the attached camera or camcorder all by
yourself. With the remote controls on the jib arm handles, you can lower the camera
close to the ground or studio floor, elevate it to at least 10 feet, and tilt, pan, zoom,
and focus the camera at the same time. Some long jib arms have an 18-foot reach
but can be easily dismantled and transported in a small van. SEE 5.19
Studio Pedestal
Studio cameras, or ENG/EFP cameras converted for studio use, are usually mounted
on studio pedestals. A studio pedestal is a relatively expensive camera mount that
supports even the heaviest camera and additional equipment, such as a big zoom
lens and a teleprompter. The studio pedestal lets you pan, tilt, truck, arc, and pedestal
while the camera is on the air. By turning the large steering ring, you can move the
camera in any direction; by pulling it up or pushing it down, you can change the
camera height. The telescoping center column is pneumatically counterbalanced
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5.20 STUDIO PEDESTAL
The studio pedestal permits you to pan,
tilt, truck, arc, and pedestal while the
camera is on the air. If the pedestal is
equipped with a telescoping column, you
can move the camera from about 2 feet to
about 5 feet above the studio floor.
Mounting
head
Panning
handles
Steering ring
Telescoping
pneumatic column
Pedestal base
with casters and
cable guard
A
B
5.21 PARALLEL AND TRICYCLE STEERING
A In the parallel steering position, the three casters point in the
same direction.
B In the tricycle steering position, only one wheel is steerable.
so that the camera stays put at any height, even if you
let go of the steering ring. If the camera begins to creep
up or down by itself, the center column must be rebalanced. Instead of the three cable guards of the tripod
dolly, the studio pedestal has a skirt, or housing, on the
pedestal base to prevent the cable from getting caught
in the casters. SEE 5.20
Parallel and tricycle steering The studio pedestal
has two different steering positions. In the parallel,
or crab, steering position, the steering ring points all
the casters in the same direction. SEE 5.21A Parallel
steering is used for all normal camera moves. In the
tricycle position, only one wheel is steerable. SEE 5.21B
You use this steering position if you need to rotate the
pedestal itself to move it closer to a piece of scenery or
the studio wall.
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5.22 STUDIO CAMERA
Wedge mount attaches to
camera and slides into place
on the mounting head
MOUNTING HEAD
This mounting head is designed
especially for heavy studio cameras.
The counterbalance and tilt-and-drag
systems allow extremely smooth tilts
and pans. The wedge mount ensures
proper camera balance each time the
camera is put back on the pedestal.
Mounting head Like the tripod, the center column of the studio pedestal has a
camera mounting head attached to it. To accommodate the combined weight of the
studio camera, the heavy studio lens, and the teleprompter, the customary tripod
head has been replaced by a sturdier and more elaborate camera mount. Its operational controls are similar to those of the mounting heads for lightweight cameras:
pan and tilt drags, locking devices, and panning handles. Some studio cameras use
an attached wedge mount, which fits a wedge mount receptacle on the top of the
mounting head. Once the camera is balanced, the wedge mount ensures proper
balance every time the camera is put back on the pedestal. SEE 5.22
The mounting head has two panning handles that allow you to pan and tilt
smoothly while simultaneously operating the attached zoom and focus controls.
Before operating the studio camera, always unlock the mounting head and adjust
the pan and tilt drags. When leaving the camera unattended, even for a short time,
lock the mounting head. Never use the drag controls to lock the mounting head. Also,
cap the lens. You can do this by putting the metal or plastic cap over the front of the
lens, or, when operating a studio camera, by asking the video operator to close the
iris electronically so that no light will go through the lens.
Robotic pedestal You have probably seen small robotic camera mounts for little
cameras in lecture halls. They are usually mounted on the wall and aimed at the
lectern. Robotic pedestals are much larger because they must support heavy studio
cameras. You can see them in news studios, where a single robotic-pedestal technician/camera operator/director runs two or three large studio cameras from the
control room. In fact, if you are the floor manager in such a studio, watch out that you
don’t get run over by such a moving robot. Robotic pedestals can be preprogrammed
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to dolly, truck, pan, tilt, and zoom for specific camera shots, such as a twoshot of the anchors or a medium shot of the weather set. Much like in a
sci-fi movie, they move silently from place to place. SEE 5.23
OPERATIONAL FEATURES
Now that you know how to move the camera, you need to learn about
focusing, adjusting shutter speed, zooming, and white-balancing before
composing your unforgettable shots with a camcorder or studio camera.
Focusing
Normally, we want all pictures on the screen to appear in focus (sharp and
clear). You can achieve focus by manual or automatic controls.
Manual focus To ensure sharp, clear pictures, you should focus manually
rather than rely on the automatic focus. The manual focus control of all nonstudio lenses is on a ring at the front of the lens that you can turn clockwise
or counterclockwise. SEE 5.24 ZVL2 CAMERA Focusing focus ring | try it
When operating a studio camera, you stay in focus by turning a twist
grip mounted on the left panning handle and connected to the zoom lens
by a cable. SEE 5.25
5.23 ROBOTIC PEDESTAL
The robotic pedestal can pan, tilt, dolly,
truck, pedestal, and zoom according to
computer instructions instead of those
of a camera operator. It is used mainly
for news presentations.
Focus ring
Calibration, or presetting the zoom lens Assume that you are to videorecord a local high-school fund-raising event. The principal is auctioning off
works of pottery made by students in the ceramic shop. She stands about
10 feet in front of the display tables along the back wall of the gym. During
Zoom lever
Focus control
5.24 MANUAL FOCUS ON
5.25 MANUAL FOCUS CONTROL ON STUDIO CAMERAS
CAMCORDERS AND ENG/EFP CAMERAS
The focus control on a studio camera is a twist grip attached to
the left panning handle. To focus you turn it either clockwise or
counterclockwise.
The manual focus control on camcorders and ENG/EFP cameras
is a ring at the front of the lens that can be turned by hand.
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O P E R AT I O N A L F E AT U R E S
the video recording, you are asked to zoom from a medium shot of the principal to
a fairly tight close-up of a ceramic pot, but during the zoom the shot gets progressively out of focus. When you reach the desired close-up, you can hardly make out
the shape of the pot. What happened? You neglected to calibrate, or preset, the lens
before zooming in for the close-up.
To calibrate the zoom lens means to adjust it so that it will maintain focus during the entire zoom. You must first zoom in to the desired close-up of the farthest
target object—the pot—and bring it into focus by turning the focus ring at the front
of the lens. When you then zoom back to the medium shot of the principal, she will
be in focus (although you may have to adjust the focus a little). When you zoom in
again to another piece of pottery, you will stay in focus and the close-up of the new
pot will be sharp and clear. As soon as you reposition the camera, however, or if the
principal moves toward or away from the display tables, you will need to recalibrate
the lens. This means zooming in on the farthest pot again, focusing, zooming back
to include the principal, and seeing whether you have to tweak the focus a little to
keep her sharp and clear in subsequent zooms.
Now let’s move into the studio, where your camera is assigned to cover a famous
jazz pianist from the side so that you can zoom in from a medium shot to a tight
close-up of the keyboard and the pianist’s hands. How do you preset the zoom lens
for this? You zoom in for a tight close-up of the keyboard and bring the lens into
focus by turning the twist grip on the left panning handle. But exactly where on the
keyboard should you focus? Probably the far end because you can then zoom in and
out and stay in reasonably sharp focus regardless of whether the pianist displays his
virtuosity at the near or far end of the keyboard.
Auto-focus Most handheld camcorders and some large cameras are equipped
with an automatic focusing system, called the auto-focus. Through some electronic
wizardry (reading the angle of a little radar beam or measuring the contrast), the
camera focuses on a scene all by itself. Most of the time, these systems work well, but
there are times when the camera cannot accommodate very bright or low-contrast
scenes, leaving you with a blurred image. Or it may not detect exactly which object in
the picture to bring into focus. You may not want to focus on the obvious foreground
object but instead on the middleground. Unable to infer your artistic intent, the autofocus will focus on the most prominent object closest to the camera. To achieve such
a selective focus (see Lenses and Depth of Field in chapter 6), you need to switch
from auto-focus to manual. The auto-focus can also have trouble keeping up with
fast zooms. ZVL3 CAMERA Focusing auto-focus
When working with a high-definition video (HDV) camera, you may have trouble
focusing. Because everything looks so much sharper than with standard television,
you may not see in the relatively small viewfinder when your shots are slightly out
of focus. The increased sharpness of the HDV image also lures you into perceiving
a much greater depth of field than you actually have—foreground and background
seem to be in focus. When watching your shots on a high-quality monitor or a large
flat-panel display, however, you may discover that not only is the background out of
focus but the foreground is as well. Switching to manual focus and racking in and out
of focus will help you determine where the optimal focus lies. If you have a choice,
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
To calibrate a zoom
lens, zoom in as close as
possible on the farthest
target object and bring it
into focus. All subsequent
zooms will be in focus
so long as the camerato-subject distance
remains the same.
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5.26 FOCUS-ASSIST
The focus-assist feature enlarges the center of the image. Once you bring this section into focus, the whole image will be in focus.
always focus by looking at the black-and-white viewfinder and not the foldout color
monitor; generally, the black-and-white image has a higher resolution.
Focus-assist The difficulty of focusing high-definition pictures, especially on a
color viewfinder, led to the development of a focus-assist feature. In most applications the center of the viewfinder shows an enlarged section of the image that lets
you readily see whether it is in focus. If this center section is in focus, you can assume
that the whole image is in focus. SEE 5.26
Adjusting Shutter Speed
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The higher the shutter
speed, the less blurring
occurs but the more
light you need.
Like on a still camera, the camcorder has a variable shutter speed control to avoid
image blur when shooting a fast-moving object. Although the way the shutter speed
is controlled in both types of cameras is quite different, the effect is the same. If, for
example, a cyclist with a bright yellow jersey is racing from one side of the screen
to the other, you need to set a higher shutter speed than if the cyclist were pedaling
along casually. When setting a fairly high electronic shutter speed (such as ½,000 second), you will notice that the yellow jersey looks considerably darker than with lower
shutter speeds. All of this translates into a simple formula, which is similar to still
photography: the higher the shutter speed, the more light you need.
Zooming
Z
All camcorders have a rocker switch on the lens that activates the zoom mechanism.
By pressing the front of the switch, usually labeled T for telephoto or tight, you trigger a motor that rearranges elements in the zoom lens for the zoom-in effect. By
pressing the back of the switch, labeled W for wide, you zoom out. This motorized
servo-zoom mechanism, which is activated by the rocker switch, keeps the zooming
smooth and steady. SEE 5.27
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GENERAL GUIDELINES
Thumb zoom control
Zoom-out (W = wide)
Zoom-in (T = telephoto or tight)
Camera panning handle
5.27 CAMCORDER ZOOM CONTROL
5.28 STUDIO ZOOM CONTROL
Camcorders have a rocker switch near the lens that controls the
zoom-in and zoom-out motion.
The zoom control of the studio camera is a rocker switch on the
right panning handle that is activated by the thumb of your
right hand.
Some cameras offer a choice between a slow and a fast zoom speed. You may
also find on some shoulder-mounted-camcorder lenses an additional manual zoom
control that allows you to override the motorized mechanism by turning the zoom
lever on the lens barrel for extremely fast zooms (see figure 5.24).
Studio cameras have a rocker switch mounted on the right panning handle.
This thumb-operated switch is connected by cable to the servo-zoom mechanism
of the studio lens. By pressing the T side of the switch, you zoom in; by pressing the
W side, you zoom out. SEE 5.28
Because the servo-zoom mechanism makes zooming relatively easy, you may be
tempted to zoom in and out unnecessarily. Keep zooming to a minimum; frequent
and unmotivated zooming reveals the inexperience of the camera operator as readily
as excessive camera movement. ZVL4 CAMERA Zoom lens focal length | zoom control
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Keep zooming to
a minimum.
White-balancing
To white-balance means to adjust the camera so that a sheet of white paper looks
white on the television screen regardless of whether the light that illuminates the
page is reddish, such as candlelight, or bluish, such as outdoor daylight. Most small
handheld camcorders do this automatically, although some have you set the whitebalance switch to the proper setting, such as outdoors or indoors.
High-end handheld and shoulder-mounted camcorders, as well as all ENG/
EFP cameras, have a semiautomatic white balance, which means that you have to
activate a white-balance switch. (See chapter 8 for a more detailed explanation of
white-balancing.) ZVL5 LIGHTS Color temperature white balance
GENERAL GUIDELINES
Whether you are operating a small camcorder or a large studio camera, treat it with
extreme care as with all electronic equipment. Always be mindful of safety—yours
and others’. Do not risk your neck and the equipment to get an especially spectacular
shot that merely embellishes, rather than tells, the story. Do not abandon standard
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Unless the camera has
a fully automatic whitebalance system, you need
to white-balance every
time you enter a new
lighting environment.
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operational procedures for the sake of expediency. Whatever you do, use common
sense. Like bicycling, you learn to operate a camera only by doing it. The following
guidelines can make learning easier and also serve as useful checklists.
CHECKLIST: CAMCORDERS AND ENG/EFP CAMERAS
✔ Don’t expose the camera to the elements Never leave the camera unprotected in the sun or in a hot car. Also watch that the viewfinder is not pointed into
the sun; the magnifying glass in the viewfinder can collect the sun’s rays and melt the
viewfinder housing and electronics. Use plastic camera covers, called “raincoats,” or
a large umbrella when shooting in the rain or extreme cold. In case of emergency,
a plastic grocery bag will do.
✔ Leave the camera with care Lock the mounting head on the tripod whenever
you leave the camera unattended. When putting the camera down, place it upright.
Laying it on its side may damage the viewfinder or attached microphone.
✔ Use the lens cap Even if a camera can be “capped” internally to prevent
light from reaching the imaging device, always put the plastic or metal cap over
the front of the zoom lens. This lens cap protects the delicate front surface of the
expensive lens.
✔ Use fully charged batteries Always see to it that the battery is fully charged.
Some older batteries develop a “memory,” which means that they signal a full charge
even when only partially charged. To avoid this problem, discharge the batteries
fully before recharging them. Normally, batteries must first be “trained” to avoid
memory. When first using a new battery, run it until it is totally discharged, then
charge it again. From now on it should fully charge without a memory effect. Do not
drop batteries or expose them to extreme heat.
✔ Verify the recording media Make sure that the recording media fits the camera
model. Even though the cassettes, flash memory devices, or optical discs look similar
from the outside, they may not fit a particular camera.
✔ Examine all connections Check all connectors, regardless of what they connect, to see whether they fit their designated jacks (see figure 4.23). Use adapters
only in an emergency; an adapter is by design a stopgap and, as such, a potential
trouble spot. Small camcorders normally use smaller (RCA phono) connectors;
larger camcorders have three-pin (XLR) audio connectors. (See chapter 7 for further
information about audio connectors.)
✔ Test the camera Even when in a hurry, always do a brief test recording to verify
that the camcorder records video as well as audio. Bring headphones along to check
the audio. Use the same power supply and connectors that you intend to use during
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GENERAL GUIDELINES
the actual video recording. Check the full range of the zoom lens and the focus. In
extremely cold or damp weather conditions, zoom lenses sometimes stick or give
up altogether.
✔ Set the switches Have all the switches, such as auto-focus or manual focus,
auto-iris, zoom speed, and shutter speed, in the desired positions. The faster the
action in front of the camera, the higher the shutter speed must be to prevent the
moving object from blurring. Remember that higher shutter speeds require higher
light levels.
✔ Perform a white balance White-balance the camera before beginning the
video recording, unless the system is fully automatic. White-balance under the light
that actually illuminates the event.
✔ Always capture audio Make it a habit to turn on the camera microphone and
record ambient sound with the pictures. This sound will help you identify the event
location and will aid shot continuity during postproduction editing.
✔ Heed the warning signs Take note of caution signals in the viewfinder display
and try to address the problem immediately. You may be able to dismiss the “low
light level” warning on the camera if you are not concerned with picture quality, but
you cannot ignore a “low battery” warning.
C H E C K L I S T :
S T U D I O
C A M E R A S
✔ Get in touch and in control Put on your headset to establish contact with the
control room and the video operator. Unlock the mounting head and adjust the pan
and tilt drags. Pedestal up and down to get a feel for the pedestal range and motion.
A properly balanced pedestal should prevent the camera from creeping up or down
when left in a vertical position.
✔ Tame the cables Position the cable guards close enough to the floor to prevent
the pedestal from rolling over the camera cable. Uncoil the cable and check its reach.
To avoid the inevitable tug of the cable during a dolly, tie it to the pedestal but leave
enough slack so that you can freely pan, tilt, and pedestal.
✔ Test-zoom and focus Ask the video engineer to uncap the camera so that
you can rack through the zoom and focus ranges and, if necessary, adjust the viewfinder. Practice calibrating the zoom lens so that the scene remains in focus during
subsequent zooms.
✔ Practice your moves Use masking tape on the studio floor to mark the critical
camera positions. Write down all on-air camera moves so that you can set the zoom
lens in the wide-angle position before the required move.
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✔ Move carefully Ask the floor person to help you steer the camera during an
especially tricky move. If the cable gets tangled up during a dolly, don’t drag the
whole mess along. Signal the floor person to untangle it for you. When dollying or
trucking, start slowly to overcome the inertia of the heavy pedestal and slow down
just before the end of the dolly. When raising or lowering the camera, brake the
pedestal column before it reaches its maximum or minimum height; otherwise the
camera and the picture might receive a hefty jolt.
✔ Don’t jump the red light Wait for the tally light (the red light inside the viewfinder and on top of the camera) to go out before moving the camera into a new
position or presetting the zoom lens. The tally light tells the camera operator, talent,
and studio production crew which camera is hot. During special effects the tally
light may remain on even if you think your shot is finished. Normally, the ENG/EFP
camera or camcorder has only a viewfinder tally light, which tells only you—the
camera operator—when the camera is operating.
✔ Avoid nervous camera movements Keep your eyes on the viewfinder and
correct slowly for minor compositional defects. If a subject bounces back and forth
on a close-up, don’t try to keep it in the frame at all costs. It is better to let it move
out of the frame from time to time than to play catch-up by rapid panning.
✔ Let the director direct Always follow the director’s instructions even if you
think he or she is wrong. Do not try to outdirect the director from your position—
but do alert the director if you are asked to do such impossible things as dollying or
trucking on the air with your lens in the narrow-angle (zoomed-in) position.
✔ Be observant and attentive Be aware of the activity around you. Pay particular attention to where the other cameras are and where they are asked to move. By
listening to the director’s instructions, you will be able to stay out of the way of the
other cameras. When moving a camera, especially backward, watch for obstacles
that may be in your path. Ask a floor person to guide you. Avoid unnecessary chatter
on the intercom.
✔ Anticipate your next shot Try to line up the next shot before the director calls
for it, even if you work without a shot sheet that lists the nature and the sequence
of your shots. For example, if you hear on the intercom that the other camera is on
the air with a close-up, pull out to a medium shot or get a different angle to provide
the director with another field of view. Do not duplicate the shot of another camera.
✔ Put all tools away properly At the end of the show, wait for the “all clear”
signal before preparing your camera for shutdown. Ask the video operator to cap the
camera. As soon as the viewfinder goes dark, release the pan and tilt drags, lock the
mounting head, and cap the lens. Park the camera in its usual place and coil the cable
in the customary figure-eight loops. If your dolly has a parking brake, activate it.
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M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Camera Movements
The movements include pan, tilt, cant, pedestal, dolly, truck or track, arc, crane or boom,
and tongue. The zoom is also included, although the camera does not move.
▶ Camera Mounts
These include a variety of tripods, special mounts such as the jib arm and the Steadicam,
and studio pedestals. Whenever possible, put the camcorder or the ENG/EFP camera
on a tripod. Keep the handheld or shoulder-mounted camera as steady as possible and
zoomed out when moving.
▶ Camera Mounting Head
This mechanism connects the camera to the tripod or the studio pedestal. It facilitates
pans and tilts. Always lock the mounting head when leaving the camera unattended.
▶ Focus and Shutter Speed
Normally, we want all pictures on the screen sharp and clear. You can achieve focus by
manual or automatic controls. Shutter speed reduces the blurring of bright, fast-moving
objects. The higher the shutter speed, the less blurring occurs but the more light is needed.
▶ Calibrating the Zoom Lens
To preset a zoom, the lens must be zoomed in on the farthest target object and brought
into focus. All subsequent wide-angle zoom positions will be in focus so long as the
camera-to-subject distance remains the same.
▶ White-balancing
This procedure ensures that white and all other colors look the same under different
lights. It needs to be done every time the camera operates under new lighting conditions,
unless it has a fully automatic white-balance mechanism.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
CAMERA Camera moves dolly | zoom | truck |
75
pan | tilt | pedestal | try it
ZVL2
CAMERA Focusing focus ring | try it
ZVL3
CAMERA Focusing auto-focus
ZVL4
CAMERA Zoom lens focal length | zoom control
ZVL5
LIGHTS Color temperature white balance
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87
89
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6
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
aspect ratio The ratio of the width of the television screen to
its height. In STV (standard television), it is 4 × 3 (4 units
wide by 3 units high); for HDTV (high-definition television),
it is 16 × 9 (16 units wide by 9 units high). Mobile video has
various aspect ratios, including vertical ones.
leadroom The space in front of a laterally moving object
or person.
long shot (LS) Object seen from far away or framed very
loosely. The extreme long shot shows the object from a
great distance. Also called establishing shot.
close-up (CU) Object or any part of it seen at close range and
framed tightly. The close-up can be extreme (extreme or
big close-up) or rather loose (medium close-up).
medium shot (MS) Object seen from a medium distance.
Covers any framing between a long shot and a close-up.
cross-shot (X/S) Similar to the over-the-shoulder shot except
that the camera-near person is completely out of the shot.
noseroom The space in front of a person looking or pointing
toward the edge of the screen.
depth of field The area in which all objects, located at different distances from the camera, appear in focus. Depends
primarily on the focal length of the lens, its ƒ-stop, and the
distance from the camera to the object.
over-the-shoulder shot (O/S) Camera looks over the cameranear person’s shoulder (shoulder and back of head
included in shot) at the other person.
field of view The portion of a scene visible through a particular
lens; its vista. Expressed in symbols, such as CU for close-up.
psychological closure Mentally filling in missing visual
information that will lead to a complete and stable configuration. Also called closure.
headroom The space between the top of the head and the
upper screen edge.
vector A directional screen force. There are graphic, index, and
motion vectors.
z-axis Indicates screen depth. Extends from camera lens
to horizon.
Looking Through
the Viewfinder
As soon as you point a camera at some object or event, you need to make certain
decisions about what to shoot and how to shoot it. Despite the trend for bigger
video displays, television has remained a close-up medium. For the tiny cell-phone
screen, close-ups are essential. The small screen and the limited presentation time
make it impractical to introduce a scene by moving from an overall view to a close-up.
Rather, you need to select only the most significant event details and show them as
a series of close points of view. This way you not only reveal the features necessary to
tell the story but also establish the energy of an event that might otherwise get lost
on the small screen.
Such a close-up technique is also effective when composing shots for the wider
high-definition television (HDTV) screen. Even large-screen motion pictures have
finally learned from television the high-energy impact of telling a story primarily
in a series of close-ups.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Close-ups are effective
on the large screen
and essential for
the small screen.
Effective camera operation depends not only on how to use certain buttons and
levers but especially on how to frame impressive shots. In fact, good camera operation
requires first and foremost a keen and sensitive eye and a basic knowledge of picture
aesthetics—what makes one shot composition superior to another. Despite all the
automated features, the camera cannot make aesthetic decisions for you. You must
therefore also learn the basic compositional principles so that you can produce pictures
that have impact and convey meaning.
We have all had, at least once, the trying experience of watching someone’s vacation
videos. Unless the person shooting was an expert camera operator, you probably saw
annoyingly fast zooms, shots with too much sky or too much ground, an incessantly
moving view that shifted randomly from object to object, and people who seemed to
be glued to either the sides or the top of the screen or who had background trees or
telephone poles seeming to grow out of their heads.
To help you avoid such aesthetic pitfalls, this chapter takes a closer look at the aesthetics
of picture composition. Note that in video, you are working mostly with moving
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images, so some of the traditional compositional principles for still photography must
be modified to fit a shot series rather than a single picture. Such considerations are
especially important when editing the various shots—called clips—to tell a story.
(We discuss such principles in chapter 13.)
▶ FRAMING A SHOT
Aspect ratio, field of view, vectors, composition, and psychological closure
▶ MANIPULATING PICTURE DEPTH
Z-axis, lenses and perceived z-axis length, lenses and depth of field, and lenses and
perceived z-axis speed
▶ CONTROLLING CAMERA AND OBJECT MOTION
Camera movement and zooms, and shooting moving objects
FRAMING A SHOT
The most basic considerations in framing a shot are how much territory you include
in the shot, how close an object appears to the viewer, where to place the object
relative to the screen edges, and how to make viewers perceive a complete object
when only parts of it are visible on the screen. In the terminology of photographic
arts, including video, these factors are known as aspect ratio, field of view, vectors,
composition, and psychological closure.
Aspect Ratio
Your framing of a shot depends to a great extent on the kind of frame you have
available—the relationship of the width of the screen to its height, or aspect ratio.
In video you will most often work with two aspect ratios: the 4 × 3 aspect ratio of
standard television (STV) and the 16 × 9 aspect ratio of high-definition television.
A 4 × 3 aspect ratio means that the screen is 4 units wide by 3 units high; a 16 × 9
screen is 16 units wide by 9 units high. When working in digital television (DTV),
many cameras allow you to switch between the standard 4 × 3 ratio and the widescreen 16 × 9 ratio of HDTV.
You will find that on the small screen, your compositions will not differ significantly between the two aspect ratios. SEE 6.1 AND 6.2
On a large video screen or when video is projected onto a movie screen, however,
the difference between the two aspect ratios is prominent. A close-up of a face is
much simpler to compose in the 4 × 3 ratio than on the HDTV screen. On the other
hand, the 16 × 9 ratio allows you to frame wide vistas without losing too much event
impact. The wider aspect ratio not only preserves but emphasizes the landscape
character of a horizontal vista. SEE 6.3 It also makes it easier to frame a profile shot
of two people talking to each other.
You will find that the 16 × 9 aspect ratio can make certain special effects much
more obvious if not overbearing. The reverse happens on the small cell-phone screen:
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FR AMING A SHOT
4
16
9
3
6.1 4 × 3 ASPECT RATIO
6.2 16 × 9 ASPECT RATIO
The aspect ratio of STV is 4 units wide
by 3 units high.
The HDTV aspect ratio is 16 units wide by 9 units
high. Most DTV cameras permit switching between
the standard 4 × 3 ratio and the wide-screen
16 × 9 ratio.
6.3 WIDE VISTA EMPHASIZED
The wide 16 × 9 aspect ratio accentuates
the horizontal stretch of this airfield.
most special effects lose their effectiveness. To help you get used to framing for the
wider screen, we display all the camera framings in this book in the 16 × 9 aspect
ratio. ZVL1 CAMERA Screen forces aspect ratio
Field of View
Field of view refers to how close the object seems to the viewer, or how much of
the “field,” or scenery, in front of you is in the shot. When organized by how close
we see the object, there are five field-of-view designations: extreme long shot (ELS
or XLS), long shot (LS), medium shot (MS), close-up (CU), and extreme close-up
(ECU or XCU). SEE 6.4
When categorized by how much of a person we see, the shots are called: bust
shot, which frames the upper part of a person; knee shot, which shows the person
approximately from the knees up; two-shot, which shows two people or objects
in the frame; three-shot, which shows three people or objects in the frame; overthe-shoulder shot (O/S), which shows the camera looking at someone over the
shoulder of another person nearer to the camera; and cross-shot (X/S), which looks
alternately at one or the other person, with the camera-near person completely out
of the shot. SEE 6.5
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6.4 FIELD-OF-VIEW
DISTANCE STEPS
The field-of-view distance
steps are relative and depend
on how a long shot or a
close-up is visualized.
Extreme long shot (ELS),
or establishing shot
Long shot (LS), or full shot
Close-up (CU)
Medium shot (MS),
or waist shot
Extreme close-up (ECU)
6.5 OTHER SHOT
DESIGNATIONS
Other shot designations tell
where the subject is cut off
by the upper or lower part of
the frame, how many subjects
are in the frame, or how they
are arranged.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Video is a closeup medium.
Bust shot
Knee shot
Two-shot (two persons
or objects in frame)
Three-shot (three persons
or objects in frame)
Over-the-shoulder shot (O/S)
Cross-shot (X/S)
The field of view is relative, which means that what you consider a close-up
someone else may think of as a medium shot. As mentioned, the relatively small
size of the standard video screen made the close-up the most frequently used field
of view in video production. These field-of-view designations hold true regardless
of whether you shoot for a small screen or a large screen or for a 4 × 3 or a 16 × 9
aspect ratio.
You can change the field of view either by moving the camera closer to the
event or farther away from it or by changing the focal length of the lens by zooming
in or out. As you learned in chapter 4, zooming in puts the lens in the narrow-angle
(telephoto) position and brings the subject closer to the camera for a close-up view.
When you zoom out, the lens gradually assumes a wide-angle position and shows
more territory farther away. There are important visual differences between moving the camera closer or farther away from the subject and zooming in and out.
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(We discuss these differences in the context of controlling camera and object motion
later in this chapter.) ZVL2 CAMERA Composition field of view
Vectors
A vector is a directional screen force with varying strengths. This concept will help
you understand and control the specific screen forces generated by someone looking,
pointing, or moving in a particular direction or even by the horizontal and vertical
lines of a room, desk, or door. A thorough understanding of vectors will aid you in
blocking—designing effective positions and movements of talent and cameras.
▶K E Y
Graphic vectors These vectors are created by lines or an arrangement of stationary
objects that lead the eye in a general direction. Look around you. You are surrounded
by graphic vectors, such as the horizontal and vertical lines that are formed by this
book, the window and door frames in the room, or the line where the walls meet the
ceiling. The lines of a skyscraper form a series of graphic vectors. SEE 6.6
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Vectors are directional
screen forces that
influence composition
and the blocking of
talent and cameras.
C O N C E P T
There are three basic
vectors: graphic vectors,
index vectors, and
motion vectors.
Index vectors These are created by something that points unquestionably in a
specific direction, such as an arrow, a one-way-street sign, or somebody looking
or pointing. SEE 6.7 The difference between graphic and index vectors is that index
6.6 GRAPHIC VECTORS
Graphic vectors are created by lines or
an arrangement of stationary objects
that leads the eye in a certain direction.
6.7 INDEX VECTORS
Index vectors are created by someone or something that points unquestionably in a particular direction.
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vectors are much more definite as to direction. Going against the index vector of a
one-way sign may jolt your sense of good composition as well as your body.
Motion vectors A motion vector is created by an object that is actually moving,
or is perceived to be moving, on the screen. People walking, a car speeding along
the highway, a bird in flight—all form motion vectors. For an illustration of motion
vectors, look around you where things are moving or turn on your TV set (motion
vectors obviously cannot be illustrated by a still picture). ZVL3 CAMERA Screen
forces vectors
Composition
Our perceptual faculties are always striving to stabilize the chaotic world around us.
Good picture composition helps us in this task. In fact, professional videographers
apply effective compositional principles even when shooting under extreme pressure, such as while covering a storm or a war. Some of the most basic compositional
factors involve subject placement, headroom and leadroom, and the horizon line.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The most stable picture
area is screen-center.
Subject placement The most stable and prominent picture area is screen-center.
If you want to draw attention to a single subject, place it there. SEE 6.8 The same goes
for framing a person who is addressing viewers directly, such as a newscaster or a
company president. SEE 6.9
If the newscaster has to share screen space with a visual, such as the secondary
frame—the box—over her shoulder, you obviously need to move her to one side,
not only to make room for the visual but also to balance the two picture elements
within the frame. SEE 6.10
Sometimes when you frame large vistas that contain a distinct single vertical
element, such as a telephone pole, a tree, or a skyscraper, you can place the single
vertical element off-center, at about the one-third or two-thirds mark of screen
width. Such nonsymmetrical framing in which the two unequal parts of the screen
6.8 SCREEN-CENTER PLACEMENT
6.9 SCREEN-CENTER
6.10 PICTURE BALANCE
The most stable screen position is
screen-center. All screen forces are neutralized at this point.
PLACEMENT OF NEWSCASTER
When the newscaster has to share the
screen space with other visuals, the elements must be placed in opposite screen
halves so that they balance each other.
A single newscaster should be placed
screen-center. This position draws
undivided attention to the newscaster
and what she is saying.
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6.11 NONSYMMETRICAL FRAMING
A prominent horizontal line can best be divided by
a vertical object located at about two-fifths (for the
STV aspect ratio) or one-third (for the HDTV aspect
ratio) the distance from either the left or the right
screen edge. This way the screen is not divided
visually into two equal halves, which makes for a
more dynamic and interesting composition.
contain different visual elements is often called the rule of thirds. You may have heard
of framing according to the golden section. In this case, the horizontal division is
placed at the two-fifths or three-fifths mark. Either division makes the picture look
more dynamic and the horizon less divided than if you placed the vertical object at
exactly midpoint. SEE 6.11
The rule of thirds also applies to placing objects within the frame, such as having a person stand at the one-third mark of the screen width. As a rule of thumb,
correct headroom in a close-up places the eyes of the person in the upper third of
the screen, unless the person wears a hat (see figure 6.13).
Headroom and leadroom Somehow the edges of the video screen seem to act
like magnets and attract objects close to them. This pull is especially strong at the
top and bottom edges of the screen. For example, if you frame a man so that his head
touches the upper screen edge, his head seems to be pulled up, or even attached, to
the frame. SEE 6.12 To counteract this pull, you must leave adequate space, called
headroom. SEE 6.13
6.12 NO HEADROOM
6.13 PROPER HEADROOM
Without headroom the person seems glued to the top edge of
the screen.
Correct headroom neutralizes the magnetic pull of the upper
edge and makes the person look comfortable within the frame.
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6.14 TOO MUCH HEADROOM
Too much headroom tends to dwarf
the person and push the image
against the lower half of the screen.
Picture loss
6.15 HEADROOM FOR TRANSMISSION
The framing on the left is correct for the viewfinder display, but the inevitable picture loss during transmission
or video recording requires more initial headroom. The framing on the right is therefore more appropriate.
If you leave too much headroom, however, the bottom edge exerts its force
and seems to pull the man downward. SEE 6.14 Because you inevitably lose some
picture space when transmitting via cable or an on-the-air channel or because of a
slightly misaligned TV receiver, you should leave just a little more headroom than
what seems appropriate. This way the viewer will see framing with exactly the right
headroom. SEE 6.15 ZVL4 CAMERA Composition headroom
The sides of the frame contain similar graphical “magnets” that seem to pull
persons or objects toward them, especially when they are oriented toward one or
the other side of the screen. Take a look at the next figure. SEE 6.16 Do you feel that
this is a good composition? Of course not. The person seems to push his nose into
the right screen edge. Correct framing requires some breathing room to reduce the
force of his glance—his screen-right index vector—and the pull of the frame, which
is why this type of framing is called noseroom. SEE 6.17 Note that the rule of thirds
also applies to noseroom: as you can see, the center of the person’s head is approximately in the left third of the frame.
The same “breathing room” principle applies when you frame someone moving
laterally. SEE 6.18 You must leave some room in the direction of movement to show
where the person is going and to absorb some of the directional energy of the motion
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6.16 NO NOSEROOM
6.17 PROPER NOSEROOM
Without any space between the nose and the screen edge,
the person seems to be glued to the frame or crashing into it.
This noseroom is sufficient to counter the pull of the screen
and the force of the glance.
vector. Because the camera must be somewhat ahead of the subject’s motion and
should lead the action rather than follow it, this is called leadroom. It is not always
easy to keep proper leadroom for a moving person or object, especially if the subject
moves quickly. SEE 6.19 ZVL5 CAMERA Composition leadroom
Now that you have learned all about the rule of thirds, a word of caution is in
order: if you always apply this rule in a mathematical fashion, your pictures will look
mechanical, as though you consistently edited them to a musical beat. In certain
circumstances you need to break this rule and frame the subject unconventionally
to give your pictures an additional edge. For example, if you want to emphasize the
beautiful colors of the evening sky, you should ignore the rule of thirds and tilt the
camera up to lower the horizon line as much as possible. Or you may want to place
a person right next to the screen edge to intensify his claustrophobia. As you can see,
you can—and should—bend the compositional rules if it intensifies the message.
But before you can bend a rule, you must understand it.
6.18 NO LEADROOM
6.19 PROPER LEADROOM
Without proper leadroom the laterally moving subject or object
seems oddly impeded by the screen edge.
With proper leadroom the laterally moving subject or object
seems able to move freely in the given direction.
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6.20 LEVEL HORIZON LINE
6.21 TILTING THE HORIZON LINE
When framing a person standing in front of a prominent
horizon line, make sure that it is level.
A tilted horizon line increases the dynamic tension of the event.
Horizon line Normally, we expect buildings and people to stand upright on level
ground. This principle is especially important when you shoot outdoors and where
there are distinct vertical and horizontal graphic vectors. For instance, when video
recording a weathercaster reporting from the shores of a lake, make sure that the
background lines (graphic vectors) of the lake are parallel to the upper and lower
screen edges. SEE 6.20 A slight tilt of the handheld camcorder may not readily show
up on the weathercaster in the foreground but is easily detectable by the tilted horizon line in the background.
If you intend to upset a stable environment by deliberately canting the camera,
however, a tilted horizon line can make the picture more dynamic and increase its
aesthetic energy. Of course, the subject matter must lend itself to such aesthetic
manipulation. SEE 6.21 Canting the camera on a dull speaker will not improve his
speech; it will simply alert the viewer to sloppy camera work.
Psychological Closure
Our minds try to make sense of the bombardment of impressions we receive every
second and to stabilize the world around us as much as possible. Our perceptual
6.22 PSYCHOLOGICAL CLOSURE
We perceive these three angle brackets
as a triangle by mentally filling in the
missing parts.
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FR AMING A SHOT
6.23 FRAMING A CLOSE-UP
A properly framed close-up leads
our eyes into off-screen space to
complete the figure.
mechanism does this by ignoring most sense impressions that are not immediately
relevant and by combining visual cues or filling in missing visual information to
arrive at complete and stable configurations. This process is called psychological
closure, or closure for short.
Take a look at the arrangement of angle brackets on the facing page. SEE 6.22
Although we actually see three separate brackets, we perceive a single triangle.
Through psychological closure we have automatically filled in the missing lines. In
fact, we have a hard time seeing them as three isolated angles.
Now look at the close-up above. SEE 6.23 Again, you mentally fill in the rest of
the subject’s body although you actually see only her head and shoulders on-screen.
The graphic vectors of the shoulders that led your eye outside the frame helped
you to apply closure—to fill in the missing parts. One of the most important principles
in framing a close-up in which only part of the subject is shown is to provide sufficient visual clues (in this case, graphic vectors) that enable the viewer to complete
the figure mentally in off-screen space. Below are two different ECUs of the same
person. Which one do you prefer? SEE 6.24
A
6.24 CHOOSING THE PROPER FRAMING
Here are two extreme close-ups. Which one looks better to you?
B
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A
B
6.25 IMPROPER AND PROPER FRAMING
A This extreme close-up is improperly framed because it invites
us to apply closure within the frame (an oval) without extending into off-screen space.
B This framing properly extends into off-screen space and allows us to apply closure to the whole figure.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Close-ups that show
only part of the object
must provide sufficient
visual cues for closure
in off-screen space.
Most likely, you chose the photo on the right (figure 6.24b) as the better ECU.
But why? Because, as you can see in figure 6.25b, the close-up on the right has sufficient graphic clues (graphic vectors) to tell us that the subject is continuing in offscreen space. In contrast, the framing of the left gives practically no visual cues that
would lead us into off-screen space (see 6.25a). In fact, our perceptual mechanism
is happy with having found a stable configuration within the frame: the head forms
an oval. SEE 6.25
The disagreement between our experience, which tells us that there must be a
body attached to the head, and our automated perception, which is perfectly happy
with the circlelike configuration, is the principal reason why we feel uncomfortable
with such a composition. ZVL6 CAMERA Composition close-ups | try it
The need for psychological closure can also produce visual paradoxes and bad
compositions by combining parts of the foreground and the background into a single
configuration. Examples are the rubber plant on the set that seems to grow out of the
guest’s head as well as the tree or street sign that extends out of the person standing
in front of it. SEE 6.26 Although we know that such elements are in the background,
our perceptual need for stable figures makes us perceive these visual paradoxes as
a single unit.
6.26 UNDESIRABLE CLOSURE
Because of our tendency to stabilize the
environment, we perceive this background
object as part of the main figure.
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When looking through the viewfinder, you must learn to see not only the
foreground (target) object but also what is behind it. By looking behind the target
object or scene, you will readily discover potential closure problems, such as the
street sign that the reporter seems to balance on his head. Looking behind may
also reveal other visual hazards, such as billboards that compete with your sponsor,
or garbage cans, camera or mic cables, or light stands in the shot. ZVL7 CAMERA
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Always look behind the
target object to check
for visual hazards.
Composition background
MANIPULATING PICTURE DEPTH
So far we have been concerned mainly with organizing the two-dimensional area
of the video screen.1 This section explores the depth dimension. Whereas the width
and the height of the video screen have definite limits, the depth dimension extends
from the camera lens to the horizon. Although illusory, the screen depth, or z-axis (a
term borrowed from geometry), is the most flexible screen dimension. The z-axis is
an imaginary line that stretches from camera lens to horizon, regardless of where the
lens is pointing. You can place many more objects along this depth axis than across
the width of the screen. You can also have objects move toward and away from the
camera at any speed without having to worry about losing them in the viewfinder
or providing adequate leadroom. ZVL8 CAMERA Picture depth z-axis
Defining the Z-axis
If you point a camera at the cloudless sky, you have just about as long a z-axis as you
can get—but it does not show its depth. To show screen depth, you need to define
the z-axis by placing objects or people along it. The traditional way of creating the
illusion of depth is to place objects in a distinct foreground, middleground, and
background. SEE 6.27 Even on a relatively small set, a prominent foreground piece
or person will help define the z-axis and suggest screen depth. SEE 6.28
1. For more information about picture composition, see Herbert Zettl, Sight Sound Motion: Applied
Media Aesthetics, 5th ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008), pp. 81–90.
6.27 FOREGROUND, MIDDLEGROUND, AND BACKGROUND
6.28 FOREGROUND PERSON TO CREATE DEPTH
A distinct division of the z-axis into foreground (trees and
benches), middleground (river), and background (skyline)
creates the illusion of depth.
The person standing in the foreground increases the illusion
of screen depth.
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6.29 WIDE-ANGLE Z-AXIS
6.30 NARROW-ANGLE Z-AXIS
The wide-angle lens stretches the z-axis and increases the
perceived distance between objects (palm trees).
The narrow-angle (telephoto) lens shrinks the z-axis, compresses the distance between objects (palm trees), and enlarges
the background (building).
Lenses and Z-axis Length
The focal length of a lens has a great influence on our perception of z-axis length
and the distance between objects placed along the z-axis.
Wide-angle position When zoomed all the way out (wide-angle position), the
z-axis appears to be elongated and the objects seem to be farther apart than they
really are. SEE 6.29
Narrow-angle position When zoomed all the way in (narrow-angle, or telephoto,
position), the z-axis seems to be shorter than it really is and the distance between
the objects placed along it seems reduced. The z-axis and its objects seem compressed. SEE 6.30
Lenses and Depth of Field
You have probably noticed when zoomed all the way in (with the lens in the telephoto
position) that you have more trouble keeping in focus an object traveling along the
z-axis than when zoomed all the way out to a wide-angle position. When zoomed
in, the z-axis area that is in focus is considerably shallower than when zoomed out.
We call this area in which objects are in focus depth of field. SEE 6.31
6.31 DEPTH OF FIELD
The area of the z-axis in which the objects
appear in focus is called depth of field.
Out of
focus
In focus
Out of
focus
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6.32 SHALLOW DEPTH OF FIELD
6.33 GREAT DEPTH OF FIELD
Narrow-angle (telephoto) lenses have a shallow depth of field.
When zoomed in, the depth of field is shallow.
Wide-angle lenses have a great depth of field. When zoomed
out, the depth of field is great.
In the narrow-angle position, lenses have a shallow depth of field. This means
that if you are focused on a foreground object, objects in the middleground and the
background are out of focus. If you shift your focus to an object in the middleground,
the foreground and background objects are out of focus. If you focus on the background, the middleground and foreground objects are out of focus. Note that with
a shallow depth of field, an object can move only a short distance along the z-axis
before it gets out of focus. SEE 6.32 ZVL9 CAMERA Focusing depth of field | shallow
A wide-angle position creates a great depth of field: objects that are widely scattered along the z-axis are all in focus. For example, when you focus on the foreground
object in a large depth of field, the middleground and background objects remain
in focus as well, and an object can travel a great distance along the z-axis and still
stay in focus. SEE 6.33
In practice this means that when zoomed out to a wide-angle position, you don’t
have to worry much about staying in focus. But when zoomed in to a narrow-angle
position, you need to adjust the focus constantly whenever the camera or the object
moves along the z-axis.
Depth of field is also influenced by object-to-camera distance and the size of the
lens aperture. The closer the camera is to the object, the shallower the depth of field
becomes; the farther away you are, the greater the depth of field. A large aperture
reduces the depth of field; a small one increases it. (See chapter 4 for a discussion
of lens apertures.) ZVL10 CAMERA Focusing depth of field | great depth
You will find that a great depth of field is desirable for most routine productions.
Especially when running after a news story, you want to show as much of the event
as clearly as possible without having to worry about keeping the picture in focus.
This is why you should zoom out and keep the lens in the wide-angle position. When
you need a closer shot, you simply move the camera closer to the event. With the
wide-angle lens position, the depth of field remains great enough to stay in focus
even when you or the object moves.
For a more deliberate production, there are many instances in which a shallow
depth of field is preferred. By focusing on the target object while keeping everything
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Depth of field is
dependent on the focal
length of the lens, the
distance from camera to
object, and the aperture.
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6.34 SHALLOW DEPTH
OF FIELD IN CLOSE-UPS
Regardless of the focal length of the lens,
close-ups have a shallower depth of field
than long shots. The clue is the out-offocus background.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
With the zoom lens in a
narrow-angle position
(zoomed all the way in),
depth of field is shallow
and keeping focus is
difficult. With the zoom
lens in a wide-angle
position (zoomed all the
way out), depth of field
is great and keeping
focus is relatively easy.
else out of focus, you can emphasize the target without eliminating the environment.
Another favorite technique is to shift emphasis from person to person by alternately
focusing on one person, with the other person out of focus, and then switching.
Realize, however, that this rack-focus effect is so popular that it has become a cliché.
If you move the camera extremely close to the object, the depth of field will shrink
even if the lens is zoomed out to the wide-angle position. Because the camera-toobject distance influences the depth of field, as does the focal length of the lens, we
can say that, in general, tight close-ups have a shallow depth of field. SEE 6.34 ZVL11
CAMERA Focusing depth of field
Lenses and Z-axis Speed
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A narrow-angle lens
position compresses
the z-axis and slows
down z-axis motion. A
wide-angle lens position
stretches the z-axis and
speeds up z-axis motion.
Because a narrow-angle lens position compresses the z-axis, the movement of objects along the z-axis is equally compressed. When the lens is zoomed all the way
in, cars seem to be much more crowded and moving more slowly than they actually
are. With the lens zoomed all the way out, they seem to be farther apart and moving
much faster than they actually are. By simply putting the zoom lens in a narrow-angle
or wide-angle position, you can manipulate the viewer’s perception of the distance
between objects and how fast they move along the z-axis. ZVL12 CAMERA Picture
depth lens choice | perspective and distortion ZVL13 CAMERA Screen motion z-axis
CONTROLLING CAMERA AND OBJECT MOTION
Here we cover a few of the main aesthetic principles of camera and object motion.
These include the most obvious do’s and don’ts of moving the camera, zooming,
and blocking object movement. (Additional information about controlling camera
and object motion is presented in subsequent chapters.)
Controlling Camera Movement and Zooms
If there is a single indication of an inexperienced camera operator, it is excessive
camera movement and zooms. The wildly roaming camera reminds us more of
a firefighter’s nozzle than photographic artistry, and the fast out-of-focus zooms
produce more eyestrain than dramatic impact.
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Moving camera For some reason most beginners think that it is the camera that
has to do the moving rather than the object in front of it, especially when there is not
much object motion. If nothing moves, so be it. Aesthetic energy does not come from
unmotivated camera movement but from the event itself, regardless of whether it is
in motion. If there are any hard-and-fast aesthetic rules in camera operation, this is
one of them: always try to keep the camera as steady as possible and have the people
and the objects in front of the camera do the moving. The problem with an incessantly
moving camera is that it draws too much attention to itself. It is, after all, the event
you want to show, not your virtuosity of zooming and camera handling.
For variety and to provide viewers with different points of view, you can shift
camera angles or change the camera-to-object distance. Even if there is absolutely
no movement in the event, different angles and fields of view will provide enough
change to hold viewers’ interest and give them more information about the event.
To keep camera movement to a minimum, use a tripod or other camera mount
whenever possible, even if the camera is small.
Fast zooms Fast, unmotivated zooms are as annoying as a needlessly roving
camera. The major problem is that the zoom—even more than camera motion—is
a highly visible technique that draws attention to itself. One of the worst things you
can do is follow a fast zoom-in or zoom-out with an equally fast zoom in the opposite direction. Rest on the target object for a while before switching to another
angle and point of view. Constant zooming in and out makes viewers feel cheated:
you bring the event to them through zooming in only to take it away by immediately
zooming out. In the worst case, it may make viewers slightly nauseated. Unless you
are planning a highly dramatic effect, a zoom should remain largely unnoticed by
the viewer. If you must zoom, do it slowly.
In general, zooming in to a close-up increases tension; zooming out releases
it. You will find that it is easier to start with a close-up view of an object and then
zoom out than the other way around. When zooming out from a close-up, it is also
easier to stay in focus than when zooming in, especially if you do not have time to
calibrate the zoom lens (see chapter 5). Even with auto-focus, fast zooms cause focus problems because the auto-focus mechanism may not be able to keep up with
constantly changing picture requirements. Consequently, the picture will pop in
and out of focus during the zoom.
Zoom versus dolly There is an important aesthetic difference between a zoom
and a dolly. When you zoom in or out, the event seems to move toward or away from
the viewer; when you dolly in or out, the viewer seems to move toward or away
from the event.
If, for example, you want to show that the ringing telephone bears an important message, you zoom in on the phone rather than dolly in. The fast zoom virtually catapults the phone toward the screen and the viewer. But when you want to
have the viewer identify with a student who is late for class, you dolly the camera
toward the only empty chair rather than zoom in on it. The dolly will accompany
the student—and the viewer—to the empty chair. A zoom would bring the chair to
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Whenever possible, keep
the camera still and let
the event do the moving.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Avoid fast and constant
zooming in and out.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A zoom-in brings the
object to the viewer;
a dolly-in takes the
viewer to the object.
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the student (and the viewer), and that rarely happens,
even in a friendly classroom atmosphere. The reason
for this aesthetic difference is that the camera remains
stationary during the zoom, whereas during a dolly it
actually moves into the scene. ZVL14 CAMERA Camera
moves dolly | zoom
Controlling Object Motion
Z-axis
6.35 Z-AXIS BLOCKING
Blocking along the z-axis suits the small video screen.
Despite all the theory about providing leadroom for
an object moving laterally from one screen edge to the
other, it is hard to keep it properly framed on the traditional 4 × 3 STV screen. Sometimes even experienced
camera operators have trouble following an object that
moves laterally in a tight shot. Just try following somebody moving sideways fairly close to the camera—you
will be glad just to keep the person in the viewfinder!
Framing lateral motion—that is, motion along the xaxis—is somewhat easier with a wide-angle lens position or when shooting for the 16 × 9 aspect ratio. In any
case, when the subject moves in a straight line along
the z-axis—toward or away from the camera—you will
have much less trouble keeping the person in the shot
and properly framed, even if he or she walks briskly.
Blocking people along the z-axis rather than the x-axis
not only is easier on the camera operator but also produces shots with greater impact.
Z-axis blocking refers to placing people behind
rather than next to one another. SEE 6.35 This arrangement makes it relatively easy to keep several people in
a single shot and to capture their movements without
excess camera motion. With the lens in the wide-angle
position, z-axis movement can look dramatic and spectacular. Also, as you have just learned, the wide-angle
lens provides a large enough depth of field so that you
need to do little, if any, focusing.
Even when you have no control over the event
and cannot influence the blocking, as is the case in
most electronic news gathering, you can still conform
the object motion to the aesthetic requirements of the
small screen and the stable camera: simply position
the camera in such a way that most of the object movement occurs along the z-axis. For example, if you cover
a parade, don’t stand on the sidewalk and try to capture
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the various bands and floats as they move past you; instead, step onto the street
and shoot against the oncoming parade traffic. With a zoom lens in the wide-angle
position, you will have little trouble covering the event in long shots and close-ups
while staying in focus. ZVL15 CAMERA Picture depth z-axis
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Aspect Ratio
The standard television (STV) aspect ratio is 4 × 3. The high-definition television (HDTV)
aspect ratio is 16 × 9.
▶ Field of View
The field of view is usually expressed in five shots, ranging from extreme long shot (ELS
or XLS) to extreme close-up (ECU or XCU). Other shot designations refer to how much of
a person we see (such as bust shot or knee shot) or how many people we see (two-shot
or three-shot). In an over-the-shoulder shot (O/S), we see the shoulder and the back of
the head of the camera-near person while looking at the camera-far person. A cross-shot
(X/S) is closer, with the camera-near person out of the shot.
▶ Close-up Medium
Video is a close-up medium. Select those event details that tell the real story with clarity
and impact.
▶ Vectors
Vectors are directional screen forces of varying strengths that influence composition and
the blocking of talent and cameras. There are graphic vectors, which suggest a direction
through lines or objects that form a line; index vectors, which point unquestionably
in a specific direction; and motion vectors, which show the actual event or its screen
image in motion.
▶ Screen Forces
The most stable picture area is screen-center. Headroom neutralizes the pull of the upper
screen edge. Noseroom and leadroom neutralize the index and motion vector forces,
respectively, and the pull of the frame.
▶ Psychological Closure
Through psychological closure we are able to perceive a complete figure even if it is
shown only partially in a close-up. Close-ups that show only part of the object must
provide sufficient visual cues for closure in off-screen space.
▶ Picture Depth
The depth dimension depends on defining the z-axis into foreground, middleground, and
background. Wide-angle zoom lens positions (zoomed out) make the z-axis look longer;
objects seem farther apart, and their z-axis movement appears faster than it actually
is. Narrow-angle zoom lens positions (zoomed in) make the z-axis look shorter; objects
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Z-axis blocking looks
dramatic and requires
little camera movement.
It is essential for framing
several people and
capturing motion on the
small cell-phone screen.
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seem more compressed, and their z-axis movement appears slower. Wide-angle lens
positions show a great depth of field; narrow-angle lens positions show a shallow one.
▶ Motion
Whenever possible, keep the camera still and let the event do the moving. A zoom-in
brings the object to the viewer; a dolly-in takes the viewer to the object. Z-axis movement
is well suited to the relatively small TV screen of both aspect ratios. It is essential for the
small cell-phone screen.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
CAMERA Screen forces aspect ratio
97
ZVL2
CAMERA Composition field of view
99
ZVL3
CAMERA Screen forces vectors
ZVL4
CAMERA Composition headroom
ZVL5
CAMERA Composition leadroom
ZVL6
CAMERA Composition close-ups | try it
ZVL7
CAMERA Composition background
ZVL8
CAMERA Picture depth z-axis
ZVL9
CAMERA Focusing depth of field | shallow
ZVL10
CAMERA Focusing depth of field | great depth
ZVL11
CAMERA Focusing depth of field
ZVL12
CAMERA Picture depth lens choice | perspective and distortion
ZVL13
CAMERA Screen motion z-axis
ZVL14
CAMERA Camera moves dolly | zoom
ZVL15
CAMERA Picture depth z-axis
100
102
103
106
107
107
109
109
110
110
113
112
110
III
P A R T
Image Creation: Sound,
Light, Graphics, and Effects
CHAPTER 7
When you review your latest video recordings a little more critically, you can see that
Audio and
Sound Control
your composition has improved considerably. You left proper headroom and leadroom,
and your horizon lines are level. But now you are discovering other problems that
went unnoticed before. What is most annoying are the hollow sounds you got when
CHAPTER 8
you interviewed people in their living room and the crackling of wind and traffic noise
Light, Color,
and Lighting
when the interview took place on a street corner. Apparently, you forgot to listen to the
CHAPTER 9
Graphics and
Effects
environment while composing your impressive shots. Despite the good composition,
some of your video looks grossly overexposed; other shots hide all the detail in dense
shadows. Some of the indoor shots have a strange green tint, and the white wedding
gown of your friend’s bride looks light blue in your outdoor shot. The following
three chapters on image creation will introduce you to the basic audio and lighting
techniques that will help you avoid such problems—and also give you some pointers
on effective graphics and visual effects.
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7
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
ATR Stands for audiotape recorder.
cardioid Heart-shaped pickup pattern of a unidirectional
microphone.
condenser microphone High-quality, sensitive microphone for
critical sound pickup.
dynamic microphone A relatively rugged microphone. Good
for outdoor use.
fader A volume control that works by sliding a button horizontally along a specific scale. Identical in function to a pot.
Also called slide fader.
hypercardioid A very narrow unidirectional pickup pattern
with a long reach. The mic is also sensitive to sounds coming directly from the back.
polar pattern The two-dimensional representation of the microphone pickup pattern.
pop filter A wire-mesh screen attached to the front of a mic
that reduces breath pops and sudden air blasts.
RCA phono plug Connector for video and audio equipment.
ribbon microphone High-quality, highly sensitive microphone
for critical sound pickup in the studio, usually for recording
string instruments.
sweetening The postproduction manipulation of recorded
sound.
unidirectional Pickup pattern of a microphone that can hear
best from the front.
jack A socket or receptacle for a connector.
volume-unit (VU) meter Measures volume units, the relative
loudness of amplified sound.
lavalier A small microphone that is clipped to clothing.
Also called lav.
waveform Graphic representation of a sound that occurs over a
period of time.
mini plug Small audio connector.
windscreen Acoustic foam rubber that is put over the entire
microphone to cut down wind noise.
omnidirectional Pickup pattern of a microphone that can hear
equally well from all directions.
pickup pattern The territory around the microphone within
which the mic can hear well.
windsock A moplike cloth cover that is put over the windscreen
to further reduce wind noise in outdoor use. Also called
wind jammer.
XLR connector Professional three-wire connector for
audio cables.
Audio and
Sound Control
You have probably heard over and over again that television is primarily a visual
medium. You have also no doubt heard that the worst sin you can commit in video
production is showing “talking heads”—a criticism that is a total misconception. Video
programs rely on the sound portion even more than films do. The audio portion not only
conveys information but adds aesthetic energy and structure to the video sequences.
You will find that there is nothing wrong with talking heads so long as they talk well.
In fact, much of the information in video programs is conveyed by somebody talking.
You can do a simple experiment to prove this point: Turn off the video portion of the
program and try to follow what is going on; then turn on the video again but turn off
the audio. You will probably have little trouble following the story by only hearing the
sound track, but in most cases you will have difficulty knowing what is going on by only
seeing the pictures. Even if you can follow the story by watching the pictures, the lack
of sound leaves the message strangely incomplete.
Most amateur video is characterized not just by the madly moving camera and the
fast zooms but also by the bad audio. Even professional video productions tend to
suffer more from poor sound than bad pictures. Why? At first glance the production of
sound seems much easier to achieve than the corresponding video. When working a
camcorder, you are probably concentrating so hard on getting good pictures that you
don’t pay much attention to the sounds and assume that the built-in microphone will
do the job when set to the automatic volume control. Sometimes this may be sufficient.
Most of the time, however, sticking a mic into a scene at the last minute is not the way
to go. Not all microphones sound the same, nor do they sound the same in different
environments. When outdoors there is the additional hazard of wind noise and other
unwanted environmental sounds.
Unless you do a routine show, you need to consider the audio requirements as an
essential part of the production process. The better the original audio pickup, the more
time you will save in postproduction. ZVL1 AUDIO Audio introduction
117
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AUDIO AND SOUND CONTROL
This chapter examines the various tools and techniques of producing good
audio for video.
▶ SOUND PICKUP PRINCIPLE
How microphones change sound waves into sound signals
▶ MICROPHONES
How well they hear, how they are made, and how they are used
▶ SOUND CONTROL
Working the audio mixer and the audio console
▶ SOUND RECORDING
Digital and analog recording equipment and other audio-recording devices
▶ AUDIO POSTPRODUCTION
Audio postproduction room, sound waveform, and automated dialogue replacement
▶ SYNTHESIZED SOUND
Computer-generated sounds
▶ SOUND AESTHETICS
Context, figure/ground, sound perspective, continuity, and energy
SOUND PICKUP PRINCIPLE
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Microphones transduce
sound waves into electric
energy—the audio signal.
Like the translation process in video, in which the lens image of the object is converted into the video signal, in audio the sounds the microphone hears are transduced
(transformed) into electric energy—the audio signal. This signal is made audible
again through the loudspeaker. The basic sound pickup tool is the microphone, or
mic (pronounced “mike”).
You can also create sounds synthetically, by electronically generating and
recording certain frequencies, a process similar to creating computer-generated
video images. We focus first on microphone-generated sounds, then turn briefly to
synthesized sounds.
MICROPHONES
Although all microphones fulfill the same basic function of transducing sounds into
audio signals, they do so in different ways and for different purposes. Good audio
requires that you know how to choose the right mic for a specific sound pickup—not
an easy task when faced with the myriad mics available. Despite all the brand names
and numbers, you can make sense of the different microphones by classifying them
by how well they hear, how they are made, and how they are generally used.
How Well Mics Hear: Sound Pickup
Not all microphones hear sounds in the same way. Some are built to hear sounds
from all directions equally well; others favor sounds that come from a specific direction. The directional characteristic—the zone within which a microphone can
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MICROPHONES
hear well—is specified by its pickup pattern. Its two-dimensional representation
is called the polar pattern.
In general, you will find that most microphones used in video production are
omnidirectional or unidirectional. The omnidirectional mic hears equally well from
all directions. Visualize the omnidirectional mic at the center of a sphere. The sphere
itself represents the pickup pattern. SEE 7.1
The unidirectional mic is designed to hear especially well from one direction—
the front. Because the pickup pattern of a unidirectional mic is roughly heart-shaped,
it is also called cardioid. SEE 7.2
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The pickup pattern
indicates the zone in which
a microphone can hear
well—its directionality.
7.1 OMNIDIRECTIONAL
MICROPHONE PATTERNS
The omnidirectional microphone hears equally well
from all directions.
Pickup pattern
Polar pattern
7.2 CARDIOID
MICROPHONE PATTERNS
The unidirectional microphone favors sounds that are
in front of it. Its pickup pattern is heart-shaped, hence
the term cardioid.
Pickup pattern
Polar pattern
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AUDIO AND SOUND CONTROL
7.3 HYPERCARDIOID
MICROPHONE PATTERNS
The hypercardioid pickup
pattern is narrower than the
cardioid and has a longer
reach. Hypercardioid mics
can also hear sounds coming
from behind the mic.
Pickup pattern
Polar pattern
When this pickup pattern gets progressively narrower, the mics are supercardioid, hypercardioid, or ultracardioid. The “heart” of the cardioid pickup pattern has
now been stretched to the shape of a thin watermelon. SEE 7.3 The hypercardioid
and ultracardioid mics have a long reach, which means you can produce sounds
that seem to come from fairly close by although they may actually be quite far
away. Hyper- and supercardioid mics are also somewhat sensitive to sounds that
come directly from behind. Because these microphones are usually fairly long and
are aimed in the direction of the sound source, they are commonly called shotgun
mics. ZVL2 AUDIO Microphones pickup patterns
How Mics Are Made
When selecting a mic for a particular audio task, you need to consider both its specific pickup pattern and its basic mechanics—its sound-generating element. When
classifying microphones by how they are made, there are three types used in video
production: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon.
The dynamic mic uses a small coil that moves within a magnetic field when
activated by sound. The movement of the coil produces the sound signal. The condenser mic has a movable plate—a diaphragm—that oscillates against a fixed plate
to produce the sound signal. The ribbon mic has a tiny ribbon, rather than a coil, that
moves in a magnetic field. But don’t worry too much about exactly how these sound
elements work; it is more important to know how these mics differ in their use.
Dynamic The dynamic microphone is the most rugged. You can take it outside in
all kinds of weather, and it can even withstand occasional rough handling. You can
work with the mic close to extremely loud sounds without damaging it or distorting
the sound too much. Many dynamic microphones have a built-in pop filter, which
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7.4 DYNAMIC MICROPHONE WITH POP FILTER
Dynamic microphones are the most rugged. They can
withstand rough handling and extreme temperatures.
The built-in pop filter reduces breath pops. This omnidirectional mic is ideally suited for field interviews.
eliminates the breath pops that occur when someone speaks into the mic at very
close range. SEE 7.4 ZVL3 AUDIO Microphones transducer dynamic mic
Condenser These microphones are much more sensitive to physical shock and
temperature than are dynamic mics, but they produce higher-quality sounds. Condenser microphones are generally used for critical sound pickup indoors, but they
are also used in the field. They are especially prominent in music recording. Unlike
dynamic mics, condenser microphones need a power supply to activate the soundgenerating device inside the mic and amplify the electrical signal before it leaves the
mic. Some have a battery in the microphone housing. SEE 7.5 Others get their power
supply through the cable from the audio console (usually called phantom power).
If you use a battery, see to it that it is inserted properly (with the + and – poles as
indicated in the housing) and that the battery is not run-down. Always have a spare
battery handy when using a condenser mic. ZVL4 AUDIO Microphones transducer
condenser mic
When using a condenser shotgun mic (or any shotgun mic) outdoors, you need
to protect the entire microphone from wind noise by covering it with a windscreen.
SEE 7.6 Windscreens are made of acoustic foam rubber or other synthetic material,
which lets normal sound frequencies enter the mic but keeps most of the lower wind
rumbles out. For ENG/EFP (electronic news gathering/electronic field production)
7.5 BATTERY POWER SUPPLY FOR CONDENSER MIC
7.6 WINDSCREEN ON SHOTGUN MICROPHONE
Most condenser mics use a battery to charge the condenser
plates. When fed to the microphone from the audio console,
the power is called phantom power.
The windscreen, made of porous material, protects the mic
from excessive wind noise.
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7.7 WINDSOCK PULLED OVER WINDSCREEN
The windsock is used on top of the windscreen to further
reduce wind noise.
AUDIO AND SOUND CONTROL
7.8 RIBBON MICROPHONE FOR HIGHQUALITY SOUND PICKUP
This ribbon mic is amazingly rugged without sacrificing its
warm sound quality. It is an ideal microphone for recording
voice-over narration, piano, and a variety of brass, woodwinds,
and string instruments.
microphones that are used primarily outdoors, you may want to add a windsock,
also called a wind jammer—a fuzzy cloth resembling a mop that can be pulled over
the windscreen. SEE 7.7
Ribbon You may still find ribbon microphones in some audio-recording studios
or for critical music pickup for television. These highly sensitive mics are normally
used for recording string instruments. SEE 7.8 For normal video work, however,
ribbon mics are just too sensitive. A loud sound burst close to the mic can cause
permanent damage. ZVL5 AUDIO Microphones transducer ribbon mic
How Mics Are Used
Now that you know the basic types of microphones, you need to learn how to use
them effectively. A good way to start mic placement is to get the mic as close to
the sound source as possible and listen to how the pickup sounds. Even the most
sophisticated and expensive mic will not guarantee good sound unless it is placed
in an optimal pickup position. In fact, the proper positioning of the mic relative to
the sound source is often more important than its sound-generating element. In
video production, microphones are therefore identified by the way they are used
rather than how they are made: lavalier microphones; hand microphones; boom
microphones; desk and stand microphones; headset microphones; and wireless,
or radio, microphones.
Lavalier microphones The lavalier mic, or lav for short, is a very small, rugged,
omnidirectional microphone (dynamic or condenser) that is used principally for
voice pickup. The quality of even the smallest lav, which is about the size of a fingernail, is amazingly good. The combination of small size, ruggedness, and high
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MICROPHONES
quality has made the lavalier indispensable in video
production. It is usually clipped to clothing, such as
the lapel of a jacket or the front of a shirt, 6 to 8 inches
below the chin. SEE 7.9
Although it is primarily intended for voice pickup,
you can also use the lavalier for music. Sound technicians have used the lav successfully on violins and
string basses. Don’t be overly influenced by the normal
use of such mics: try them out in a variety of ways and
listen to the sound they deliver. If it sounds good to you,
you’ve got the right mic.
The obvious advantage of the lavalier is that the
talent has both hands free when he or she wears it, but
there are numerous other advantages to using a lavalier
mic, as well:
7.9 LAVALIER MICROPHONE
The small lavalier mic is usually clipped to the performer’s
clothing. It is used primarily for voice pickup.
◾ Because the distance from mic to sound source does not change once the mic
is properly attached, you do not have to ride gain (adjust the volume) once
you adjust the volume at the beginning of the shoot.
◾ Unlike lighting for the boom mic, which must be done in such a way that the
boom shadows are hidden from camera view, the lavalier needs no special
lighting considerations.
◾ Although the talent’s action radius is somewhat limited by the mic cable, the
lavalier lets him or her move more quickly than with a boom mic or even a
hand mic. For greater mobility you can plug the talent’s lavalier into a bodypack transmitter and use it as a wireless or radio mic.
Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages to using a lavalier mic:
◾ If the environment is very noisy, you cannot move the mic closer to the talent’s
mouth. Consequently, the surrounding (ambient) noise is easily picked up.
◾ You need a separate mic for each sound source. In a two-person interview,
for example, you need separate lavaliers for the host and the guest. In a fiveperson panel show, you obviously need five lavs.
◾ Because it is attached to clothing, the lavalier may pick up rubbing noises,
especially if the talent moves around a great deal. You may also get occasional
popping noises from static electricity.
◾ If the mic must be concealed under clothing, the sound often takes on a muffled character and the danger of rubbing noises is greatly increased.
◾ One of the advantages we listed can also be a disadvantage: because the distance from the mic to the mouth does not change, the sounds do not seem
to come from a closer distance on a close-up or from farther away on a long
shot. Therefore you cannot achieve a desirable sound perspective. (You will
read more about sound perspective later in this chapter.)
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Here are some points to consider when using a lavalier microphone:
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Treat all microphones
gently, even when
turned off.
◾ Once the microphone is attached to the mic cable but not yet to the talent,
watch that you do not pull the mic off a table or chair and drop it on the floor.
Although the lavalier is fairly rugged, it does not tolerate mistreatment. If you
accidentally drop the mic during the setup or strike (clearing of the production space), test it immediately to check that it still functions properly. Ask
the talent to avoid hitting it with his or her hand or some object that might be
demonstrated on-camera.
◾ Be sure to put the mic on. As obvious as this sounds, on the opening cue
many a performer has been found sitting on the mic rather than wearing it.
◾ To put on the microphone, bring it up underneath the talent’s shirt or jacket
and attach it securely on the outside. Do not put the mic next to jewelry or
buttons. If you have to conceal the mic, don’t bury it under layers of clothing;
try to keep the top of the mic as exposed as possible. Tuck the cable into the
talent’s belt or clothing so that it cannot pull the mic sideways or, worse, completely off. To further avoid pops and rumbles, put a small loop in the cable
just below the mic clip, or try putting a loose knot in the mic cable where it
leaves the mic. Wedging a small piece of foam rubber between mic and clothing will further reduce rubbing noises.
◾ When outdoors, attach the little windscreen that slips over the top of the mic.
◾ When using a wireless lav, tell the talent to switch the body-pack transmitter to the off position during each break. This keeps the battery from running
down prematurely and also prevents the transmission of sounds that might
be embarrassing to the talent.
◾ After the show watch that the talent does not get up and walk off the set without first removing the microphone. ZVL6 AUDIO Microphones mic types lav mic
Hand microphones As the name implies, hand microphones are handled by the
talent. You select a hand mic for situations in which the talent needs to exercise some
control over the sound pickup.
A reporter can move a hand mic closer to his or her mouth when working in noisy
surroundings, thereby eliminating much distracting ambience; the reporter can also
point it toward the person he or she is interviewing. Because the talent can point the
mic toward whoever is doing the talking, you need only a single microphone for an
interview with one or even several guests. Performers who do audience participation
shows like the hand mic because it allows them to approach people and talk to them
spontaneously without an elaborate multiple-microphone setup.
A singer can control the intimacy of the sound (its presence) by holding the unidirectional hand mic very close to his or her mouth during an especially soft passage
and pulling it farther away when the song gets louder and more external. Experienced
singers use the hand mic as an important visual element; they work the mic during
a song by switching it from one hand to the other to signal—visually—a transition
or change of pace or simply to supply additional visual interest. SEE 7.10
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MICROPHONES
7.10 USE OF DIRECTIONAL
MICROPHONE BY SINGER
To emphasize the richness of his voice,
the singer holds the directional hand mic
close to his mouth.
When the hand mic is used outdoors for numerous production tasks and under
a great variety of weather conditions, you need a rugged mic that tolerates rough
handling and extreme conditions. Dynamic hand mics with built-in pop filters are
popular for such productions. Singers, on the other hand, demand much more sound
quality than a field reporter and prefer high-quality condenser hand mics.
The control of the mic by the talent can also be a disadvantage. Inexperienced
talent often block their own and their guests’ faces; this no-no becomes especially
apparent when the mic has a large, colored pop filter attached to it. Also, in the excitement of the interview, an inexperienced reporter may aim the microphone toward
the guest when asking the question and toward himself or herself when listening
to the answer. As humorous as this unintentional comedy routine may seem to the
viewer, it is not funny to the production people who see their professional efforts
undermined by such a mistake.
Other disadvantages of using a hand mic are that the talent’s hands are not free
to do other things, such as demonstrate a product. And, unless it is a wireless hand
mic, pulling the cable while working a hand mic is not always easy to do.
These hints may help you work with a hand microphone:
◾ During rehearsal, check the action radius of the mic cable. Also see that the
cable has free travel and will not catch on furniture or scenery. Checking the
reach of the cable is especially important when the mic is connected to a
camcorder.
◾ Test the microphone before the video recording or live transmission. Say a
few of the opening lines so that the audio engineer or camcorder operator can
adjust the volume of the audio signal. When there are several mics in the immediate vicinity and you need to find out which one is turned on, do not blow
or whistle into it—or, worse, whack it; rather, lightly scratch the pop filter. This
scratching noise will enable the audio technician to identify your microphone
and separate it from the others.
◾ When using a hand mic in the field under normal conditions (the environment is not excessively loud, and there is little or no wind), hold the microphone at chest level and speak across rather than into it. SEE 7.11 In noisy and
windy conditions, hold the mic closer to your mouth. SEE 7.12
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7.11 NORMAL POSITION OF HAND MICROPHONE
In a fairly quiet environment, the hand mic should be held
at chest height. The performer speaks across the mic rather
than into it.
AUDIO AND SOUND CONTROL
7.12 POSITION OF HAND MICROPHONE
IN NOISY SURROUNDINGS
In environments with a lot of ambient noise, the performer
holds the mic closer to the mouth and speaks into the mic
rather than across it.
◾ When using a directional hand microphone, hold it close to your mouth and
speak or sing directly into it, as shown in figure 7.10.
◾ When using a hand mic to interview a child, do not remain standing; squat
down so that you are at the child’s level. This way you establish personal contact with the child, and the camera can get a good two-shot. SEE 7.13
◾ If the mic cable gets tangled during a take, do not panic and yank on it. Stop
where you are and continue your performance while trying to get the attention of the floor manager or somebody else who can untangle it for you.
◾ If you need to use both hands while holding a hand mic, tuck it temporarily
under your arm so that it can still pick up your voice.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Always test the hand
mic before using it
in a production.
◾ When the hand mic is connected directly to a camcorder, the camera operator should also turn on the camera mic (built-in or attached). The camera mic
will supply a second audio track with the ambient sounds without interfering
with the hand mic, which is supplying the primary audio. In fact, you should
always turn on the camera mic, even if you don’t intend to use the ambience.
Most likely, these sounds will come in handy during postproduction editing. ZVL7 AUDIO Microphones mic types camera mic
7.13 INTERVIEWING A CHILD
When interviewing a child, squat down
and hold the mic toward the child. The
child is now more aware of you than
the mic, and the camera operator can
include both faces in the shot.
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MICROPHONES
Boom microphones Whenever the microphone is
to be kept out of the picture, it is usually suspended
by a fishpole or a big boom. Whatever microphone is
suspended from such a device is called a boom mic,
regardless of its pickup pattern or sound-generating
element. But because the boom mic is usually farther
away from its sound source than a lavalier or hand mic,
hypercardioid or supercardioid shotgun mics are used.
As you recall, such highly directional microphones can
pick up sounds over a fairly great distance and make
them seem to come from close by. You can aim the mic
toward the principal sound source while eliminating
or greatly reducing all other sounds that lie outside its
narrow pickup pattern. Note, however, that it is equally
efficient at picking up extraneous noise that lies in its
pickup path.
Fishpole A fishpole is a sturdy, lightweight metal pole
that can be extended. The shotgun mic is attached to the
pole with a shock mount, which absorbs the vibrations
of the pole and the rubbing noises of the mic cable.
Always test the microphone before each take to see if
the shock mount is transferring the handling noise or
pole vibrations. Even the best shotgun mic is rendered
useless by a noisy pole or shock mount.
If a scene is shot fairly tightly (with tight medium
shots and close-ups), you can use a short fishpole,
which is much easier to handle than a long one. You
can position it to pick up the sound from either above
or below the source. If the sound pickup is from above,
hold the boom in your outstretched arms and dip it
into the scene as needed. SEE 7.14 If the sound pickup
is from below the source, turn the pole so that the mic
is pointing up toward the person speaking. SEE 7.15
When the shots are wider and you need to be
farther away from the scene, you must use a long fishpole. Because the long fishpole is heavier and more
difficult to handle, you should anchor it in a belt and
raise and lower it as you would an actual fishing pole.
The long fishpole is usually held above the sound
source. SEE 7.16
Pencil microphone When picking up dialogue in the
studio, some audio engineers prefer to use a pencil mic
on a short fishpole. This is a short condenser mic with
a cardioid pickup pattern that is often used for music
pickup. The advantage of a pencil mic is that it is very
7.14 SHORT FISHPOLE USED FROM ABOVE
The short fishpole is normally held high and dipped into the
scene as needed.
7.15 SHORT FISHPOLE USED FROM BELOW
The short fishpole can also be held low with the mic pointed
up for good sound pickup.
7.16 LONG FISHPOLE
The long fishpole can be anchored in a belt and raised and
lowered much like an actual fishing pole. It is usually held
above the sound source.
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AUDIO AND SOUND CONTROL
lightweight and has a wider pickup pattern than a shotgun. But isn’t a shotgun the
ideal mic for a boom because it is highly directional and can pick up sounds over a
considerable distance? Yes, it is, especially if you are relatively far from the sound
source or in a fairly noisy environment. But if you are to studio-record dialogue between two or more people in a scene that permits you to get close with the fishpole,
the pencil mic’s slightly wider pickup pattern is an advantage. Because the pickup
pattern is a little wider than a shotgun’s, you do not always have to point the mic
from one person to the other during a dialogue but can often find an optimal pickup
spot between the two speakers. As a side benefit, the lighter mic makes the fishpole
operation considerably less tiring.
Here are some additional hints for operating a shotgun mic or pencil mic mounted
on a fishpole:
◾ With a fishpole it is especially important that you check the reach of the mic
cable. Because you must concentrate on the position of the mic during the
pickup, you will not be able to monitor the cable.
◾ Check that the cable is properly fastened to the pole and that it does not tug
on the microphone.
◾ If the performers walk while speaking, you need to walk with them, holding
the mic in front of them. If the camera shoots straight on (along the z-axis),
you need to walk slightly ahead and to the side of the talent, holding the mic
in front of them. If the blocking is lateral (along the x-axis), you need to stay in
front, walking backward. While keeping your eyes on the talent and the mic,
be careful not to bump into obstacles. Rehearse the walk a few times before
the actual take. If possible, have a floor person guide you during the take.
◾ Always wear headphones so that you can hear what the mic is picking up
(including unwanted sounds, such as the drone of an airplane during a Civil
War scene). Listen especially for the low rumble of wind, which is easy to miss
when concentrating on dialogue.
◾ Watch for shadows that the boom may cast on persons or objects in camera
range. ZVL8 AUDIO Microphones mic types boom mic
Handholding a shotgun mic is as simple as it is effective. You become the boom—
and a very flexible one at that. The advantage of holding the shotgun mic is that you
can walk up to the scene as close as the camera allows, aiming the mic quickly and
easily in various directions. SEE 7.17
Some audio people insist on covering the handheld shotgun with a windsock
even when shooting indoors, but it is a must when shooting outdoors. As you have
learned, the windsock reduces and often eliminates wind noise. Hold the microphone only by its shock mount—never directly. This minimizes handling noise and
also prevents covering up the microphone ports—the openings in the mic barrel
that make the mic directional.
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7.17 HANDHELD SHOTGUN MICROPHONE
Hold the shotgun mic only by its shock mount.
When it’s used outdoors, the windscreen and
windsock are a must.
Big boom When used for an elaborate studio production, such as the video recording
of a soap opera, shotgun mics are suspended from a large boom, called a studio boom
or perambulator boom. A boom operator, who stands or sits on the boom platform,
can extend or retract the boom, tilt it up and down, pan it sideways, rotate the mic
toward the sound source, and even have the whole boom assembly moved. This is
all to have the microphone as close to the sound source as possible while keeping
it out of the camera’s view.
A studio boom is quite large and takes up a lot of operating space. In some cases
it takes two operators: one to work the microphone boom and the other to reposition
the boom during an especially tricky scene. You will discover that operating a boom
is at least as difficult as running a camera.
Desk and stand microphones Desk microphones are hand mics mounted on a
tabletop stand. You use them for panel shows, public hearings, speeches, and news
conferences. Because the people using them are usually more concerned with what
they are saying than with the quality of the audio, they frequently (albeit unintentionally) bang on the table or kick it while moving in their chairs, and sometimes even
turn away from the microphone while speaking. Considering all these hazards, which
microphones would you suggest for a desk mic? If you recommend an omnidirectional dynamic mic, you are right. This type of microphone is best suited to abuse.
If you need even more precise sound separation, use a unidirectional dynamic mic.
When placing the microphones, you can use a single mic for each performer or
to serve two people simultaneously. Because microphones can cancel each other’s
frequencies when positioned too closely together—known as multiple-microphone
interference—you should place the individual mics at least three times as far apart
as any mic is from its user. SEE 7.18
Despite your careful placement of the multiple desk mics, inexperienced—and
even experienced—users are sometimes compelled to grab the mic and pull it toward
them as soon as they are seated. To save your nerves and optimize sound pickup,
simply tape the mic stands to the table.
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7.18 SETUP FOR
MULTIPLE DESK
MICROPHONES
To avoid multiple-microphone
interference when using
several desk mics for a panel
show, place them at least
three times as far apart as any
mic is from its user.
4.5'
1.5'
Stand mics are hand microphones that are clipped to a sturdy microphone floor
stand. They are used for singers, speakers, musical instruments, and any other sound
source that has a fixed position. The quality of mics used on stands ranges from rugged dynamic mics for news conferences to high-quality condenser mics for singers
and instrumental pickups.
For some performers, such as rock singers, the microphone stand is an important
prop. They tilt it back and forth, hold themselves up by it, and even swing it through
the air like a sword (not recommended, by the way, especially if the microphone is
still attached).
Headset microphones Sportscasters and other performers who are announcing
an event often use a headset microphone. SEE 7.19 This type of mic combines an
7.19 HEADSET MICROPHONE
The headset mic comprises a good-quality microphone
and earphones that carry a split audio feed: one carries
the program sound and the other carries instructions
from the production team.
Mic
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MICROPHONES
earphone headset with a good-quality microphone. The earphones can carry a split
audio feed, which means that the talent can hear the program sound (including his
or her own voice) in one ear and instructions from production people in the other.
Use headset microphones for sportscasters or talent who announce live events in the
field. This way they have their hands free to handle scripts or event lists, can listen
to the program audio and the producer’s or director’s instructions, and speak into
a high-quality microphone.
Wireless, or radio, microphones Wireless microphones are also called radio mics
because they broadcast the audio signal from a microphone transmitter to a receiver,
which in turn is connected to the mixer or audio console.
The most popular wireless microphones are hand mics used by singers. These
high-quality mics have a transmitter and an antenna built into their housing. The
performer is totally unrestricted and can move about unimpeded by a mic cable. The
receiver is connected by cable to the audio console for sound control and mixing.
Because each wireless mic has its own frequency, you can use several simultaneously without signal interference.
Another popular radio mic is the wireless lavalier, which is often used in news
and interviews, in electronic field production, and occasionally in sports. If, for example, you are asked to pick up the breathing of a bicyclist during a race or the clatter
of the skis during a downhill run, a wireless lav is the obvious choice. Wireless lavs
are sometimes used for dramatic studio productions instead of boom mics.
The wireless lavalier is plugged into a small transmitter that is worn by the talent.
You put the transmitter in the performer’s pocket or tape it to the body and string
the short antenna wire along the pants, skirt, or shirtsleeve or around the waist. The
receiver is similar to that used with wireless hand mics. SEE 7.20
Unfortunately, using wireless mics is not without drawbacks. The signal pickup
depends on where the talent is relative to the receiver. If the talent walks beyond
the transmitter’s range, the signal will first become intermittent and then be lost
7.20 WIRELESS LAVALIER
MICROPHONE AND RECEIVER
Wireless lavaliers are connected to a small
transmitter worn by the talent. The receiver
picks up the signal and sends it by cable to
the audio console.
Belt-pack
transmitter
Lavalier mic
with windscreen
Wireless mic receiver
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altogether. For example, if the talent moves behind a tall building or near highvoltage lines or strong radio transmitters, the audio may become distorted or totally
overpowered by the extraneous signals. Concrete walls, X-ray machines, and even
the talent’s perspiration can affect the transmission and reduce or distort the signal
strength. Although wireless equipment has an assigned frequency that is purposely
different from police and fire transmissions, you may occasionally pick up a police
or fire call instead of the talent’s comments. ZVL9 AUDIO Microphones mic types
wireless mic
The table on the facing page gives an overview of some of the more popular
microphones. Realize, however, that new mics are developed all the time and that
model numbers change accordingly. SEE 7.21
SOUND CONTROL
When using a small camcorder to record a friend’s birthday party, you are probably
unconcerned about the various steps of audio control. All you need to do is put a tape
or a flash memory device in the camcorder and check that the built-in mic is turned
on and in the AGC mode. AGC stands for automatic gain control—it automatically
adjusts the volume of the various sounds to optimal levels, eliminating the need for
manual volume control. But because the AGC cannot distinguish between desirable
sounds and noise, it amplifies both indiscriminately.
If the audio requirement is more demanding, such as controlling the volume
during an outdoor interview or when somebody is playing a musical instrument,
you need to switch from AGC to manual control.
Manual Volume Control
As mentioned previously, the better (and more expensive) camcorders have two
XLR (balanced) microphone inputs and allow you to switch from AGC to manual
volume control for both inputs by using the menu on the foldout monitor. Try to
do this switchover before you are in the field; the commands are often buried in
submenus and are not always easy to activate when you are in a hurry. Also, you will
quickly learn that even the best foldout monitors wash out in bright sunlight, making
the menus hard if not impossible to see. Once you have switched to manual volume
control, you can set a level for each of the two mic inputs before you start recording.
You can then monitor the input volume in the viewfinder display.
Try to use one channel (normally channel 1) for the external mic and the other
(channel 2) for recording ambient sound with the camera mic. If there are more than
two sound sources, you need to control and mix them before they can be recorded
on one of the two audio tracks. The necessary equipment to do so consists of the
audio mixer, the audio console, and the audio cables and patch panel.
Audio Mixer
The audio mixer amplifies the weak signals that come from the microphones and/
or other sound sources and lets you control the sound volume and mix (combine)
two or more sound inputs. Actually, what you control and mix are not the sounds
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SOUND CONTROL
7.21 TABLE OF MICROPHONES
TYPE AND
PICKUP PATTERN
PHOTOS OF SONY MICS USED BY PERMISSION OF SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.
MICROPHONE
USE
Sennheiser
MKH 70
Condenser
Supercardioid
Studio boom, fishpole.
Good for EFP
and sports.
Sony
ECM 672
Condenser
Supercardioid
Fishpole.
Excellent for indoors.
Neumann
184
Condenser
Cardioid
Pencil mic. Used on
fishpole for dialogue pickup.
Electro-Voice
635A or RE50
Dynamic
Omnidirectional
Rugged hand mics.
Good for all-weather ENG.
Shure
SM63L
Dynamic
Omnidirectional
Fairly rugged.
Excellent for ENG.
Electro-Voice
RE16
Dynamic
Supercardioid
All-purpose hand mic.
Good outdoors (ENG/EFP).
Shure
SM58
Dynamic
Cardioid
Hand mic for singer.
Crisp, lively sound.
Beyerdynamic
M160
Ribbon
Hypercardioid
Classic hand mic for singer.
Warm sound.
Sony
ECM 55 or ECM 77
Condenser
Omnidirectional
Lavalier. Good voice
pickup. Good studio mics that
mix well with boom mics.
Sony
ECM 88
Condenser
Omnidirectional
Very small lavalier.
Excellent quality.
Low handling and wind noise.
Sennheiser
ME 2
Condenser
Omnidirectional
Very small lavalier mic.
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7.22 AUDIO FIELD MIXER
The audio mixer allows you to control
the volume of a limited number of
sound inputs and mix them into a
single or stereo output signal.
themselves but the signals, which are then translated back into actual sounds by the
loudspeaker. ZVL10 AUDIO Systems try it
A normal monophonic audio mixer has three or four inputs and one output
of the manipulated signal. A stereo mixer has two outputs, one for the left channel
and another for the right. Normally, mixers have a rotary pot (for potentiometer)
for each input and one master pot or fader (two for stereo mixers). They also have a
monitor jack (outlet) for your earphones so that you can hear the outgoing signal.
A VU meter, which measures in volume units the relative amplitude (loudness) of
the incoming sound signals, helps you visually monitor the volume of each incoming source and the final line-out signal that leaves the mixer. SEE 7.22 ZVL11 AUDIO
Consoles and mixers parts
Mic- and line-level inputs All professional mixers give you a choice between mic
and line inputs. The difference between the two is that the mic-level input is for weak
audio signals, such as those coming from a microphone. The line-level input is for
relatively strong audio signals, such as from a video recorder or CD player. If you plug
the output of a CD player into the mic input, a preamplifier will unnecessarily boost
the sound; most likely, it will become grossly distorted. If you plug a microphone into
the line input, you need to turn the volume control way up to hear anything and in
so doing will inevitably cause extensive noise in the audio signal.
If you don’t know whether an input source is suited for the mic-level input or the
line-level input, do a brief test recording. If the recording sounds much too loud and
distorted, you plugged a line-level source into a mic-level input. If you have to crank
the volume up all the way just to hear anything, you plugged a mic-level source into
a line-level input. If it sounds just about right and responds to the volume control
as it should, you plugged the sound source into the correct input. ZVL12 AUDIO
Consoles and mixers signals
Controlling the volume Controlling sound volume—or riding gain—is not only
to make weak sounds louder and loud sounds softer but also to keep the sounds
at a level where they do not get distorted. To increase the loudness of a sound, you
turn the pot clockwise or push the horizontal fader up, away from you. To reduce
the sound volume, you turn the pot counterclockwise or pull the fader down, toward
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SOUND CONTROL
7.23 VU METER
The volume-unit (VU) meter indicates the relative loudness of sound.
The scale is given in volume units,
ranging from –20 to +3 (upper
scale), and percentages, ranging
from 0 to 100 (lower scale).
Adjust peak levels to fall near 0
you. The VU meter reflects the volume (gain) adjustment by oscillating along a calibrated scale. SEE 7.23 Some larger audio mixers and consoles have VU meters with
LED (light-emitting diode) displays instead of oscillating needles.
If the volume is very low and the needle of the standard VU meter barely moves
from the extreme left, or if the LED meter remains at the bottom of the scale, you
are riding the audio “in the mud.” When loud sounds make the needle hit the right
side of the meter, you are “bending” or “pinning” the needle and should turn the
volume down to avoid distortion.
When recording analog sound, try to keep the needle between 60 and 100 percent on the lower scale (or between –5 and 0 on the upper scale). Don’t worry if the
needle spills occasionally into the red, but keep it from oscillating entirely in this
overload zone. Most LED meters change color when the sound is overmodulated,
that is, when the audio signals are boosted too much. All these systems indicate
visually whether there is a sound signal in the system and how loud the sound is
relative to a given volume scale.
When working with digital audio, you need to keep the volume lower than with
analog audio. Because digital audio does not have any “headroom” that absorbs
occasional bending-the-needle volume levels, keep the master fader at about –6 dB
(decibels) instead of the 0 dB level. Newer machines lower the VU scale so that you
can set the master fader at the accustomed 0 dB as the standard volume level. If
the incoming volume is too high, it will clip the audio signal, which translates into
sound distortion. If volume levels are low, you can always boost them to normal
levels in postproduction without adding too much noise, but you cannot eliminate
the distortion that resulted from recording at too high a volume. Overloading digital
audio not only results in distorted sound but also adds considerable noise to the
recording. ZVL13 AUDIO Consoles and mixers control | try it
XLR pad One way to prevent such high-volume distortion in digital sound is to
use the XLR pad. This volume control looks like an XLR connector, with which you
can join two balanced audio cables (see figure 7.26). By simply plugging the cable
coming from the sound source into one end of the XLR pad, and another cable,
which connects your audio to the camcorder or audio recorder, into the other end,
you have pretty much eliminated the dreaded overload distortion.
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VU
VU
VR input (recording level): 0 VU
Audio console line-out: 0 VU
7.24 CALIBRATING AUDIO CONSOLE AND VIDEO RECORDER VOLUME LEVELS
The VU meter on the video recorder input is adjusted to the 0 VU line-out signal of the console. Once calibrated, both VU meters
must read 0 VU (or the designated standard operating level).
Sound calibration When the sound signals go through a mixer or the console
before reaching the camcorder or an audio-recording device, you must adjust the
recorder’s volume meter so that it reads the identical volume units as on the mixer
or console VU meter. This adjustment is called sound calibration. Generally, the
audio technician feeds a 0 VU tone to the video recorder or other recording system.
As mentioned before, some audio technicians suggest calibrating the system at a
designated VU setting that is below the standard analog operating level of 0 VU.
SEE 7.24 ZVL14 AUDIO Consoles and mixers calibration
Live field mixing Mixing means combining two or more sounds. You don’t need
a mixer if you simply interview somebody in the field: you plug the interviewer’s
hand mic into the appropriate input on the camcorder, turn on the camera mic for
ambience, and start recording. But if you have a complicated audio assignment that
requires more than two inputs or precise volume control beyond what the AGC or
the camcorder volume controls can give you, a small mixer will come in handy.
The following guidelines are intended to assist you with field-mixing tasks, but
observe this caveat: if at all possible, try to avoid intricate sound mixing in the field. It
is usually easier to achieve a satisfactory mix if you record the various sound sources
separately and then do the mixing in postproduction. That said, here are some of
the most basic field-mixing guidelines:
◾ Even if you have only a few inputs, label each one with what it controls: mic
for the host and the guest, ambience mic, and so forth.
SOUND CONTROL
◾ Double-check all inputs from wireless microphone systems. They have a
pesky habit of malfunctioning just before the start of an event.
◾ Always send a test tone at 0 VU (or whatever standard operating level you are
working with) from the mixer to the video recorder before the actual recording. Adjust the VU meter on the recorder (either the camcorder or a separate
unit) so that it also reads 0 VU (or other standard). You have now calibrated
the output from the mixer with the input of the recorder.
◾ Be sure to switch each input to the correct input level (mic or line). Many field
productions have been ruined by somebody’s not paying attention to the correct input setting.
◾ When working a mixer, set the master pot to 0 VU (or other standard), then
adjust the volume of the various inputs for the proper mix. Watch the VU
meter of the master pot (line-out). If it spills into the red zone, readjust the
volume of the inputs but leave the master pot at the designated standard
operating level.
◾ For field recording, use an XLR pad to avoid volume overload.
◾ If you have to do a complicated sound pickup in the field, protect yourself
by feeding it not only to the camcorder but also to a separate audiotape
recorder (ATR).
◾ Again, record digital sound at a lower level than analog sound. It is easier
to boost a weak sound signal than to get the distortion out of an overmodulated one.
Audio Console
You won’t usually need a large audio console for most routine television shows, such
as interviews and news, although some productions in high schools and colleges
require complex audio setups from time to time. For example, a video recording of
a band or an orchestra requires an amazingly elaborate audio setup; a small audio
console will no longer suffice. It is always easier to use a larger console for a small
audio job than the other way around. This is why fairly large consoles are standard
equipment in the audio control rooms and audio postproduction rooms of television
stations, large corporate production centers, and major postproduction houses.
Even if a large audio console with its many buttons and levers resembles an
exotic control panel in a sci-fi spaceship, there is no reason to be intimidated: the
largest audio console operates similarly to a small mixer. Like the mixer, the audio
console has inputs, volume meters and controls, mixing circuits, and outputs for the
manipulated signal. Unlike the mixer, however, the console has many more inputs
and outputs, slide faders instead of rotary pots, and a variety of additional quality
controls as well as assignment and on/off switches.
The audio console is relatively large because, instead of the four inputs of the
small mixer, it may have 24 or even 64. Each input has a separate slide fader and an
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7.25 AUDIO CONSOLE
The audio console has many inputs
(24 or more for large video productions), each of which has its own slide
fader volume control, a variety of quality controls, various on/off and assignment switches, and a VU meter.
array of quality controls and switches. Some of the larger consoles have a VU meter
for each input channel. The console has additional subgroup faders that control
the mix of various inputs before it gets to the master fader, and two master faders
that control the two channels of the outgoing stereo signal. Each outgoing channel
has its own VU meter. Of course, if you work with 5.1 surround sound, you need six
outgoing channels (five for the regular speakers placed in front and back, and one
(the .1 speaker) that takes care primarily of the very low sounds. SEE 7.25
An audio console lets you control the volume of all inputs, mix some or all of
the input signals in various ways, and manipulate the sound signals of each input
channel for the final mix. For example, with the quality controls you can add reverberation (echo) to the incoming sounds; reduce unwanted frequencies such as a
hum or squeal; boost or attenuate (reduce) the high, middle, or low frequencies of
each sound; and pan (move) a sound to a specific horizontal position between the
two stereo speakers. Some controls allow you to adjust the strength of the signal
input before it is amplified or to turn off all other inputs except the one you want to
hear. You can also group some inputs into subgroups that can then be further mixed
with other inputs or subgroups.
Why so many inputs? Because even a simple six-person panel discussion may use
up to 10 inputs: six for the panel’s microphones (assuming that each panel member
has his or her own mic), one for the moderator’s mic, one for the CD that contains
the opening and closing theme music, and two more for the two servers (large digital
video recorders) that play back program segments during the discussion.
Considering the many microphones and other sound equipment used in a
rock concert, even 24 inputs seem modest. Large professional recording consoles
are called in-line, which means that for each input there is a corresponding output.
Many digital consoles are computer-controlled, which reduces their physical size
despite their increased mixing capabilities. ZVL15 AUDIO Consoles and mixers
Much professional audio postproduction mixing is done with a digital audio
workstation (DAW), whose audio software takes care of the signal processing and
facilitates volume control and mixing.
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SOUND CONTROL
Cables and Patch Panel
Audio cables provide an essential link between the sound sources and the audio
console or other recording equipment. Because cables have no moving parts or
complicated circuitry, we tend to consider them indestructible. Nothing could be
farther from the truth. An audio cable, especially at the connectors, is vulnerable
and must be treated with care. Avoid kinking it, stepping on it, or rolling a camera
pedestal over it. Even a perfectly good cable may pick up electrical interference from
lighting instruments and produce a hum in the audio—another reason for checking
out the audio system before the director calls for a rehearsal.
Another potential problem comes from the various connectors that terminate
the cables. All professional microphones and camcorders use three-conductor cables
(called balanced cables) with three-conductor XLR connectors. They are relatively
immune to outside interference from unwanted frequencies. With an XLR jack in
a camcorder, you can use any professional audio cable to connect a high-quality
microphone to the camera. Most consumer microphones and small camcorders use
the smaller RCA phono plug or the mini plug for their (unbalanced) cables. Some
audio cables terminate with the larger phone plug, which is used for short cable
runs to connect musical instruments such as electric guitars. You can, of course,
also transport digital audio signals with a FireWire (IEEE 1394) or an HDMI cable
over short distances. SEE 7.26 ZVL16 AUDIO Connectors
Adapters make it possible to hook up cables with different connectors. Although
you should always have such adapters on hand, avoid using them as much as possible. As with video adapters, an audio adapter is at best a makeshift solution and
always a potential trouble spot. ZVL17 AUDIO Connectors overview
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Always check that the
connectors on the cable
fit the microphone output
and the inputs at the other
end (such as camcorder,
mixer, or recording device).
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Keep cable connections
and adapters to a
minimum; each one is a
potential trouble spot.
7.26 AUDIO CONNECTORS
All professional microphones
use the three-wire cables with
XLR connectors. Other audio
connectors include the phone
plug, the RCA phono plug,
and the mini plug.
Male
RCA phono
plug
Female
XLR connectors
Phone plug
Mini plug
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Using the patch panel will make your life easier by bringing the various sound
inputs (microphones, CD players, remote inputs, and the audio tracks of the video
recorder) into a desired order on the audio console. For instance, if the various
audio sources correspond to widely dispersed faders on the console (such as the
lavalier mic of the interviewer at fader 1, the CD player at fader 2, the video recorder
playback at fader 3, and the second lav at fader 4), you may want to move the two
lavaliers to adjacent faders, with the video playback at fader 3 and the CD player at
fader 4. Rather than change the cables to different inputs, you simply patch these
sound sources so that they appear in the desired order on the console.
Patching can be done in two ways. The old (highly reliable) way is to connect
with small cables the incoming signals (called outputs because they are carrying
the outgoing audio signals that are to be connected with the audio console) to the
various faders on the audio console (called inputs). SEE 7.27 The most efficient way
is to have a computer take over the signal routing, which accomplishes the same
task faster and without additional cables and connectors. If something goes wrong,
however, the computer patch is usually harder to trace than the physical one.
7.27 PATCHING
The four audio sources (lav 1, CD
player, video playback, and lav 2) are
rerouted through patching (lav 1, lav 2,
video playback, and CD player).
CD player
VR
Lav 2
Lav 1
Outputs
Inputs
Fader 1
Fader 2
Fader 3
(controls lav 1) (controls lav 2) (controls VR)
Fader 4
(controls
CD player)
SOUND RECORDING
SOUND RECORDING
Sound, like video, can be recorded as analog or digital signals. Despite the inherent
differences between analog and digital equipment, the old sound-recording rule
still applies: careful attention to sound pickup and recording will often save you
many frustrating hours of postproduction. In audio recording, don’t dismiss analog
equipment just yet. It is still—or again— used by some audio enthusiasts who are
fascinated by the “warmer” quality of analog sound.
In most video productions, sound is recorded on the audio tracks of the videotape or nonlinear recording device (computer hard drive or flash memory cards
simultaneously with the video—see chapter 11). Ambitious projects require audio
postproduction, wherein you try to eliminate unwanted sounds or add something
to the existing audio track on the videotape—a process called sweetening. In audio
postproduction you can also create an entirely new audio track and add it to the video
that has already been shot and edited. Despite the amazing and readily available
software for the postproduction of digital sound, you will still be surprised at just
how time-consuming even relatively small sweetening jobs can be.
In video production all audio is recorded on the audio tracks of the videotape or
on some kind of digital recording device. Unless you are specializing in audio recording or working with a digital audio workstation, you will not notice much difference
between analog and digital audio in the operation of the equipment. Both types often
look similar and have similar (or identical) operational controls (see figure 7.29).
Digital Audio Production Equipment
The major digital audio production equipment includes: CDs, DVDs, and mini discs;
digital cart systems; and computer hard drives and flash memory devices.
CDs, DVDs, and mini discs As you know, the professional optical compact disc
(CD) is a popular digital recording and playback device. The CD player uses a laser
beam to optically read the digital information on the 4¾-inch disc. The advantage
of the CD is that it reproduces almost noise-free sound (assuming the recording
was relatively noise-free in the first place). A highly accurate LED read-out system,
which functions much like a counter, allows you to select a precise starting point
regardless of how deeply the segment may be buried on the disc.
The standard CD display consists of seven basic controls: play, pause, stop,
down button, up button, fast-forward, and fast-rewind. Pressing the down button
takes you to the beginning of the current track; repeated pressing skips to previous
tracks. The up button takes you to the end of the current track; repeated pressing
selects subsequent tracks. Fast-rewind moves the laser back until you release the
button. Fast-forward moves the laser forward until you release the button. You can
hear the audio in the fast-forward and rewind modes. SEE 7.28
Writable CDs allow you to record new material as you would with audiotape
or computer disks. All you need is a CD or DVD burner in your laptop or desktop
141
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7.28 CD OPERATIONAL DISPLAY
The standard CD display consists of seven basic controls: play, pause, stop, down button, up
button, fast-forward, and fast-rewind. The down button jumps to the beginning of the current
track and to previous tracks. The up button jumps to the end of the current track and to
subsequent tracks.
computer. The digital versatile disc (DVD) can hold vastly more video and audio
information than can the standard CD. The mini disc (MD) is also an optical disc
but is designed for smaller applications.
Digital cart systems These systems are specialized computers that can record,
store, and play back a great number of audio files. They operate much like a CD
player or an iPod: you can select a particular audio segment and start the audio
track instantly. Some systems let you edit audio files and even prepare playlists for
continuous playback of audio material. They also have an additional slot for a second,
smaller removable computer disk that allows you to store and exchange a limited
amount of audio data with other digital audio equipment. SEE 7.29
Computer hard drives and flash memory devices The ubiquitous iPod is one of
the most popular hard-drive audio storage and playback devices. In fact, you may
7.29 DIGICART II PLUS
This popular cart system uses
a high-capacity hard drive for
recording, storage, and instant
playback of audio files. You can
edit with this system, construct
playlists, and exchange audio
data via a removable Iomega
Zip disk.
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SOUND RECORDING
be using one right now to make reading this chapter a little more
pleasant. Such wonder machines can record and store—at least
so far—160 gigabytes, which translates into thousands of songs or
200 hours of video.
There are high-quality, battery-operated solid-state audio recorders available that are so small you can put them in your pocket yet are
powerful enough to capture three hours of high-quality stereo audio
on a tiny 2 GB SD (2 gigabytes Secure Digital) memory card that you
may also use in your digital still camera. With some compression
codecs, such as MP3, you can squeeze 10 times that much audio on
this tiny flash memory card. SEE 7.30
Analog Recording Equipment
Because of the “warm” sound qualities of analog recording, you may
still find some analog equipment in use, even in video operations.
The surviving analog equipment consists of audiotape recorders and
cassette machines.
7.30 DIGITAL FIELD STEREO RECORDER
This high-quality 4-track stereo recorder uses
a small SD flash memory card and accepts
balanced XLR inputs. It is lightweight and
small enough to fit in your pocket or purse.
Open-reel audiotape machines The open-reel analog ATR uses magnetic tape
(usually ¼-inch wide) that moves from a supply reel to a takeup reel over at least
three heads: the erase head, the record head, and the playback head. SEE 7.31
When you use the ATR for recording, the erase head clears the track of all previous recordings so that the record head can put the new audio on a clean tape. The
playback head then plays the recorded material back so that you can hear what you
are recording. In the playback mode, the ATR plays back what has previously been
recorded. The erase head and the record head are not activated during playback.
Sometimes heads are combined or serve a dual function, depending on whether
you are in the playback mode or the recording mode.
Multitrack machines Simple stereo ATRs use only two channels or tracks, one
for the left channel and the other for the right channel, on a ¼-inch tape. Complex
recorders put 24 or even more tracks on a 2-inch tape.
Supply reel
Takeup reel
Erase head
Record head
Playback head
7.31 ANALOG
HEAD ASSEMBLY
In a reel-to-reel audiotape
recorder, the tape moves from
a supply reel over the head
assembly to the takeup reel.
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7.32 OPERATIONAL
CONTROLS ON
AUDIOTAPE RECORDER
The standard operational controls on ATRs are record, play,
stop, rewind, and fast-forward.
Analog audiocassette machines You certainly know what an analog cassette
looks like and how the cassette recorder functions. The major advantages of the
cassette system over the open-reel system are that the cassette is smaller, it can hold
more continuous information (up to 180 minutes), and the recorders are much more
portable than are open-reel machines.
Operational controls Although their arrangement may differ from one model
to the next, almost all audio recorders (including digital ones) have the same five
operational controls: record, play, stop, rewind, and fast-forward. SEE 7.32
AUDIO POSTPRODUCTION
At this point you probably won’t be asked to do complicated sound postproduction
work, but you should at least know something about it. Although the sound of most
routine television shows (news, game shows, and soap operas) is captured during the
production, there are just as many productions where the audio track is sweetened,
partially reconstructed, made more complex by mixing various sound tracks, or
constructed entirely in the postproduction phase. Most of this work is accomplished
in an audio postproduction room.
Audio Postproduction Room
There is no specific formula that will tell you just what goes into such a room and
where it should be placed. Each sound designer seems to have a slightly different
idea of how to produce optimal sound for video. You will find, however, that most
such audio postproduction rooms house a large console, a physical patchbay, various
digital recorders, at least one digital audio workstation, a keyboard, and a sampler.
All these pieces of equipment are interconnected. SEE 7.33
Digital audio workstation One of the key pieces of equipment in the postproduction room is the digital audio workstation, usually called a DAW. The typical
DAW has a large-capacity hard drive and software that combines a digital audiorecording system with an audio console and editing system. SEE 7.34 You can call
up and operate with the mouse a virtual audio console and a great variety of editing
controls. The console displays multiple audio tracks as waveforms for accurate sound
manipulation and editing. But even relatively inexpensive audio software programs
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AUDIO POSTPRODUCTION
MIDI interface to
control ProTools
Reel-to-reel
audiotape recorder
ProTools system
Computer to drive
ProTools system
Mixing
console
Digital multitrack
recorder
Digital audio console
and video interface
Computer to run
additional audio software
7.33 AUDIO POSTPRODUCTION ROOM
The audio postproduction room typically contains a digital audio console, audio recorders, a digital audio workstation,
various MIDI connections, and a high-fidelity speaker system.
7.34 DIGITAL AUDIO
WORKSTATION DISPLAY
Multiple computer interfaces
display a variety of audio control
and editing functions. They also
activate hardware, such as audio
consoles and recorders.
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7.35 SOUND WAVEFORM
Loud bangs
The vertical lines and areas represent
the sound amplitude—its loudness. A
straight line shows silence. This waveform illustrates various loud bangs
(long spikes), a vroom sound leading
to more and even louder bangs, and
two thumps in succession.
Bang
Silence
Quick
vroom
Two low
bangs
Silence
Time
for desktop computers are powerful tools for audio postproduction and for matching
audio with video in postproduction editing.
Sound Waveform
You have undoubtedly seen a sound waveform before—there is one on the cover of
this book —but it may help to explain its basic features. The waveform is a graphic
representation of a specific sound or combination of sounds that occur over a period
of time. (The waveform on the cover of this book represents the words video basics.)
But unlike musical notation, the standard monochrome waveform shows the basic
fluctuations of loudness of a sound—the dynamics—but not how high or low the
sound is (its frequency).1 The larger the vertical squiggles are, the louder the sound
is. Silence shows up as a horizontal line with no wiggles above or below. Sudden
loud sounds have long spikes. SEE 7.35
Once you have learned to interpret the sound waveform on the computer screen,
you can select certain sound portions with great precision and arrange them in any sequence. When editing, the best way to cut is, of course, when you can find a brief silence.
To synchronize the sound track with the video, the computer provides each
video frame and the accompanying sound portion with a corresponding address.
The most widely used address system is called the SMPTE time code. The displayed
time code reads out hours, minutes, seconds, and frames (30 frames per second).
(See chapter 12 for a more detailed explanation of the SMPTE time code.)
Automated Dialogue Replacement
Large postproduction rooms, like the ones for digital cinema, have an area specifically for automated dialogue replacement. Although it’s sometimes called “automatic
dialogue replacement,” the process is anything but automatic. It requires a fairly
large video projection that allows the talent to see the video playback of themselves
while repeating their lines in perfect lip sync, perhaps with a dash or two of added
emotion—all in the interest of improving the original audio.
1. See Stanley R. Alten, Audio in Media, 8th ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008),
pp. 387–89.
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SOUND AESTHETICS
SYNTHESIZED SOUND
If we can translate sound into digital information and then manipulate it, could we
not use the computer to create digital information that can be translated into actual
sound? Yes. The audio synthesizer, commonly called a keyboard, can generate a
great variety of complex frequencies that we perceive as sounds produced by musical instruments. A single key can approximate the sound of a piano, an electric or
acoustic guitar, a drum, a trumpet, and many more instruments. Such a keyboard,
which you can easily carry under your arm, offers more sounds than a rock band
and a symphony orchestra combined.
The computer can also be used to grab brief portions of a regular sound, such
as a telephone ring, translate it into digital form, store it, and make it available for
all sorts of manipulations. With the help of sampling software, you can repeat the
telephone ring as often as you want, transform it into a shrill beat, speed it up or
slow it down, play it backward, have it overlap, or distort it to the point that you no
longer recognize the original sound.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Sounds and sound
mixes can be entirely
computer-generated.
SOUND AESTHETICS
Even the most sophisticated digital sound equipment is of little use if you cannot
use your ears—that is, exercise some aesthetic judgment. Sounds can make us feel
about pictures in a certain way. You can make the same scene appear happy or sad
by simply putting some happy or sad sounds behind it.
There are five basic aesthetic factors that can help you achieve an effective
audio/video relationship: context, figure/ground, sound perspective, continuity,
and energy.
Context
In most studio sound-recording sessions, we try to eliminate as much of the ambient
sound as possible. In the field, however, the ambient sounds are often as important as
the principal ones: they help establish the general context of the event. If you shoot
a scene at a busy downtown intersection, the environmental sounds of cars, horns,
streetcars, and buses; people talking, laughing, and moving about; the doorman’s
whistle for a taxi; and the occasional police siren—all are important clues to where
you are, even if you don’t show these sound sources in the video portion.
Think of recording a small orchestra. If you do a studio recording, the coughing
of one of the crewmembers or musicians during an especially soft passage would
certainly prompt a retake. Not so in the context of a live concert. We have learned
to interpret the occasional coughing and other such environmental sounds as proof
of the live quality of the event.
As pointed out previously, in normal field recording you should try to use one
mic and audio track for the primary sound source, such as a reporter standing on a
street corner, and another mic (usually the camera mic) and the second audio track
for recording environmental sounds. Separating the sounds on different tracks as
much as possible makes it easier to mix the two in the proper proportions in postproduction editing.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Sounds can establish
the event context.
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Figure/Ground
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The figure/ground
principle in audio refers
to making a selected
sound or group of sounds
(figure) louder and more
distinct than the ambient
sounds (ground).
One important perceptual factor is the figure/ground principle. This refers to our
tendency to organize our environment into a relatively mobile figure (a person or car)
and a relatively stable background (wall, houses, or mountains). If we expand this
principle a little, we can say that we single out an event that is important to us and
assign it the role of the figure while relegating all other events to the background or, as
we just called it, the environment. For example, if you are waiting for your friend and
finally see her in a crowd, she immediately becomes the focus of your attention—the
foreground—while the rest of the people become the background. The same happens with sound. We have the ability to perceive, within limits, the sounds we want
or need to hear as the figure while pushing all other sounds into the background.
When re-creating such a figure/ground relationship with sound, we usually make
the “figure” somewhat louder or give it a distinct quality in relation to the ambient
sounds. In the same way, we can easily bring a background sound up in volume to
become the figure and relegate the other sounds to the ground.
Sound Perspective
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Close-ups need closer
sound presence than
do long shots.
Sound perspective means that close-up pictures are matched with relatively close
sounds, and long shots are matched with sounds that seem to come from farther
away. Close sounds have more presence than far sounds—a sound quality that
makes us feel as though we are near the sound source. Faraway sounds seem to be
more distant from us.
As you may recall, this desirable variation of sound presence is virtually eliminated when using lavalier mics. Because the distance between mic and mouth
remains the same regardless of whether the performer is seen in a close-up or a
long shot, the sound has the same presence. This is why you should use boom mics
when controlling sound presence. The boom mic can be moved close to a performer
during a close-up and somewhat farther away during a long shot—a simple solution
to a potential audio problem.
Continuity
Sound continuity is especially important in postproduction. You may have noticed
the sound quality of a reporter’s voice change depending on whether he or she was
speaking on- or off-camera. In this case, the reporter used one type of microphone
when on-camera and another when off-camera; the reporter also changed environments from on-location to the studio. This change in microphones and locations
gives speech a distinctly different quality. Although this difference may not be too
noticeable during the actual recording, it becomes readily apparent when the two
audio sources are edited together in the final show.
What should you do to avoid such continuity problems? Use identical microphones for the on- and off-camera narration or at least ones that sound alike and, if
necessary, mix the off-camera narration with some of the separately recorded ambient sounds. You can feed the ambient sounds to the reporter through earphones
while recording the voice-over narration, which will help the reporter re-create the
on-site energy.
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SOUND AESTHETICS
Sound is also a chief element for establishing visual continuity. A rhythmically
precise piece of music can help achieve continuity in a series of pictures that otherwise do not cut together very well. Music and sound are often the critical link among
abruptly changing shots and scenes.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Sound is an important
factor in providing
shot continuity.
Energy
Unless you want to achieve a special effect through contradiction, you should match
the general energy of the pictures with a similar energy of sound. Energy refers to
all the factors in a scene that communicate a certain degree of aesthetic force and
power. Obviously, high-energy scenes, such as a series of close-ups of a rock band
in action, can stand higher-energy sounds than a more tranquil scene, such as lovers walking on a beach. Also, as you have just learned, close-ups should have more
sound presence and energy than should long shots.
The easiest way to match audio/video energies is to control the sound volume
and/or presence. High-energy scenes should be matched with louder sounds than
low-energy scenes. A close-up of two people confessing their love by whispering
into each other’s ears needs more sound presence than if the scene were shown in
a long shot.
Good audio depends a great deal on your ability to sense the general energy of
video sequences and adjust the volume and the presence of the sound accordingly.
But what are the correct levels? You simply need to sense them. No volume meter
in the world can substitute for your aesthetic judgment.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Sound Pickup Principle
Microphones transduce (transform) the sounds we hear into electric energy—the
audio signal.
▶ Directional Characteristics of Mics
Omnidirectional mics can hear equally well from all directions; unidirectional, or cardioid,
mics can best hear sounds that come from the front. Hyper- and supercardioid mics make
faraway sounds that lie in the pickup pattern appear close to the mic.
▶ Mechanics of Mics
Classified by how they are made, there are three types of mics: dynamic (the most
rugged), condenser (high-quality but sensitive), and ribbon (high-quality and
very sensitive).
▶ Use of Mics
Classified by how they are used, microphones can be divided into six types: small lavalier
mics, which are clipped to the clothing of the performer; hand mics, which are carried
by the performer; boom mics, which are suspended from a fishpole or a studio boom
assembly; desk and stand mics, which are mounted on a tabletop stand or an adjustable
floor stand; headset mics, which are worn by the performer and include earphones with
a split audio feed; and wireless, or radio, mics, which broadcast the audio signal from a
transmitter to a receiver. Treat all mics gently and test them before going on the air.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
High-energy pictures
should be matched with
high-energy sounds;
low-energy pictures, with
low-energy sounds.
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▶ Audio Connectors
As with video equipment, check whether the audio connectors fit their respective jacks.
Carry adapters but use them only in an emergency.
▶ Audio Mixer and Audio Console
The mixer amplifies the incoming sound signals, controls the volume of each sound,
and mixes (combines and balances) them in specific ways. A field mixer is small and
normally has a maximum of four inputs. The audio console is much larger; it has many
more inputs, each of which has a volume control and various quality and sound selection
controls.
▶ Digital Recording and Playback
Digital recording and playback equipment includes compact discs (including read/write
CDs), digital versatile discs (DVDs), and mini discs; digital cart systems; and computer
hard drives and flash memory devices.
▶ Analog Recording and Playback
High-quality reel-to-reel audiotape recorders (ATRs) use various tape widths, depending
on the number of audio tracks recorded on them.
▶ Audio Postproduction
Audio postproduction consists of sweetening, mixing various sound tracks, or creating
new ones. The audio postproduction room contains a variety of sound equipment, most
notably a digital audio workstation (DAW).
▶ Sound Waveform
The sound waveform is a graphic representation of the dynamics of various sounds as
they progress in time. It facilitates sound editing.
▶ Synthesized Sound
Once sounds are in digital form, the computer can manipulate them. Computerized
sound equipment, such as the keyboard, can create—synthesize—its own sounds.
▶ Sound Aesthetics
The five basic aesthetic factors that can help you achieve an effective audio/video
relationship are context, figure/ground, sound perspective, continuity, and energy.
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SOUND AESTHETICS
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
AUDIO Audio introduction
ZVL2
AUDIO Microphones pickup patterns
ZVL3
AUDIO Microphones transducer dynamic mic
ZVL4
AUDIO Microphones transducer condenser mic
ZVL5
AUDIO Microphones transducer ribbon mic
ZVL6
AUDIO Microphones mic types lav mic
ZVL7
AUDIO Microphones mic types camera mic
ZVL8
AUDIO Microphones mic types boom mic
ZVL9
AUDIO Microphones mic types wireless mic
ZVL10
AUDIO Systems try it
ZVL11
AUDIO Consoles and mixers parts
ZVL12
AUDIO Consoles and mixers signals
ZVL13
AUDIO Consoles and mixers control | try it
ZVL14
AUDIO Consoles and mixers calibration
ZVL15
AUDIO Consoles and mixers
ZVL16
AUDIO Connectors
ZVL17
AUDIO Connectors overview
117
120
121
121
122
124
126
128
132
134
138
139
139
134
134
135
136
8
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
additive primary colors Red, green, and blue. Ordinary white
light (sunlight) can be separated into the three primary
light colors. When these three colored lights are combined
in various proportions, all other colors can be reproduced.
foot-candle (fc) The unit of measurement of illumination, or
the amount of light that falls on an object. One foot-candle
is 1 candlepower of light (1 lumen) that falls on a 1-squarefoot area located 1 foot away from the light source.
attached shadow Shadow that is on the object itself. It cannot
be seen independent of (detached from) the object.
high-key lighting Light background and ample light on the
scene. Has nothing to do with the vertical positioning of
the key light.
background light Illumination of the set pieces and the backdrop. Also called set light.
back light Illumination from behind the subject and opposite
the camera; usually a spotlight.
baselight Even, nondirectional (diffused) light necessary for
the camera to operate optimally. Refers to the overall light
intensity.
cast shadow Shadow that is produced by an object and thrown
(cast) onto another surface. It can be seen independent of
the object.
color temperature Relative reddishness or bluishness of white
light, as measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. The norm for
indoor video lighting is 3,200K; for outdoors, 5,600K.
contrast The difference between the brightest and the darkest
spots in a video image.
diffused light Light that illuminates a relatively large area and
creates soft shadows.
directional light Light that illuminates a relatively small area
and creates harsh, clearly defined shadows.
falloff The speed (degree) with which a light picture portion
turns into shadow areas. Fast falloff means that the light
areas turn abruptly into shadow areas and there is a great
difference in brightness between light and shadow areas.
Slow falloff indicates a very gradual change from light to
dark and a minimal brightness difference between light
and shadow areas.
fill light Additional light on the opposite side of the camera
from the key light to illuminate shadow areas and thereby
reduce falloff ; usually done with floodlights.
floodlight A lighting instrument that produces diffused light.
incident light Light that strikes the object directly from its
source. To measure incident light, point the light meter at
the camera lens or into the lighting instruments.
key light Principal source of illumination; usually a spotlight.
light plot A plan, similar to a floor plan, that shows the type,
size (wattage), and location of the lighting instruments
relative to the scene to be illuminated and the general
direction of the light beams.
low-key lighting Fast-falloff lighting with dark background and
selectively illuminated areas. Has nothing to do with the
vertical positioning of the key light.
lux European standard unit for measuring light intensity.
One lux is 1 lumen (1 candlepower) of light that falls on a
surface of 1 square meter located 1 meter away from the
light source. 10.75 lux = 1 foot-candle. Most lighting people
figure roughly 10 lux = 1 foot-candle.
photographic principle The triangular arrangement of key,
back, and fill lights. Also called triangle, or three-point,
lighting.
reflected light Light that is bounced off the illuminated object.
To measure reflected light, point the light meter close to
the object from the direction of the camera.
RGB Stands for red, green, and blue—the basic colors of
television.
spotlight A lighting instrument that produces directional, relatively undiffused light.
triangle lighting The triangular arrangement of key, back, and
fill lights. Also called three-point lighting and photographic
principle.
white balance The adjustments of the color circuits in the camera to produce white color in lighting of various color temperatures (relative reddishness or bluishness of white light).
Light, Color, and Lighting
Lighting has changed radically over the past 10 years—mostly because digital cameras
and their lenses are more sensitive and need less light than the older analog cameras.
Concurrent with the development of cameras that are more light sensitive are lighting
instruments that are highly efficient. For example, some of the newer fluorescent-type
instruments produce more light with much lower wattage and much less heat than the
traditional incandescent lights.
Although the light sensitivity of video cameras encouraged video- and filmmakers to
shoot many scenes in available light with no additional lighting instruments, good
lighting still calls for deliberate illumination—to control where and from what angle
the light falls, whether the light is soft or harsh, and what color the light has. Lighting
also, if not especially, calls for the control of shadows and their relative transparency.
This chapter will introduce you to the basic principles of lighting and how they can be
adapted to various studio and field techniques. ZVL1 LIGHTS Light introduction
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Lighting is deliberate
illumination and
shadow control
▶ LIGHT
Directional and diffused light, light intensity and how to measure it, measuring incident
and reflected light, and contrast
▶ SHADOWS
Attached and cast shadows and controlling falloff
▶ COLOR
Additive and subtractive mixing, the color television receiver and generated colors,
and color temperature and white-balancing
▶ LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS
Spotlights, floodlights, and instruments for specific tasks
▶ LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
Operation of lights, lighting safety, studio lighting and the photographic principle,
and field lighting
153
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L I G H T, C O LO R , A N D L I G H T I N G
LIGHT
Learning about light and shadows seems like a strange assignment, considering that
you have been seeing light and shadows all your life. But it makes more sense when
you realize that what you see on a video or film screen is nothing but blobs of light
and shadows and that lighting is the calculated interplay of these two elements.
Types of Light
No matter how the light is technically generated, you will work with two basic types:
directional and diffused.
Directional light has a precise beam that causes harsh shadows. The sun, a
flashlight, and the headlights of a car all produce directional light. You can aim
directional light at a specific area without much spill into other areas.
Diffused light causes a more general illumination. Its diffused beam spreads
out quickly and illuminates a large area. Because diffused light seems to come from
all directions (is omnidirectional), it has no clearly defined shadows; they seem soft
and transparent. A good example of diffused light occurs on a foggy day, when the
fog operates like a huge diffusion filter for the sun. Observe the shadows in bright
sunlight and on an overcast or foggy day; they are quite distinct and dense in sunlight
but hardly visible in fog. The fluorescent lighting in elevators and supermarkets is
exclusively diffused light. Diffused light is used to minimize the harsh shadows on
a face or an object and to light large areas.
Light Intensity
An important aspect of lighting is controlling light intensity, or how much light falls
onto an object. Also called light level, light intensity is measured in American footcandles or in European lux. A foot-candle is simply a convenient measurement of
illumination—the amount of light that falls on an object. One foot-candle (fc) is
1 candlepower of light (called a lumen) that falls on a 1-square-foot area located 1 foot
away from the light source. The European measure for light intensity is lux—1 lumen
of light that falls on a surface of 1 square meter that is 1 meter away from the light
source. If you have foot-candles and want to find lux, multiply the foot-candle figure
by 10. Twenty foot-candles are approximately 200 lux (20 × 10 = 200). If you have
lux and want to find foot-candles, divide the lux number by 10. Two thousand lux
are approximately 200 fc (2,000 ÷ 10 = 200). A room that has an overall illumination
of 200 fc, or 2,000 lux, has quite a bit of light or, more technically, has a fairly high
degree of light intensity. ZVL2 LIGHTS Measurement meters
Baselight Sometimes you may hear the lighting director (LD) or the video operator
(VO) complain that there is not enough baselight. Baselight refers to general illumination, or the overall light intensity, such as the 200 fc in the room we just talked
about. You determine baselight levels by pointing a light meter (which reads footcandles or lux) from the illuminated object or scene toward the camera. To check the
baselight of your living room, you would walk to the different corners of the room
and point the light meter toward a real or imaginary camera position (probably in
the middle of the room). ZVL3 LIGHTS Measurement baselight
LIGHT
Although some camera manufacturers claim that their cameras can see in the
dark, you need a certain amount of light to make the cameras see the colors and the
shadows that you see when looking at the scene. In technical parlance you need to
activate the imaging device and the other electronics in the camera to produce an
optimal video signal at a given ƒ-stop. Although newer cameras and lenses are much
more sensitive than older ones and need less light, good, crisp video still demands
a generous amount of illumination. A small camcorder may be able to produce
recognizable pictures at light levels as low as 1 or 2 lux; but for high-quality pictures,
you need more light. Top-of-the-line studio cameras may still require about 1,000
lux (100 fc) at an ƒ-stop of about ƒ/5.6 for optimal picture quality.1
Gain If there is insufficient light even at the maximum aperture (lowest ƒ-stop
number), you need to activate the gain circuits of the camera. Most consumer
camcorders do this automatically. On camcorders, studio cameras, and ENG/EFP
(electronic news gathering/electronic field production) cameras, the gain is activated
either via the camera control unit (CCU) or by a switch on the camera. The gain will
boost the weak video signal electronically. HDV cameras can tolerate a relatively
high gain before they show picture “noise,” that is, artifacts that show up as colored
specks. When video quality is of primary concern, it is better to raise the baselight
level than to activate the gain switch.
Measuring Illumination
In critical lighting setups, before turning on the cameras you may want to check
whether there is enough baselight and whether the contrast between the light and
dark areas falls within the acceptable limits (normally 50:1 to 100:1, depending on
the camera; see Contrast on the next page). You can check this with a light meter,
which simply measures the number of foot-candles or lux emitted by the lighting
instruments—the incident light (what enters the lens or what comes from a specific
instrument) or the reflected light (bouncing off the lighted object).
Incident light An incident-light reading gives you an idea of the baselight level in
a given area, which translates into how much light the camera receives from a particular location on the set. To measure incident light, stand next to or in front of the
illuminated person or object and point the light meter toward the camera lens. Such
a quick reading of incident light is especially helpful when checking the prevailing
light levels at a remote location.
If you want a more specific reading of the light intensity from certain instruments,
point the light meter into the lights. To check the relative evenness of the incident
light, point the light meter toward the major camera positions while walking around
the set. If the needle or digital read-out stays at approximately the same intensity
level, the lighting is fairly even. If the needle or read-out dips way down, the lighting
setup has “holes” (unlighted or underlighted areas).
1. An ƒ-stop between ƒ/5.6 and ƒ/8 produces an optimal depth of field. This is why camera specifications use ƒ/5.6 or ƒ/8 as the norm for optimal light levels. Of course, with larger apertures
you can shoot with less light.
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Reflected light The reading of reflected light is done primarily to check the contrast
between light and dark areas. To measure reflected light, stand close to the lighted
object or person and point the light meter at the light and shadow sides from the
direction of the camera. Be careful not to block the light whose reflection you are
trying to measure. As mentioned before, the difference between the two readings
will indicate the lighting contrast. Note that the contrast is determined not only by
how much light falls on the object but also by how much light the object reflects
back into the camera. The more reflective the object, the higher the reflected-light
reading will be. A mirror reflects almost all the light falling onto it; a black velour
cloth reflects only a small portion.
Contrast
Contrast refers to the difference between the brightest and the darkest spots in a
video image. Contrary to your eye, which can distinguish subtle brightness steps over
a contrast ratio with a wide range, even high-end video cameras are usually limited
to a lower contrast range. Whereas some equipment salespeople might tell you that
high-end video cameras can tolerate a contrast that is close to that of our vision, LDs
and VOs say that too high a contrast is one of the most common obstacles to producing optimal video. Believe the people who use the cameras rather than sell them.
Video professionals prefer a contrast ratio for studio cameras that does not exceed
100:1. The high number of the 100:1 contrast ratio indicates that the brightest spot in
the scene is 100 times more intense than the darkest spot. Small digital camcorders
will have trouble producing high-quality video that shows bright highlights as well
as transparent shadows if the contrast ratio is higher than 50:1.
Measuring contrast To measure contrast, point a reflected-light meter close to the
bright side of the object, then close to the shadow side. (You will read more about
measuring contrast in the next section.) The light meter reads the reflected light, first
of the bright side (a high reading), then of the shadow side (a low reading). If, for
example, the light meter reads 800 fc in an especially bright area, such as one side
of the reporter’s face in direct sunlight, and only 10 fc in the dark background, the
contrast ratio is 80:1 (800 ÷ 10 = 80). Even with a fairly good digital camcorder, this
contrast may be too high for good pictures. ZVL4 LIGHTS Measurement contrast
High-end small camcorders and all professional cameras will indicate just which
picture areas are overexposed by showing a vibrating zebra-striped pattern over
them. Most higher-end camcorders (handheld or shoulder-mounted) let you switch
between a 100 percent and a 70 percent zebra setting. In the normal 100 percent
mode, all picture areas that show a zebra pattern are overexposed. The 70 percent
setting is used primarily to help you achieve correct skin tones. When the zebra
stripes appear over the bright areas of the face, you have got the correct exposure.
As you know, the usual remedy for an overexposed image is to stop down
the lens, that is, select a higher ƒ-stop. But, while eliminating the white glare, you
also compress the shadow areas into a dense, uniform black. So how can you
control contrast?
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◾ If you are outdoors, don’t place the person in a sunny spot; move him into the
shade. If that is not possible, lighten up the harsh shadows (as explained later
in this chapter) or activate one of the neutral density (ND) filters that are built
into the camcorder. They act like sunglasses, reducing the overall brightness
without affecting the colors too much.
◾ Indoors you can reduce the light intensity by moving the lighting instrument farther away from the object, putting a scrim (light-diffusing material)
in front of the lighting instrument, or using an electronic dimmer to reduce
the intensity of the main light source. (How to do all this is explained later
in this chapter.)
◾ Remove overly bright objects from the scene, especially if you are operating
with an automatic iris. A pure white object always presents a lighting hazard,
no matter how high a contrast the camera can tolerate. The real problem is
that even if the camera can manage a high contrast ratio, the average television set cannot always do likewise. ZVL5 LIGHTS Measurement try it
SHADOWS
Although we are quite conscious of light and light changes, we are usually unaware of
shadows, unless we seek comfort in them on a particularly hot day or if they interfere
with what we want to see. Because shadow control is such an important aspect of
lighting, let’s take a closer look at shadows and how they influence our perception.
Once you are aware of shadows, you will be surprised by the great variety of
shadows that surround you. Some seem part of the object, such as the shadow on
your coffee cup; others seem to fall onto other surfaces, such as the shadow of a telephone pole that is cast onto the street. Some shadows are dark and dense, as though
they were brushed on with thick, black paint; others are so light and subtle that they
are hard to see. Some change gradually from light to
dark; others do so abruptly. Despite the great variety of
shadows, there are only two basic types: attached and
cast. ZVL6 LIGHTS Light and shadow light
Attached Shadows
Attached shadows seem affixed to the object and cannot be seen independent of it. Take your coffee cup and
hold it next to a window or table lamp. The shadow
opposite the light source (window or lamp) on the cup
is the attached shadow. Even if you wiggle the cup or
move it up and down, the attached shadow remains
part of the cup. SEE 8.1
Attached shadows help us perceive the basic form
of an object. Without attached shadows the actual
8.1 ATTACHED SHADOW
The attached shadow is always bound to the illuminated
object. It cannot be seen separate from the object.
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8.2 ATTACHED SHADOWS DEFINE SHAPE
Attached shadows help define the basic shape
of the object. Without attached shadows, we
perceive a triangle on the left; with attached
shadows, we perceive a cone on the right.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Attached shadows reveal
form and texture.
shape of an object may remain ambiguous when seen as a picture. In the figure
above, the object on the left looks like a triangle; but when you see it with the attached shadows, the triangle becomes a cone. SEE 8.2
Attached shadows also contribute to perception of texture. A great amount
of prominent attached shadows emphasizes texture; without them things look
smoother. Attached shadows on a Styrofoam ball make it look like a moonscape;
but when the attached shadows are removed through flat lighting, the ball looks
smooth. SEE 8.3 AND 8.4
If you had to shoot a commercial for skin cream, you would want to light the
model’s face in such a way that the attached shadows are so soft that they are hardly
noticeable. SEE 8.5 But if you wanted to emphasize the rich, deep texture of the famous carving of the Aztec Sun Stone (generally known as the Aztec calendar), you
would need to light for prominent attached shadows. SEE 8.6 Highly transparent
shadows would make the patterns in the stone hard to see. SEE 8.7 (How to control
attached shadows is discussed in the context of lighting techniques later in this
chapter.) ZVL7 LIGHTS Light and shadow attached
Because we normally see the main light source as coming from above (the
sun, for example), we are used to seeing attached shadows below protrusions and
8.3 ROUGH TEXTURE
8.4 SMOOTH TEXTURE
Prominent attached shadows emphasize texture. The surface of
this Styrofoam ball looks rough.
Here the attached shadows are almost eliminated, so the
surface of the ball looks relatively smooth.
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SHADOWS
8.5 ATTACHED SHADOWS MINIMIZED
To emphasize the smoothness of the
model’s face, attached shadows are kept to
a minimum.
8.6 ATTACHED SHADOWS EMPHASIZED
With the light coming from the side, the attached shadows on
this Aztec Sun Stone are more prominent, and the rich, deep
texture is properly emphasized.
8.7 ATTACHED SHADOWS MINIMIZED
With the light shining directly on the Sun Stone, the lack of attached shadows makes the intricate carvings look relatively flat.
indentations. When you lower the principal light source so that it illuminates an
object, such as a face, from below eye level, we experience this departure from the
norm as mysterious or spooky. There is probably not a single sci-fi or horror movie
that does not use such a shadow-reversal effect at least once. SEE 8.8 ZVL8 LIGHTS
Design horror
8.8 REVERSAL OF ATTACHED SHADOWS
The below-eye-level light source causes the attached shadows to fall opposite their expected
positions. We interpret such unusual shadow
placement as spooky or mysterious.
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8.9 CAST SHADOWS
Cast shadows are usually cast by the
object onto some other surface. In
this case the cast shadows of the
parking meters fall on the sidewalk.
Cast Shadows
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Cast shadows help tell
us where things are and
when events take place.
Unlike attached shadows, cast shadows can be seen independent of the object causing them. If you make some shadowgraphs on a wall, for instance, you can focus on
the shadows without showing your hand. The shadows of telephone poles, traffic
signs, or trees cast onto the street or a nearby wall are all examples of cast shadows.
Even if the cast shadows touch the base of the objects causing them, they remain
cast shadows and will not become attached ones. SEE 8.9
Cast shadows help us see where an object is located relative to its surroundings
and help orient us in time, at least to some extent. Take another look at figure 8.9.
Stretching across the sidewalk, the relatively long cast shadows of the parking meters
indicate early morning or late afternoon. ZVL9 LIGHTS Light and shadow cast
Falloff
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Falloff defines the contrast
between light and dark
areas and how quickly
light turns into shadow.
Falloff indicates the degree of change from light to shadow. Specifically, it refers to
the relative abruptness—the speed—with which light areas turn into shadow areas,
or the brightness contrast between the light and shadow sides of an object. An abrupt
change from light to dense shadow illustrates fast falloff ; it indicates a sharp edge or
corner. SEE 8.10 Slow falloff shows a more continuous change from light to shadow;
the gradual shading indicates a curved object. SEE 8.11
Fast falloff can also refer to a high contrast between the light and shadow sides
of a face. When the shadow side is only slightly darker than the light side and the
shadows are highly transparent, the falloff is slow. If both sides of the face are equally
bright, there is no falloff. The perception of texture also depends on falloff. Fast-falloff
lighting emphasizes wrinkles in a face; slow-falloff or no-falloff lighting hides them
(see figure 8.5). ZVL10 LIGHTS Falloff fast | slow | none | try it
When generating lighting effects with a computer, the relationship between attached and cast shadows and the rate of falloff have to be carefully calculated. For
example, if you simulate a light source striking the object from screen-right, the attached shadows must obviously be on its screen-left side (opposite the light source),
and the cast shadows must extend in the screen-left direction. Such careful attention
to shadow consistency is also important if you cut a live scene electronically into a
photographic background (a process called chroma keying; see chapter 9).
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8.10 FAST FALLOFF
8.11 SLOW FALLOFF
The change of light to shadow areas on these buildings is
very sudden. The falloff is extremely fast, indicating an edge
or a corner.
The attached shadow on this balcony gets gradually darker.
The falloff is relatively slow, indicating a curved surface.
COLOR
In this section we focus on the basic process of color mixing, the color television
receiver and generated colors, and color temperature and white-balancing.
Additive and Subtractive Color Mixing
You will undoubtedly recall the discussion about the beam splitter that divides the
white light transmitted by the lens into the three primary light colors—red, green, and
blue (RGB)—and how we can produce all video colors by adding the red, green, and
blue light in certain proportions. These are called additive primary colors because
we mix them by adding one colored light beam on top of others.
If you had three identical slide projectors, you could put a red slide into one, a
green slide in the second, and a blue slide in the third and aim them at the screen so
that their beams overlap slightly. SEE 8.12 What you would perceive is similar to the
three overlapping circles shown in the figure. The overlapped RGB light primaries
8.12 ADDITIVE COLOR MIXING
Red
Yellow
Magenta
White
Green
Blue
Cyan
When mixing colored light, the additive
primaries are red, green, and blue (RGB).
All other colors can be achieved by mixing
certain quantities of red, green, and blue
light. For example, the additive mixture of
red and green light produces yellow.
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The additive primary
colors of light are red,
green, and blue.
L I G H T, C O LO R , A N D L I G H T I N G
show that mixing red and green light adds up to yellow; red and blue mix to a bluish
red called magenta; and green and blue combine to make a greenish blue called cyan.
Where all three primary light colors overlap, you get white. By dimming all three
projectors equally, you get a variety of grays. By turning them all off, you get black.
By dimming any one or all projectors independently, you can achieve a wide variety
of colors. For example, if the red projector burns at full intensity and the green one
at two-thirds intensity with the blue projector turned off, you get a shade of orange.
The more you dim the green projector, the more reddish the orange becomes.
You may remember from your finger-painting days that the primary colors
were red, blue, and yellow and that mixing red and green paint together does not
produce a clean yellow but rather a muddy dark brown. Obviously, paint mixes differently from light. When paint is mixed, its built-in filters subtract certain colors
(light frequencies) rather than add them. We call this mixing process subtractive
color mixing. Because the video system processes colored light rather than paint,
we concentrate here on additive mixing.
Color Television Receiver and Generated Colors
The best way to explain the formation of a color video image is to use an old standard color television set. Instead of the three slide projectors we used for additive
color mixing, a CRT (cathode ray tube) color television receiver uses three electron
guns in the neck of the picture tube that shoot their beams at myriad red, green,
and blue dots or rectangles on the inside of the television screen. As you recall from
figure 3.2, one of the three guns hits the red dots, the other the green dots, and the
third the blue dots. The harder the guns hit the dots, the more the dots light up. If
the red gun and the green gun hit their dots with full intensity with the blue gun
turned off, you get yellow. When all three guns fire at full intensity, you get white; at
half intensity, you get gray. All three guns work overtime when you are watching a
black-and-white show on a color television set. In the flat-panel displays, the same
principle of additive color mixing applies, although their image formation is quite
different from the CRT principle.
Because the video signal consists of electric energy rather than actual colors,
couldn’t we produce certain colors without a camera simply by stimulating the three
electron guns with certain voltages? Yes, definitely! In a slightly more complex form,
this is how computers generate millions of colors. The various colors in titles and
other graphic displays, and the colors on a Web page, are all based on the principle
of additive color mixing.
Color Temperature and White-balancing
In chapter 5 you learned that white-balancing is an important operational camera
feature. But what exactly is it, and why is it necessary? You need to white-balance a
camera because not all light sources produce light of the same degree of whiteness.
As mentioned in chapter 5, a candle produces a more reddish light than does the
midday sun or a supermarket’s fluorescent lights, which give off a more bluish light.
Even the same light source does not always produce the same color of light: the
beam of a flashlight with a weak battery looks quite reddish, for example, but when
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fully charged the flashlight throws a more intense, and also whiter, light beam. The
same color temperature change happens when you dim lights: the more you dim
the lights, the more reddish they get. The camera needs to adjust to these differences
to keep colors the same under different lighting conditions.
Color temperature The standard by which we measure the relative reddishness or
bluishness of white light is called color temperature. The color differences of white
light are measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. The more bluish the white light looks,
the higher the color temperature and the higher the K value; the more reddish it is,
the lower its color temperature and therefore the lower the K value.
Keep in mind that color temperature has nothing to do with how hot the actual
light source gets. You can touch a fluorescent tube even though it burns at a high
color temperature; but you wouldn’t do the same with the incandescent lamp in a
reading light, which burns at a much lower color temperature.
Because outdoor light is much more bluish than normal indoor illumination, two
color temperature standards have been developed for lamps in lighting instruments:
5,600K for outdoor illumination and 3,200K for indoor illumination. This means that
the outdoor instruments approximate the bluishness of outdoor light; the white light
of indoor lighting is more reddish. ZVL11 LIGHTS Color temperature light sources
Because color temperature is measured by the relative bluishness or reddishness
of white light, couldn’t you raise the color temperature of an indoor light by putting
a slightly blue filter in front of it, or lower the color temperature of an outdoor lamp
by using a slightly orange filter? Yes, you can. Such color filters, called gels or color
media, are a convenient way of converting outdoor instruments for indoor lighting
and vice versa.
Most often, you will have to raise the color temperature of 3,200K indoor lights
to match the bluish outdoor light coming through a window. Simply take a piece
of light-blue plastic (available in most photo stores) and attach it to the front of the
indoor instruments, then white-balance the camera again. Although the color temperatures of the outdoor light (coming through the window) and the indoor light
(instruments) may not match exactly, they will be close enough for the camera to
achieve a proper white balance. Similar filters are used inside some cameras for
rough white-balancing.
White-balancing Recall that white balance refers to adjusting the camera so
that it reproduces a white object as white on the screen regardless of whether it is
illuminated by a high-color-temperature source (the sun at high noon, fluorescent
lamps, and 5,600K instruments) or a low-color-temperature source (candlelight,
incandescent lights, and 3,200K instruments). When white-balancing, the camera
adjusts the RGB signals electronically so that they mix into white. Most small camcorders have an automatic white-balancing mechanism. The camera measures more
or less accurately the color temperature of the prevailing light and adjusts the RGB
circuits accordingly.
Large camcorders and ENG/EFP cameras have a semiautomatic white-balance
control that is more accurate than a fully automatic one. The disadvantage is that
you must white-balance every time you move into a new lighting environment,
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Color temperature,
expressed in K (Kelvin),
measures the relative
reddishness or bluishness
of white light. Reddish
white light has a low
color temperature; bluish
white light has a high
color temperature.
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such as from indoors to outdoors or from the fluorescent lights of a supermarket to
the office that is illuminated by a desk lamp. The overriding advantage is that you
white-balance a camera in the specific lighting in which you are shooting. When
using a fully automatic white balance, you are never quite sure just what the camera
considers to be white. As a result, the yellow lemons on the table might look green,
and the white tablecloth appears light blue.
Higher-end camcorders allow you to use filters to perform a rough white balance
under extremely reddish (low K value) or very bluish (high K value) light. The RGB
mix is then “fine-tuned” with white-balance circuitry. Studio cameras or ENG/EFP
cameras that are connected to a camera cable are white-balanced from the CCU or
the RCU (remote control unit) by the video operator.
Proper white-balancing is very important for color continuity. For example, if
you video-record a performer in a white shirt first outdoors and then indoors, his
shirt should not look bluish in the outdoor scene or reddish in the indoor scene; it
should look equally white in both. SEE 8.13
How to white-balance To white-balance a camera with a semiautomatic system,
take a screen-filling close-up of a white card, a white shirt, or even a clean tissue
and press the white-balance button. Some camera utility bags have a white patch
sewn into them, which gives you a handy white-balancing standard wherever you
go. The viewfinder display (usually a flashing light) will tell you when the camera is
seeing true white. Be sure that the white object fills the entire viewfinder and that
it is located in the light that actually illuminates the scene you are shooting. For
example, don’t white-balance the camera in bright sunlight outside the hotel and
No white balance
Scene has
bluish tinge
Scene has
reddish tinge
Without
adjustment
White shirt has bluish tinge
White balance
Blue channel
reduced
R
R
G
G
B
B
Without
adjustment
White shirt has reddish tinge
Red channel
reduced
R
R
G
G
B
B
White shirt appears white
White shirt appears white
8.13 WHITE BALANCE
To counteract tinting caused by variations in color temperature, you must white-balance the camera. This adjusts the RGB channels
to compensate for the unwanted color cast and make white look white.
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then proceed to video-record the fashion show in the hotel lobby. (If you do, you
may find that the video colors are quite different from the actual colors the models
wore.) You need to white-balance every time you move into a new lighting environment; even if the light seems the same to the naked eye, the camera will detect the
difference. ZVL12 LIGHTS Color temperature white balance | controlling | try it
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Unless the camera has
a fully automatic whitebalance system, you need
to white-balance every
time you enter a new
lighting environment.
LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS
Despite the many lighting instruments available, there are basically only two types:
spotlights and floodlights. Spotlights throw a directional, more or less defined beam
that illuminates a specific area; they cause harsh, dense shadows. Floodlights produce a great amount of nondirectional, diffused light that yields transparent shadows.
Some floodlights generate such slow falloff that they seem to be a shadowless light
source. Television studio lights are usually suspended from a fixed lighting grid made
of heavy steel pipes or from movable counterweighted battens. SEE 8.14 Portable
lights for ENG and EFP are lightweight and more flexible than studio lights but are
generally less sturdy and powerful.
Spotlights
Most studio spotlights have glass lenses that help collect the light rays and focus
them into a precise beam. There are also special-purpose spotlights, which differ
greatly in size and beam spread.
Fresnel spotlight The workhorse of studio spotlights is the Fresnel (pronounced
“fra-nel”). Its thin, steplike lens (developed by Augustin Jean Fresnel of France)
Power outlets
Trough to catch power cable when raising batten
8.14 STUDIO LIGHTING
BATTEN WITH SPOTLIGHTS
AND FLOODLIGHTS
Lighting battens consist of
a large grid of steel pipes
that supports the lighting
instruments. In this case the
batten can be lowered or
raised through a counterweight system.
Batten
Barn doors
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8.15 FRESNEL SPOTLIGHT
The Fresnel spotlight is the
workhorse of studio lighting.
Its lens creates a relatively
sharp light beam that can
be partially blocked by barn
doors. This spotlight can be
focused, tilted up and down,
and panned sideways by turning the knobs with a lighting
pole (a wooden pole with a
metal hook at the end).
Panning mechanism
controlled by poleoperated knob
(see inset)
Gel and scrim
holder
Fresnel
lens
Other side:
Focus knob
Pan knob
Tilt knob
directs the light into a distinct beam. SEE 8.15 It can be equipped with incandescent
TH (tungsten-halogen), or quartz, lamps or with a specific type of fluorescent globe,
not unlike the kind you may use in your home. Most Fresnel spots have a reflector
in the back of the instrument that directs most of its light toward the lens.
The spread of the beam can be adjusted from a “flood” or “spread” position to
a “spot” or “focus” position by turning a knob, ring, or spindle that moves the lampreflector unit. To flood the beam in most Fresnel spots, you move the lamp-reflector
unit toward the lens. The light beam becomes slightly more diffused (less intense),
and the shadows are softer than when focused. To focus the beam, you move the
lamp-reflector unit away from the lens. This increases the sharpness and the intensity
of the beam and makes its shadows fairly dense and distinct. SEE 8.16
You can further control the light beam with barn doors (see figure 8.17), which
are movable metal flaps that swing open and close like actual barn doors, blocking
the beam on the sides or, when rotated, on the top and the bottom. Barn doors slide
into a holder in front of the lens. To prevent them from sliding out and dropping,
guillotine-like, on somebody, secure all of them to their instruments with safety
chains or cables.
The size of Fresnel spotlights is normally given in the wattage of their quartzhalogen lamps. In the studio the most common incandescent Fresnels are the 650watt and 1K (1 kilowatt = 1,000 watts) instruments. For older, less sensitive cameras,
the 2K (2,000-watt) Fresnel is still the workhorse. All incandescent studio Fresnel
spots burn at the indoor color temperature of 3,200K.
These incandescent quartz Fresnels are being challenged by highly efficient
fluorescent spots that can produce an amazing amount of light with lamps in the
100- to 500-watt range. All lamps of the fluorescent-type spots have a built-in ballast,
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A
S
(spot)
Flood position
B
F
(flood)
Spot position
S
(spot)
F
(flood)
8.16 BEAM CONTROL OF FRESNEL SPOTLIGHT
A To flood (spread) the beam, turn the focus knob, ring, or spindle so that the lamp-reflector unit moves toward the lens.
B To spot (focus) the beam, turn the focus knob, ring, or spindle so that the lamp-reflector unit moves away from the lens.
very much like the fluorescent spiral-type lamps that
are replacing the ordinary pear-shaped household light
bulb. Although most fluorescent lamps burn at slightly
different color temperatures from the incandescent
standard (3,000K instead of 3,200K, and 5,000K instead
of 5,600K), they seem close enough for proper whitebalancing. SEE 8.17
Before using fluorescent spotlights, test them out
on-camera. Some of the older lamps emit a greenish or
blue-green tint. This slight color shift may not be visible
to the naked eye, but it is certain to show up on-camera
even if you have done some careful white-balancing.
Newer lamps are generally free of such “green spikes,”
but it is still a good idea to test them on-camera before
using them in productions that rely heavily on accurate
color reproduction.
During an elaborate EFP or a large remote telecast,
you may come across another type of Fresnel spotlight,
called an HMI. These expensive spotlights have highly
efficient arc lamps that deliver three to five times the
illumination of a normal Fresnel spot of the same size—
and use less electricity to do so. All HMI spotlights burn
at the outdoor standard of 5,600K. The disadvantage of
HMI lights is that they are quite expensive and need an
external ballast to operate properly.
8.17 FLUORESCENT FRESNEL SPOTLIGHT
This fluorescent Fresnel spot has a built-in ballast. It has a high
light output with relatively low-wattage fluorescent lamps.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Spotlights produce a
sharp, directional light
beam and cause fast falloff.
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Portable spotlights Although you can, of course, take small Fresnel spotlights
on-location, there are portable spotlights that are hybrids of spots and floods. To
keep their weight to a minimum, these portable spots are relatively small and openfaced, which means they do not have a lens. Without a lens, they cannot deliver as
precise a beam as Fresnel spots, even when in the focus position. All are designed
to be mounted on a light stand or with a clip-on device. One of the more popular
models is the Lowel Omni-light. SEE 8.18
To reduce the harshness of the light emitted by the quartz lamp, insert a metal
diffuser in front of the reflector (see figure 8.18), or attach a piece of spun-glass cloth
to the barn doors with some wooden clothespins. The spun glass, which can withstand the considerable heat of the quartz lamps, acts as an efficient diffuser.
A highly versatile small spotlight is the Lowel Pro-light. Despite its small size, it
has a relatively high light output. Instead of the customary Fresnel lens, its beam is
softened and reinforced by a prismatic glass cover. It can serve as a key or backlight
in small interview areas without causing a heat problem. SEE 8.19
An old standby is the clip light, with its reflector built into its bulb. The PAR 38
lamp is especially popular for illuminating outdoor walkways and driveways. Clip
lights are useful for supplemental illumination of small areas; you can easily clip them
onto furniture, scenery, doors, or whatever the clip will fit. Metal housings with barn
doors that fit over the clip light are also available. When using fluorescent clip lights,
check whether they burn with a high or low color temperature. SEE 8.20
Diffuser
screen
8.18 LOWEL OMNI-LIGHT
8.19 LOWEL PRO-LIGHT
This popular lightweight instrument doubles as a spot and a
floodlight and is used mainly in ENG/EFP. You can plug it into
any normal household outlet and hold it or fasten it to a light
stand or any other convenient mounting device.
The Pro-light is a small, powerful (250-watt) ENG/EFP spotlight
that can be handheld, clipped to the camera, or mounted on
a light stand. With its lenslike prismatic glass, it produces an
exceptionally even beam.
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8.20 CLIP LIGHT WITH BARN DOORS
Small spotlights, which use ordinary internal
reflector lamps, are useful for illuminating
small areas during field productions.
Metal
housing
Barn
doors
Gaffer grip
or gator clip
Internal reflector lamp
Floodlights
Floodlights have no lens and use large, relatively lowpowered lamps because their purpose is to create a
highly diffused nondirectional light rather than a sharp
beam. The diffused light creates soft and highly transparent shadows. When you illuminate an object with
floodlights, the falloff is automatically slower than with
a spotlight. The more common studio floods are the
scoop, the softlight, and the fluorescent bank.
Safety chain
Scoop Named after its scooplike reflector, the scoop
is an old-fashioned but highly useful floodlight. Scoops
can be used as key lights (the main light source) as well
as fill lights for dense shadow areas to slow down falloff
and make shadows more transparent. They are ideal for
lighting large areas with relatively even light. To diffuse
the light beam even more, you can attach a spun-glass
scrim to the front of the scoop. SEE 8.21
Softlight Softlights are relatively large instruments
with long tubelike lamps whose light bounces off with
a curved, light-diffusing reflector. The opening of the
reflector is covered with a diffusing material that scatters the light so much that it renders shadows virtually
invisible. SEE 8.22
Softlights come in various sizes and burn at an
indoor 3,200K color temperature. Most softlights are
quite large and do not fit a cramped production space,
but smaller softlights are the mainstay of news sets
and interview areas. Some softlights have a gridlike
Scrim holder
with scrim
8.21 SCOOP WITH SCRIM
The scooplike reflector of this floodlight allows you to give its
diffused beam some direction, which makes it a good fill light.
With a scrim attached to its otherwise open face, it acts more
like a broad.
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contraption, called an egg crate, attached instead of the customary diffusion cloth.
The squares of the egg crate diffuser give you a little more control over the direction
of the softlight beam than does the diffusion cloth.
Fluorescent bank The fluorescent bank, which consists of a row of fluorescent
tubes, was one of the main lighting devices in the early days of television. After a
hiatus the bank has made a comeback. It is highly efficient, produces extremely diffused light and slow falloff, and does not generate the heat of the other floodlights.
You can get fluorescent banks that burn at approximately 5,000K for outdoor light or
at 3,000K for indoor light. The manufacturers of fluorescent lights try hard to make
the light look similar to that of incandescent floodlights, without the telltale greenish
look of the fluorescents. Before you settle on using a specific fluorescent bank, try it
out: Light a white object with the fluorescent bank, white-balance the camera, and
video-record it for a minute or two. Then do the same with an incandescent instrument (such as a softlight or a scoop with a scrim). The object should look similarly
white in both segments. The disadvantage of all such lights is that the banks are
relatively large and unwieldy, regardless of whether you use them in the studio or
in the field. SEE 8.23 ZVL13 LIGHTS Instruments studio
Softlight
reflector/diffuser
8.23 FLUORESCENT BANK
The fluorescent bank consists of a series of fluorescent tubes.
It produces very soft light with slow falloff.
8.22 SOFTLIGHT
This floodlight is covered with diffusing material and delivers
extremely diffused light. It causes very slow falloff and renders
shadows virtually invisible.
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LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS
Small spotlights in
the flood position
Light-diffusing
tents
8.24 DIFFUSION TENT
8.25 CHINESE LANTERN
Small portable lights, including small spotlights, can be
made into effective softlights by diffusing their beams with
light tents.
These floodlights produce highly diffused light over a
large area.
Portable floodlights When choosing a portable floodlight, look for one that is
small, produces a great amount of diffused light, has a reflector that keeps the diffused light from spilling all over the area, can be plugged into an ordinary 120-volt
household outlet, and is lightweight enough to be supported by a light stand. You can,
however, use any type of portable lighting instrument as a floodlight if you diffuse its
beam. When mounted inside an umbrella reflector, an Omni-light or even a small
Fresnel spot can serve as a floodlight. Many portable lights come with light boxes,
or light tents, which are tentlike diffusers that you can put over the portable light
source to convert it to an efficient softlight. SEE 8.24 Some diffusers look like Chinese
lanterns and totally enclose the lamp. SEE 8.25 ZVL14 LIGHTS Instruments field
LED Lights
Thanks to the lower light requirements of improved sensors in digital video cameras,
new light-emitting diode (LED) lighting instruments are being developed that may
eventually replace the incandescent instruments in current use. These LED lights
operate on an illumination technology that is similar to the way your computer
screen works. When your computer screen is turned on, it can generate enough light
to illuminate an object standing right next to it. If you colorize your screen, you can
colorize a nearby white object without having to use color media.
LED panels have been used successfully as floodlights to light small displays, but
there are more powerful LED panels and even spotlights available that rival small
incandescent softlights and spotlights. SEE 8.26
There are multiple advantages of LED lights over incandescent ones: they last
much longer than incandescent or fluorescent lamps; they generate much less heat
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Floodlights produce
general nondirectional
illumination and
cause slow falloff.
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8.26 HIGH-INTENSITY LED LIGHT
This small LED light has an amazingly
high light output and runs on a 12V
(12-volt) battery or a small transformer
(household current to 12V DC). Its
great advantage is that it is dimmable,
generates very little heat, and will burn
for thousands of hours.
than incandescent lights; they can produce a great variety of colored light without
the use of color media; they can produce white of various color temperatures; they
can be dimmed without affecting the colors or the color temperature. Their elements
can be made to radiate light like a spotlight or floodlight.
The disadvantages are that they are still in the developmental stage and therefore expensive. The output of video LED lights is still limited. Some LED lights still
have problems with producing a perfectly even white light—much like the earlier
fluorescent lights.
Special-purpose Spotlights and Floodlights
There are numerous spotlights and floodlights that facilitate specific lighting tasks.
The most popular are the ellipsoidal spotlight; the strip, or cyc, light; and a variety
of small EFP floodlights.
Ellipsoidal spotlight The ellipsoidal spotlight is used for special effects. It produces an extremely sharp, high-intensity beam that can be made rectangular or
triangular with movable metal shutters. SEE 8.27
Some ellipsoidals have a slot next to the beam-shaping shutters that can hold
a variety of metal sheets with patterned holes. Such metal sheets have acquired a
variety of names, depending on the company that produces them or the LD who
uses them. You may hear lighting people call them “gobos” (which can also mean the
cutouts that are placed in front of a light source or camera) or “cucoloris” (“cookies”
for short). Let’s settle on cookies. When inserted in the slot of the ellipsoidal spot,
the cookie pattern can be projected onto a dull-looking surface to make it more
interesting. SEE 8.28
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LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS
Cooling
vents
Shutters
Gel holder
(for color filters)
8.28 COOKIE PATTERN
Tilt
adjustment
Some ellipsoidal spotlights double as pattern projectors.
You can insert a variety of metal cutouts, called cookies,
whose patterns are projected by the spotlight onto a wall
or other surface.
Lens
8.27 ELLIPSOIDAL SPOTLIGHT
The ellipsoidal spotlight produces an extremely sharp, bright
beam. It is used to illuminate precise areas.
Strip, or cyc, light The strip, or cyc, light is used
primarily to illuminate cycloramas (the seamless
background curtain that stretches along studio or stage
walls), drapes, or large areas of scenery. They are similar
to theater border lights and consist of rows of four to 12
quartz lamps mounted in long, boxlike reflectors. These
strips are usually positioned side-by-side on the studio
floor and shined upward onto the background. SEE 8.29
There are LED strip lights available that can light up a
cyc portion with a great many colors without the need
for color gels.
Small EFP floodlight The ENG/EFP task of lighting
up an interior quickly and efficiently to get sufficient
baselight has been greatly aided by small but powerful
floodlights run off regular household current. SEE 8.30
Much like clip lights, you can move them into position
quickly and turn them on in a matter of minutes. Trying to use a larger, more cumbersome studio light to
illuminate the same area would probably take considerably longer. Don’t touch the instruments once they
are turned on; some of then get very hot and can cause
serious burns.
8.29 STRIP, OR CYC, LIGHT
These instruments are used primarily to illuminate cycloramas,
drapes, or large scenic areas.
Reflector
Lamp
8.30 SMALL EFP FLOODLIGHT
This small EFP floodlight (Lowel V-light) runs off ordinary household current and can be used to illuminate small areas. When
mounted inside an umbrella reflector, it serves as a softlight.
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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
Now let’s find out what to do with all these instruments. Start your lighting task with
an idea of how you would like a person, scene, or display to look on the video screen,
then choose the simplest way of achieving that look. Although there is no universal
recipe that guarantees good lighting for every situation, there are established techniques that you can easily adapt to the specific task at hand. But do not become a
slave to such methods. Although you may often wish you had more instruments,
more space, and especially more time to do justice to the lighting, you should realize that the final criterion for video lighting is not how faithfully you imitate nature,
or how closely you observe the standards as outlined in a book, but how it looks on
the monitor and, especially, whether you got it done on time.
Let’s take a look at some of the lighting basics: operation of lights, studio lighting, and field lighting.
Operation of Lights
Lighting presents some obvious hazards. Ordinary household current is powerful
enough to kill. As just pointed out, the lamps, barn doors, and sometimes the instruments themselves get so hot that they can cause serious burns. If placed too close
to combustible material, lighting instruments can cause fires. The instruments with
barn doors are suspended far above studio floor areas and, if not properly secured,
can come crashing down. Staring into a bright, high-intensity light beam can cause
temporary vision problems. Even so, you don’t need to be intimidated and give up
lighting before getting started. You can easily eliminate these hazards by observing
a few safety rules.
C H E C K L I S T :
L I G H T I N G
S A F E T Y
✔ Electricity Don’t ever handle an instrument with wet hands, even if it is unplugged. Do not “hot-plug” an instrument; switch off the power before connecting
or disconnecting the power cables or patch cords. Patch cords connect selected
lighting instruments to specific dimmers. Wear gloves. Use fiberglass safety ladders
rather than metal ones. Do not touch any metal while working with a power cable.
If you need an adapter to connect a power cable or to plug it in, tape the connection
with electrician’s tape. Use only those instruments that are absolutely necessary. If
you can, let the larger instruments warm up through reduced power before bringing
the dimmer up full. Turn off the studio lights and use house lights for basic blocking rehearsals; this will keep the studio cooler and will also extend the life of the
expensive bulbs. Do not waste electric energy.
✔ Heat The quartz lamps (quartz housing and a TH filament) get extremely hot.
They heat up the barn doors and even the housing of the lighting instrument itself.
Never touch the barn doors or the instrument with your bare hands once it is turned
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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
on. Use gloves or a lighting pole (a long wooden pole with a metal hook at one end)
to adjust the barn doors or the instrument.
Keep instruments away from combustible materials, such as curtains, cloth,
books, and wood paneling. If you need to place a lighting instrument close to such
materials, insulate the materials with aluminum foil. Let lamps cool down before
replacing them.
✔ Fingerprints Don’t ever touch quartz lamps with your fingers. Fingerprints
or any other stuff clinging to the quartz housing will cause the lamp to overheat at
those points and burn out. Use a tissue or, in case of emergency, your shirttail when
exchanging lamps. Be sure the power is shut off before reaching into an instrument.
✔ Hanging instruments Before lowering movable battens, see to it that the studio
floor is clear of people, equipment, and scenery. Because the tie-off rails, where the
counterweighted battens are locked, are often hidden behind the cyclorama (so you
can’t see the studio floor), always give a warning before actually lowering the batten, such as “Batten 5C coming down!” Wait for an “all clear” signal before lowering
the batten, and have someone watch the studio floor while you do so. Tighten all
necessary bolts on the C-clamp. SEE 8.31 Secure the instrument to the batten—and
the barn doors to the instrument—with a safety chain or cable. Check the power
connections for obviously worn or loose plugs and cables.
Whenever moving a ladder, watch for obstacles above and below. Don’t leave a
lighting wrench or other tool on top of a ladder. Never take unnecessary chances by
leaning way out to reach an instrument. Whenever possible, have somebody steady
the ladder for you.
✔ Eyes When adjusting an instrument, try not to look directly into the light.
Work from behind, rather than in front of, the instrument. This way you look with
the beam, rather than into it. If you have to look into the light, do it very briefly and
wear dark glasses.
Studio Lighting
Now you are ready to do some actual lighting assignments. Although you may
struggle with lighting at remote locations more often than you do in studio work,
you will find that learning to light is easier in the studio than in the field. The art of
lighting is neither mysterious nor complicated if you keep in mind its functions: to
reveal the basic shape of the object or person, to lighten or darken the shadows, to
show where the object is relative to the background, to give the object or person
some sparkle and the whole scene a specific mood.
Photographic principle, or triangle lighting Still photographers have taught us
that all these functions can be accomplished with three lights: the key light, which
reveals the basic shape; the fill light, which fills in the shadows if they are too dense;
and the back light, which separates the object from the background and provides
8.31 C-CLAMP
Use the C-clamp to fasten
heavy lighting instruments
to the lighting battens. Even
when tightly fastened to the
batten, the C-clamp allows
the lighting instrument
to be turned.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Do not abandon safety
for expediency.
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8.32 BASIC PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLE
The basic photographic principle uses a key
light, a fill light, and a back light. They are
arranged in a triangle, with the back light at
its apex, opposite the camera.
Back
(spot)
B
Fill
(flood)
Key
(spot)
K
F
Camera
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The basic photographic
principle, or triangle
lighting, consists of
a key light, a fill light,
and a back light.
some sparkle. The various lighting techniques for video and motion pictures are
firmly rooted in this basic principle of still photography, called the photographic
principle, or triangle lighting. Some lighting people have yet another name for the
photographic principle: three-point lighting. SEE 8.32
Key light In the studio slightly diffused Fresnel spots are normally used for key
lights. Fresnels let you aim the beam at the object without too much spill into other
set areas. But you can also use other instruments for a key light, such as an Omnilight, a scoop, a softlight, or even a light that is reflected off a white card. As you can
see, the key light is not defined by the instrument used but by its function: to reveal
the basic shape of the object. The key light is usually placed above and to the right
or left of the front of the object. SEE 8.33 Note that when a spotlight is used as a key,
it produces fast falloff (a dense attached shadow). ZVL15 LIGHTS Triangle lighting key
Back light To outline the subject more clearly against the background, and especially to give the hair—and with it the whole picture—some sparkle and luster, you
need a back light. Some lighting people believe that it is the back light in particular
that gives the lighting its professional polish. SEE 8.34
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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
B
Back
K
K
Key
Key
8.33 KEY LIGHT
The key light is the principal light source. It reveals the basic
shape of the object. A spotlight is generally used as a key.
8.34 BACK LIGHT ADDED
The back light outlines the subject against the background
and provides sparkle. Focused spots are used as back lights.
As the name suggests, the back light falls on the back of the subject’s head. You
place it opposite the camera above and directly behind the subject. Because the area
to be illuminated by the back light is limited, use Fresnel spots. To keep the back
light from shining into the camera or being in the shot, place it fairly high behind
the subject.
Some LDs insist on having the back light burn with the same intensity as the
key. Such a rule makes little sense because the intensity of the back light depends on
the relative reflectance of the object or subject. A blond woman who wears a white
blouse certainly needs a less intense beam than a man in a dark suit who has curly
black hair. ZVL16 LIGHTS Triangle lighting back
Fill light To slow down falloff and thereby render dense shadows more transparent, you use a fill light. Floodlights are generally used, but you can of course also use
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8.35 FILL LIGHT ADDED
The fill light slows down falloff and
renders shadows more transparent.
Floodlights are generally used to fill
in dense shadows.
B
Back
F
Fill
K
Key
Fresnels (or any other spotlights) for fill. Obviously, you place the fill light on the side
opposite the key light and aim it toward the shadow area. SEE 8.35 ZVL17 LIGHTS
Triangle lighting fill
The more fill light you use, the slower the falloff. If the fill light is as strong as the
key light, you have eliminated the attached shadow and, with it, any falloff. Many
news or interview sets are deliberately lighted flat (with equally strong softlights for
key and fill) to render the close-up faces of the newspeople and guests relatively
wrinkle-free (but, unfortunately, also flat).
Background light Unless you want a dark background, you need additional light
to illuminate the background or set. This additional source is called the background
light or set light. For a small set, you may need only a single Fresnel spot or scoop.
SEE 8.36 A large set may require a few more instruments, each of which illuminates
a specific set area. To keep the attached shadows of the background on the same
side as the foreground shadows, the background light must be on the same camera
side as the key light.
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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
8.36 BACKGROUND LIGHT ADDED
The background, or set, light illuminates the background and various set
areas. Spots or floodlights are used on
the same side as the key.
B
Back
Bg
Background
F
Fill
K
Key
You can also use the background light to provide some visual interest to an otherwise dull background: you can produce a “slice” of light, a prominent cast shadow
that cuts across the background, or a cookie pattern. To suggest nighttime when
lighting an interior set, keep the background generally dark and illuminate only small
portions of it. If you want to evoke daylight, illuminate the background evenly. You
can colorize a neutral gray or white background simply by putting color gels in front
of the background lights. Colored light can save you a lot of painting. ZVL18 LIGHTS
Triangle lighting background
Adapting the lighting triangle Whenever possible, put up the set where the lights
are rather than move the lights to the set location. If, for example, you have to light
a simple two-person interview in the studio, look up at the lighting grid and find a
key, fill, and backlight triangle and place the chair in the middle of it. Even if you
can’t find another lighting triangle for the other chair, you are still ahead—half of the
lighting is already done. You will find that you cannot always apply the photographic
principle so that the three instruments form the prescribed triangle. This is perfectly
normal. Realize that the lighting triangle is a basic principle, not a mandate.
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▶K E Y
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C O N C E P T
The major criterion
for good lighting is
how it looks on the
video monitor.
L I G H T, C O LO R , A N D L I G H T I N G
Always try to accomplish a lighting setup with as few instruments as possible. If
the falloff from a diffused key light is slow enough (the shadow side is not too dense),
you don’t need a fill light. Even when doing studio lighting, you may find that a reflector is more effective for filling in shadows than setting up a fill light. (We discuss the
use of reflectors in the context of field lighting later in this chapter.) Sometimes the
key light will spill over onto the background and eliminate the need for a set light.
In any case, don’t be a slave to the photographic principle. Sometimes a single
Fresnel aimed at the windshield of a car is all you need to produce a convincing
nighttime effect for the car interior; at other times you may need four or five carefully placed instruments to re-create the effect of a single candle. The effectiveness
of the lighting is determined not by how faithfully you observe traditional lighting
conventions but by how the scene looks on the monitor. Always keep in mind that
you light for the camera. ZVL19 LIGHTS Triangle lighting try it
High-key and low-key lighting Sometimes you will hear the terms high-key
and low-key lighting. This has nothing to do with the vertical positioning of the key
light. Rather, it describes the overall lighting effect and its general feel. A scene with
high-key lighting has an abundance of bright, diffused light, resulting in slow-falloff
or flat lighting. The background is usually light and projects a high-energy, upbeat
feeling. Game shows and situation comedies are usually lighted high-key. Because of
the slow falloff, high-key lighting is also used for commercials that advertise beauty
products. SEE 8.37 ZVL20 LIGHTS Design high key
A scene with low-key lighting is much more dramatic; it uses relatively few
spotlights to create selective lighting with fast-falloff attached shadows and prominent cast shadows. The background and, wherever possible, the floor areas are kept
dark. Most outdoor night scenes exhibit low-key lighting. It is also frequently used
in dramatic scenes in soap operas, in mystery and crime shows, and sometimes in
sci-fi movies. SEE 8.38 ZVL21 LIGHTS Design low key
8.37 HIGH-KEY LIGHTING
8.38 LOW-KEY LIGHTING
High-key lighting shows a bright scene with an abundance of
diffused light. The background is usually light.
Low-key lighting shows dramatic, selective lighting with fastfalloff attached and prominent cast shadows. The background
is usually dark.
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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
Light Plot
For all but routine shows, you need to prepare a light plot. Some light plots are
rough sketches to indicate the approximate positions of lights; arrows indicate the
approximate directions of their beams. SEE 8.39 Others are drawn on a floor plan
grid, which shows the background scenery, the major action areas, and the principal
camera positions. Detailed light plots show the position, type, and functions of the
lighting instruments needed. SEE 8.40
8.39 SIMPLE LIGHT PLOT SKETCH
FOR TWO-PERSON INTERVIEW
Background
Back A
Back B
A
Most light plots are rough sketches that
indicate the types of lights used (spots
or floods), their approximate positions,
and the general direction of their beams.
B
Fill A
Fill B
Key B
Key A
8.40 DETAILED
LIGHT PLOT FOR TWOPERSON INTERVIEW
Background
Back A
Fill B
Fill A
Back B
Background
Background
A
B
C1
C2
Key B
Key A
This light plot shows the
type and the position of the
lighting instruments used and
the approximate direction of
their beams. Sometimes light
plots even indicate the size
(wattage) of the instruments.
Note that there are two overlapping lighting triangles—
one for person A and the
other for person B.
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Field Lighting
Whereas studio lighting is done exclusively with various types of instruments, field,
or location, lighting often extends to the control or augmentation of available light.
When shooting outdoors you are pretty much dependent on available light. Your
lighting job is to manipulate sunlight so that it yields, at least to some extent, to the
basic lighting principles. When shooting indoors you can apply all studio lighting
principles, except on a smaller scale. Windows often present a problem because
the light entering from outside is usually brighter than the indoor light and has a
much higher color temperature. But light from windows can also be an important
illumination source.
Outdoors—overcast and shadow area A foggy or overcast day is ideal for outdoor shooting. The fog and the clouds act as giant diffusion filters: the giant and
brutally bright spotlight of the sun becomes a huge but gentle softlight. The highly
diffused light produces slow falloff and transparent shadows. The camera likes such
low-contrast lighting and produces crisp and true colors throughout the scene. The
scene is basically illuminated by high-intensity baselight. Be sure to white-balance
the camera before video-recording; the light on an overcast day has a surprisingly
high color temperature.
A large shadow area will provide you with similarly slow-falloff lighting.
Whenever possible, put the on-camera people in the shade. Besides the gentle
shadows, you will have no contrast problems unless you include part of the sunlit
area in your picture. As you can see, this is a quick solution to a potentially difficult
lighting situation.
Bright sunlight When forced to shoot in bright sunlight, you are not so lucky.
The bright sun acts like a giant high-intensity spotlight, which renders the falloff
appropriately fast; the shadows are very dense, and the contrast between light and
shadow sides is extremely high. This extreme contrast can present a formidable exposure problem. If you close down the iris (high ƒ-stop setting for a small aperture)
to prevent too much light from overloading the CCD imaging device, the shadow
areas will turn uniformly dark and dense and will show no detail. If you open up the
iris to see some detail in the shadow areas, you will overexpose the bright areas. The
automatic aperture in a camcorder is of no help in this situation: it simply adjusts to
the brightest spot in the scene and renders all shadow areas equally dark. Even the
most sophisticated camera cannot adjust itself to accommodate these conditions.
There are two things you can do. As mentioned earlier, you can first use an ND
filter on the camera to reduce the overly bright light without affecting the colors.
Second, you can provide enough fill light to slow down the falloff, reduce the contrast,
and make the attached shadows more transparent without overexposing the bright
areas. But where in the field can you get a fill light strong enough to offset the sun?
In expensive and elaborate productions, high-intensity spotlights (usually HMI
lights), which burn at 5,600K, are used as outdoor fill lights. Fortunately, you can also
use the sun to serve simultaneously as key and fill lights—all you need is a reflector to bounce some of the sunlight back toward the shadow area. SEE 8.41 You can
use a sheet of foam core or a white card as a reflector, or use crumpled aluminum
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LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
8.41 USE OF A REFLECTOR
The reflector acts like a fill light: it bounces
some light back toward the dense shadow
areas and slows down falloff.
Talent
Reflector
(acting as fill)
F
Sun
(acting as key)
Camera
K
foil taped to a stiff backing. You can also use a number of commercially available
reflectors that fold up and prove effective over considerable distances. The closer
you hold the reflector to the object, the more intense the fill light will be. Some LDs
and DPs (directors of photography) use multiple reflectors to reflect light into areas
that face away from the light source. In this case the reflector becomes the principal
light source. With good reflectors (mirrors), you can even guide sunlight indoors to
light up a room or hallway without any lighting instruments.
Avoid shooting against any bright background, such as a sun-drenched white
wall, the ocean, or a lake. Anyone standing in front of it will be rendered in silhouette,
unless you use huge reflectors or other high-intensity fill lights. Whenever possible
find some shade in which to position the subject. When shooting at a lakeshore or
the ocean beach, use a large umbrella to create the necessary shadow area. The
umbrella will not only make your lighting job considerably easier but also provide
some visual interest. ZVL22 LIGHTS Field outdoor | use of reflectors
Indoors without windows If the room is adequately illuminated, try to shoot with
available light and see how it looks on the monitor. We discussed earlier that the high
light-sensitivity of camcorders and ENG/EFP cameras enabled DPs to shoot much
more often in available light than was previously possible. The basic rule still applies
for available light: if it looks good to you, there is no need for additional lights.
Remember to white-balance the camera to the available light before starting to
shoot. Most indoor lighting can be easily improved by adding some back lights in the
appropriate areas. Potential problems include light stands that show up on-camera
or a back light that cannot be positioned high enough to be out of camera range. In
this case, place the instrument somewhat to the side, or use some 1 × 2 lumber to
create a temporary support for it. Move the back light close enough to the subject
to keep it out of camera view.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Reflectors can replace
lighting instruments.
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When lighting a person who remains stationary in a room, as in an interview,
you use the same photographic principle as in the studio except that you now have
to place portable lights on stands. Try to have the key or fill light double as the background light. To avoid the infamous reddish or white hot spot on the subject and to
make the light look generally softer, attach spun-glass scrims to all three instruments.
You can use wooden clothespins to attach the scrims to the barn doors.
If you have only two lights with which to light a person indoors, you can use one
as the key, the other as the back, and a reflector to act as the fill. SEE 8.42 You can also
place a softlight for the key (light diffused by a light tent) almost directly opposite the
person to avoid a dense shadow side, then use the second light as a back light.
If you have just one lighting instrument, such as an Omni-light, you can use it as a
key, with the reflector acting as the fill. In such a setup, you must necessarily sacrifice
the back light. If you diffuse the key light and move it closer to the camera than it is in
figure 8.42, however, you can light the face almost straight on. Then use the reflector
in the back (out of camera range) to provide the all-important back light.
To light an ordinary-sized room so that you can follow somebody walking
through it, use the portable lights in the flood position and reflect them off the
ceiling or walls, or diffuse their beams with scrims. If available, use light-diffusing
umbrellas. Aim the instrument into the umbrella, with the opening of the umbrella
toward the scene, or at reflectors rather than directly toward the action area. You can
apply the same technique for lighting a large interior except that you need more or
8.42 TWO-POINT INDOOR LIGHTING
To achieve effective triangle lighting
with only two lights, use one for the key
light and the other for the back light.
Fill light is achieved with a reflector.
Back
B
Talent
Reflector
(acting as fill)
F
K
Camera
Key
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higher-powered instruments. The idea is to get as much baselight (highly diffused
overall light) as possible with a minimum of instruments.
Indoors with windows By now you know that windows can present a formidable
lighting problem. Even if you don’t shoot against them, they admit a great amount of
high-color-temperature light. If you try to augment the bluish 5,600K outdoor light
with the normal indoor 3,200K lighting instruments, the camera will have trouble
finding the correct white balance. The simplest way to match the lower 3,200K indoor color temperature with the prevailing 5,600K outdoor color temperature is to
attach a light-blue gel to the indoor lighting instruments. The blue gel helps raise
their color temperature to approximate the 5,600K outdoor light. Even if it is not a
perfect match, the camera can be properly white-balanced for both the light coming
through the window and the indoor lighting instruments.
The best way to cope with windows is to avoid them: draw the curtains and use
a normal triangle lighting setup. Many times, however, you can use the window light
as a back light or even as a key. For example, when using the window as a back light,
you need to position the subject in such a way that the light strikes from the side
and the back. Then position the key light and the camera. SEE 8.43 Obviously, the
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
In the field, light for
visibility rather than
artistic impact.
8.43 WINDOW USED AS BACK LIGHT
In this interview setup, the lighting is done
with a single instrument. A diffused Lowel
Omni-light with a light-blue gel acts as the
key. The back light is provided by the window, which is kept out of camera range.
Window
B
Key
(with light-blue gel)
K
Window must be
out of camera view
Host
(out of shot)
Camera
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window should be off-camera. By changing the window from a hazard to an asset
and with only one lighting instrument in the room, you have achieved a professional lighting setup. What about the fill light? The spill from the window and the
diffused key light should be enough to provide for relatively slow falloff. If not, you
can always use a reflector to bounce some of the key light back as fill. ZVL23 LIGHTS
Field indoor | mixed
G U I D E L I N E S :
F I E L D
L I G H T I N G
✔ Scout ahead Check out the location and determine the lighting requirements
before the actual shooting date. Establish a contact person and get his or her name,
address, and all phone numbers. Check the breaker box and determine the available power, the nature of the outlets, and the extension cords needed. Have adapters
available that fit the various outlets.
✔ Be prepared Always take with you a few rolls of gaffer’s tape, a roll of aluminum foil, gloves, a wrench, some wooden clothespins (plastic ones melt), and a fire
extinguisher.
✔ Don’t overload circuits Once on-location don’t overload the circuit. Although
a normal 15-amp household outlet will accommodate 1,500 watts of lighting instruments, do not plug more than 1,000 watts into a single circuit. Realize that several
outlets may be on the same circuit even if they are in different corners of the room.
To test which outlets are on the same circuit, plug a light into various outlets and
turn off the breaker. If the light goes out, you are on the designated circuit. If the
light stays on, the outlet is connected to another circuit. Keep in mind that even long
extension cables can add to the circuit load.
✔ Don’t waste lamp life Turn on the lights only as needed. The incandescent
quartz lamps for portable lighting instruments have a limited life span. Turning off
the lights as much as possible will preserve energy, extend the life of the lamps, and
reduce the heat in the performance area.
✔ Secure the light stands Be especially careful when placing lighting instruments on portable stands. Secure all light stands with sandbags so they won’t tip
over when somebody brushes against them. Route extension cords out of the main
traffic pattern. If you have to lay them across a hallway or a threshold, tape them
securely in place (here is where the gaffer’s tape comes in handy) and put a rug or
rubber doormat over them.
✔ Move cords carefully Don’t pull on an extension cord that is connected to a
lighting instrument; light stands tip over easily, especially when fully extended.
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✔ Be time conscious Don’t underestimate the time it takes to set up even simple
location lighting.
Last-minute-lighting Techniques
When you are called upon to do some eleventh-hour lighting, do not whine about
artistic integrity or lack of time. Simply turn on as many floodlights as possible and
try to place some back lights to give the scene some sparkle. This is not the time to
fret about triangle principles or falloff. Every so often such an emergency technique
will result in surprisingly good lighting—but don’t rely on it.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Light and Shadow Control
Lighting is the deliberate illumination of a performance area and the control of attached
and cast shadows.
▶ Types of Light and Light Intensity
The two basic types of light are directional and diffused. Directional light is focused
and causes harsh shadows. Diffused light is spread out and creates soft shadows. Light
intensity is measured in foot-candles (fc) or European lux. There are approximately 10 lux
per foot-candle.
▶ Contrast and Measuring Light
Contrast is the difference between the darkest and the brightest areas in the camera
picture. This contrast is often expressed as a ratio, such as 60:1, which means that the
brightest spot is 60 times the intensity of the darkest spot. Many cameras tolerate a
relatively limited contrast ratio, ranging from 50:1 to 100:1. When measuring contrast,
the light meter must read reflected light. When measuring baselight levels, the meter
reads incident light.
▶ Shadows and Falloff
There are two types of shadows: attached and cast. Attached shadows are affixed to the
object; they cannot be seen independent of it. Cast shadows can be seen independent of
the object that causes them. Falloff indicates the change from light to shadow and the
contrast between light and shadow areas. Fast falloff means that the light area changes
abruptly into dense shadow area; the contrast is high. Slow falloff means that the light
turns gradually into the shadow side; the contrast is low.
▶ Colors and Color Temperature
Colors are generated through additive color mixing. All colors are mixed by adding
the primary light colors—red, green, and blue (RGB)—in various proportions. Color
temperature refers to the relative reddishness or bluishness of white light. Whitebalancing adjusts the camera to the color temperature of the prevailing illumination
so that the camera will reproduce a white object as white on the video screen.
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▶ Lighting Instruments
Lights are usually classified into spotlights and floodlights, and studio and portable
lights. Spotlights produce a sharp, focused beam; floodlights produce highly diffused,
nondirectional illumination. Studio lights are normally suspended from the ceiling.
Portable lights are smaller and supported by collapsible light stands.
▶ The Photographic Principle, or Triangle Lighting
Lighting functions can usually be achieved with the basic photographic principle: a
key light (principal light source), a fill light (fills in dense shadows), and a back light
(separates the subject from the background and gives it sparkle). This is also known as
three-point lighting. Reflectors frequently substitute for fill lights. The background light is
an additional light used for lighting the background and the set area. In field, or location,
lighting, it is often more important to provide sufficient illumination than careful triangle
lighting. In the field floodlights are used more often than spotlights.
▶ High-key and Low-key Lighting
High-key lighting uses an abundance of bright, diffused light, resulting in slow-falloff or
flat lighting; the high-key scene generally shows a light background. Low-key lighting
uses few spotlights to create fast-falloff lighting and prominent cast shadows; it
illuminates only selected areas and projects a dramatic feel.
▶ Windows
In EFP lighting, a window can serve as a key or a side-back light, so long as it is offcamera. All incandescent instruments must have light-blue color media attached to
match the color temperature of the light coming through the window.
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Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
LIGHTS Light introduction
ZVL2
LIGHTS Measurement meters
ZVL3
LIGHTS Measurement baselight
ZVL4
LIGHTS Measurement contrast
ZVL5
LIGHTS Measurement try it
ZVL6
LIGHTS Light and shadow light
ZVL7
LIGHTS Light and shadow attached
ZVL8
LIGHTS Design horror
ZVL9
LIGHTS Light and shadow cast
ZVL10
LIGHTS Falloff fast | slow | none | try it
ZVL11
LIGHTS Color temperature light sources
ZVL12
LIGHTS Color temperature white balance | controlling | try it
ZVL13
LIGHTS Instruments studio
ZVL14
LIGHTS Instruments field
ZVL15
LIGHTS Triangle lighting key
ZVL16
LIGHTS Triangle lighting back
ZVL17
LIGHTS Triangle lighting fill
ZVL18
LIGHTS Triangle lighting background
ZVL19
LIGHTS Triangle lighting try it
ZVL20
LIGHTS Design high key
ZVL21
LIGHTS Design low key
ZVL22
LIGHTS Field outdoor | use of reflectors
ZVL23
LIGHTS Field indoor | mixed
153
154
154
156
157
157
158
159
160
160
163
170
171
176
177
178
179
180
180
180
186
183
165
9
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
aspect ratio The ratio of the width of the television screen to
its height. In STV (standard television), it is 4 × 3 (4 units
wide by 3 units high); for HDTV (high-definition television),
it is 16 × 9 (16 units wide by 9 units high). Mobile video has
various aspect ratios, including vertical ones.
character generator (C.G.) A computer dedicated to the creation of letters and numbers in various fonts. Its output can
be directly integrated into video images.
chroma key Key effect that uses a color (usually blue or green)
for the key source backdrop. All blue or green areas are
replaced by the base picture during the key.
digital video effects (DVE) Video effects generated by an
effects generator in the switcher or by a computer with
effects software. The computer system dedicated to DVE
is called a graphics generator.
electronic still store (ESS) system Stores still video frames in
digital form for easy random access.
essential area The section of the television picture that is seen
by the home viewer, regardless of minor misalignments of
the receiver. Also called safe title area.
key An electronic effect in which the keyed image (figure—
usually letters) blocks out portions of the base picture
(background) and therefore appears to be layered on top
of it.
matte key The key (usually letters) is filled with gray or a color.
super Short for superimposition. A double exposure of two
images, with the top one letting the bottom one show
through.
wipe A transition in which one image seems to “wipe off ”
(gradually replace) the other from the screen.
Graphics and Effects
Now that you know what a video camera does and how to give lens-generated images
effective composition, you can expand your creative efforts to synthetic video—
images that are electronically manipulated or totally computer-generated. These
synthetic images can be as simple as electronically generated titles that appear over a
background image, or a computer-generated landscape that changes with your point of
view. Although the camera still supplies the majority of video images, synthetic images
are becoming increasingly more a part of video production.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Video consists of
both lens-generated
and computergenerated images.
This chapter explains analog and digital image manipulation and the major aspects of
synthetic image creation.
▶ PRINCIPLES OF GRAPHICS
Aspect ratio, essential area, readability, color, animated graphics, and style
▶ STANDARD ELECTRONIC VIDEO EFFECTS
Superimposition, key, and wipe
▶ DIGITAL EFFECTS
Digital image manipulation equipment, common digital video effects, and synthetic
image creation
The relative ease with which you can change fonts and their appearance with a
word-processing program has spilled over into television graphics. You are certainly
familiar with the many variations of letters in titles: Some fly onto or dance across
the screen. Weather maps not only display the temperatures but have clouds or fog
drift over them or rain and snow fall on them. Traffic maps show where accidents
occurred or how to get around a traffic jam. We have become so accustomed to these
graphics that we don’t consider them special effects, although such effects demand
highly sophisticated graphics software and especially skilled computer artists.
Unfortunately, many such dazzling displays do not always contribute to effective
communication. Even if you don’t intend to become a graphic artist or an art director, you need to understand the basic principles of video graphics and the common
analog and digital video effects. This knowledge will help you integrate appropriate
and effective graphics in your productions.
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PRINCIPLES OF GRAPHICS
The basic elements and principles of video graphics include aspect ratio, essential
area, readability, color, animated graphics, and style.
Aspect Ratio
As you recall from chapter 6, aspect ratio describes the basic shape of the television screen—the relationship between screen width and height. The STV (standard
television) aspect ratio is 4 × 3, which means its screen is 4 units wide by 3 units high
(see figure 6.1). A unit can be any length—inches, feet, or meters. The ratio is also
expressed as 1.33:1. This means that for every unit of screen height, there are 1.33
units of screen width. The HDTV (high-definition television) aspect ratio is 16 × 9,
or 1.78:1, which means the screen is horizontally stretched, not unlike the screen in
a movie theater (see figure 6.2). Cell-phone screens—more accurately called mobile
video displays—have a variety of aspect ratios, including 4 × 3 and 16 × 9 as well as
wider and even vertical orientations. Within the overall aspect ratio of the screen, you
can generate digital picture frames with a variety of horizontal and vertical aspect
ratios and even irregularly shaped ones.
The advantage of the HDTV aspect ratio is that you can include horizontally
stretched scenes and titles that you would have to crop (cut at the sides) or rearrange
in the standard aspect ratio. SEE 9.1 AND 9.2 It can display wide-screen motion pictures
without the need for dead zones (black bars) at the top and the bottom of the screen.
Close-ups of faces, however, are more effectively framed in the STV aspect ratio.
Essential Area
Regardless of the aspect ratio, you need to keep all the important information within
the essential area. Also known as the safe title area, this is the picture area displayed
by the average home receiver regardless of the manipulation of picture area during
4 units
3
units
16 units
9
units
9.1 STANDARD TELEVISION ASPECT RATIO
9.2 HIGH-DEFINITION TELEVISION ASPECT RATIO
The STV aspect ratio is 4 units wide by 3 units high,
or 1.33:1.
The HDTV aspect ratio is 16 units wide by 9 units high, or 1.78:1.
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PRINCIPLES OF GRAPHICS
9.3 ESSENTIAL AREA
All essential information must
be contained in this area
The essential, or safe title,
area is centered within the
television screen. All necessary information must be contained in the essential area.
Essential area
Scanning area
A
B
9.4 TITLE OUTSIDE THE ESSENTIAL AREA
A Although we can read the complete title on a well-adjusted monitor...
B ...the information that lies outside the essential area gets lost on the home receiver.
transmission, a slightly misaligned TV set, or a shift of aspect ratio from HDTV to
STV or vice versa. SEE 9.3 AND 9.4 The viewfinders of most studio cameras allow you
to switch to a secondary frame that outlines the safe title area.
Readability
Even if the camera part of your camcorder reproduces exceptionally fine picture
detail, its video-recording system and your TV set may not. In practice this means
that you need to choose lettering that can be easily read on-screen. Sometimes
the titles dance so much or appear for such a short time that only a speed-reader
can make sense of them. The following points will assist you in designing effective
video graphics:
◾ Keep all the information within the essential area. If you use the essential
area of the 4 × 3 aspect ratio, your graphics will also show up clearly on a
16 × 9 screen.
◾ Use fonts that are big and bold enough to show up even when the picture
resolution is less than ideal and when the background is especially
cluttered. SEE 9.5
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
All necessary information
must be contained
within the essential
(safe title) area.
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9.5 BOLD LETTERS OVER
A BUSY BACKGROUND
This title reads well despite the
busy background. Its letters
are bold and have enough
contrast from the background
to ensure readability.
◾ Limit the amount of information and arrange the lettering in blocks. The information should form distinct patterns rather than be randomly scattered
on-screen. This block design is especially important for Web pages, where
display space is severely limited. SEE 9.6 AND 9.7
◾ Use a block design especially when dividing up the screen area for unrelated
information. SEE 9.8
Color
You already learned that the video camera and the television receiver produce all
colors from the three additive (light) primaries of red, green, and blue (RGB). Now
you need to arrange these colors so that they help clarify and intensify the intended
message. Without going into complicated color theory, we’ll jump directly to a practical way of using colors effectively in graphics and scenic displays: divide them not
into their hues—their actual colors—but into high-energy and low-energy categories.
High-energy colors are what we ordinarily call “loud” or “bright,” such as bold
reds, yellows, and blues. Low-energy colors are the more washed-out, pastels, such as
9.6 BLOCK ORGANIZATION OF TITLES
Information is easier to read when the titles are organized in graphic blocks.
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PRINCIPLES OF GRAPHICS
9.7 DISORGANIZATION OF TITLES
9.8 MULTISCREEN BLOCKS
Visual clutter occurs when the information is not graphically
organized. The scattered bits of information are hard to perceive, especially on a video screen.
When dissimilar pieces of information are graphically
organized into blocks, or multiple screens, the information
is easier to read.
beige, pink, light blue, and shades of gray. To draw attention to a title or graphic area,
use a high-energy color set off against a low-energy background. SEE 9.9 AND 9.10
Applying high-energy colors to both the foreground (title) and the background
is less effective—both shout with equal intensity and vie for attention. Many Web
pages suffer from such an indiscriminate use of high-energy colors. As a result, the
user is likely to ignore all these areas and surf to a less demanding page. If both
foreground and background colors are low-energy, the overall graphic is subdued.
Many commercials that are deliberately low-energy are shot in black-and-white.
The idea is to give you relief from loud, high-energy messages and stimulate you to
mentally supply your own color palette.1
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Use high-energy colors
for the foreground (titles)
and low-energy colors
for the background.
1. See Herbert Zettl, Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics, 5th ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008), pp. 64–66, 76–78.
9.9 LOW-ENERGY COLOR
9.10 HIGH-ENERGY COLOR
Low-energy colors are desaturated, which means they have
little color strength. Most pastel colors are low-energy.
High-energy colors have high saturation, which makes them
bold. They are especially effective when set against a lowenergy background.
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Animated Graphics
To capture your attention, titles are often animated, that is, made to move in some
fashion. Written information crawls sideways across the screen, from one edge to
the other. Some titles fly onto the screen or appear gradually from the sides or the
top or bottom. Other titles zoom in or out, dancing or flashing on-screen. Although
such titles draw immediate attention, they are apt to lose the viewer’s attention just
as quickly. When using animated titles, ask yourself whether they are appropriate
for the content and the overall style of the show.
Style
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Titles must match the
style of the program.
Style in graphic design means that the visual display shows common elements that
are appropriate for the message. The style of the opening titles should convey the
nature of the show that follows. Bouncing cartoon letters are obviously the wrong
choice for introducing a program that bares human suffering; so are titles that use
somber, formal letters to announce a goofy cartoon. To learn more about style, read
books on typography and graphics, watch the graphics of established news presentations, or look through some chic fashion magazines.
STANDARD ELECTRONIC VIDEO EFFECTS
The standard electronic effects are achieved with an electronic switcher (see chapter
10) and a special-effects generator (SEG) that normally is built-in or connected to
the switcher. Most postproduction editing software contains more special effects
than you will ever need. Many special effects have become so commonplace that
they are no longer “special” but are part of the normal video vocabulary, such as the
superimposition and various types of keys.
Superimposition
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The superimposition is
a simultaneous overlay
of two pictures.
The superimposition (or super for short) shows a double exposure; it is a simultaneous overlay of two pictures. In a super you can see both complete images at the
same time. SEE 9.11
A super is simply a dissolve at the halfway point. Stopping the dissolve a little
before the midpoint gives you a superimposition that favors the image from which
you were dissolving; stopping a little after the midpoint favors the image to which you
are dissolving. (Chapter 10 explains how to do a superimposition with the switcher.)
Supers are used mainly to show inner events—thoughts and dreams—or to
make an image more complex. You are certainly familiar with the overused close-up
of a face over which a dream sequence is superimposed. To reveal the complexity
of the movement and the grace of a ballet, you could superimpose a long shot and
a close-up of the dancer. This synthetic image now generates its own meaning. As
you can see, you are no longer simply photographing a dance but (sometimes to the
dismay of the choreographer) helping create it.
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S TA N D A R D E L E C T R O N I C V I D E O E F F E C T S
9.11 SUPERIMPOSITION
The superimposition, or super for short,
shows two images simultaneously, as in
a double exposure.
Key
The key is another method of electronically combining two video images. But unlike
a super, where you can see the base picture through the superimposed image, the
keyed image (figure) blocks out portions of the base picture (ground) and appears to
be layered on top of it. Paradoxically, there are also keys that are partially transparent, revealing the background image.
To understand how a key works, consider the white lettering of a name that appears over a scene. The character generator (C.G.) supplies the white title against a
darker background. The background picture is normally supplied by the ESS (electronic still store system, which is a large electronic slide library), a video recording,
or a live camera. The title is called the key source, and the background picture of the
scene constitutes the base picture, or background. During the key, the key source
cuts itself electronically into the base picture. The effect is that the letters appear
layered over the scene. SEE 9.12
Of course, you can key any electronic image into a base picture, such as lines
that divide the screen into sections, or boxlike screen areas that highlight different
images. The box over the news anchor’s shoulder is a well-known example of such
a key (see figure 9.24).
Because the key effect has numerous technical variations, there are different—
and often confusing—names for them. You may hear the terms key, matte, matte key,
and chroma key used interchangeably. We group them here by the way they are commonly used: the normal, or luminance, key; the matte key; and the chroma key.
9.12 KEYED TITLE
The keyed letters seem pasted on top
of the background image.
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9.13 NORMAL, OR LUMINANCE, KEY
A normal key responds to the dark/light contrast
between the background and the letters that cut
into the background.
GRAPHICS AND EFFECTS
9.14 MATTE KEY IN DROP-SHADOW MODE
A matte key fills the letters with grays or colors.
The drop-shadow mode gives the letters a threedimensional appearance.
Normal, or luminance, key In a normal key, there are only two video sources:
the key source and the base picture. The normal key simply replaces the dark areas
around the key source, such as a title, making the lighter title appear to be layered
on top of the base picture. Because the key process is technically triggered by the
light/dark contrast between the title letters and the background (as in figure 9.12),
the normal key is also called a luminance (light) key. SEE 9.13 ZVL1 SWITCHING
Effects keys
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The key source cuts into
the base picture, making
the key seem layered
on top of the base.
Matte key In this key you add a third video source, which is generated by either the
switcher or an external video source. Most often a matte key refers to the letters of a
title that are filled with colors or grays or that have different borders. SEE 9.14 ZVL2
SWITCHING Effects key types
Chroma key When using a chroma key, the subject or object to be keyed is placed
in front of a plain colored backdrop, which is usually blue or green, mainly because
these colors are notably absent in skin tones. A typical example of chroma keying is
the weathercaster who seems to stand in front of a large weather map. She is actually standing in front of a plain chroma green (an even, saturated medium green)
backdrop; the weather map is computer-generated. During the key the weather map
replaces the green areas, making the weathercaster appear to be standing in front
of it. When she turns to point to the map, she actually sees only the green backdrop.
To coordinate her gestures with the actual weather map, she must watch a monitor
that shows the entire key effect. SEE 9.15 ZVL3 SWITCHING Effects special effects
Assuming that you use blue as the chroma-key color, everything that is blue will
be replaced by the weather map; therefore the weathercaster cannot wear blue. You
cannot wear anything that approximates the color of the backdrop. For example, if
the weathercaster in figure 9.15 were standing in front of a blue background, her
jeans would disappear during the key and be replaced by part of the weather map.
We would see only her upper body pointing at the high-pressure area on the map.
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S TA N D A R D E L E C T R O N I C V I D E O E F F E C T S
A
B
C
9.15 CHROMA-KEY EFFECT: WEATHERCASTER
A In this chroma key, the weathercaster stands in front of a green backdrop.
B During the key the backdrop is replaced by the computer-enhanced satellite photo.
C The weathercaster seems to stand in front of the photo.
Chroma keying is sometimes used to achieve special effects. If, for example, you
cover a dancer’s upper body and head with a chroma-key blue material and have her
move in front of the blue backdrop, the key will show only her legs dancing.
Chroma keys are often used to simulate backgrounds. You could replace the
view of a parking lot from an office window with a spectacular panorama of the
skyline by simply putting the desk and the chair in front of a chroma-key backdrop
and using a photo of the skyline as the background source. During the chroma key,
the person behind the desk would appear to be sitting in front of a high-rise picture
window. The advantage of such a key effect is that you would avoid the formidable
lighting problem of having the person silhouetted against the bright window (see
chapter 8). ZVL4 SWITCHING Effects key types
In film production chroma keying is usually called blue-screen technique.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
In a chroma key, all blue
or green backdrop areas
are replaced by the keyed
background image.
Wipe
Although the wipe is technically a transition because it usually connects two images,
it is such an obvious, if not intrusive, device that you should consider it a special
effect. In a wipe a portion of or a complete video image is gradually replaced by
another. Perceptually, one image wipes the other off the screen. Wipes come in a
great variety of configurations and are usually displayed as icons on the switcher
buttons with which you can preset a particular wipe. SEE 9.16
9.16 WIPE PATTERNS
A group of buttons on the switcher
shows the various wipe patterns available. Elaborate systems offer up to 100
different patterns.
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GRAPHICS AND EFFECTS
9.17 HORIZONTAL WIPE
9.18 VERTICAL WIPE
In a horizontal wipe, the base picture is gradually replaced by
another from the side.
In a vertical wipe, the base picture is gradually replaced by
another from the top down or from the bottom up.
Some of the most common wipes are the horizontal and vertical wipes. In a
horizontal wipe, the second image gradually replaces the base picture from the
side. SEE 9.17
A split screen done with a switcher is simply a horizontal wipe that is stopped
midway. More often split screens are generated by digital effects, which give more
control over the size of the split image than does the analog wipe. In a vertical wipe,
the base picture is gradually replaced by the second image from the top down or
from the bottom up. SEE 9.18
Other popular wipes are corner wipes, whereby the second image originates
from one corner of the base image, and diamond wipes, in which the second image originates in the center of the base image and expands as a diamond-shaped
cutout. SEE 9.19 AND 9.20
In a soft wipe, the demarcation line between the two images is purposely blurred.
SEE 9.21 ZVL5 SWITCHING Transitions wipe
9.19 CORNER WIPE
9.20 DIAMOND WIPE
In a corner wipe, the base picture is gradually replaced by
another that starts from a corner of the screen.
In a diamond wipe, the base picture is gradually replaced by
the second image in an expanding diamond-shaped cutout.
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D I G I TA L E F F E C T S
9.21 SOFT WIPE
The soft wipe renders the demarcation line between the two images
purposely less prominent.
Don’t go overboard with wipes simply because they are so easy to do. All wipes
are highly visible, especially on a large HDTV screen with the horizontally stretched
16 × 9 aspect ratio. When using a wipe as a transition, you must be careful that it fits
the character and the mood of the video material. Using a diamond wipe during a
news program to reveal a more detailed shot of a murder scene is highly inappropriate; but it is quite acceptable when transitioning from a beautiful shot of spring
blossoms to graceful ballet dancers (see figure 9.20).
DIGITAL EFFECTS
The computer has greatly expanded the range of possibilities for manipulation
of the lens-generated image; it can even create still or animated images that rival
high-quality lens-generated images in every respect. The equipment for digital
video effects (DVE) can grab a frame from any digital video source (live camera
or video recording), store it, manipulate it according to the effects software available, and retrieve the effect on command. It can create a great variety of effects,
using DVE software.
To keep this topic manageable, we give a brief overview of three aspects of digital
image manipulation and image creation: digital image manipulation equipment,
common digital video effects, and synthetic image creation.
Digital Image Manipulation Equipment
With readily available DVE software, all desktop computers are capable of manipulating video images so long as they have enough RAM and a high processing speed.
Four types of systems facilitate image manipulation: an editing system with graphics software, a graphics generator, an electronic still store system, and a frame store
synchronizer.
Editing system with graphics software Most high-end desktop editing systems
include so many effects possibilities that you will probably (and ideally should)
use only a fraction of them. It may be tempting to try them all simply because they
are available and relatively easy to use, but keep effects to a minimum. It is not the
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▶K E Y
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C O N C E P T
Use special effects
only when they
clarify or intensify the
intended message.
GRAPHICS AND EFFECTS
effect that makes a program interesting but its content. Realize that any digital effect
is purposely visible, which means it is made to draw attention to itself. Ask yourself
whether an effect is appropriate in the context of the show content and whether it is
used to intensify, rather than falsify, the message. To add or remove a person digitally
from a news story, for example, is certainly possible but definitely unethical.
In case you need even more effects than are included in your editing program,
there is DVE software available that would satisfy even the most imaginative director of sci-fi movies.
Graphics generator Most television stations and independent production and
postproduction companies use a digital graphics generator for manipulating and creating graphic images. Graphics generators are large-capacity, high-speed dedicated
computers that can perform different jobs, depending on the software. Some have
hardware attached, such as a drawing tablet, which allows you to draw with a light
pen. Daily weather or traffic maps are usually created with a graphics generator.
Electronic still store system With an electronic still store (ESS) system, you can
grab any video frame, digitize it, and store it on a disk. These systems—which can
store tens of thousands of frames—perform like a superfast slide projector. You
can call up and display any stored image in a fraction of a second. The digital still
images can be shrunk, expanded, and used in combination with other images. The
familiar box above the newscaster’s shoulder is usually a digitized frame that is keyed
into the base picture of the news set.
Frame store synchronizer The primary function of the digital frame store synchronizer is to stabilize a picture and synchronize two different video sources so that they
don’t roll when switching from one to the other, but some can also be used for simple
DVE. With the frame store synchronizer, you can freeze a moving image, change it
into a mosaic, advance it frame-by-frame at different rates (a process called jogging),
or solarize it—mix the positive image with its negative. SEE 9.22 AND 9.23
9.22 MOSAIC EFFECT
9.23 SOLARIZATION
With the mosaic effect, the image is distilled into equal-sized
squares, resembling mosaic tiles. In such an electronic mosaic,
the size of the tiles can be manipulated.
Solarization is a special effect that is produced by a partial polarity reversal of an image. In a color image, the reversal results
in a combination of complementary hues.
203
D I G I TA L E F F E C T S
Common Digital Video Effects
To understand the analog-to-digital translation process, try to visualize how a photo
is transformed into a mosaic, as shown in figure 9.22. The analog video frame shows
a continuous change of shape, color, and brightness. In digital form the same image
is seen as a series of mosaic tiles, each representing a discrete picture element—a
pixel. Because the computer can identify each pixel separately, you can take some
out, move them, or replace them with a different color. Once satisfied with the manipulation, you can store the image on disk for later use.
Once again, the box over the news anchor’s shoulder is a good example of digital
manipulation. It can contain an entire static scene as well as any number of moving
scenes that are squeezed digitally to fit inside the box. SEE 9.24
Elaborate DVE can change the size of the image (lettering or an actual scene),
squeeze or stretch it, paste it on a cube, and have it tumble, flip, spin, bounce, and
fly through the screen space. SEE 9.25–9.27 ZVL6 SWITCHING Effects special effects
9.24 BOX OVER THE NEWS ANCHOR’S SHOULDER
9.25 SQUEEZING
The box over the newscaster’s shoulder can take on many
shapes and sizes. The digital image inside the box can be
stationary or moving.
Squeezing or stretching changes the format of the frame and
the image within it.
9.26 CUBE EFFECT
9.27 FLY EFFECT
In the cube effect, the images seem glued to the sides of a
rotating cube.
In the fly effect, the image zooms from a certain spot to a full
image or recedes to another screen position.
CHAPTER 9
GRAPHICS AND EFFECTS
Synthetic Image Creation
Synthetic images range from simple lettering of titles to complex 3D motion sequences that rival well-shot and well-edited videotaped footage.
Character generator The most common synthetic image creation is the production of various titles. As indicated earlier, the C.G. (character generator) is designed
to produce letters and numbers of different fonts and colors. A laptop computer can
be an efficient C.G., assuming you have the appropriate software. More-elaborate
character generators are designated computers that offer a rich menu from which
to select the background and the size, style, and color of the letters and numbers.
You then type the copy on the keyboard, colorize the characters, position them on
the display screen, insert or delete words, scroll the copy up or down the screen,
or have it crawl sideways—all with a few simple commands. The C.G. renders titles
and simple graphics very rapidly and is therefore used extensively for live and liverecorded events. SEE 9.28 Using the switcher you can key the copy directly into the
video of the program in progress or save it to disk for later retrieval.
Graphics generator As you just learned, a graphics generator with appropriate
software lets you create a great variety of images independent of the video camera.
Drawing software enables you to create maps, floor plans, light plots, other designs,
and even simple storyboards. SEE 9.29 Painting software enables you to modify or
create digital images that imitate various painting styles and techniques. SEE 9.30
You can also simulate three-dimensional images that seem to occupy 3D
screen space. These resemble lens-generated images and exhibit the same characteristics: texture, assumed volume, attached and cast shadows, and perspective
that shows the object from a specific point of view. With computer programs called
fractals, you can even “paint” freeform images, such as trees, mountains, or colorful
patterns. SEE 9.31
9.28 VIDEO CREATED
WITH CHARACTER
GENERATOR
The C.G. is designed to
generate titles.
PHOTOGRAPH REPRODUCED UNDER PERMISSION FROM HARRIS CORPORATION.
INSCRIBER AND TITLEEXPRESS ARE TRADEMARKS OF HARRIS CORPORATION.
204
205
D I G I TA L E F F E C T S
9.29 IMAGE CREATED
WITH DRAWING PROGRAM
The drawing program facilitates
technical drawings and twodimensional images.
9.30 COMPUTERMODIFIED PHOTO
This photograph of a flower
was given a watercolor quality
using the computer.
9.31 FRACTAL LANDSCAPE
Some computer programs allow
you to “paint” irregular images
using mathematical formulas.
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▶K E Y
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C O N C E P T
Synthetic images are
entirely computergenerated.
GRAPHICS AND EFFECTS
Synthetic image creation is becoming more common, even in relatively simple
video production processes and interactive video programs. Such computer-generated
images and their applications are explored further in chapter 15.
To reinforce our basic caveat: don’t get carried away by all the digital wizardry.
After all, the content of the package is still more important than its wrapping. Even
the best DVE treatment will not change a basically insignificant message into a significant one. On the other hand, properly used effects can clarify and intensify the
screen event, supply additional meaning, and, like music, increase its energy.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Aspect Ratio
Aspect ratio is the relationship of the width of the television screen to its height. In STV
(standard television), it is 4 × 3 (4 units wide by 3 units high); for HDTV (high-definition
television), it is 16 × 9 (16 units wide by 9 units high). Cell-phone screens have various
aspect ratios, including vertical ones.
▶ Essential Area
All the important information must be contained in the essential area—the screen area
that is reproduced by the home television set even under adverse conditions. It is also
called the safe title area.
▶ Titles
When using letters against a busy background, make them big and bold enough that
they can be read easily on the home screen. In designing color graphics, try to set off
high-energy colors (bright and rich hues) against a low-energy background (washed-out,
pastel colors).
▶ Special Effects
Standard electronic video effects are achieved with an electronic switcher and a specialeffects generator (SEG). They include superimpositions, normal (luminance) keys, matte
keys, chroma keys, and wipes. Most chroma keys use either blue or green as the backdrop
color. Although wipes function technically as transitions rather than effects, they are so
obvious that they are usually considered an electronic effect. Digital video effects (DVE)
can be generated by the switcher as well as by computers with appropriate DVE software.
▶ Character Generator
The character generator (C.G.) is a computer with software designed to create titles;
graphics generators are dedicated computer systems that can create or manipulate 3D
still and animated images.
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D I G I TA L E F F E C T S
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
SWITCHING Effects keys
ZVL2
SWITCHING Effects key types
ZVL3
SWITCHING Effects special effects
ZVL4
SWITCHING Effects key types
199
ZVL5
SWITCHING Transitions wipe
200
ZVL6
SWITCHING Effects special effects
198
198
198
203
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IV
P A R T
CHAPTER 10
Switcher and
Switching
Image Control: Switching,
Recording, and Editing
When you watch a live telecast of an interview, a newscast, or a football game, the
changes from long shots to close-ups, the various transitions between shots, and some
of the special visual effects are all done with a switcher. In a live telecast, the director
selects the most effective shot and calls for the technical director (TD) to press the
CHAPTER 11
Video Recording
CHAPTER 12
Postproduction:
Linear and
Nonlinear Editing
appropriate button on the switcher so that the shot is delivered to the line-out and
put on the air. Many TDs think that there is nothing more exciting than switching a live
show or a live recording of one. After all, it gives the audience a chance to witness, if not
participate at least emotionally, in an event whose every moment has an open future. As
you can see, sports are the ideal content for such live telecasts.
Although switching, or instantaneous editing, is essential for the live pickup of a football
game, it is rarely appropriate for the production of a fully scripted play. Why do it live
when every move has been scripted? There is no open future in such a production,
CHAPTER 13
Editing Principles
unless somebody makes an obvious mistake. What you may gain in spontaneity you lose
in production control. This is why many of the shows you see are assembled through
postproduction editing. Postproduction editing allows you to be more deliberate in
selecting and sequencing the most effective shots and enables you to correct minor
mistakes. Unfortunately, some directors think that postproduction gives them a
convenient tool to fix mistakes and, therefore, a license to be sloppy in the production
phase. So, when you hear crewmembers say: “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in post,” they are
merely uttering what has become a rather worn production joke. But then they go back
right away and do another take to correct whatever had gone wrong.
“Fixing it in post” is not only costly but a misconception of what postproduction is all
about. Postproduction editing should not be seen as a convenient rescue operation for
a sloppy production but as an organic extension of the production process in which the
various segments are given form and order.
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10
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
downstream keyer (DSK) A control that allows a title to be
keyed (cut in) over the picture (line-out signal) as it leaves
the switcher.
effects bus Row of buttons on the switcher that can select the
video sources for a specific effect. Usually the same as a mix
bus that has been switched to an effects function.
fader bar A lever on the switcher that activates buses and can
produce superimpositions, dissolves, fades, keys, and wipes
of different speeds.
key bus Row of buttons on the switcher used to select the
video source to be inserted into the background image.
line-out The line that carries the final video or audio output.
M/E bus Row of buttons on the switcher that can serve mix or
effects functions.
mix bus Row of buttons on the switcher that permits the mixing of video sources, as in a dissolve or a super.
preview bus Row of buttons on the switcher that can direct
an input to the preview monitor at the same time another
video source is on the air. Also called preset bus.
program bus Row of buttons on the switcher, with inputs that
are directly switched to the line-out.
switcher (1) A panel with rows of buttons that allow the selection and the assembly of multiple video sources through
a variety of transition devices as well as the creation of
electronic effects. (2) Production person who is doing
the switching.
switching A change from one video source to another and
the creation of various transitions and effects during
production with the aid of a switcher. Also called instantaneous editing.
Switcher and Switching
When you first look at a switcher, you may feel as puzzled as when you first saw an
audio console: rows of buttons that light up in different colors—none of which makes
any sense to you. But the TD assures you that you will be able to operate the switcher
within a reasonable period of time once you understand the functions of the controls.
To help you in this task, this chapter acquaints you with the basic switcher functions
and switching operations.
▶ PRODUCTION SWITCHER
What a switcher does
▶ BASIC SWITCHER FUNCTIONS
Selecting, previewing, and mixing video sources and creating effects
▶ SWITCHER LAYOUT
Program bus, preview bus, key bus, fader bar and auto-transition, and
delegation controls
▶ SWITCHER OPERATION
Cuts, dissolves, wipes, keys, working the downstream keyer, chroma keying,
and special effects
▶ AUTOMATED PRODUCTION CONTROL
The automated, centrally controlled newsroom
PRODUCTION SWITCHER
Switching refers to instantaneous editing using simultaneously available video
sources. The term switcher can also refer to the person who does the switching,
although usually the TD fills this production role. You accomplish this type of
“editing-on-the-fly” with a switcher, which operates much like a pushbutton radio.
The pushbutton radio lets you select and instantly switch from one radio station to
another. Similarly, a production switcher allows you to punch up video sources, such
as the pictures supplied by two or more cameras, a VR (video recorder), a server file,
or a C.G. (character generator), while the production is in progress. Unlike a pushbutton radio, however, the switcher offers transitions, such as cuts, dissolves, and
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SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
10.1 PRODUCTION SWITCHER
Large production switchers have many rows
with buttons and several levers. The buttons
permit the selection of video sources, switching functions, and a variety of transitions and
special effects. The levers control the speed
of transitions and fades.
wipes, with which you can join the selected pictures. It also has a number of standard
electronic effects built into it (see chapter 9). The large production switcher is used
primarily in multicamera studio productions or in big remotes for instantaneous
editing. It is occasionally used in electronic cinema when multiple cameras are used
simultaneously. SEE 10.1 ZVL1 SWITCHING Switching introduction
Not surprisingly, the digital age has spawned a great variety of switchers. Some
come in compact cases; others display virtual switching buttons and all other functions on a computer screen. SEE 10.2 AND 10.3
On the virtual switchers, the actual switching is done with the mouse. The problem with switching with a mouse on a virtual display is that it is too slow, especially
if you need to switch among more than two or three video sources. Just try to type
a word by clicking on the letters of a virtual alphabet display! Even if you were an
expert mouse handler, it would take you much too long to write anything. This is
10.2 SMALL PORTABLE
PRODUCTION SWITCHER
Small portable production switchers contain
an astonishing variety of additional production
functions. This Sony Anycast switcher has two
M/E buses (program and preview) and a key
bus for six video inputs with a variety of transitions and special effects, an LED panel with a
line monitor and various thumbnail previews,
six stereo audio channels, and other important
features—all in a relatively small suitcase.
USED BY PERMISSION OF SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.
212
213
BASIC SWITCHER FUNCTIONS
10.3 VIRTUAL SWITCHER
A This little wonderbox lets you switch among six inputs,
select various transitions and effects, create titles and even
virtual sets through chroma keying, and mix four channels
of audio.
B Its software displays all major functions in this computer
interface, which you activate with a keyboard and a mouse.
A
B
t.
why you have a keyboard—and why some virtual switchers come with an actual
switching panel as an option.
Regardless of model and appearance, all switchers allow you to make basic transitions between two shots, such as a cut, whereby one shot is instantly replaced by
another; a dissolve, in which two images temporarily overlap; and a wipe, in which
a portion of an image is gradually replaced—wiped off the screen—by another. They
also offer a variety of effects, as you learned in chapter 9.
BASIC SWITCHER FUNCTIONS
The four basic switcher functions are selecting video sources, previewing upcoming video sources or special effects, mixing video sources, and creating effects. ZVL2 SWITCHING Switching functions select | connect | transitions | create effects
A row of buttons on a switcher is called a bus. The selection of sources is done
with the program bus, and the previewing is done with the preview, or preset, bus.
These two buses can also be used as mix buses, which means you can mix two video
sources for dissolves and supers. When you want to put titles over a scene, you need
still another bus—the key bus.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Switchers allow the
selection of multiple
video inputs and the
immediate creation of
transitions and effects.
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SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
Wipe selectors
Color background controls
Joystick
Auto-transition rate
Key controls
Clipper
Soft wipe
Downstream keyer
Black buttons
Delegation
controls
Key bus
Program bus
(M/E bus A)
DSK fade-toblack button
Preview/preset
bus (M/E bus B)
Fader bar
Cut button
Auto-transition button
10.4 PRODUCTION SWITCHER
This production switcher has only three buses: a preview/preset bus, a program bus, and a key bus.
You can delegate the preview and program buses an M/E (mix/effects) function.
Let’s take a look at how a relatively simple switcher is laid out.1
SEE 10.4
SWITCHER LAYOUT
Regardless of whether switchers are analog or digital, they all operate on a similar
principle, called switcher architecture. This standardization helps you greatly when
you’re called upon to operate a variety of switchers.
Program Bus
To select and connect certain shots, you need several video inputs. If all you had were
two cameras and you simply wanted to cut from one camera to the other, you could
get by with only two switcher buttons: one that activates camera 1 and another for
camera 2. By pressing the C-1 (camera 1) button, camera 1 would be put “on the air”;
that is, it would go to the line-out—the line that carries the final video output—and
from there to the video recorder and/or the transmitter.
1. The Grass Valley 100 switcher is used here because its architecture has become the standard for
most multifunction production switchers. Even the more up-to-date digital switchers operate
in similar ways.
215
S W I T C H E R L AY O U T
10.5 PROGRAM BUS
Whatever source is punched
up on the program bus goes
directly to the line-out.
Line monitor
(camera 1)
Program bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
Line-out
Because you would probably want to select from additional video sources,
such as a VR, a C.G., and a source that is fed from a remote location, you need three
additional buttons in the switcher row: VR, CG, and REM, respectively. To quickly
dump the video and “cut to black,” you need still another button, called the black
(BLK) button.
The switcher now has six separate buttons on a single bus. By pressing any
one except the BLK button, the designated video source will be put on the air; the
BLK button takes it off the air (actually, BLK selects a black video signal). This bus,
which sends the chosen video source directly to the line-out, is called the program
bus. SEE 10.5
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Whatever is punched up
on the program bus goes
directly to the line-out.
Preview Bus
Before putting the selected shots on the air, you will undoubtedly want to see whether
they cut together properly—whether the sequence fulfills your aesthetic continuity- or complexity-editing requirements (see chapter 13). You may also want to see
whether a superimposition has the right mix of the two images or whether you have
the correct name for a title key over a guest. To preview the sources, the program bus
buttons are simply repeated in an additional bus, appropriately called the preview
bus. SEE 10.6 Because the preview bus is also used to preset complex effects, you
may also hear it called the preset bus.
▶K E Y
Program bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CG
REM
Line-out
Preview/preset bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
To preview monitor
Preview monitor
(camera 2)
10.6 PREVIEW BUS
The preview bus lets you preview an upcoming source or effect before it is punched up on the
air. The preview bus is identical to the program bus except that its output goes to the preview
monitor rather than the line-out.
C O N C E P T
The preview bus
sends its video to the
preview monitor but
not to the line-out.
Line monitor
(camera 1)
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SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
Key Bus
Key bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CG
REM
CG
REM
Program bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
Preview/preset bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
The key bus duplicates the video inputs of the preview and program
buses but serves as the selector for the key source—what you want
to appear over a background picture (supplied by the program bus).
For example, if you want a specific title to be keyed over a person
or an object (as shown on the preview or line monitor), you need to
select the title at the C.G. and then press the CG button on the key
bus in preparation for the actual key. SEE 10.7
Fader Bar and Auto-transition
To fade from black or fade to black, to superimpose two images, or
to use transitions other than cuts, you need to use a fader bar or an
The key bus has the identical buttons as the
auto-transition. How to do this is described later in this chapter.
preview and program buses. Each button actiThe fader bar activates and regulates the speed of fades and disvates a key source—the image you want to key
solves (see figure 10.4). The faster you move the fader bar from
into (over) a background image.
one limit of travel to the other, the faster the dissolve or wipe will
▶K E Y C O N C E P T
be. When stopped midway, the dissolve becomes a superimposition, and the wipe
yields a split-screen effect.
The key bus selects
the key source.
The full travel of the fader bar can be substituted by the auto-transition button,
although you must select the speed of the desired mix or effect before activating the
auto-transition (see figure 10.4).
10.7 KEY BUS
Delegation Controls
The delegation controls assign functions to the program and preview buses. This
prevents switchers from getting too large and keeps them manageable. Because the
buses of digital switchers can be assigned to perform a great many functions, the
switchers often look deceptively small. The program and preview buses of all switchers can also be assigned to function as mix buses, which allows them to work together
to produce dissolves, supers, and wipes. They can also be assigned to function as
effects buses, in which they usually serve as background images for keys.
These assignments are made possible by the delegation controls on the switcher
(see figure 10.4). The various mix/effects (M/E) functions of the program and preview (preset) buses are assigned by pressing one or more of the delegation buttons
in the effects/transition section of the switcher. SEE 10.8 For example, by pressing
the background (BKGD) and MIX buttons next to the fader bar, you delegate a mix
10.8 DELEGATION
SECTION
The delegation section
of a switcher assigns
functions to the preview
and program buses and
activates the key bus.
Delegation section
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
BKGD
KEY
MIX
WIPE
CUT
AUTO
TRANS
REM
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
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S W I T C H E R O P E R AT I O N
function to the two M/E buses (program and preview). You can now dissolve from
the picture punched up on the program bus (M/E bus A) to the one punched up on
the preview bus (M/E bus B). By pressing the WIPE button next to the MIX button,
you can now wipe from the program source to the one punched up on the preview
bus. The two buses have now become mix buses. By pressing the KEY button, the
program and preview buses become effects buses. ZVL3 SWITCHING Architecture
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The delegation controls
can assign the program
and preview buses
the function of mix
and effects buses.
program bus | preview bus | delegation controls | mix buses | key bus
SWITCHER OPERATION
It’s time now to press a few buttons and learn how to switch—that is, select video
inputs and sequence them through transitions and effects. Yes, you certainly need
a switcher, or at least a computer simulation of a switcher, to become proficient in
the art of switching. By first studying the basic principles of switching, however, you
will make your actual practice much more efficient and rewarding.
When you simply read the instructions on how to achieve a cut or a dissolve, you
may be as puzzled as when reading about how to use new computer software. You
should therefore pretend that the illustrations are part of a switcher and that you are
actually pressing the buttons. If you have Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 DVD-ROM available,
engage in the switching exercises right away to reinforce the text.
Working the Program Bus: Cuts-only
As you recall, the program bus is basically a selector switch of video sources for the
line-out. It has this function assigned to it by simply powering up the switcher. If
you now want to cut from one video source, let’s say C1 (camera 1), to another, C2
(camera 2), you can simply press the C-2 button, assuming that C1 is already on the
air (the C-1 button has been pressed previously). Camera 1’s picture will be instantly
replaced by C2’s picture; you have performed a cut from C1 to C2. SEE 10.9 Because
Program bus
Program bus
BLK
BLK
C-1
C-1
C-2
C-2
VR
VR
CG
CG
REM
REM
“Take one.”
Preview monitor
Line monitor
Preview monitor
Line monitor
“Take two.”
10.9 SWITCHING ON THE PROGRAM BUS
When switching on the program bus, the transitions will be cuts-only. With camera 1 on the air, you can cut to camera 2
by pressing the C-2 button.
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▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The program bus sends
the selected video inputs
directly to the line-out.
It is a cuts-only device.
SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
the program bus sends its signals directly to the line-out, you cannot preview the
upcoming image (C2). The preview monitor remains black when you switch exclusively on the program bus. ZVL4 SWITCHING Transitions cut
Working the Mix Buses: Cuts
If you want to preview the upcoming video source, or if you want to dissolve to camera
2 (mix) instead of cut to it, you first need to delegate a mix function to both buses.
You do this on the Grass Valley 100 switcher (and the ZVL switcher) by pressing the
BKGD and MIX buttons. To cut from camera 1 to camera 2, you need to punch up
C2 on the preview bus (which is now M/E bus B) and press either the CUT button
or the AUTO-TRANS button next to the preview bus. Camera 2 will instantly appear
on the line monitor, and camera 1 will automatically jump to the preview monitor.
The C-2 button will light up full, called high tally, on the program bus, and C-1 will
have low tally (lighted halfway) on the preview bus. If you pressed the CUT button
again, C1 would switch to the line monitor, and C2 would appear on the preview
monitor. SEE 10.10 ZVL5 SWITCHING Transitions try it
Is the benefit of seeing the next shot in the preview monitor worth this rather
complicated switching maneuver? No, if you simply want to cut between two obvious
sources. Yes, if you switch among various video sources and effects or if you need to
use a variety of transitions. Let’s see how a dissolve works.
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
BKGD
CG
REM
MIX
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CG
REM
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CUT
Preview monitor
(camera 2)
Line monitor
(camera 1)
Preview monitor
(camera 1)
Line monitor
(camera 2)
BKGD
MIX
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CUT
10.10 SWITCHING IN THE MIX MODE
When delegated a background and mix function, the program bus becomes M/E bus A and the preview/preset bus
becomes M/E bus B.
A Here camera 1 is punched up on bus A and on the air. Camera 2 is preset to replace camera 1 as soon as you
press the CUT button.
B When the cut is complete, the program bus shows camera 2 on the air, and the preview/preset bus switches
automatically to camera 1’s picture.
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S W I T C H E R O P E R AT I O N
Working the Mix Buses: Dissolves
Because you have delegated both buses to the mix mode, you can also perform a dissolve. To dissolve from camera 1 (punched up on the program bus and, therefore, on
the air) to camera 2, you need to press the C-2 button on the preview bus and move
the fader bar either up or down to the full extent of travel (or press the AUTO-TRANS
button). On the switcher in figure 10.10, the fader bar is in the down position. You
will have to move it all the way up to achieve the dissolve. SEE 10.11
Note that when the fader bar reaches the opposite limit of travel (in this case,
up), finishing the dissolve from C1 to C2, camera 1 (which was punched up on the
program bus) will be replaced by camera 2 on the program bus, with camera 1 appearing on the preview monitor and in low tally on the preview bus. If you now want
to dissolve back to C1, you simply move the fader bar to the opposite position or
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
BKGD
CG
REM
MIX
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CG
REM
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CUT
Preview monitor
(camera 2)
Line monitor
(camera 1)
Preview monitor
(camera 2)
Line monitor
(superimposition)
Preview monitor
(camera 1)
Line monitor
(camera 2)
BKGD
MIX
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CG
REM
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CUT
BKGD
MIX
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CUT
10.11 DISSOLVE
Once you have assigned the mix function through the mix delegation control, you can dissolve from camera 1 to camera 2.
A Assuming that camera 1 is on the air on bus A, you need to preset camera 2 on bus B.
B When the fader bar is stopped midway, you have a super.
C By moving the fader bar to the full limit of travel, you activate the dissolve from camera 1 to camera 2. Once the dissolve is
complete, camera 2 will replace camera 1 on the program bus.
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SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
BKGD
CG
REM
MIX
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CUT
Preview monitor
(black)
Line monitor
(camera 2)
10.12 FADE
When fading to black from camera 2, you need to punch up the BLK button on bus B (preview/preset) and dissolve to it
by moving the fader bar down to its full limit of travel.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Mix buses (or buses
in the mix mode) let
you do cuts, dissolves,
superimpositions,
and fades.
press the AUTO-TRANS button again. This will dissolve C2’s picture on the line-out
monitor back to C1’s picture. If, however, you want to dissolve from C2 to another
video source, such as C3, you need to press the C-3 button on the preview bus before
moving the fader bar in the opposite direction. ZVL6 SWITCHING Transitions mix/dissolve
As you can see, the preview and line monitors reflect which camera is on the
air and which is ready to go on the air. Once you have a little more practice, such
presetting of shots will become second nature.
With camera 3 on the air, how can you fade to black? You simply press the BLK
button on the preview bus and move the fader bar in the opposite direction (regardless of whether you move it toward or away from the program bus) or press the
AUTO-TRANS
A
button. As soon as the fader bar reaches the opposite limit of travel (or
the auto-transition is at the end of its run), the fade-to-black command is transferred
back to the program bus. SEE 10.12 ZVL7 SWITCHING Transitions fade
Working the Effects Bus: Wipes
Wipes, in which the base image is gradually replaced by another in some geometric
pattern, are accomplished similarly to a dissolve except that you need to tell the
switcher that you want to use wipes instead of a mix. You do this by first pressing
the BKGD and WIPE delegation buttons (instead of BKGD and MIX in the effects/
transition section). You then need to select a wipe pattern from the wipe selector
section. Moving the fader bar activates the wipe and controls its speed, just like in
a dissolve. The faster you move the fader bar, the faster the wipe will be. The AUTOTRANS button will also accomplish the wipe in the time you specify. ZVL8 SWITCHING
Transitions wipe
Working the Key Bus: Keys
Keying is not a transition but a special effect. As you learned in chapter 9, a key allows
you to insert (cut electronically) an image (usually a title) into a background picture.
Most often you will work with a luminance key, which is used to insert a title over an
on-the-air background picture. Before you activate a title key while on the air (the
background picture is displayed by the line monitor), you should set up the key in
preview and then transfer the completed key from the preview bus to the program
bus. This way you can verify that you got the correct title and that it is readable.
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S W I T C H E R O P E R AT I O N
Setting up a key is a little more involved than making a transition, and the exact sequence of keying differs from switcher to switcher. Regardless of the specific
switcher architecture, you select the key source (usually the C.G. with the desired
title) on the key bus. You then need to work some buttons and/or rotary controls
(called the clip control, or clipper) to make sure the key has clean edges and does not
tear. (Such an operation may differ from one switcher to another.) Then you press the
KEY button in the delegation controls. This changes the mix function of the buses
to an effects function—in this case the key function. The picture you have on the air
already (an image of a dancer from camera 2) can serve as the background for the
title you want to key over the dancer (“Palmatier Dance Company”).
If you want to preset this key on the preview monitor while C2’s picture is
already on the air, you must duplicate C2’s picture on the preview monitor (by
punching up C2 on the preview monitor even though C2 is already punched up on
the program monitor) before selecting the key source on the key bus and doing the
keying. SEE 10.13
Effect keyer
Key bus
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
CG
REM
C-1
C-2
VR
CG
REM
Program bus
Mix bus A
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
BLK
C-1
C-2
VR
Source
Clip
BKGD
KEY
MIX
WIPE
CUT
AUTO
TRANS
Preview monitor
(camera 2 with
C.G. text)
Line monitor
(camera 2)
KEY
BUS
KEY
BUS
Fill
Source
Preview monitor
(camera 2)
Line monitor
(camera 2 with
C.G. text)
Clip
Effect transition
CG
REM
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
Fill
Effect keyer
Key bus
BLK
KEY
BUS
Effect transition
Preview/preset bus
Mix bus B
KEY
BUS
CG
REM
BKGD
KEY
MIX
WIPE
CUT
AUTO
TRANS
10.13 KEY EFFECT
This key sequence is constructed for the preview monitor before it is transferred to the line-out. Assume that the key bus
has been delegated.
A The camera 2 long shot appears on both the line monitor (outgoing signal) and the preview monitor. By pressing the
CG button on the key bus, the title is selected and appears on the preview monitor.
B Pressing the CUT button (or moving the fader bar) will transfer the complete key to the line-out monitor.
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▶K E Y
Once you have set up the complete key in the preview, you can transfer the background picture plus the keyed title to the line-out by pressing the CUT button.
The best way to learn keying is to sit down with an actual switcher and perform
a variety of switching exercises. You can use Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 for initial keying
practice, but the keying procedures on this switching simulation are greatly simplified. ZVL9 SWITCHING Effects keys | key types
C O N C E P T
Keying is an effect,
not a transition.
SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
Working the Downstream Keyer
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The downstream
keyer is independent
of the program bus
To complicate matters, there is still another—very important—key control. The
downstream keyer (DSK) lets you key yet another title over the complete line-out
video image just before it leaves the switcher. In our example the DSK would enable
you to add the name of the choreographer (“Robaire”) to the original key (“Palmatier
Dance Company”) without changing the original key. Note that the downstream
keyer is independent of the program bus and puts its title on the air even if the program bus is in black. If you have used the downstream keyer, going to black on the
program bus will not eliminate the DSK title: you need to use the DSK black button
to eliminate this type of key. ZVL10 SWITCHING Effects downstream keyer
Chroma Keying
As you recall from chapter 9, chroma keying uses color (not luminance) as the agent
that triggers the key effect. It is normally used to key a foreground object (such as a
weathercaster) into the background image (the weather map). For a chroma key, the
foreground object is placed in front of an evenly illuminated color backdrop (usually
blue or green). During the key all the blue or green areas are replaced by the selected
background image. The actual setup for a chroma key is more complicated than
for a regular luminance key and must be practiced on an actual switcher. ZVL11
SWITCHING Effects key types
Special Effects
All switchers can create and store special effects. Digital switchers have a relatively
large memory that can hold a great number of complex effects, which are usually
recalled by their file name or number.
AUTOMATED PRODUCTION CONTROL
A new kind of video control has evolved through automating most of the presentation
techniques of newscasts: the automated production control (APC). In an extreme
case, the only live elements left are the news anchors in the studio and the rather
overworked APC operator in the control room.
APC Function
The basic function of the APC system is to centralize the production control during
a show that has a standard presentation format, such as a newscast or an interview.
Assuming that the news presentation rundown, including news stories, commercials, and bumpers (brief independent audio/video transition between two program
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A U T O M AT E D P R O D U C T I O N C O N T R O L
segments), has already been preprogrammed for APC, a single operator (sometimes
the TD) can switch among live feeds, the anchors and weather- and sportscaster,
video and audio servers or VR segments, the electronic still store (ESS) system, and
robotic studio cameras while also controlling the audio and calling up a variety of
special effects. If you feel that such an assignment is a bit much for one person to
carry out and may not necessarily contribute to a more effective production, you are
quite right. But this system is primarily designed to minimize production personnel:
you can now do a live newscast without a director, audio technician, at least two
camera operators, and possibly a floor manager.
Control Panels
This wonder machine is based primarily on a computer with sophisticated software
and various devices that shake hands with compatible production switchers, C.G.
and ESS systems, audio and video servers, and the robotic camera controls (pan, tilt,
dolly, truck, zoom, and focus). The APC operator works a deceptively simple-looking
control panel, which typically has three sections: the audio control for the incoming audio; a rundown control, which is similar to a source switching section; and
a robotic camera control. Basically, the control panel triggers computer functions,
which are also displayed on flat-panel touch screens. SEE 10.14
Rundown control display
Audio controls
Direct control
display (audio
and video)
Robotic camera controls
Customized functions controls
10.14 APC SYSTEM
With this system (Ross OverDrive), one operator can activate and control a great variety of production elements,
such as the rundown of news stories, commercials, bumpers, video and audio servers, special effects, C.G. and
ESS systems, and robotic cameras.
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M A I N
SWITCHER AND SWITCHING
P O I N T S
▶ Production Switcher
Switching is a form of instantaneous editing. You can select various video inputs (camera,
VR, C.G., remote), sequence them with different transitions, and create a number of
effects while the show is in progress.
▶ Basic Switcher Functions
The four basic switcher functions are selecting various video sources, previewing
upcoming video sources or special effects, mixing video sources, and creating effects.
▶ Switcher Layout
Whatever is punched up on the program bus goes directly to the line-out. The preview
bus sends its video to the preview/preset monitor. The key bus lets you select key sources.
The fader bar and the auto-transition facilitate transitions other than cuts.
▶ Delegation Controls
The delegation controls can assign the program and preview buses various mix and
effects functions. The key bus has its own row of buttons and maintains its function.
▶ Switcher Operation
The program bus allows cuts-only switching. The preview bus routes the upcoming
picture to the preview monitor. When the preview and program buses are delegated as
mix buses, you can create dissolves, superimpositions, and fades. The fader bar activates
and regulates the speed of dissolves and fades and governs the extent of a wipe. The
function of the fader bar can be duplicated by the auto-transition feature. Like the mix
function, the effects function of the switcher must be assigned in the delegation section.
This allows you to select the key source on the key bus and activate a key through a
variety of additional controls. The downstream keyer (DSK) enables the addition of
another title to the key just before the line-out signal leaves the switcher. It is independent
of the program bus.
▶ Automated Production Control
Most major studio production functions are centralized in a single control unit—the
automated production control (APC). One person (the APC operator) can initiate preset
camera moves, switch among performance areas and/or live feeds, control audio, and
call up preprogrammed effects. So far APC is used mostly for newscasts.
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A U T O M AT E D P R O D U C T I O N C O N T R O L
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
SWITCHING Switching introduction
ZVL2
SWITCHING Switching functions select | connect
213
| transitions | create effects
ZVL3
SWITCHING Architecture program bus | preview bus |
217
delegation controls | mix buses | key bus
ZVL4
SWITCHING Transitions cut
ZVL5
SWITCHING Transitions try it
ZVL6
SWITCHING Transitions mix/dissolve
ZVL7
SWITCHING Transitions fade
220
ZVL8
SWITCHING Transitions wipe
220
ZVL9
SWITCHING Effects keys | key types
ZVL10
SWITCHING Effects downstream keyer
ZVL11
SWITCHING Effects key types
212
218
218
222
220
222
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11
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
audio track The area of the videotape used for recording the
audio information.
composite video A system that combines the Y (luminance, or
black-and-white) and C (color—red, green, and blue) video
information into a single signal. Also called NTSC.
control track The area of the videotape used for recording synchronization information.
field log A record of each take during the video recording.
flash memory device A solid-state read/write portable storage device that can download, store, and upload a limited
amount of digital audio and video information. Also called
flash drive or memory card.
interactive video A computer-driven program that gives the
viewer some control over what to see and how to see it. It is
often used as a training device.
luminance The brightness (black-and-white) information of
a video signal. Also called luma to include the grayscale
information.
multimedia Computer display of text, sound, and still and moving images. Usually recorded on CD-ROM or DVD.
nonlinear recording media Storage of video and audio material in digital form on a hard drive, solid-state flash memory
device, or read/write optical disc. Each single frame can be
instantly accessed by the computer.
NTSC Stands for National Television System Committee. Normally
refers to the composite video signal, consisting of the Y
signal (luminance, or black-and-white information) and the
C signal (red, green, and blue color information).
tapeless systems Refers to the recording, storage, and playback of audio and video information via digital storage
devices other than videotape.
time base corrector (TBC) An electronic accessory to videotape recorders that helps make videotape playbacks
electronically stable. It keeps slightly different scanning
cycles in step.
video server A large-capacity computer hard drive that
can store and play back a great amount of audio and
video information. It can be accessed by several users
simultaneously.
video track The area of the videotape used for recording the
video information.
Y/C component video A system that keeps the Y (luminance,
or black-and-white) and C (color—red, green, and blue) signals separate. Y and C are combined again when recorded
on a specific media. Also called Y/C system and S-video.
Y/color difference component video Video-recording system
wherein the three signals—the luminance (Y) signal, the
red signal minus its luminance (R–Y), and the blue signal
minus its luminance (B–Y)—are kept separate during the
recording and storage process. All three signals are recorded separately.
Video Recording
You have undoubtedly used both tape-based and tapeless video- and audio-recording
devices. Your VHS recorder or small camcorder uses tape to record video and audio
information; but your camcorder may also use a small optical disc or flash memory
device to store the digital data. Because the television industry has switched from
analog to digital equipment and operation, it strives to do away with videotape
altogether. Mainly for economic reasons, however, videotape is still very much alive
and widely used as a recording media.
Because videotape is still an important recording media in many handheld and
shoulder-mounted camcorders, you need videotape recorders (VTRs) for playing back
the camera footage for viewing and for transferring it to the hard drive of a nonlinear
editing system (NLE). Although tape can be used for analog and digital recordings, it
has several disadvantages: it is a linear storage device, which means that you cannot
randomly access specific information that might be buried in the middle of the cassette;
it necessitates a complicated tape drive and record heads for video capture and
playback; and the tape itself is subject to dropouts (which show up as specks in the
picture) and wear and tear after repeated use.
For the time being, you nevertheless need to learn about both types of recording media:
videotape and tapeless recording media. This chapter will help you understand major
video-recording systems, videotape-recording processes, and how to use and store
video recordings.
▶ VIDEO-RECORDING SYSTEMS
Tape- and tapeless recording systems, basic videotape tracks, composite and component
recording systems, types of videotape recorders, and the time base corrector
▶ VIDEOTAPE-RECORDING PROCESS
The necessary checklists: before, during, and after
▶ TAPELESS RECORDING MEDIA
Hard drives and video servers, flash memory devices, and read/write optical discs
.
227
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VIDEO RECORDING
▶ USE OF VIDEO RECORDING
Multimedia, interactive video, and digital cinema
VIDEO-RECORDING SYSTEMS
All videotape-recording systems operate on the same basic principle: the video
and audio signals are recorded and stored in analog or digital form on magnetic
tape and reconverted into pictures and sound during playback. These systems vary
greatly, however, in how the signals are put on the tape. Some VTRs are designed for
operational ease, such as the ones built into consumer camcorders or the popular
videocassette recorder (VCR). Others are designed for high-quality digital recordings whose pictures and sound maintain their quality even after many generations
during postproduction.
To make some sense out of the many video-recording systems, this section looks
at videotape-recording systems, basic videotape tracks, composite and component
recording systems, types of videotape recorders, and the time base corrector. Then
we move to the video-recording process and tapeless recording systems.
Tape- and Tapeless Recording Systems
Tape-based systems can record and play back analog or digital video and audio
information. Tapeless systems use large-capacity computer disks, read/write (rerecordable) optical discs, or memory cards, which are basically solid-state flash drives.
Tapeless systems can record digital audio and video signals but not analog ones.
In television stations the recording and especially the playback of digital program
material is done largely by video servers—high-speed, large-capacity computers.
Tape-based systems are also called linear systems, and disk-based systems are
nonlinear. (You will read more about the important differences between linear and
nonlinear systems in chapter 12.)
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The basic analog
videotape track system has
a video track, two audio
tracks, and a control track.
Basic Videotape Tracks
All analog videotape recorders use separate tracks to record the video and audio as
well as the control data. Most VTRs put at least four tracks onto a videotape: the video
track containing the picture information, two audio tracks containing all sound
information, and a control track that synchronizes the frames. SEE 11.1
11.1 BASIC ANALOG
Audio track 1
VIDEOTAPE TRACK SYSTEM
Audio track 2
The basic analog track system of
a videotape consists of a slanted
video track, two or more audio
tracks, and a control track.
Control track
Video track
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VIDEO-RECORDING SYSTEMS
11.2 VIDEO-RECORD HEAD
The videotape moves past the spinning head drum (or spinning heads
inside the drum) at an angle, creating a slanted video track.
Videotape
head spins…
…producing a
slanted video track
To avoid superfast tape travel when recording the high-frequency video signal
and to squeeze the maximum amount of information onto the videotape, all recorders—analog and digital—move the tape as well as the record heads. In this way the
tape moves in a loop around a head drum, which contains the spinning record heads.
The video-record heads in digital systems spin at very high speeds. SEE 11.2
In analog recording, the audio tracks—up to four high-fidelity digital tracks in
high-end digital VTRs—usually run lengthwise near the edges of the videotape. The
control track, which also runs lengthwise, contains evenly spaced blips or spikes,
called sync pulses, which keep the scanning in step, control the speed of the head
drum, and mark each complete video frame—an important feature in videotape
editing. SEE 11.3 ZVL1 EDITING Postproduction guidelines tape basics
The address code information is recorded on yet another track—the address code
or time code track—or it is mixed in with the video signal. Some digital systems, such
as DVCPRO, split each track into video, audio, and code information. Contrary to
analog tape, which records a complete field on each track and takes only two tracks
for a complete frame, most digital systems use several tracks for a complete frame.
11.3 CONTROL TRACK
WITH SYNC PULSES
The control track consists of equally
spaced sync pulses. Thirty such pulses
indicate one second of video.
Control track
15 pulses = 1⁄2 second
30 pulses = 1 second
2 video tracks = 1 frame
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VIDEO RECORDING
Cue track
Tape travel
Overwrite margin
Subcode area
Gap 3
Video area
He
ad
Gap 2
mo
tio
Audio area
n
Gap 1
Insert and track information area
Control track
20 tracks = 1 frame
11.4 DVCPRO50 TRACKS
This digital system uses 20 tracks for a single frame. Each track has video, audio, and code information.
The DVCPRO50 system, for instance, needs 20 tracks to complete a single frame.
High-quality recording systems may use even more tracks for each frame. SEE 11.4
Composite, Y/C Component, and Y/Color
Difference Component Recording Systems
Because the size of the pipe through which information is sent is limited, you need
to shrink the video signal at least temporarily to get as much data through the pipe
as fast as possible without infringing too much on picture quality. This signal manipulation is especially important for television transmission. If you suspect that
this is a type of compression, you are right. Because the analog signal could not be
compressed like the digital one (as discussed in chapter 3), various means of data
reduction for transport, storage, and transmission were developed that prove useful
even in the digital age.
The composite (NTSC1) system is the standard for analog video and analog
broadcast. It cannot process digital signals. If you still use an old analog TV set for
digital TV signals, you need a converter box to change the digital video signal into an
analog one. Paradoxically, you may have used a converter box to change the analog
broadcast signal into a digital one so that you could use a digital receiver.
The Y/C component and the Y/color difference component recording systems
were designed to produce higher-quality analog video that would resist deterioration during transmission and when using multiple generations in postproduction.
In digital video the Y/C component and the Y/color difference component systems
are still used as the basic technical signal formats.
The Y stands for luminance or luma, both of which refer to the black-and-white
portion of the video signal. Technically, there is a difference between luminance,
1. NTSC stands for National Television System Committee.
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VIDEO-RECORDING SYSTEMS
which refers to the general brightness of a picture, and luma, which includes specific manipulations of brightness (grayscale) steps between white and black. But to
avoid needless confusion, we will stick with luminance to mean the black-and-white
pictures that appear on your screen.
The C stands for the color portion of the signal. In technical lingo C stands for
chrominance or chroma, which includes hue (actual color) and saturation (deep color
or a washed-out one). To simplify matters (and preserve your sanity), let’s settle on
luminance for Y and color for C.
Composite system The analog signal for composite video uses the C signal, which
consists of the RGB (red, green, and blue) primary light colors, and combines it with
the Y signal, which consists of the luminance—the black-and-white picture portion.
The combined C and Y signals are transported by a single wire and recorded as a
single composite track on the videotape. The connectors of a composite signal are
usually yellow. SEE 11.5 Contrary to some high-end digital systems, which use 20 or
more tracks for a single frame, the composite system needs only two tracks—each
one containing a scanning field—per frame.
This analog signal is normally called the NTSC signal, or simply NTSC, because
the configuration was adopted by the National Television System Committee as
the standard for all U.S. video and broadcast television equipment. The composite
signal was chosen as a standard not because of its picture quality (which was, by
today’s standards, rather poor) but to save bandwidth during signal transport and
transmission.
The disadvantage of NTSC composite video has always been that the Y and C
signals occasionally got in each other’s way, causing video “noise.” A composite
NTSC recording also tends to deteriorate relatively quickly in multiple generations
because the initial artifacts (video noise), which at first are hardly visible, are multiplied during each subsequent recording.
The two other major television systems, PAL and SECAM, are not compatible
with NTSC. For instance, to play a videotape from Italy, which uses the PAL system,
or a tape from French TV, which uses SECAM, you need a standards converter—an
11.5 COMPOSITE SYSTEM
Luminance (Y)
Color (RGB)
The composite system, also called NTSC, uses a
video signal that combines the luminance (Y)
and color (C) information. It needs a single wire
—normally coded yellow—to be transported and
recorded on videotape as a single signal.
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11.6 Y/C COMPONENT SYSTEM
The Y/C component system, or S-video,
separates the luminance (Y) and color (C)
information but combines the two signals on the videotape. It needs two wires
to transport the two separate signals.
Luminance (Y)
Color (C)
Y (black-andwhite) signal
Ground
C (color) signals
Ground
electronic device that changes the signals into the NTSC format. To play these systems
on a VTR, you need a playback machine that has a converter built-in.
Y/C component system To reduce the interference between the Y and C signals
in the NTSC composite system, the Y/C component system, or S-video (S for separation), was developed. The Y/C component video system keeps the Y signal (luminance) and the C signal (color) separate during transport, but they are recorded
together on videotape. During the playback the two video channels (Y and C) are
separated again. The Y/C component system can also be digital, in which case the
two signals are sampled separately. The S-video cable has two wires to transport
the Y and C signals plus a ground wire for each. Be careful when using this cable.
Do not force it into the jack because the pins of the plug bend, or even break off,
quite easily. SEE 11.6
The advantage of this separation is that it ensures higher picture quality for both
the original analog recording and any subsequent generations. To preserve this
advantage, you need recorders, video monitors, and editing equipment specifically
designed to handle the separate Y and C signals. You can play a regular VHS tape on
an S-VHS recorder, but you ordinarily cannot play an S-VHS tape on a VHS recorder.
The S-VHS system is therefore only downward compatible.
Y/color difference component system The ideal situation would be to keep all
three (RGB) channels separate during transport and recording. In fact, this is done
in very high-end VTRs. But you probably guessed that this would take too much time
and bandwidth for the massive signals to be transported, recorded, and especially
transmitted. The Y/color difference system seems to be a good alternative.
This is how it works: First, the Y/color difference component video system takes
the original RGB video signals and mixes them in different proportions to produce a
Y (luminance) signal. As you know, the Y signal (composed of an RGB mixture) carries the brightness (black-and-white) information of a video picture. It is sometimes
called the green signal because green contributes most to the luminance mix.
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11.7 Y/COLOR DIFFERENCE COMPONENT SYSTEM
Luminance (Y)
Red minus luminance (R–Y)
Green matrixed (regenerated) from R–Y and B–Y
Like the RGB component system, the Y/color difference
component system needs three wires to transport the
three component signals: the Y (luminance) signal, the
R–Y (red minus luminance) signal, and the B–Y (blue
minus luminance) signal. The green signal is then
generated from these signals.
Blue minus luminance (B–Y)
Green = Y
Red = R–Y
Blue = B–Y
Second, from this Y signal combination, the red and the blue color signals are
separated out again: the R–Y (red minus luminance) signal and the B–Y (blue minus
luminance) signal. The Y and each of the two color difference signals are kept separate throughout the transport, recording, and transmission processes. The Y/color
difference component system is often labeled YPbPr for analog signals and YCbCr for
digital signals. You may sometimes see inputs that use YPbPr for analog and digital
component signals. The RCA phono connectors for this system are normally green
for the Y channel, red for R–Y channel, and blue for the B–Y channel. SEE 11.7
Such a signal manipulation works almost as well as a pure RGB separation, again
saving valuable bandwidth. Whereas in the analog Y/color difference system, you
need three wires to transport the three separate signals, the digital Y/color difference
system can operate on a single wire. Really? Really! The three different signals can
be sent sequentially through a single wire in separate packets and then reassembled
at the destination. One of the wonders of digital video!
If you are confused by all these systems, you may simply want to remember
that the composite system mixes luminance (brightness) and color information
into one signal. The other two systems, which separate luminance from color, are
component and can be analog or digital. The Y/color difference system produces
the best-quality video. In digital form there is no quality loss from one generation
to the next, no matter how many dubs you do.
Types of Videotape Recorders
Although the video industry continuously attempts to eliminate videotape altogether as a recording media, it still is popular. The reasons for its longevity are that
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it can record analog and digital signals, the VTRs in camcorders can record a greater
amount of digital data on a single media than can most tapeless recorders, and there
is still a vast amount of content stored on videotape in libraries, archives, television
station newsrooms, and almost every home. Until all these tapes are transferred to
digital media, they need VTRs for playback.
Analog VTRs The analog videotape recorders still in operation are mostly used for
playback of existing analog videotapes. They range from the high-end Betacam SP
(for superior performance), which uses the Y/color difference system, to the S-video
component recorders, to the low-end composite VHS recorders. All use ½-inch
videotape. The small, good-quality Hi8 recorders, which use an 8mm tape cassette
(a little wider than ¼-inch), fell victim to the much higher-quality digital recorders
before their unique recording standard became popular. All VTRs have the same
operational controls, though the order may differ from one brand to another: stop,
rewind, play, fast-forward, pause, and record.
Digital VTRs have replaced all but the best analog VTRs as stand-alone models
and in camcorders.
Digital VTRs When you look at studio VTRs, you can’t tell the difference between
analog and digital; they are about the same size and have similar if not identical
operational controls. SEE 11.8 But even if they look similar and have comparable
controls, digital VTRs produce better pictures and sound than the equivalent analog
VTR. More importantly, even the VTRs of small digital consumer camcorders allow
you to use many generations (copies) without any danger of lowering the quality of
the original recording.
Studio models range from the modest but sturdy DVCAM (Sony) and DVCPRO
(Panasonic) systems to HDV (high-definition video) and high-end HDTV (highdefinition television) VTRs, such as HDCAM and DVCPRO HD models. The highend VTRs not only tolerate many generations without any deterioration but also
contain electronic intelligence to record in various scanning modes (480p, 720p,
and 1080i) and frame rates (24 frames per second [fps] or lower, 30 fps, 60 fps, and
higher). In some cases they can even improve on the quality of the original footage,
but they also cost so much that only TV stations and large postproduction houses
can afford them.
Let’s look at some features that are common to most digital VTRs:
◾ Except for some high-end VTRs, which use ½-inch tape, most digital VTRs
use ¼-inch cassettes or MiniDV cassettes.
◾ They write several tracks for a single frame. For example, the DVCPRO50
system uses 20 tracks per frame.
◾ Most digital VTRs have a FireWire or i-link (IEEE 1394) port, which allows a
two-way exchange of video and audio between the VTR and the NLE system.
To list the many digital VTRs available would be more confusing than helpful. In
general, you can capture video and audio for an NLE system directly from the VTR
of a camcorder, but using the camcorder VTR for shuttling back and forth to select
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11.8 ANALOG AND
Power switch
VU meters
Headphone jack
USED BY PERMISSION OF SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.
Power switch
Analog VTR
Tape counter
VU meters
Digital VTR
DIGITAL STUDIO VTRS
Cassette slot
The operational features of
analog and digital VTRs are
often quite similar.
Operational controls
Cassette slot
Tape
counter
Headphone jack
Operational controls
Shuttle controls
shots is not a good idea; the camcorder mechanism is simply not built for such rough
treatment. It is therefore advisable to dub your source tapes to a sturdier, stand-alone
VTR for shot selection and NLE capture.
Time Base Corrector
An important piece of equipment for analog switching and videotape recording is
the time base corrector (TBC), whose main purpose is to make videotape playbacks, dubs, and edits electronically stable. It does so by keeping slightly different
scanning cycles in step during recording and playback, and it adjusts the sync from
various video sources so that switching from one source to another will not cause a
temporary sync roll (picture breakup). Most high-end analog VTRs have a built-in
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time base corrector. Lower-end equipment, however, needs to be hooked up to a
TBC, especially during editing. All digital VTRs have safeguards built-in and don’t
need an additional TBC.
If this reminds you of the digital frame store synchronizer discussed in chapter 9,
you are quite right. In digital operations the frame store synchronizer has replaced
the analog TBC. In fact, much of the higher-end equipment, such as digital VTRs and
even switchers, has some kind of frame store synchronizer built-in so that signals
from different video sources can be switched, edited, and mixed without the danger
of a temporary sync roll.
VIDEOTAPE-RECORDING PROCESS
The relative ease with which you can operate a VTR may cause you to put mastering
videotape recording at the bottom of your production priority list. Such an attitude
often leads to serious problems and headaches. Taking the wrong videocassettes on
an EFP (electronic field production) shoot is as serious a problem as forgetting the
camcorders, as is assuming that the studio VTRs will be available when you need
them. As with any other major production activity, videotape recording requires
careful preparation and meticulous attention to detail in the preproduction, production, and postproduction phases.
Similar to a pilot who must go through a checklist before every flight, you should
establish your own “before, during, and after” recording checklists. Such checklists
are especially helpful when doing field productions. Although the following checklists are targeted for videotape recording, many of the items also apply to tapeless
operations. In any case, you should always adapt these lists to your specific recording
equipment and production procedures.
T H E
“ B E F O R E ”
C H E C K L I S T
✔ Schedule Is the videotaping equipment actually available for the studio or field
production? Most likely, your operation will have more than one type of VTR available. Which VTR do you need? Be reasonable in your request. You will find that VTRs
are usually available for the actual production or the remote shoot but not always
for your playback demands. If you need a VTR simply for reviewing the scenes shot
on-location, don’t request a high-end digital recorder: have the material dubbed
down to a regular ½-inch VHS format and watch it on your home VCR. Be sure you
have a recorder available that will actually play back the videotape.
✔ VTR status Does the VTR actually work? A simple head clog can put even the
most expensive VTR out of service. You can detect dirty heads if the picture starts to
become progressively noisy or breaks up during playback. Sometimes one of the tiny
switches on the VTR may be in the wrong position, preventing you from recording either video or audio. You may need an adapter to play MiniDV tapes in a digital studio
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VTR. Is the record-protect tab of the videotape in the off position? (See figure 11.9.)
Always do a brief test recording and play it back before the actual videotaping.
✔ Power supply When you use a VTR in the field, or when you use a camcorder,
do you have enough batteries for the entire shoot? Are they fully charged? Electronic
image stabilization, which corrects minor camera wobbles, and using the foldout
monitor or the camera light also drain the battery rapidly. If you use household
current for power, you will need the appropriate adapter. Check whether the connectors of the power cable fit the jacks of the power supply and the camera. Don’t
try to make a connector fit a jack for which it isn’t designed; even if you can force it
in, you may blow more than a fuse.
✔ Tape Do you have the correct tape? Does the cassette match the type and the
format of the VTR? Check whether the boxes actually contain the correct tapes.
Do not rely solely on the box label. Because cassettes can be loaded with various
lengths of tape, look at the supply reel to verify that it contains the amount of tape
indicated on the box.
Do you have enough tape for the proposed production? Videotape is relatively
inexpensive and does not take up much room. Always bring more cassettes than
you think you’ll need. Running out of videotape during a field production will not
win you any friends.
Are the cassettes in the record mode? All cassettes have a device to protect the
videotape from accidental erasure, which means that you cannot record a new program over the old one. All tape cassettes have a tab that can be moved into or out of
a record-protect position. VHS and S-VHS ½-inch cassettes have a tab on the lower
left of the back edge. SEE 11.9 When this tab is in the open position, or broken off, you
cannot record on the cassette. To enable recording on the cassette, move the tab into
the record position; for breakaway tabs, cover the hole with a piece of adhesive tape.
C O N C E P T
Always check that
the cassette format
matches the VTR and
that the cassette tab is
in place for recording.
11.9 CASSETTE
VHS cassette
RECORD PROTECTION
Movable recordprotect tab
Tab removed
▶K E Y
DVCPRO
cassette
MiniDV
cassette
Digital ¼-inch and MiniDV
cassettes have a movable
tab that prevents accidental
erasure, much like a computer
diskette. When in the open
position, the cassette will play
back but not record. The tab
on ½-inch VHS and S-VHS cassettes can be broken off.
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Routinely check the status of the tab before using a cassette for videotape recording.
The cassette will play back with or without record-protect devices in place.
✔ Cables Do the cables work? The problem with defective cables is that ordinarily
you can’t see the damage. If you don’t have time to test the cables beforehand, take
some spares along. Do the cable plugs fit the VTR jacks? As you recall, most professional recorders or camcorders use XLR jacks for audio inputs, but some have RCA
phono jacks. Video cables have BNC, S-video, or RCA phono connectors (see figures
4.23 and 7.26). Keep a supply of adapters on hand, but always try to have cables with
the correct plugs; each adapter is a potential trouble spot.
✔ Monitor Most portable monitors can be powered by battery or household current. When using such a monitor in a field production, bring a long extension cord
as well as two fully charged batteries. You can feed the camera output directly into
this monitor via a coaxial cable with a BNC or RCA phono connector at both ends.
T H E
“ D U R I N G ”
C H E C K L I S T
✔ Video leader Whenever possible, start each videotape with a video leader,
which consists of a 30- to 60-second recording of color bars and a 0 VU test tone, an
identification slate, black or leader numbers (from 10 to 2) that flash on-screen every
second for 8 seconds, and 2 seconds of black before the first frame of the program
video. SEE 11.10
The color bars can be generated by the ENG/EFP camera you actually use or,
in a studio production, from the camera control unit. The 0 VU test tone can come
from a portable mixer or the studio console.
Blank tape for
threading
Color bars
(30 to 60 seconds)
Slate visual
(15 seconds)
Black or
leader
numbers
(8 seconds)
Black
(2 seconds)
Program
video
0 VU test tone
Silence
8 audio beeps
(optional)
Silence
Program
audio
Video track
Silence
Audio track
11.10 VIDEO LEADER
The video leader helps adjust the playback machine to the video and audio values of the record machine.
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During playback you can use the color bars and
the test tone as references to match the colors of the
playback monitor and the audio volume of the playback
Title: Scenic Rail Journeys
VTR with those of the videotape recording. UnfortuDirector: Robaire Ream
nately, most consumer camcorders cannot generate
color bars. Do not copy the video leader from another
Date: 15 September
recording—you would be adjusting your playback
Take: 4
Scene: 7
equipment to the wrong standard.
The video slate shows vital production information,
such as the show title; the scene and take numbers; the
date, time, and location of the recording; and frequently
the name of the director and the producer. At a mini- 11.11 CHARACTER-GENERATED SLATE
The slate gives vital production information and is recorded
mum the slate should indicate the name of the show at the beginning of each take.
and the take number. The slate is usually done with a
character generator (C.G.) or the camcorder’s built-in
lettering function. SEE 11.11
In field productions this information is sometimes hand-lettered on a clapboard
or simply read into a microphone by the floor manager, the VTR operator, or even
the talent. Each time you do another take, you need to update the take number on
the slate.
When using a clapboard for slating takes, snap down the movable clapstick to
make a sound. This way you generate a sound mark with the frame that shows the
clapstick in the down position—both of which mark the first frame of the clip. A
holdover from filmmaking, the first frame and the sound mark of the clapstick help
synchronize video and audio and especially the clips from multiple camcorders that
you might have recorded simultaneously for a particular scene. SEE 11.12
11.12 CLAPBOARD
The clapboard is used for each take and contains
the necessary information for locating clips in postproduction. The movable clapstick is snapped closed
to synchronize the audio and the video of each take.
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C O N C E P T
The video leader must
be generated by the
equipment actually used
in the videotape recording.
VIDEO RECORDING
The countdown numbers of the video leader are also produced by the C.G.,
unless the clapboard also shows a running time code. These countdown numbers,
which were originally developed for film cueing, are used for cueing the videotape
during playback. For instance, you can cue the tape at leader number 4, which
gives you a 4-second preroll before the first frame of program video appears. These
numbers are normally accompanied by corresponding audio beeps. Note that the
last two seconds are usually in black and silent. Some leader numbers flash down
to 2, with only the last second (1) kept in black. The leader numbers are especially
helpful when you need to cue a videotape without the aid of time code. Otherwise,
the SMPTE/EBU time code or other address system lets you cue up the videotape
even more precisely. (Address systems and how they work are covered in chapter 12.) ZVL2 EDITING Postproduction guidelines leader
✔ Tape counter Even if you record some kind of address system on the videotape,
you should reset the mechanical tape counter before starting the tape. This will enable you to quickly locate the approximate starting point when asked for a playback.
Most consumer VTRs display hours, minutes, and seconds of elapsed recording
time, which is sufficient for locating the beginning of a recording or show segment.
Most professional VTRs also show frame numbers. If you intend to use the VTR for
editing, frame numbers are essential.
✔ Preroll When starting a VTR, do not record anything—not even the video leader
material—until the VTR has reached operating speed. A certain amount of preroll
time is needed to give the tape transport a chance to stabilize. Most VTRs indicate
with a light when they have reached operating speed. To alert the director that the
VTR has reached operating speed and is ready to record, give a “speed,” “locked,” or
“in-record” cue. If you start to record before the VTR has reached proper speed, the
recording will most likely suffer from picture and sound breakup.
During editing most VTRs in camcorders back up the tape automatically for
the required preroll (see chapter 12). This procedure is called backspacing. During
playback most high-end VTRs reach operating speed within a fraction of a second;
they deliver a stable picture even when you shift directly to play from the pause mode
that displays a freeze-frame.
✔ Recording levels Watch carefully the video and especially the audio recording
levels. You may get so carried away with the exciting visuals of a scene that minor—
or even major—audio problems escape your attention. Many camcorders indicate
these levels in the viewfinder display or on VU meters on the VTR. Note that the
volume standard for digital audio is considerably lower than that of analog. In any
case, the digital audio signal should never peak above 0 dB, or you will end up with
an irreparable sound distortion.
✔ Recording for postproduction When recording for postproduction editing,
record enough of each segment so that the action overlaps the preceding and following scenes. Such cushions (called pads or trim handles) greatly facilitate editing. If
you have enough tape, record the camera rehearsals. Sometimes you will get a better
performance during rehearsal than during the actual take. Record a few seconds of
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black after each take before stopping the tape. This run-out signal acts as a pad during
editing or, if you do a live recording, as a safety cushion during playback.
✔ Retakes As the VTR operator, tell the director right away if you feel that another
take is necessary for some reason. It is far less expensive to repeat a take than to try
to “fix it in post.” Be ready to rewind the tape to the beginning of the flawed take
without delay. You can do this quite easily if you keep an accurate field log.
✔ Recordkeeping Keep accurate records of each take during the recording. You
will be surprised at how quickly you forget just where on the videotape your unforgettable shot or scene is located. A carefully kept field log can save you considerable
time in finding takes during the field production and especially when preparing a
more accurate VR log in the postproduction phase. The field log should include
the production title, the names of the producer and the director, the recording date
and location, the media number, the scene and take numbers and their sequence,
whether the takes are good, and the VR counter or time code number. You may also
list such pertinent production details as mistakes made by the talent or especially
serious audio problems. SEE 11.13
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Keep an accurate field
log during the recording
session and carefully
label all media.
11.13 FIELD LOG
PRODUCTION TITLE:
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR:
RECORDING DATE:
MEDIA
NUMBER
SCENE
LOCATION:
TAKE
OK or
NO GOOD
TIME CODE
IN
OUT
EVENT / REMARKS
The field log is kept by the VR
operator during the production. It normally indicates the
production title, names of
producer and director, recording date and location, media
number, scene and take
numbers and their sequence,
whether the takes are good,
VR counter or time code number, and what the take was all
about. It greatly facilitates locating the various media and
shots during postproduction
previewing.
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“A F T E R ”
C H E C K L I S T
✔ Recording check Before moving on to the next scene or striking the studio
set or remote location, verify that you have actually recorded the scene as planned.
Rewind the tape to the beginning shot, then fast-forward the tape two or three times
to spot-check the entire recording. Pay attention to the sound. Sometimes you may
think that the audio distortion is in the playback equipment, but more likely than not
the problem was caused during the production by connecting the incoming sound
signal to the wrong mixer input (line instead of mic and vice versa) or by overloading
the incoming digital audio.
✔ Labeling Label each tape (or other recording media) with the title of the production, the recording date, the tape (media) number, and its content. Label the
box with the identical information. As obvious as such labeling seems, countless
precious hours of postproduction time have been lost because someone labeled
the tape boxes but not the tapes themselves. Watch that the tape labels match the
information on the corresponding field log. Make a photocopy of the field log and
label both the log and the corresponding tape with the same code so that you can
match the two when preparing the VR log.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Always make protection
copies of all the
source material.
✔ Protection copies As soon as possible, dub all source material in its entirety
so you have a protection (backup) copy of all the material shot. During this dubbing
session, you can also make window dubs—lower-quality (VCR) recordings that have
the time code inserted over each frame. You can then proceed to prepare a VR log
(see chapter 12).
TAPELESS RECORDING MEDIA
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Nontape digital recording
media allow random and
almost instantaneous
access to each video frame
As mentioned before, the tendency of the video industry is to do away with videotape
and to use exclusively nontape recording media. The advantages of using tapeless
recording media are that it is quicker to transfer the content to the nonlinear editing
system, and that they are nonlinear.
Regardless of whether the video information stored on videotape is analog or
digital, the retrieval is linear. This means that you can access its content only serially:
you need to roll through the first 26 shots, for example, to reach shot 27.
Unlike the linear videotape system, nonlinear recording media allow random
access. When this digital information is stored on a nontape media, you can access
clip 27 directly. Instead of having to wait for the tape to roll to the desired frame, you
can call up the frame in a fraction of a second. Clip 27 and clip 191 are as quickly and
easily accessible as shot 1. This random access to each digitized frame is, of course,
the great advantage of nonlinear editing (explored further in chapter 12).
The problem with using nonlinear digital video is that high-resolution, fullscreen real-time video requires a great amount of storage space, especially when
dealing with moving images. As you can see, a tapeless operation depends not only
on improved nontape recording devices but also on better compression techniques.
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The current nonlinear digital recording media vying for universal acceptance
are hard drives and video servers, read/write optical discs, and solid-state flash
memory devices.
Hard Drives and Video Servers
Because video and audio information can be digitized, you can store it on any type
of computer hard drive. The computer won’t know whether the magnetic pulses it
stores represent a reproduction of the Mona Lisa or your checkbook balance. So
long as the pictures you want to store are still images rather than moving ones, you
can store thousands on a relatively small hard drive or flash memory card. Moving
images need considerably more storage space. Realizing that just one second of
video takes 30 individual frames, you can see why, despite high-capacity hard drives,
some kind of image compression is necessary for the efficient storage and transport
of full-motion video.
Hard drives Fortunately, improved compression processes let you cram more
and more information onto ever-smaller disks. Recall from chapter 3 the discussion
about lossless and lossy compression. Lossless compression simply repacks the video
information; lossy compression reduces nonessential and redundant information.
Some camcorders use small hard drives as their video recorder. In concert with
data compression, even small hard drives can record a relatively large amount of
video and audio. Note, however, that HDV and especially HDTV require considerably
more recording space than standard digital video. Regardless of what nontape device
you use for video recording, this simple rule applies: the more
lines per frame and the more frames per second you choose for
your recording, the less data you can store on a specific media. In
practice this means that when you record in the high-definition
1080i or 720p, 60 fps mode, the recording capacity is considerably
less than in the 480p, 24 fps mode.
To extend the recording capacity of a camcorder, you can
connect it to a high-capacity external hard drive. These portable
VRs are especially convenient for use with an ENG/EFP camera. SEE 11.14
Video servers Because of the ease with which computers
can manage digital information, television stations are using
video servers almost exclusively for on-the-air playback and as
the central storage device for postproduction editing. A video
server is a large-capacity computer that can store and play back
a great amount of video and audio information in a programmed
sequence. The advantage of such a server is that the computer
can instantly call up a single frame for editing or an entire show
for on-the-air playback. Because servers work with disk arrays,
they can also accommodate multiple users; several editors can
work on different projects simultaneously so long as the source
material is stored on the server.
11.14 EXTERNAL HARDDRIVE VIDEO RECORDER
This small tapeless external video recorder can serve
as a backup of the VTR in a camcorder or as additional 60 GB storage of HD video. You can connect it
directly via FireWire to the editing computer.
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Flash Memory Devices
Solid-state flash memory devices, known as flash drives and memory cards, come in
many shapes and sizes, but they all have the same goal in mind: to replace videotape
as the recording media in camcorders. They operate much like the small flash drive
you may be carrying in your pocket as a fast backup or limited storage device except
that they hold much more information. Their great advantages are their ease of use
and their extremely fast data transfer speed. Because these memory cards have no
moving parts, they are quite rugged and can be carried in your shirt pocket.
But there are also disadvantages. One is the relatively limited recording time for
HDTV video per memory card. For an extensive EFP, you may need several cards.
Another problem is cost. Because memory cards are quite expensive, you cannot afford to use them for editing or archiving the footage but must transfer their content to
a hard drive or server to free up the card for further use in the camera. Although you
may be able to plug a memory card directly into your NLE system without transferring the content to its hard drive, you can’t afford to tie up the card during the editing
process and thus render it unavailable for video capture with the camcorder.
Read/Write Optical Discs
These laser-operated optical discs let you “read” (play back) previously recorded
material and “write” (record) new material, just like with a hard drive. You are certainly familiar with the various types of DVDs that have all but replaced VHS tapes
as the favorite movie playback device.
In camcorders these optical discs are encased in cartridges, which protect the
delicate laser mechanism enough to make the laser media relatively rugged and immune to heat, moisture, and rough camera handling. Again, the maximum recording
times depend on whether you record your scenes in 1080i HDTV or a lower-quality
digital format. In any case you can always bring along a spare disc if you think you
may need more recording time for your shoot.
Optical discs offer all the advantages of nonlinear recording and retrieval but,
contrary to flash memory devices, they still have moving parts that may break down
from time to time.
USE OF VIDEO RECORDING
The original purpose of video recording was to temporarily preserve a live uninterrupted television program for repeated playback or for reference and study. Today,
however, we use video recording in a great variety of ways: for personal communication, for constructing video events through postproduction editing, for producing
electronic movies with digital cinema cameras (which are really high-end HDTV
cameras), and for archiving TV programming and educational materials. All television stations maintain a large videotape library for their daily programming. Many
of these recordings are transferred to optical disc for easier storage and video servers
for automated retrieval.
Video as a field extends far beyond simply producing broadcast or cable television programs. The affordable high-quality camcorder made video recording an
USE OF VIDEO RECORDING
important personal communication medium. Your vacation and family videotapes
and your demo reel when applying for a job are good examples. This marriage of
computer and video has brought about other significant developments, including
multimedia and interactive video.
Multimedia
Multimedia refers to the simultaneous display of text, sound, and still and moving
images. Although a great percentage of multimedia programs are entirely computergenerated, many still rely heavily on video production for content. Multimedia
programs are recorded and distributed on CD-ROM and DVD or offered on the
Internet. Interactive multimedia programs are used extensively for informational,
instructional, and training programs; various types of presentations; and of course
entertainment. As you know, interactive games have become a huge industry.
Interactive Video
Interactive video is the type over which the viewers have some control of what they
want to see and how to see it. The viewers are no longer passive but have become
active partners in the communication process.
In its simplest form, such interactivity allows you to choose programs from a
menu of options. You can also determine, at least to some extent, how a particular
story will end, provided the show was produced with two or more endings. Home
shopping and video games are other well-known forms of interactive video.
Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 DVD-ROM is a good example of an interactive video program. If you have been using the DVD-ROM with this book, you know that it presents
the material as a combination of text, diagrams, narration, music, sound effects, and
still and moving images. It also invites you to make choices and gives you immediate feedback on their relative merit. In effect, this interactive program provides a
production laboratory in which you can operate different equipment in a variety
of production situations without tying up an actual studio. It helps bridge the gap
between learning production from a book and doing it in the studio and the field.
As a training device, interactive video might show a critical traffic situation. You
could then be asked (by the person appearing on-screen or an off-screen announcer)
what you, as the driver, would do to avoid an accident. An elaborate interactive program would then show you the consequences of your answer. A simpler program
will at least let you know immediately whether your answer was right or wrong. Or,
after watching various scenes showing different shoppers in a department store,
you may be asked to identify the shoplifter. The computer will then show you the
culprit and demonstrate what behavior raised a red flag before the actual crime was
committed.
The most important development in interactive video is the marriage of television and the Internet. Rather than use separate equipment—a television system for
watching TV and a desktop computer for accessing information—your television set
can now take on some computer functions, and computers act as basic television
systems. With a digital subscriber line (DSL) or broadband cable, you can receive
digital audio and video streams for viewing high-quality audio and full-motion
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video. You now have control over when to watch the news rather than waiting for
the traditional news times in the morning, at noon, and in the evening.
Digital Cinema
Long resisted by loyal film people, digital cinema is here to stay. High-end digital
HDTV cameras are used much like traditional movie cameras for the acquisition
of shots except that now the director can play back the scene immediately after the
recording. Unlike the actual film clips, which must be scanned and transformed
into digital video and audio for editing, the high-quality video recordings can be
directly captured by the NLE system. Almost all film postproduction is done with
video-editing hardware and software.
Even the projection of the finished movie in the theaters is often done with
high-quality (and very expensive) video projectors. The only link that needs further
development in the all-digital electronic cinema is the distribution of movies to
theaters via satellite uplinks and downlinks.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Tape- and Tapeless Recording Systems
Tape-based systems can record and play back analog or digital video and audio signals
and other information necessary for the proper operation of the tape. Tapeless digital
systems can record and play back only digital information but are much more flexible.
▶ Basic Videotape Tracks
All analog videotape recorders (VTRs) use separate tracks for recording the video
and audio as well as the control data. Most analog VTRs put at least four tracks onto
a videotape: the video track containing the picture information, two audio tracks
containing all sound information, and a control track for the synchronization of
the frames.
▶ Composite and Component Recording Systems
The NTSC (National Television System Committee) standard is a composite video system
that combines the color (C) and the luminance (Y, or black-and-white) parts of the video
signal into a single composite signal. The Y/C component video system separates the
color (C) and the luminance (Y) information; it is also referred to as the S-video system.
The signals are combined again during recording. The Y/color difference component
system separates the Y, blue minus Y, and red minus Y signals throughout transport,
recording, and transmission. It provides the highest video quality.
▶ Types of Videotape Recorders
The two major types of VTRs are analog and digital. Although both types use videotape
as the recording media, they are not compatible: you cannot play back an analog tape
on a digital VTR or a digital tape on an analog VTR.
▶ Video Leader
The video leader must be generated by the equipment actually used in the
videotape recording.
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USE OF VIDEO RECORDING
▶ Field Log
The field log lists all takes during a recording.
▶ Tapeless Recording Media
Tapeless recording media work only with digital data. They include hard drives and
video servers, solid-state flash memory devices, and optical discs. In contrast to the linear
videotape systems, all tapeless systems are nonlinear. This means that the tapeless
systems allow random access to any specific frame or clip. An advantage of memory
cards over videotape or other nontape media is that they do not have any moving parts.
▶ Multimedia and Interactive Video
Multimedia refers to the simultaneous display by the computer of text, sound, and still
and moving images. Distributed on CD-ROM, DVD, or the Internet, these interactive
programs are used extensively for information, instruction, and entertainment.
Interactive video allows the viewer to exercise choice with immediate feedback.
▶ Digital Cinema
Digital cinema uses high-end video equipment (HDTV cameras and sophisticated
postproduction video and audio equipment) to produce major motion pictures.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
EDITING Postproduction guidelines tape basics
ZVL2
EDITING Postproduction guidelines leader
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C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
assemble editing In linear editing, adding shots on videotape
in consecutive order without first recording a control track
on the edit master tape.
capture Moving video and audio from the recording media
to the hard drive of a computer with a nonlinear editing
program. Analog videotape signals must be converted to
digital before they can be imported by the computer.
digitize Necessary step with analog source material whereby
the analog signals are converted to digital signals prior
to capture.
edit controller A machine that assists in various linear editing
functions, such as marking edit-in and edit-out points, rolling source and record VTRs, and integrating effects. It can
be a desktop computer with editing software. Also called
editing control unit.
edit decision list (EDL) Consists of edit-in and edit-out points,
expressed in time code numbers, and the nature of transitions between shots.
edit master The videotape or disc that contains the final version of an edited program. Subsequent copies are struck
from the edit master.
insert editing Produces highly stable edits for linear editing.
Requires the prior laying of a continuous control track by
recording black on the edit master tape.
linear editing system Uses videotape as the editing medium.
It does not allow random access of shots.
nonlinear editing (NLE) system Allows random access of
shots. The video and audio information is stored in digital
form on computer disks. Usually has two external monitors,
small loudspeakers, and an audio mixer.
off-line editing In linear editing it produces an edit decision
list or a rough-cut not intended for broadcast. In nonlinear
editing the selected shots are captured in low resolution to
save computer storage space.
on-line editing In linear editing it produces the final highquality edit master for broadcast or program duplication.
In nonlinear editing the shots listed on the edit decision list
are recaptured at a higher resolution.
pulse-count system An address code that counts the control
track pulses and translates that count into time and frame
numbers. It is not frame-accurate. Also called control
track system.
rough-cut A preliminary edit.
SMPTE time code A specially generated address code that
marks each video frame with a specific number (hour, minute, second, and frame). Named for the Society of Motion
Picture and Television Engineers, this time code is officially
called SMPTE/EBU (for European Broadcasting Union).
VR log A record of each take on the source media. Also called
editing log. When the recording media is videotape, the
shot record is also called VTR log.
window dub A dub of the source tapes to a lower-quality tape
format with the address code keyed into each frame.
Postproduction:
Linear and Nonlinear Editing
Postproduction editing is the third and final stage of the production process, in which
the various video and audio segments are given structure and meaning. Editing offers
you the final chance to clarify and intensify the intended message. Assuming that the
preproduction and production phases went according to plan, you can now use your
grasp of the program objective and your creativity to build a program that has clarity
and impact.
Most editors feel that postproduction editing is among the most creative aspects of
video production. Very much like writing, editing is an exacting and painstaking activity.
To tell the story effectively, you must not only understand the program objective, the
angle the director has in mind, and the general feel of the program but also master a
complex technical procedure. ZVL1 EDITING Editing introduction
Although the development of high-capacity hard drives even in laptop computers
and the ready availability of editing software have firmly established nonlinear editing
as the preferred technique, a basic knowledge of linear editing is still important,
not only because much of linear editing served as a model for the nonlinear
procedures but also because you may well be called upon to do linear videotape
editing. ZVL2 EDITING Functions
This chapter therefore focuses on nonlinear as well as linear postproduction editing
systems and processes.
▶ NONLINEAR EDITING
Nonlinear editing system and basic editing procedures
▶ LINEAR EDITING
Single-source linear system, multiple-source linear system, pulse-count and address code,
assemble editing, and insert editing
▶ POSTPRODUCTION PREPARATIONS
Shooting for continuity, making protection copies, adding time code, making a window
dub, reviewing and logging the source footage, transcribing the audio text, and laying
a control track
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▶ OFF-LINE AND ON-LINE EDITING
Linear and nonlinear off- and on-line editing procedures
▶ POSTPRODUCTION FACILITIES
Editing bays and on-line suites
NONLINEAR EDITING
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The basic principle of
nonlinear editing is
file management.
The foundation of all nonlinear editing (NLE) systems is a computer with a highcapacity hard drive and a fast processor. The main function of this computer is to
facilitate your selection of clips (shots or shot sequences), put them in a specific
order, and recall this order during playback. Although there are several high-end
editing systems on the market that combine specialized computer hardware and
editing software, your laptop computer and a simple editing program will do just
fine for the average editing job.
Preview monitor
Line monitor
Capture phase
Computer NLE
Editing software
(video and audio
file management)
Camcorder or video recorder
Export phase
Special-effects
software
Export software
(usually part of
editing software)
VTR records edit master tape
DVD recorder burns
DVD master
12.1 NONLINEAR EDITING SYSTEM
The camcorder or an external video recorder feeds the video and audio source material into the nonlinear
editing system (NLE)—the capture phase. The computer’s editing software acts as the edit controller for the
whole editing process—the editing phase. Once the final edit is done, the program is transferred to videotape
or optical disc—the export phase. The VTR produces the edit master tape. The DVD burner produces a DVD,
edit master disc, or edit master media.
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NONLINEAR EDITING
Contrary to linear editing, where you copy a selected clip from one tape to
another, the basic principle of nonlinear editing is digital file management. Each of
the files contains a single frame or, for all practical purposes, a series of frames that
make up a clip (shot). You probably now see why this system is called “nonlinear”:
you can access any one of the files (frames or clips) instantly in any order regardless
of where the information is located on the NLE hard drive. The computer then flags
the selected clips so that they play back in the sequence you specify. Note that the
video files themselves are not moved from where they are stored on the hard drive;
your editing simply tells the computer the order in which to play back the clips.
SEE 12.1 ZVL3 EDITING Nonlinear editing system
Nonlinear Editing System
If you were to equip your editing suite, opt for a high-end desktop computer with a
high-capacity hard drive and a high-speed processor. The typical nonlinear editing (NLE) system must also include two fairly large external monitors—one for
the computer output and the other to show your edited sequences—and two small
loudspeakers. It somehow seems easier to work with two separate screens than with
a divided one. If you intend to control the volume of additional sound sources, or
premix several of them before importing them to the NLE, you will also need a small
audio mixer. SEE 12.2
A computer used for editing must have the necessary software to accomplish the
three phases of nonlinear editing—capture, the actual editing, and export—as well
as additional special-effects software for creating transitions, graphics, and titles.
12.2 NONLINEAR
Computer monitor
for editing palettes,
tools, and files
Computer monitor for
preview and line displays
and editing timeline
Video monitor
Speaker
Audio mixer
Computer
EDITING SETUP
This nonlinear editing station
consists of a computer, a
keyboard, a large computer
display monitor that shows
various editing tools, a second monitor that is the actual
editing monitor with preview
and line windows and a time
line, a third monitor for playback of edited sequences, an
audio mixer, and a digital VTR
for feeding the source tapes
into the computer (usually
replaced by a server).
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Most editing software allows you to import the video and audio data directly
from the video recorder inside the camcorder to the NLE computer. This represents
the capture phase.
Once the information is on the hard drive, you can select clips and specify their
order of play. You can also add new information, such as clips or audio segments
from another shoot or source, to heighten the impact of your creation. Specialeffects software enables myriad transitions and title possibilities. This is the actual
editing phase.
Unless you play your masterpiece only on the NLE system, you need to dub the
final edited version onto an edit master tape or disc. This is the export phase.
Let’s take a closer look at these phases.
Nonlinear Editing Phase 1: Capture
Before you can do any nonlinear editing, you need to transfer the content of the
source media to the hard drive of the NLE computer. The source media can be videotape, hard drives, memory cards, or optical discs.
Digital source tapes You can transfer digital videotapes directly from the camcorder to the NLE hard drive. If, however, you intend to select shots from the source
tapes to save space on the NLE hard drive, you should use a stand-alone videotape
recorder (VTR) for the capture. This is where your field log comes in handy. Don’t
bother capturing shots that you marked as definitely no good, such as the one in
which the talent showed the wrong book during an interview with the author. (We
discuss the review and logging of source tapes later in this chapter.)
Selecting shots always requires extensive tape shuttle, including repeated fastforwarding and rewinding, which can be very hard on the small camcorder VTR. In
this case you should extract the tape cassette from the camcorder and use it in a sturdier stand-alone VTR for this selection/capture procedure. The stand-alone digital
VTR is well suited for the job; extensive shuttles are part of its intended use. You will
also find your desired shots much more quickly than with the camcorder VTR.
Once you have inserted the source tape in the sturdier VTR, you can connect it
to the NLE system with RCA phono or S-video cables or, better yet, a FireWire (IEEE
1394) cable. SEE 12.3
Analog source tapes If you want to edit some of your old analog tapes, you first
need to digitize them before capture by the NLE. To do this you can use RCA phono
or S-video cables to connect the analog camcorder to a converter box, which changes
the analog content into digital data. A FireWire cable lets you connect the box with
the hard drive of the NLE. SEE 12.4
Other digital source media If the digital camcorder uses recording media other
than videotape, you can transfer the source data directly to the hard drive of the
NLE. Connect the tapeless camcorder via RCA phono, S-video, or FireWire to the
NLE system or, if you use a compatible memory card, insert the cards directly into
the slot of the NLE system.
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NONLINEAR EDITING
Digital cassette
from camcorder
FireWire
Digital camcorder
Digital VTR
Computer
12.3 CAPTURE FROM DIGITAL VTR
When played back on a digital VTR, the digital video and audio source material can be fed directly into the computer via
a two-way FireWire cable.
Analog video
Digital video
Analog audio
Digital audio
Analog-to-digital converter
Analog camcorder
Computer
12.4 CAPTURE FROM ANALOG CAMCORDER VTR
The video and audio outputs of the camcorder are connected to a converter box that changes the analog signals into digital ones.
The digital signals are then exported to the computer.
Nonlinear Editing Phase 2: Editing
This phase includes the major steps of editing the imported video: file identification,
shot selection, sequencing, transitions, and effects. It also involves the building of the
audio track: selecting the acceptable sound portions, importing new sound, mixing
sound, and synchronizing it with the video.
Even relatively simple editing software offers so many features that you probably
don’t need anything more complicated for many of your projects. SEE 12.5 Sophisticated software can transform even a laptop computer into a powerful professional
nonlinear editing system.
All NLE programs show in their interface—the window that displays the editing
tools—a similar arrangement of these operational features. SEE 12.6
All systems are capable of displaying multiple frames and sequences, called clips,
so that you can preview the edit and see how well they cut together. The computer
will also display a time line, which contains all video and audio tracks of a clip. (This
time line has nothing to do with the production time line, which shows a breakdown
of all activities on a specific production day.)
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Clips with
filenames
and durations
Edit monitor
Capture and
play controls
Toggle
between
time line and
clip sequence
Clip sequencer/time line pane
Scrubber bar
Choices
of available
inputs and
effects panes
12.5 SIMPLE NONLINEAR EDITING INTERFACE
In this iMovie HD interface, the clips (files) are arranged on a “shelf” as slides. You can order and view the clips in the
viewer space or sequence them on the time line. Below the large edit monitor are the controls for the source media,
for the actual editing of clips, and for the playback of edited sections. Note that each clip has a unique filename.
Before we get into the editing process, a word of advice: Although a laptop computer can certainly function as a first-class NLE and will do just fine for the import
phase, you will need additional equipment for serious editing. Instead of squinting
at the small computer screen, try to get a large, high-quality flat-panel display for the
editing interface. The larger image prevents eye fatigue and also gives you a better
idea of how the pictures will cut together. Also get a second monitor for full-screen
video playback. This will cause less confusion about whether you are watching the
source clips or a partially edited sequence, and it will prove especially valuable when
scrutinizing complex effects.
Unless your audio requirements are relatively simple, you will also need an audio
mixer and high-quality speakers for monitoring audio. Don’t rely on the little speakers of the laptop computer unless you intend to wear headphones. Good speakers
or headphones will reveal audio problems right away and tell you whether some
audio sweetening is required.
Labeling the imported source material The computer part of the NLE now functions as a huge slide library from which you can select specific clips, which in effect
are brief slide series. The computer screen can display a selection of shots. But which
ones? It should come as no surprise that finding the right clips presupposes that
they are labeled properly. The best library in the world is useless if the books are not
indexed accurately for quick retrieval. The same is true for files—you need to give all
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NONLINEAR EDITING
❶
❷
❹
❸
❹
❻
❺
❿
❽
❼
❾
Module
Also called
Function
❶ Project panel
Browser, clips bin, organizer
Holds all video and audio source clips.
❷ Source monitor
Preview monitor, viewer, monitor panel
Shows selected source clip to be edited.
❸ Record monitor
Program monitor, canvas, monitor panel
Shows selected edited sequence (active time line).
❹ Shuttle controls:
Transport controls, jog controls
Lets you move through clip or edit sequence backward and forward
at varying speeds, even in slow motion.
source and record
❺ Scrubber bar
Indicates where you are when moving the playhead through a clip or
sequence of clips.
❻ Playhead
Triggers the scrubbing (movement) to locate a frame. The speed is
determined by how fast you move the playhead with the mouse.
❼ Time line
Sceneline
Master map of the editing process, consisting of scrubber bar with
playhead, video track(s), and audio tracks. Shows selected order of all video
and audio clips in relation to one another.
❽ Video track
Clip viewer
If there is more than one video track, track 1 is usually closest to the audio
track, with the rest stacked above.
❾ Audio track
Soundtrack
Two or more. Track 1 on top and the rest stacked below. Shows colored bars
or the waveform of each clip.
❿ Tools panel
Toolbox, effects pane, tasks panel
Contains special-effects and manipulation options for video and audio clips.
12.6 NONLINEAR EDITING INTERFACE
This generic interface shows the basic components of an NLE system. It does not show the menus, which offer a vast array
of choices of nonlinear editing functions.
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imported clips a unique filename or number. All editing programs have a space for
the filename of the imported clips as well as for additional information, similar to a
field log. In fact, you should use the names listed on the field log files for the captured
clips. (We address labeling and creating an editing log later in this chapter.)
Shot selection and sequencing The specific techniques of shot selection, shot
sequencing, and creating transitions and effects depend to a large extent on the software you are using. All professional NLEs come with comprehensive user manuals
and require dedication, patience, and lots of practice before you feel comfortable
using them.
Remember that nonlinear editing is file management. You basically select clips
and determine their sequence. The computer follows your instructions and tells every
frame how to line up for playback. The random access of clips gives you extraordinary
flexibility not only in selecting shots but also in rearranging them.
You will discover that once you have mastered the actual editing techniques, the
biggest challenge will always be selecting the most effective shots and sequencing
them to convey your message in a clear and concise way. (The checklist on postproduction preparation later in this chapter gives some tips on making the selection
process more efficient and less stressful, and chapter 13 is devoted entirely to the
basic aesthetic principles of postproduction editing.)
Nonlinear Editing Phase 3: Export to Videotape or Disc
Once you have finished selecting the clips and joining them in the desired sequence
through transitions, it’s time to get your masterpiece out of the computer and onto
videotape or disc. Essentially, you need to export your file sequence to a recording
media that you will use as the edit master for the playback and the distribution of
the finished project. Once recorded on the edit master media, your program is finally
and actually edited.
Because software programs vary, you need to check on the export requirements
of your NLE system, such as the specific codec (type and degree of compression). If
you intend to distribute your program on DVD or for Internet streaming, you need to
encode it in a compression standard that can be decoded (read) by the equipment
of the intended user. ZVL4 EDITING Nonlinear editing exporting
LINEAR EDITING
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The basic principle of
linear editing is copying
selected shots from the
source tapes onto the
edit master tape in the
desired sequence.
Whenever you use a videotape recorder for playing the source tapes and for copying
the selected shots onto the edit master tape, you have a linear editing system, regardless of whether the signal on the videotape is analog or digital. The edit master tape
is the first videotape that contains the final version of an edited program and from
which subsequent copies are struck. It is called “linear” because you cannot access
the source material randomly. For example, if you want to edit shot 14 to shot 3, you
must roll through the intervening 11 shots: the first two to reach shot 3, then another
11 to reach shot 14. You cannot simply call up shots 3 and 14. The basic principle of
linear editing is copying selected shots from the source tapes to an edit master tape
in a desired sequence. ZVL5 EDITING Linear editing system
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LINEAR EDITING
Single-source Linear System
The simplest linear editing system consists of a source VTR and a record VTR. You
use the source VTR to select the shots and the record VTR to copy them and join
them through cuts. The record VTR performs the actual video and audio edits.
Both the source and record VTRs have their own monitors. In a single-source system, the source VTR monitor displays the source material to be edited, and the record
VTR monitor displays the edited video portion of the edit master tape. SEE 12.7
Because there is only one source VTR, the single-source editing system is usually limited to cuts-only transitions. When editing speed is paramount, such as in
news editing, cuts-only editors are the way to go. There are highly portable cuts-only
editors that contain two digital VTRs, two flat-screen monitor displays, and basic
editing controls—all packed tightly into a small suitcase. You can take them along
in your news vehicle and edit news stories on-location. SEE 12.8
Source (play)
VTR monitor shows first
frame of new shot
Shot 3
Record (edit)
VTR monitor shows last
frame of previous shot
Shot 2
Source (play) VTR
and monitor
Record (edit) VTR
and monitor
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Single-source VTR
editing systems are
typically limited to
cuts-only transitions.
12.7 BASIC SINGLE-SOURCE SYSTEM
The source VTR supplies the selected shots
from the original video and feeds them to
the record VTR. The record VTR joins them
through cuts. Source and record VTRs have
their own monitors.
12.8 PORTABLE DIGITAL
CUTS-ONLY EDITOR
Source VTR
display
This editor contains two digital VTRs,
two LCD monitors, audio speakers, and
an edit controller—all packed into a
relatively small suitcase.
Record VTR
display
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12.9 EDIT CONTROLLER
The edit controller has separate operational controls for
the source VTR and the record
VTR, such as search and shuttle controls. The controls in
the center activate the preroll
and editing functions.
Source VTR
tape counter
Record VTR
tape counter
Source VTR
operational
controls
Record VTR
operational
controls
Source VTR
search controls
Record VTR
search controls
Editing controls
Edit controller The edit controller, also called the editing control unit, acts like an
able and superefficient editing assistant. This computerized machine will mark and
remember frame locations on the source and record tapes, preroll and synchronize
the VTRs, allow you to record the audio with the video or separately, and tell the
record VTR when to switch to record mode (thereby performing the edit). Smart
edit controllers also activate switchers and audio consoles for video and audio effects. Usually, the edit controller has separate operational controls for the source
and record VTRs (play, fast-forward, rewind, and variable search speeds) and for
common editing functions. Best of all, this editing assistant never complains about
long hours in the editing bay. SEE 12.9
The diagram in the following figure shows how the edit controller fits into the
single-source editing system. SEE 12.10 Note that this single-source system integrates
an audio mixer. As you can see, the output from the mixer goes directly to the record
VTR, bypassing the edit controller. You will need the mixer if you want to adjust the
volume of the source VTR before sending it to the record VTR or if you want to add
sounds from other sources, such as music, that were not on the source tape.
Multiple-source Linear System
This system uses two or more VTRs as source machines, normally labeled with letters
(A VTR, B VTR, C VTR, etc.), and a single record VTR.
With a multiple-source VTR system, you can edit the shots from the A and B
(and/or C) VTRs without having to change tapes. The big advantage is that you
are no longer restricted to cuts-only transitions. You can perform fades, dissolves,
and wipes between the A-roll (the material on the source A VTR) and the B-roll or
C-roll (the material on the source B VTR or C VTR). To accomplish such transitions between the A and B or C rolls, you need to feed their video material into a
switcher that will perform the actual switching function. Its line-out is then recorded
by the record VTR. You can also use special effects provided by the switcher for
a variety of transitions.
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LINEAR EDITING
12.10 EDIT CONTROLLER
IN SINGLE-SOURCE SYSTEM
Audio mixer
Source VTR
Record VTR
The edit controller in a singlesource system starts and synchronizes the source and record
VTRs and locates the in- and
out-points for both.
Edit controller
The edit controllers for multiple-source systems are usually computer-based.
The computer will not only remember your commands—such as shot selection from
the A and B rolls, type and length of transition, or special effects—but also make the
source VTRs, the switcher, and/or the special-effects generator (SEG) perform various feats. For ambitious audio manipulation during editing, multiple-source systems
normally interface a large audio console rather than a small mixer. SEE 12.11
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Dissolves, wipes, and
other special-effects
transitions are possible
with a multiple-source
linear editing system.
Effects
Video
switcher
Source A VTR
CD player
Audio
mixer
Record VTR
Source B VTR
Computerized edit controller
12.11 MULTIPLE-SOURCE EDITING SYSTEM
In a multiple-source system, two VTRs (A and B) supply the source material to the single record VTR. The video output
of both source machines is routed through the switcher for transitions such as dissolves and wipes. The audio output
of both source VTRs is routed through an audio console (or a mixer). Multiple-source systems are usually managed by
a computer-driven edit controller.
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Note that even if the source and record VTRs are digital, the editing is still linear. So long as you use videotape instead of a nonlinear storage device, such as a
large-capacity hard drive, you do not have random access to shots. If you have the
feeling that things are getting a bit more complicated than what you expected from a
discussion of video “basics,” you are right. This is why nonlinear editing has virtually
replaced all complex multiple-source editing. But there are still a few more things
you need to know about linear editing.
Pulse-count and Address Code
Much like on a VTR, the edit controller displays numbers that show elapsed hours,
minutes, seconds, and frames. SEE 12.12 These numbers, which help you locate a
shot or frame on the source and edit master tapes, are generated by either the pulsecount system or the time code system.
Pulse-count system The pulse-count system, also called the control track system,
uses the control track pulses of the videotape to count the frames. SEE 12.13 Each
pulse on the control track designates a video frame, so you can locate a specific spot
on the videotape by counting the pulses on the control track. Thirty frames make
up one second on the display, so each new second rolls over after the twenty-ninth
frame. Each additional minute is generated by the sixtieth second, as is the hour
after the sixtieth minute.
The pulse-count system is not frame-accurate: you will not get the same frame
each time you move the tape to a specific pulse-count number because some of the
pulses are skipped in the high-speed tape shuttle. For example, if you had to find the
12.12 PULSE-COUNT AND
ADDRESS CODE DISPLAY
The pulse-count and address code displays
show elapsed hours, minutes, seconds, and
frames. The frames roll over (to seconds) after
29, the seconds to minutes and the minutes
to hours after 59, and the hours to 0 after 24.
Hours
Minutes
12.13 PULSE-COUNT SYSTEM
The pulse-count, or control track, system counts the control track pulses to
find a specific spot on the videotape.
Thirty pulses make up one second of
elapsed tape time.
Control track
15 pulses = 1⁄ 2 second
30 pulses = 1 second
Seconds
Frames
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LINEAR EDITING
tenth house on a street, you would have no trouble. But if you were asked to go to
the thirty-six-hundredth house, you would probably have more difficulty finding it.
Considering that 3,600 pulses constitute only two minutes of a videotape recording,
you can understand why the counter may be off a few frames when you’re trying to
find a specific spot some 20 or more minutes into the tape.
This system switches to zero when you insert a tape, regardless of whether the
tape starts from the very beginning or from somewhere in the middle. If you want
to find a spot on the tape by the time and frame numbers displayed on the tape
counter, you must rewind the tape completely and set the counter to zero before
logging or editing.
The advantage of the pulse-count system is its speed, but this is at the expense
of accuracy. ZVL6 EDITING Postproduction guidelines tape basics
Time code system For more accurate editing, you have to use a time code, or
address code, system, which marks each frame with a unique number. With time
code the edit controller will guide you precisely to the tenth or thirty-six-hundredth
house. To get to the tenth house, the edit controller does not have to start counting
from 1 to 10 but simply looks for house number 10. It finds the thirty-six-hundredth
house just as easily by looking at its house number: 3600.
The most widely accepted address system is the SMPTE time code (pronounced
“sempty”); its full name is SMPTE/EBU time code (for Society of Motion Picture and
Television Engineers/European Broadcasting Union). It marks each frame with a
specific number, which can be made visible by a time code reader. SEE 12.14 ZVL7
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The time code provides a
unique address for each
frame of recorded video.
EDITING Postproduction guidelines time code
Although there are similar time code systems, they are not compatible with the
SMPTE time code. You must select a specific time code system and use it throughout
the editing process. You cannot synchronize various video- and audiotapes whose
frames are marked with different time code systems.
Regardless of where you start the videotape, the time code accurately finds
the requested frame. You can use the same time code for your audiotape and have
the computer synchronize the audio and the video frame-by-frame. All ENG/EFP
(electronic news gathering/electronic field production) camcorders can generate
their own time code or import it from a time code generator.
•••
00:00:58:25
00:00:58:26
00:00:58:27
12.14 TIME CODE ADDRESS SYSTEM
The time code system marks each frame with a unique address.
00:00:58:28
00:00:58:29
•••
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You can record the time code while videotaping or, as is common in smaller
productions and EFP, add it later to one of the cue tracks or audio tracks of the
videotape. Because videotape segments rarely exceed one hour, the hour digit
is sometimes reserved to indicate the tape number. For example, a time code of
04:17:22:18 would mean that the shot you are seeking is 17 minutes, 22 seconds,
and 18 frames into tape number 4. This labeling is an added protection so that you
can find the right tape even if the physical labels have come off the tape or—more
common—were never put on it.
All linear editing systems give you the choice between assemble and insert mode.
Which shall you choose? Let’s find out.
Assemble Editing
Generally, assemble editing is faster than insert editing but less electronically stable
at the edit points. The major drawback is that assemble editing will not allow you to
edit video and audio independently (called a split edit).
In assemble editing the record VTR erases everything (video, audio, control,
and time code tracks) on the edit master tape to have a clean slate before copying the video and audio material supplied by the source tape. During the transfer
everything that is recorded on the selected portion of the source tape is copied to
the edit master. The record VTR supplies a new control track, which is modeled
exactly after the control track on the source clip. To achieve a stable edit, the record
VTR must align and space the sync pulse segments so that they form a continuous
control track. SEE 12.15
Unfortunately, even fairly high-quality VTRs do not always succeed in this task.
For example, when the record VTR adds the control track of the first frame of shot 2
Shot 2
Source tape
Shot 1
Control track of edit
master tape
Control pulses must align at the edit point
12.15 ASSEMBLE EDITING
The record VTR lays down a new control track section based on the sync information for each edited shot. In this illustration the
first sync pulse of shot 2 is accurately spaced from the last sync pulse of shot 1 on the edit master tape. The sync pulses from both
sections form a continuous control track.
263
LINEAR EDITING
to the last frame of shot 1, the sync pulses may be a little farther apart or closer together at the edit point. This slight discrepancy will result in a “tear,” which means
the picture will break up or roll momentarily at the edit point during playback.
Because all tracks on the edit master tape are erased prior to copying the new
shot from the source tape, you cannot copy the audio track first and then go back to
add the corresponding video, nor can you first record the video segments and then
match them with the appropriate audio. All you can do is add sections of video and
audio together from the source tape to the edit master tape.
Insert Editing
Insert editing is the preferred linear editing method. It produces highly stable edits
and lets you edit the video and audio tracks separately. Insert editing does, however,
require that you first record a continuous control track on the edit master tape so
that the sync pulses remain evenly spaced at all the edit points.
The most common way to record a continuous control track is to record black on
the master edit tape—the tape in the record VTR onto which you copy the selected
shots from the source VTRs. Recording black will provide the continuous control
track without putting any pictures on it. Note that the recording of black happens
in real time, which means you must run the blank edit master tape for 30 minutes
to lay a 30-minute control track. Only then do you have a truly continuous guide for
the edit points. SEE 12.16
During insert editing the record VTR does not add a new control track but
rather places the new shot to fit the existing control track on the edit master tape.
The edits are highly stable and tear-free, even if you insert a new shot in the middle
of the edit master tape.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The edit master tape
must be prepared for
insert editing by first
recording black on it.
Shot 2
Shot 1
Control track of edit master tape
12.16 INSERT EDITING
The source material is transferred to the edit master tape without its control track and is placed according to the prerecorded
control track on the edit master tape.
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Contrary to assemble editing, insert editing lets you perform split edits. You will
find that in all but the simplest editing jobs, you need to separate audio from video
and edit pictures and sound separately. For example, many news and documentary
editors prefer to edit the audio track first and then “drop in” (match) the video so that
it is synchronized with the sound. Such split edits are one of the major advantages
of insert editing.
To speed up the editing process, you should have several “blackened” tapes on
hand (with the control track already recorded). These tapes serve as edit masters
for insert editing. Note, however, that you do not need to blacken any of the source
tapes. The VTR in the camcorder will provide each shot with its own control track.
POSTPRODUCTION PREPARATIONS
As with all other production activities, editing requires diligent preparation. The only
editing for which preparations are kept to a minimum is in news. There is no way to
predict the amount and the nature of news footage you may have to edit on a given
day, and you always have precious little time to make deliberate editing decisions.
All you can do is try to select the most telling shots and sequence them into a credible, responsible news story.
To make the best use of the usually insufficient postproduction time available,
you should lay the groundwork with some necessary preparations: shooting with
continuity in mind, making protection copies, adding time code to the source tapes,
making a window dub, reviewing and logging the source footage, transcribing the
audio text, and laying a control track.
Shoot for continuity It may sound strange, but the postproduction process starts
in the shooting phase and, to some extent, even in the preproduction phase. Good
directors and camera operators not only are able to visualize each shot and give it
composition and meaning but they also think ahead about how those shots will cut
together and look in sequence. In complicated productions such as dramas, commercials, or carefully constructed EFPs, sequencing is determined by a storyboard.
The storyboard shows key visualizations and the major sequencing of shots. SEE 12.17
If you don’t have the time or luxury to prepare a storyboard, you can still facilitate
postproduction editing by observing the following tips during production. You may
have noticed that some of these points were made in earlier discussions; but because
they can greatly facilitate postproduction editing, we reiterate them here.
PRODUCTION TIPS FOR POSTPRODUCTION
✔ Slate each take Identify each take with a visual or at least a verbal slate. In
the studio this is usually done with the character generator (C.G.). In the field you
should have a handheld slate or a clapboard that shows the date of the shoot, the
tape number, the scene number, and the take (shot) number. If you don’t have a
P O S T P R O D U C T I O N P R E PA R AT I O N S
12.17 STORYBOARD
The storyboard shows key visualizations and the major sequencing of shots, with action and audio information given below.
It can be hand-drawn on preprinted storyboard paper or computer-generated.
visual slate available, slate the takes verbally. After calling out the take number,
count backward from five to zero. This counting helps in locating the approximate
beginning of a shot after the slate.
✔ Leave margins for editing When videotaping do not stop the tape exactly at
the end of a shot; record a few more seconds before stopping. For instance, if the
software company president has finished describing the latest nonlinear editing
system, have her remain silent and in place for a few seconds before cutting the action and stopping the tape. When starting the next segment, roll the camera briefly
before calling for action; when finished, have everybody remain in place for a few
seconds before stopping the tape. Such pads, or trim handles, give you more flexibility in deciding on the exact edit-in and edit-out points.
✔ Record background sounds Even if you plan to reconstruct the audio track
in postproduction, always record a few minutes of ambient sound (room tone, traffic noise, or the sounds of silence in the mountains) before changing locations or
265
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finishing the taping. This environmental sound will help mask silent periods during
the edit or within a shot. You may even decide to use the sounds after all to reinforce
the location.
✔ Keep a field log Keep an accurate field log of what you tape. Label all recording
media (tape) and boxes with the media number and the production title. The field
log will aid you greatly in locating the videotaped material for the first screening.
✔ Record cutaway shots Get some cutaways for each scene. A cutaway is a
brief shot that will help improve or establish visual continuity between two shots.
The cutaway is usually related to the event, such as a bystander watching a parade
or a reporter’s camera during a hearing. Make the cutaways long enough—at least
15 to 20 seconds. Cutaways that are too short can be as frustrating to an editor as
no cutaways at all. When cutaways are too short, they look more like mistakes than
continuity links. When shooting cutaways always let the camera run for a few more
seconds than you think necessary; the cutaway will then be just about long enough
for the editor. ZVL8 EDITING Production guidelines cutaways
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Always make protection
copies of the original
source media.
Make protection copies Your production efforts are wasted if you lose the source
media or damage them in some way. Experienced production people always make
protection copies of all source material as soon as possible after the recording. As
you remember, there is no quality loss in copying digital tape; these copies will be as
good as the original source tapes. ZVL9 EDITING Production guidelines housekeeping
Add time code Unless you recorded time code during the videotaping, you may
need to add it to all source tapes. You do this by “laying in” the time code signals
from a time code generator on the address track of the videotape or on one of the
audio tracks.
Make a window dub When laying in the time code, you can simultaneously make
another dub, called the window dub—a lower-quality, bumped-down (usually VHS)
copy that has the time code “burned in”—keyed over each frame. Each frame displays
a box, called a window, which shows its time code address. SEE 12.18
Even if you have labeled some takes NG (no good), it is usually easier to windowdub all video, regardless of whether the takes are OK or no good. Every once in a
while, the video from an initially NG take proves invaluable as a cutaway or a substitute shot in the actual editing. You can still eliminate the really bad ones during
the capture phase.
This window dub will serve you in the accurate logging of all recorded shots;
in preparing an edit decision list (EDL), which lists the in- and out-points of each
edit; and even in performing a rough-cut—a preliminary low-quality version of the
edit master tape—in linear editing.
Review and log the source footage It is now time to make a list of everything
recorded on the source tapes, regardless of whether the take was properly field
P O S T P R O D U C T I O N P R E PA R AT I O N S
12.18 SMPTE TIME CODE WINDOW DUB
The time code can be keyed directly into the copy of the source tape. Each frame displays its own unique time code address.
slated as usable. This list—called a VR log or an editing log—is a written document
based on the window dub or the time code displayed on the clips in nonlinear editing. Note that some postproduction people use the term VTR log even if the shots
were recorded on nontape media. This log helps you locate specific shots and their
principal screen directions without having to preview the source material over and
over again.
Although logging may initially seem like a waste of time, an accurate and carefully prepared VR log will save you time, money, and ultimately nerves during the
actual editing. Besides the usual data, such as the production title, the name of the
director, and the production number and date, the VR log should contain the following information:
◾ Media (tape, memory card, disc) number
◾ Scene number
◾ Take number
◾ Time code in- and out-numbers of each shot
◾ Whether the shot is OK or NG (if you don’t have a designated OK/NG column,
you can simply circle the good takes in the third column)
◾ Important audio information
◾ Remarks (brief description of the scene or event)
◾ Vector type and direction
You will probably not find a vectors column in commercially available editing
log forms or computer displays, but vectors provide extremely important logging
information. As discussed in chapter 6, they depict lines and something pointing
or moving in a particular direction. (We elaborate on vectors further in chapter 13.)
The advantage of a vector designation is that you can identify a particular screen
direction quickly and easily without having to run the source footage again.
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PRODUCTION TITLE: T r a f f i c S a f e t y
MEDIA SCENE/ TAKE
NO. SHOT NO.
4
IN
114
PRODUCTION NO:
Hamid Khani
PRODUCER:
OUT
OFF-LINE DATE: 0 7 / 1 5
Elan Frank
DIRECTOR:
OK/
NG
SOUND
ON-LINE DATE:
07/21
REMARKS
VECTORS
m
2 0 4 44 42 0 6 0 4 47 41 2 9 OK car sound c a r A m o v i n g t h r o u g h s t o p s i g n m
2 1
0 4 44 21 14
04 44 23 12
O
03 0 4 48 01 29
04 0 4 51 02 13
0 4 5500 49 17
2 05 05 02 29
0 5 06 51 11
5 5 1 0 5 0 3 49 18
6
O3 0 5 0 7 4 0 0 2
01 0 5 12 03 28
O2 0 5 1 7 08 1 6
mic problem
NG
OK brakes
0 4 51 42 08 OK reaction
car B putting on brakes
(toward camera)
''
Again, ball problem
0 5 0 9 1 2 1 3 O K c pa re db. yrea lkl iensg car swerves to avoid ball
0 5 1 4 1 2 0 1 OK p e d . y e l l i n g kid running into street
0 5 21 11 19 OK
3 05 22 15 03 0 5 26 28 00 N G
car
street
im
pedestrian reaction
car brakes
05 04 02 07 NG p e d . y e l l i n g b a l l n o t i n f r o n t o f c a r
NG
m
m ball
m ballm
m
i
m
cutaways car moving
lines of sidewalk
m
ball
m
child
g
12.19 VR LOG
The VR log, or editing log, contains the necessary specifications about all video and audio information recorded on the source
tapes. Notice the notations in the vectors column: g, i, and m refer to graphic, index, and motion vectors. The arrows show the
(toward the camera)
principal directions of the index and motion vectors. Z-axis index and motion vectors are labeled with
or ● (away from the camera).
If, for example, you need a shot that has objects moving in the opposite direction from the previous shot, all you need to do is glance down the vectors column
and look for shots whose m symbol (indicating a motion vector) has arrows pointing
in an opposing direction. As you can see in the figure above, the vector notations
use arrows for the main direction of g (graphic), i (index), and m (motion) vectors.
SEE 12.19 ZVL10 EDITING Postproduction guidelines VTR log
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The vector notations
on the VR log facilitate
locating shots that point
in specific directions.
A circled dot indicates somebody looking at or moving toward the camera;
a single dot ● indicates somebody looking or moving away from the camera. Don’t
worry too much about the vectors column right now, but after you have read chapter 13 you should revisit figure 12.19 and study the vectors column once more. See
whether it helps you visualize the shot sequence listed on this editing log.
Most editing software allows you to enter specific log information and, in some
cases, even actual pictures of the first and last frames of each clip. The thumbnail
frames help greatly in locating clips. If using thumbnail frames, you can skip the
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OFF-LINE AND ON-LINE EDITING
vectors column because you can clearly see the principal vectors of each clip’s beginning and end frames.
The advantage of a computerized log is that you can quickly find a particular
scene by entering either the filename or the time code number. You can then automatically transfer it to the EDL, which will guide the final sequencing of the edit
master recording.
Transcribe the audio text Transcribing all speech to typed pages is another timeconsuming but important pre-editing chore. Once accomplished it definitely speeds
up the editing. If, for example, you need to edit a long interview or cut a speech so
that it fits an allotted time slot, the printed page gives you a much quicker overview
than repeatedly listening to the audio track of the videotape. Because a printed page
is much less linear than tape, it allows you to jump around in the text with great
speed. Of course, in news coverage you have no time for such transcriptions; all you
can usually do is run the source footage and take notes about which portions you
would like to keep and where in the tape you have to make the cuts. ZVL11 EDITING
Postproduction guidelines audio transcript
Lay a control track Recall that you must record a black signal on the tape that is
to become the edit master if you use linear insert editing. By recording black, you
lay down a continuous control track that allows split edits and ensures stable edit
points. Of course, in nonlinear editing you don’t have to worry about a control track
or whether to do assemble or insert editing; you just capture the clips to the hard
drive and give them filenames for easy retrieval.
OFF-LINE AND ON-LINE EDITING
Regardless of whether you are engaged in linear or nonlinear editing, off-line editing usually refers to a preliminary, low-quality edited version intended for critical
review. On-line editing, on the other hand, always results in the final edited version
for broadcast or other forms of distribution. The way you do on- and off-line editing,
however, is quite different for linear and nonlinear approaches.
Linear Off-line and On-line Editing
Linear off-line editing results in an edit decision list or an actual rough-cut, a
low-quality videotape that shows the shots in sequence but without any special
transitions, effects, or audio sweetening. Once you and the client are satisfied, you
redo the off-line edit with the best equipment available, using your off-line EDL or
rough-cut as a guide. This then becomes your final on-line edit. ZVL12 EDITING
Linear editing on-line edit
Nonlinear Off-line and On-line Editing
In nonlinear editing off-line means that the selected source clips are first captured
in low resolution (low-quality video) for off-line editing. But doesn’t this require
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
In linear editing off-line
means to create an EDL or
a rough cut. On-line means
to create and export the
final edited version.
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12.20 FINAL EDIT
DECISION LIST
The final EDL usually lists the
names of the shots (or of the
clips in nonlinear editing),
their time code in- and outnumbers, the length of each
shot, the major transitions
and effects, the location of
video and audio track numbers, and some other technical information.
TITLE: TRAFFIC SAFETY
Header
001 003
V C
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005 004
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EFFECTS NAME IS ZOOM
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01:00:22:05
01:00:27:06
01:00:26:06
01:00:33:29
006
003
V
C
01:52:14:25
01:52:16:05
01:00:33:29
01:00:35:15
007
001
V
C
01:39:08:00
01:39:14:24
01:00:58:15
01:01:05:09
Source in
Source out
Record in
Record out
Event
number
Source
reel ID
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
In nonlinear editing
off-line means that the
capture and the editing
are done in low-resolution
video, intended to produce
an EDL or a rough-cut. Online means that the edited
footage is recaptured in
high-resolution video
for the edit master.
Edit
mode
Transition
type
that you have done already a preliminary selection and sequencing of clips? Yes, it
does, to a certain extent. But because you capture the clips in low resolution, you
usually have enough room on the hard drive to import most of the clips regardless
of whether they are labeled good or no-good.
Once the source material is on the NLE hard drive, you can proceed with the
selection of clips and their sequencing—the actual editing. Thanks to the relative
ease with which you can manipulate the clips and change their sequence, you can
produce several versions and pick the one that you like best. Use this version to generate the computerized EDL, which you can then use for recapturing the selected
clips at the highest possible resolution for the on-line edit. SEE 12.20 Note that you
still need to add all transitions and effects as well as mix the sound track. Once this
is done, you can export this final on-line version to the edit master media (tape or
disc). ZVL13 EDITING Nonlinear editing off-line and on-line
Off-line Editing Procedures
We are jumping the gun a little because even the most basic off-line editing procedures presuppose a basic knowledge of selection criteria—why you choose one
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OFF-LINE AND ON-LINE EDITING
clip over another. These criteria are the subject of chapter 13. For now, you need to
know the initial steps of off-line procedures because they will influence, at least to
some extent, your selection of clips in the decision-making phase. ZVL14 EDITING
Linear editing off-line edit
Review Unless you are editing news footage that gets into your hands just 30 minutes before the newscast, think again about what it is you want to tell the viewer. This
means going back to the basic program objective and the angle (communication
intent) that you originally stated. After all, how can you select and assemble event
essences if you don’t know what the story is all about? The actual video-recorded
footage may suggest a slight variation or a restatement of the original objective, but
don’t let spectacular shots render the original approach obsolete.
Visualize as best as you can the most relevant clips. If you can’t remember a
specific sequence, rerun the clip. One of the great advantages of nonlinear editing
over linear editing is that you can call up any clip for review in a fraction of a second,
no matter where it may be located on the NLE hard drive. Such a review will inevitably suggest a tentative sequence and, more importantly, will give you a chance to
identify the takes you are pretty sure you won’t use. (But don’t throw them away just
yet—you may decide to use them after all.)
Paper-and-pencil editing A simple way of creating the first tentative EDL is by
paper-and-pencil editing, or paper editing for short. This is how it works:
1. Watch, once again, the source clips that you would like to use and see which
shots strike you as especially relevant and effective. Such a review will suggest,
however indirectly, a tentative sequence.
2. When done with this review, think more seriously about sequencing the clips.
While keeping the program objective and the available footage in mind, prepare
a rough storyboard. This is the time to take a good look at the editing log and
locate the key clips. If several clips would be equally effective for a particular
scene, list them all.
3. Identify the selected clips with the time code in- and out-numbers and add them
to your handwritten EDL. Sometimes it is the audio that dictates the sequence
rather than the video portion of the clip. SEE 12.21 ZVL15 EDITING Linear editing
paper edit
Preliminary rough-cut If you have time, you can use this preliminary EDL to copy
the selected portions of the window dubs from one VHS machine to another. Don’t
worry about the accuracy of in- and out-points or breakups at the edit points. All you
want to get at this point is a feel for the event flow. Never mind about the audio—you
can fix that later when you do the more precise editing from your final EDL. This is
where the nonlinear editing system shines: you can edit a few preliminary versions
in a fraction of the time it would take you to do even the simple VCR-to-VCR edit. If
you don’t like one version, just rearrange the clips. Once you are satisfied with the
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Paper-and-pencil editing
is a good way to create a
preliminary editing guide.
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POSTPRODUCTION: LINEAR AND NONLINEAR EDITING
PRODUCTION TITLE: T r a f f i c S a f e t y
Hamid Khani
PRODUCER:
MEDIA SCENE/ TAKE
NO. SHOT NO.
1
PRODUCTION NO:
IN
Elan Frank
DIRECTOR:
OUT
114
TRANSITION
SOUND
2 2 0 1 46 13 14 01 46 15 02
cut
car
3 0 1 51 10
1 0 2 9 01 51 11 2 1
cut
car
4 02 0 5 55 17 02 05 56 02
cut
ped. yelling—brakes
5 02 07 43 17 02 08 46 01
cut
brakes
6 0 2 51 40
4 0 02 0 2 51 414 1 07
cut
3
OFF-LINE DATE: 0 7 / 1 5
ON-LINE DATE:
07/21
REMARKS
ped. yelling—brakes
12.21 HANDWRITTEN EDIT DECISION LIST
The EDL is the road map for on-line editing. It lists the tape number, the scene and take numbers, the in- and out-numbers for each
selected shot, and major audio information. This handwritten EDL contains information for the first, tentative edit.
general sequence of shots, you can think about transitions and effects and the audio
requirements for the final on-line version.
On-line Editing Procedures
Regardless of whether you use a linear or a nonlinear editing system, on-line editing
will produce the final edit master recording (tape or disc). In a way, on-line editing
is easier than off-line editing because the editing decisions have already been made
in the off-line process and listed on the EDL. From this point on, the EDL usually
guides the on-line editing procedures. ZVL16 EDITING Linear editing on-line edit
In linear editing the edit controller will read the in- and out-numbers and help
you set up the source and record VTRs for the final edits. In nonlinear editing, the
EDL will tell you or the computer which files to play in which order and which transitions and effects to use during sequencing.
Although it is still possible to make last-minute changes at this point, try to avoid
them. More often than not, such eleventh-hour decisions make the edit less effective
than the previous version.
POSTPRODUCTION FACILITIES
The postproduction facilities include relatively small editing bays and one or two
“on-line” editing suites.
P O S T P R O D U C T I O N FA C I L I T I E S
Editing Bays
As you know, you don’t need much room for nonlinear editing, especially if you do
it with a laptop or desktop computer. Each production facility has several editing
bays and usually could use some more. They are located in small, separate editing
rooms or in a large room with cubicles. Each of the editing bays contains an NLE
system (computer, small speakers and headphones, a small audio mixer, and a wired
connection to a playback video reorder and/or server).
Placing the editing bays in one room has an advantage when used in an instructional setting. If working on a similar, or the same, project, students can readily
consult one another without having to run from room to room. Also, the instructor
can more easily supervise a class and provide quick help when needed. The disadvantage is that the audio will spill from one bay to the next, so the editors must wear
headsets instead of listening to the audio through the speakers.
On-line Suites
These editing rooms are a holdover from the linear editing days, when the high-end
on-line equipment was complemented by equally impressive furnishings. Usually,
there is only one such room in a production facility—not necessarily to provide
comfort to the editor but rather to impress the client.
Just two more points: Editing is always more time-consuming than you initially
thought and budgeted for; and despite the great assistance from edit controllers
and nonlinear computing power, it is still you who has to make the decisions about
which shot goes where. How to make the right aesthetic decisions is the subject of
chapter 13.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Nonlinear Editing
The basic principle of nonlinear editing (NLE) is file management. The NLE system uses
computers with high-capacity hard drives for the storage, retrieval, and sequencing of
video and audio files. The final edit is exported to the edit master media.
▶ Three Editing Phases
The three nonlinear editing phases are: capture, editing, and export.
▶ Linear Editing
The use of VTRs designates linear editing, whether the recording is analog or digital.
The basic principle of linear editing is copying sections of the source tapes in the desired
sequence to the edit master media. Subsequent copies are struck from the edit master.
▶ Single- and Multiple-source Systems
Typically, single-source VTR editing systems are limited to cuts-only transitions.
Dissolves, wipes, and other special-effects transitions are possible with multiple-source
editing systems.
273
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▶ Edit Controller
The edit controller, also called the editing control unit, is used in linear editing to assist
in various functions, such as marking edit-in and edit-out points, backspacing, rolling
source and record VTRs in sync, and integrating effects.
▶ Pulse-count and Address Code
The pulse-count system is not a true address code because it counts pulses but does not
give each frame a unique address. The address code, such as the SMPTE time code, marks
each frame with a unique address—a time code number consisting of hours, minutes,
seconds, and frames.
▶ Linear Assemble and Insert Editing
In assemble editing everything that is recorded on the selected portions of the source
tape is transferred to the edit master tape. The shots can be assembled one after the
other on the edit master, regardless of whether it was a blank tape or one with a previous
recording on it. Insert editing requires the prior laying of a control track (by recording
black) on the edit master tape. The continuous control track makes the edits highly stable
and allows split edits.
▶ Postproduction Preparations
The most important preparations for efficient postproduction editing include shooting
for continuity, making protection copies, adding time code, making a window dub,
reviewing and logging the source footage, transcribing the audio text, and, for linear
insert editing, laying a control track on the edit master tape.
▶ Off-line and On-line Editing
Off-line linear editing produces an edit decision list (EDL) or a rough-cut. On-line linear
editing produces the final edit master tape. In nonlinear editing, off-line refers to the
capture of source footage and file manipulation at low picture resolution. On-line refers
to recapturing the off-line footage at a higher resolution according to the EDL. The
resulting footage is exported to a VTR or DVD for recording an edit master.
▶ Postproduction Facilities
The NLE equipment is usually housed in small separate rooms or in one large room
with cubicles. In nonlinear editing on-line suites mean an especially well-equipped and
furnished editing room, mainly to impress clients.
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P O S T P R O D U C T I O N FA C I L I T I E S
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
EDITING Editing introduction
ZVL2
EDITING Functions
ZVL3
EDITING Nonlinear editing system
ZVL4
EDITING Nonlinear editing exporting
ZVL5
EDITING Linear editing system
ZVL6
EDITING Postproduction guidelines tape basics
ZVL7
EDITING Postproduction guidelines time code
ZVL8
EDITING Production guidelines cutaways
ZVL9
EDITING Production guidelines housekeeping
ZVL10
EDITING Postproduction guidelines VTR log
ZVL11
EDITING Postproduction guidelines audio transcript
ZVL12
EDITING Linear editing on-line edit
ZVL13
EDITING Nonlinear editing off-line and on-line
ZVL14
EDITING Linear editing off-line edit
ZVL15
EDITING Linear editing paper edit
ZVL16
EDITING Linear editing on-line edit
249
249
251
256
256
261
261
266
266
268
269
271
271
272
270
269
13
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
complexity editing Building an intensified screen event from
carefully selected and juxtaposed shots. Does not have to
adhere to the continuity principles.
continuing vectors Graphic vectors that extend each other, or
index and motion vectors that point and move in the same
direction.
continuity editing Preserving visual continuity from shot
to shot.
converging vectors Index and motion vectors that point
toward each other.
cutaway A shot of an object or event that is peripherally connected with the overall event and that is relatively static.
Commonly used between two shots that do not provide
good continuity.
diverging vectors Index and motion vectors that point away
from each other.
jogging Frame-by-frame advancement of a recorded shot sequence, resulting in a jerking motion.
jump cut An image that jumps slightly from one screen position to another during a cut. Also, any gross visual discontinuity from shot to shot.
mental map Tells us where things are or are supposed to be in
on- and off-screen space.
vector line An imaginary line created by extending converging index vectors or the direction of a motion vector. Also
called the line of conversation and action, the hundredeighty
(for 180 degrees), or, simply, the line.
Editing Principles
Now that you are familiar with the basics of linear and nonlinear editing systems and
their use in postproduction editing, you will discover that the real challenge of editing
is not necessarily in mastering the equipment but in telling a story effectively and,
especially, in selecting shots that bring about a smooth shot sequence. A master editor
must know aesthetics, not just machines. But what does this mean? This chapter will
acquaint you with some of the basic aesthetic editing principles.
▶ EDITING PURPOSE
Why we edit
▶ EDITING FUNCTIONS
Combining, condensing, correcting, and building
▶ AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUITY EDITING
The mental map, vectors, on- and off-screen positions, and cutting on action
▶ AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF COMPLEXITY EDITING
Intensifying the event and supplying meaning
EDITING PURPOSE
Editing means selecting certain portions of an event or events and putting them
into a meaningful sequence. The nature of such sequencing depends on the specific
editing purpose: to cut a 20-minute video recording of an important news story to
20 seconds to make it fit the format; to join a series of close-up details so that they
make sense and flow without any visual bumps; or to juxtapose certain shots so that
they take on added meaning.
Basically, we edit to tell a story that makes sense and has impact. All editing
equipment is designed to make the selection of clips, and their joining through transitions, as easy and efficient as possible. But whether you work with simple cuts-only
videotape-editing equipment or a highly sophisticated nonlinear editing system, the
functions and the basic aesthetic principles of editing remain the same.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Editing means selecting
significant event details
and putting them into a
sequence to tell a story
with clarity and impact.
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EDITING FUNCTIONS
The specific editing functions are combining, condensing, correcting, and building.
Although these functions frequently overlap, there is always a predominant one that
determines the editing approach and style—the selection of shots, their length and
sequence, and the transitions with which they are joined.
Combine
The simplest kind of editing is combining program portions. For instance, you may
want to combine the segments you video-recorded during your vacation so that they
are in chronological sequence on a single tape. Your carefully kept field log will aid
you greatly in locating the source tapes and the specific clips. Because you simply
hook the video-recorded pieces together, there is no need for transitions; it can be
“cuts only.” The more aware you are of the desired sequence during the actual shooting, the easier it will be to combine the shots in this postproduction phase.
Condense
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The condensing
function of editing
requires recognizing the
essence of an event and
selecting shots that best
express that essence.
Often you edit simply to condense the material—to reduce the overall length of the
program or program portion. The most drastic condensing is done in television news.
As an editor of news footage, you are often called upon to cut extraordinary stories
to unreasonably brief segments. It is not unusual to have to shorten a 30-minute
speech to 10 seconds, the 20 hours of a rescue operation to a mere 20 seconds, or
the 50 minutes of graphic war footage, video-recorded by a daring camera crew,
to a mere 5 seconds. The infamous “sound bites” are a direct outgrowth of such
drastic editing. Statements by public officials are tailored to a series of brief and
memorable catchphrases rather than sensible narrative, very much in the spirit of
advertising slogans.
But even in less drastic editing, you will find that it is often hard to part with some
of the footage, especially if it took extra effort to record. As an editor, try to detach
yourself as much as possible from the preproduction and production efforts and
concentrate simply on what you need to show and say rather than what you have
available. Don’t use three shots if you can communicate the same message with one.
Such editing requires that you identify the essence of an event and use only those
shots that best communicate that essence.
Correct
Editing to fix production mistakes can be one of the most difficult, time-consuming,
and costly postproduction activities. Even simple mistakes, such as the company
president’s misreading a word during her monthly address, can present a formidable
problem when trying to match the body positions and the voice levels of the old
(before the mistake) and new (after the mistake) takes. A good director will not pick
up the speech exactly where the mistake was made but go back to where a new idea
is introduced in the speech so that a change in shots is properly motivated. Starting
the “pickup” (new shot) from a different point of view (a tighter or looser shot or a
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUIT Y EDITING
different angle) will make the cut and a slight shift in voice level appear deliberate
and ensure continuity.
More serious production problems, such as trying to match uneven colors and
sound, can be a real headache for the editor. White-balancing the camera in each
new lighting environment and watching the VU meter while listening carefully to
the sound pickup is certainly easier than trying to “fix them in post.”
Such seemingly minor oversights as the talent’s wearing her coat buttoned while
standing up but unbuttoned when sitting cannot be fixed in post even by the most
experienced editor; they call for costly retakes. Again, meticulous attention to all
preproduction details and keeping a close watch on every aspect of production can
reduce many of the costly “fixing in post” activities.
Build
The most satisfying editing is done when you can build a show from a great many
carefully recorded shots. Some postproduction people think—not without cause—
that the video recording during the production provides merely the bricks and mortar
and that it is up to the editor to construct the building—to give the raw material shape
and meaning. Regardless of whether editing is done to show an event as clearly as
possible or to reveal its intensity and complexity—or a combination of the two—you
need to apply one or both of the major aesthetic editing principles: continuity and
complexity. ZVL1 EDITING Functions select | combine | correct | try it
AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUITY EDITING
Continuity editing means creating seamless transitions from one event detail to
the next so that the story flows even though a great deal of information is purposely
omitted. The aesthetic principles of continuity editing are concerned not so much
with the logic of the story line and the narrative flow but with how the pictures and
the sound from one shot carry over to the next.
Unlike the painter or still photographer, who is concerned with the effective composition of a single image, as a video editor you must compare the aesthetic elements
of one picture with those of another and determine whether they lead smoothly from
one to the other when seen in succession. Over the years of filmmaking, certain ways
of achieving visual continuity became so firmly established that they matured from
conventions to principles and now apply equally to video production.
The major principles of continuity editing are the mental map, vectors, on- and
off-screen positions, and cutting on action.
Mental Map
Every time we watch television or a film, we automatically try to make sense of
where things are and in what direction they move on and off the screen. In effect,
we construct a mental map of such on- and off-screen positions and directions. For
example, if you see somebody looking screen-left in a two-shot, he should also be
looking screen-left in a close-up. SEE 13.1
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Careful attention to
preproduction and
production details
can obviate most
corrective editing.
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CHAPTER 13
A
EDITING PRINCIPLES
B
13.1 MENTAL MAP
To help establish the mental map of where things are in off-screen space, you need to be consistent with where people look.
A When someone looks screen-left in a medium shot…
B …he should look in approximately the same direction in a close-up.
Person assumed
to be in the
off-screen space
A
B
13.2 MENTAL MAP OF RIGHT OFF-SCREEN POSITION
If you show person A looking and talking screen-right in a medium shot, we assume person B to be located in the right off-screen
space, looking screen-left.
Person assumed
to be in the
off-screen space
A
B
13.3 MENTAL MAP OF LEFT OFF-SCREEN POSITION
When we now see person B in a medium shot looking and talking screen-left, we assume person A to be in the left off-screen space.
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUIT Y EDITING
If you see a person in a medium shot looking screen-right during a two-way
conversation, your mental map suggests that the other person is located somewhere
in the right off-screen space. SEE 13.2 According to the established mental map, the
next shot must show the partner looking screen-left, with the first person having
moved into the left off-screen space. SEE 13.3 To show both persons looking in the
same direction in subsequent shots would go against the mental map and suggest
that both are talking to a third person. SEE 13.4
If, during a three-way conversation, you see a single person in a medium shot
first looking screen-right and then screen-left, you expect somebody to be sitting
on both sides of her rather than two people on one side or the other. SEE 13.5 But if
you see the anchor in a medium shot consistently looking screen-right during the
three-way conversation, you expect the two other people to be sitting screen-right of
A
B
Shot 2
Shot 1
13.4 DIFFERENT MENTAL MAP OF OFF-SCREEN POSITION
Showing persons A and B looking in the same direction in subsequent shots would suggest that both are talking to a
third person.
13.5 PERSON LOOKING SCREENRIGHT AND SCREEN-LEFT
When a person in a medium shot looks
screen-right in shot 1, then screen-left in
shot 2, we expect the other people to be
sitting on both sides of her.
A
B
Shot 1
C
A
Shot 2
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EDITING PRINCIPLES
13.6 SCREEN-RIGHT POSITION OF PARTNERS
When someone continues to look screen-right during a three-way conversation, we expect her two partners to be sitting in the
right off-screen space.
13.7 ACTUAL SCREEN POSITIONS
When seen in a long shot, the mental
map of off-screen space coincides with
the actual positions of the three people.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Continuity editing means
preserving the location
and the motion of objects
over a series of shots to
help the viewer establish
and maintain a mental
map of where things
should be in on- and
off-screen space.
her, although we cannot actually see them. SEE 13.6 A three-shot of all the speakers
shows that your mental map was accurate. SEE 13.7
As you can see, the mental map covers not only on-screen space but also offscreen space. Once such a mental map is established, you must adhere to it unless you purposely want to shake the viewers out of their perceptual expectations.
Applying continuity principles will keep the map intact. ZVL2 EDITING Continuity
mental map
.
Vectors
As you recall from chapter 6, vectors are directional forces that lead our eyes from one
point to another on the screen and even off it. They can be strong or weak, depending
on how forcefully they suggest or move in a specific direction. Keeping the mental
map intact requires proper vector continuity. ZVL3 EDITING Continuity vectors
Continuity of graphic vectors If you shoot a scene with a prominent graphic vector as the horizon line, such as a skyline, the ocean, the desert, or a mountain range,
you need to make sure that the height of the horizon line is consistent in subsequent
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUIT Y EDITING
Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 3
13.8 GRAPHIC VECTOR CONTINUITY
To prevent the horizon line from jumping up and down during subsequent shots, you need to make sure that it forms a
continuous graphic vector from shot to shot.
shots and that it does not jump up or down. SEE 13.8
You can accomplish this vector continuity simply by
marking the horizon line of the first shot with a piece
of tape on the viewfinder and aligning all subsequent
shots according to the tape.
Directions of index and motion vectors Index
and motion vectors can be continuing, converging, or
diverging.
Continuing vectors follow each other or move
or point in the same direction. SEE 13.9 They must
“continue”—point in the same screen direction—even if
shown in separate shots. SEE 13.10 If you show one of the
people looking in the opposite direction in the close-up,
you will jolt the established continuity. Instead of the
A
A
B
13.9 CONTINUING INDEX VECTORS IN A SINGLE SHOT
Continuing vectors point or move in the same direction. The
continuing index vectors of these two people suggest that they
are looking at the same target object.
B
Shot 1
Shot 2
13.10 CONTINUING INDEX VECTORS IN SUCCESSIVE SHOTS
Even when seen in two successive close-ups (shots 1 and 2), these continuing index vectors suggest that the two persons (A and B)
are looking at a common target object.
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EDITING PRINCIPLES
A
B
Shot 1
Shot 2
13.11 INDEX VECTOR REVERSAL IN SUCCESSIVE SHOTS
By reversing one of the index vectors (shot 2), we assume that the two persons (A and B) are looking at each other instead of
at a common target object.
13.12 CONVERGING INDEX
VECTORS IN A SINGLE SHOT
Converging vectors must point or move
toward each other. The index vectors of
the two people (A and B) looking at each
other converge.
A
B
two people looking in the same direction, the mental map now tells us that they
must be looking at each other. SEE 13.11
Converging vectors move or point toward each other. SEE 13.12 To maintain
the mental map, you must maintain their direction in subsequent single shots.
SEE 13.13
Diverging vectors move or point away from each other. SEE 13.14 Again, subsequent close-ups must maintain the diverging vector direction. SEE 13.15
Vectors, of course, can change their directions in a single shot. In that case, the
follow-up shot must continue the index or motion vector as seen just before the cut.
For instance, if you show somebody running screen-left who then turns midscreen
and runs screen-right, the subsequent shot must show the person continuing to
run screen-right.
Someone looking directly into the camera or walking toward or away from it
constitutes a z-axis index or motion vector. As you recall, the z-axis is the depth
dimension or the imaginary line that stretches from the camera to the horizon.
Whether we perceive a series of z-axis shots as continuing, converging, or diverging
depends on the event context. If you follow a two-shot that shows two people looking at each other with successive close-ups of each person looking into the camera,
we perceive their successive z-axis vectors as converging: they are still looking at
each other. SEE 13.16
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUIT Y EDITING
A
B
Shot 1
Shot 2
13.13 CONVERGING INDEX VECTORS IN SUCCESSIVE SHOTS
When seen in successive close-ups (shots 1 and 2), the index vector of person A must converge with that of person B.
13.14 DIVERGING INDEX
VECTORS IN A SINGLE SHOT
When two persons (A and B) look away
from each other in a two-shot, their index
vectors diverge.
A
B
A
Shot 1
B
Shot 2
13.15 DIVERGING INDEX VECTORS IN SUCCESSIVE SHOTS
To show that the index vectors are diverging in successive close-ups (shots 1 and 2), the index vector of person A must lead away
from that of person B.
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EDITING PRINCIPLES
B
A
Shot 1
B
Shot 2
Shot 3
13.16 CONVERGING Z-AXIS INDEX VECTORS
Shot 1 establishes the index vectors of persons A and B as converging. By establishing that the vectors converge (shot 1),
we perceive the subsequent z-axis close-ups of A and B in shots 2 and 3 also as converging.
A
B
A
Shot 1
Shot 2
B
Shot 3
13.17 TWO-SHOT WITH DIVERGING INDEX VECTORS
If the context in shot 1 establishes that the two people (A and B) are looking away from each other, the vectors in the subsequent
z-axis shots (2 and 3) are also perceived as diverging.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Graphic, index, and motion
vectors play an important
part in establishing and
maintaining continuity
from shot to shot.
If the context (two-shot) shows that the two people are looking away from each
other, we perceive the identical z-axis close-ups as diverging index vectors. SEE 13.17
On- and Off-screen Positions
As shown in figures 13.1 through 13.7, we tend to create a mental map that helps
us tell where people are located even if we can’t see them. Such an off-screen map
helps preserve visual continuity and ultimately stabilize the environment. In vector
terms, we place a person off-screen wherever the on-screen index vector points.
The same is true for on-screen positions: once we establish person A on screen-left
and person B on screen-right, we expect them to remain there even if we cut to a
different point of view. Such position continuity is especially important in over-theshoulder and cross-shots. SEE 13.18 In shots 1 and 2, person A remains screen-left
and person B remains screen-right. Our mental map would be greatly disturbed if
we saw A and B change places in shot 3—we would perceive them as playing musical chairs. SEE 13.19
Vector line The navigation device that helps maintain on-screen positions and
motion continuity is called the vector line, the line of conversation and action, the
hundredeighty (for 180 degrees), or, simply, the line. The vector line is an extension
of converging index vectors or of a motion vector in the direction of travel. SEE 13.20
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUIT Y EDITING
A
B
A
Shot 1
B
Shot 2
13.18 PRESERVING ON-SCREEN POSITIONS
When person B is first seen screen-right (shot 1), we expect her to remain there even when cutting to a different point of view,
as in this over-the-shoulder sequence (shot 2).
A
B
B
Shot 1
A
Shot 3
13.19 REVERSING ON-SCREEN POSITIONS
Our mental map is disturbed when person B appears screen-left in the over-the-shoulder shot (shot 3).
13.20 FORMING
THE VECTOR LINE
Motion vector
Converging index
vectors
The vector line is formed by
extending converging index
vectors or by extending a
motion vector.
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To maintain on-screen positions during over-the-shoulder shooting (with person
A screen-left and person B screen-right), you must keep the cameras on the same
side of the vector line. SEE 13.21 Crossing the line would result in a musical chair–like
switch of A and B. SEE 13.22 Although you may argue that you would not confuse
A and B even if they switched screen positions, crossing the line would definitely
disturb the mental map and generate a big continuity bump; at best, it would inhibit
optimal communication.
A similar problem occurs if you shoot two side-by-side people from the front
and the back along the z-axis. Such a sequencing problem is common when covering a wedding, when you shoot the bride and the groom first from the front and
1
Camera position
for shot 1
Vector
line
A
B
Shot 1
A
B
A
B
Shot 2
2
Camera position
for shot 2
13.21 VECTOR LINE AND PROPER CAMERA POSITIONS
To maintain the screen positions of persons A and B in over-the-shoulder shooting, the cameras must be on the same side
of the vector line.
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF CONTINUIT Y EDITING
then from the back. When cutting the two shots together, the two people switch
positions. SEE 13.23
To get around this “wedding switch,” you can move to the side with the camera
when the couple walks by and see them change positions within the shot. When
cutting to the shot from behind, they have already switched positions.
When cross shooting, crossing the line will change the properly converging index
vectors to improperly continuing vectors. Instead of having two people look at and
talk with each other, they seem to be talking to a third person. SEE 13.24
When placing cameras on both sides of the motion vector line, the object motion will be reversed with each cut. SEE 13.25 To preserve the direction of the object
1
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
To maintain on-screen
positions and vector
continuity, both cameras
must be kept on the same
side of the vector line.
Camera position
for shot 1
Vector
line
A
B
Shot 1
A
B
B
A
Shot 2
Camera position
for shot 2
2
13.22 CROSSING THE VECTOR LINE
Crossing the vector line with one of the two cameras will result in a position switch of persons A and B. They will seem to
play musical chairs.
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Camera position
for shot 1
Camera position
for shot 2
A
1
2
Z-axis
B
A
Vector
line
B
B
Shot 1
A
Shot 2
13.23 Z-AXIS POSITION SWITCH
When shooting two people side-by-side (A and B) from the front and from the back along the z-axis, they will switch positions
when the shots are edited together.
Vector
line
1
A
Camera position
for shot 1
A
Shot 2
B
Camera position
for shot 2
2
B
Shot 1
13.24 CROSSING THE LINE IN CROSS SHOOTING
When crossing the line in cross shooting, persons A and B seem to be looking in the same direction.
The converging index vectors have become continuing ones.
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13.25 CROSSING THE
Motion
vector line
MOTION VECTOR LINE
Camera position
for shot 2
When crossing the motion
vector line, the object motion
will be reversed with each cut.
2
Shot 1
1
Camera position
for shot 1
Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 2
Shot 3
13.26 CUTAWAY
If you want to show that a subject continues to move in the same direction although the successive shot shows it moving in the
opposite direction (shots 1 and 3), you can establish a continuing motion vector by inserting a neutral cutaway (shot 2).
motion, you need to position both cameras on the same side of the motion vector
line. (Covering a football game from both sides of the field is not a good idea.)
If you need to convey that an object moves in a single direction although two
successive shots show it moving in opposite directions, you can insert a cutaway—a
thematically related, usually nonmoving, shot that separates the two opposing motion vectors. SEE 13.26 ZVL4 EDITING Production guidelines cutaways
Cutting on Action
Always try to cut on action rather than right before or after. For example, if you have
to cut from a close-up to a loose medium shot of somebody getting up from a chair,
wait until he starts to rise, then cut to the medium shot just before he stands. This
will be a much smoother transition than if you were to cut from his sitting to just
before he stands or, worse, after he finishes getting up.
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AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF COMPLEXITY EDITING
Complexity editing is done primarily to intensify an event and to give it meaning—to
help us gain deeper insight into the event. In this sort of editing, you may not always
follow the rules of continuity editing but instead opt to edit for heightened emotional
impact, even at the risk of jarring the viewer’s mental map. In fact, jarring the viewer’s
mental map is one of the ways to intensify a scene. But you should apply complexity
only if the context is conducive to such a special-effects treatment.
Intensifying an Event
Although you were just advised not to shoot motion from both sides of the vector line,
crossing the motion vector line is one of the more popular intensification devices.
For example, if you want to emphasize the power of a sports car, you might shoot it
first from one side of the street (which represents the motion vector line) and then
from the other. The converging motion vectors of the car will clash and thus increase
the aesthetic energy of the sequence. Because this is the only car in the two shots,
we are not likely to perceive a switch in direction or see two cars racing toward each
other. SEE 13.27
Crossing the vector line Many MTV segments show rapid switching of screen
directions, such as dancers or singers who flip frenetically from looking and moving
in one screen direction to the opposite one. You probably noticed that this effect is
accomplished by purposely crossing the vector line with the camera. When shooting
from both sides of the line, you reverse the singer’s index and motion vectors every
time you cut. The purpose of crossing the vector line is to increase the energy of
the sequence, just in case the high-volume sound, pulsating lights, and the singer’s
jumping up and down are not enough for you. The more rapid the switching, the
more frantic the sequence appears.
Shot 1
Shot 2
13.27 INTENSIFICATION THROUGH CONVERGING MOTION VECTORS
Juxtaposing two converging motion vectors of a single prominent object, such as a powerful sports car, will intensify the object
motion without destroying its vector continuity. Note that here the pictures of the car create index rather than motion vectors.
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Jump cut If you first frame a person standing next to the left screen edge, then in
the succeeding shot near the right screen edge, the subject seems to vault magically
from screen-left to screen-right. Such a drastic position change is aptly called a jump
cut. You may inadvertently get a jump cut with a very slight position change. This
often happens when you try to align the camera and the subject in exactly the same
positions when setting up subsequent shots. Unfortunately, neither the camera nor
the subject will remain in precisely the same place but will inevitably shift positions
ever so slightly. When two such shots are cut together, the subtle shift appears as a
sudden and highly noticeable jump. SEE 13.28 To prevent jump cuts, always change
the angle or the field of view, getting a looser or tighter shot, or insert a cutaway (see
figure 13.26).
Although the jump cut is undesirable in continuity editing, it has now become
fashionable through newscasts. When video editors of news footage did not have
time to insert appropriate cutaways when editing interviews, they simply took a few
interesting spots on the sound track and cut them together regardless of the video.
Because most news interviews are shot with a single camera that is focused on the
A
Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 3
Shot 4
B
13.28 JUMP CUT
A The jump cut is caused by an extreme position change from shot 1 to shot 2.
B A relatively subtle position change from shot 3 to shot 4 results in an equally obvious jump cut.
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guest throughout, the final edited version of the interview shows a series of jump cuts.
Traditionally considered an aesthetic offense, jump cuts were eventually accepted by
viewers because they gave some indication of where the interview had been trimmed.
The jump cut is now used in commercials and even dramatic situations—not so much
as an indicator of condensing time but rather as a prodding device. Like crossing the
line, the jump cut jolts us out of our perceptual complacency.
Jogging Producing a similar jolt to visual continuity, jogging consists of a sloweddown frame-by-frame advance of a motion, which is normally used to locate a specific frame for editing. When shown within a high-intensity scene, it draws attention
to the motion itself and can heighten the drama of the shot.
Sound track The sound track is, of course, one of the most effective and widely
used intensifiers. There is hardly a car chase that—besides the squealing tires—is
not accompanied by high-energy, highly rhythmic music. Low, rhythmic beats or
sustaining sounds often continue even through long stretches of dialogue.
As you have undoubtedly experienced at rock concerts or other musical performances, it is primarily the beat and the volume of the music that supply its basic
energy. We mentally transfer this basic sound energy readily to the video event.
Supplying Meaning
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A montage is a
juxtaposition of two
or more images that,
when shown together,
combine into a larger and
more intense whole.
You can create meaning not only through the actual content of a scene but also with
a shot sequence. For example, if we see in the first shot a police officer struggling
with a person and then, in the second shot, the person running across the street, we
presume that the culprit has escaped. If we see the person running first, however,
and then the police officer struggling, we believe that the officer has caught up with
the culprit. ZVL5 EDITING Functions quiz
You can supply additional meaning by juxtaposing the primary event with either
related or contrasting events. For example, by showing how the homeless seek shelter
in the city plaza and then switching to a scene of limousines driving up and elegant
people entering the opera house across the street, you will not only intensify the
plight of the homeless but also imply the idea of social injustice. Such a juxtaposition is called a collision montage. A montage is a carefully calculated juxtaposition
of two or more separate event images that, when shown together, combine into a
larger and more intense whole.1
You can also create audio/video montages in which the audio event either
parallels or counters the basic theme of the video, such as a slow-motion battle
scene accompanied by symphonic music as though it were an elegantly choreographed ballet.
Complexity editing does not imply that there are no sequencing rules. Ignoring
the conventions of continuity editing will not automatically lead to event intensification but more likely to viewer confusion. Exactly when and how to break the rules of
1. See Herbert Zettl, Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics, 5th ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008), pp. 315–29. See also Steven D. Katz, Film Directing Shot by Shot (Studio
City, Calif.: Michael Wiese Productions, 1991).
AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES OF COMPLEXIT Y EDITING
continuity for effective complexity editing requires, first and foremost, a thorough
knowledge of the rules, plus your deliberate judgment.
With a firm grasp of the vector concept, you will be ahead of many editors who
do their editing more or less intuitively. There is nothing wrong with this so long
as everything goes right. But when something goes wrong, intuition might not be
sufficient to fix the problem. In any case, knowledge of basic editing aesthetics will
give you confidence in making optimal shot selections and sequencing choices the
first time around.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Editing Purpose and Functions
Editing means selecting significant event details and putting them into a sequence to tell
a story with clarity and impact. The basic editing functions are to combine various shots,
condense footage, correct production mistakes, and build a show from selected shots.
▶ Continuity Editing
Continuity editing means to create seamless transitions from one event detail (shot) to
the next. You do this by applying a few specific rules that make the cuts appear seamless.
▶ Mental Map
Editing must help the viewer construct and maintain a mental map of where things are,
where they should be, and where they are going, even though only certain parts of the
scene are shown in successive shots.
▶ Vectors
Graphic, index, and motion vectors play an important part in establishing and
maintaining continuity from shot to shot. Index and motion vectors can be continuing
(pointing or moving in the same direction), converging (pointing or moving toward each
other), or diverging (pointing or moving away from each other).
▶ Vector Line
The vector line is established by extending converging index vectors or a motion vector.
To maintain position and directional continuity, the camera must shoot from only one
side of the vector line. In multicamera productions all cameras must shoot from the same
side of the vector line.
▶ Complexity Editing
Complexity editing frequently violates the principles of continuity, such as crossing the
vector line, to intensify the screen event. The jump cut, jogging, and the sound track are
employed as energizing devices.
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EDITING PRINCIPLES
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
EDITING Functions select | combine | correct | try it
ZVL2
EDITING Continuity mental map
ZVL3
EDITING Continuity vectors
ZVL4
EDITING Production guidelines cutaways
ZVL5
EDITING Functions quiz
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282
294
291
279
V
P A R T
Production Environment:
Studio, Field, Postproduction,
and Synthetic
CHAPTER 14
When you see a news team covering an event in your hometown and you look at some
Production
Environment:
Studio
of the footage you shot in your home with your camcorder, you probably wonder why
we still use studios. After all, the highly portable camcorders and lights and the wireless
microphones make it possible to originate a video program anywhere, indoors or out—
even in outer space. In tandem with portable transmission equipment and satellite
CHAPTER 15
Production
Environment:
Field,
Postproduction,
and Synthetic
uplinks, you don’t need to re-create a street corner in the studio—you can go to the
actual street corner as the background for your shoot. So why do we still need studios?
The answer is quite simple: because they afford optimal production control. However,
various types of field production, highly effective postproduction, and the computergenerated images all contribute to the total video production effort.
The next two chapters explain the relative advantages of the studio and field production
environments and briefly touch on postproduction facilities and synthetic, computergenerated imaging.
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14
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
cyclorama A U-shaped continuous piece of canvas or muslin
for backing of scenery and action. Hardwall cycs are permanently installed in front of one or two of the studio walls.
Also called cyc.
flat A piece of standing scenery used as a background or to
simulate the walls of a room. There are hardwall and softwall flats.
floor plan A diagram of scenery, properties, and set dressings
drawn on a grid.
I.F.B. Stands for interruptible foldback or feedback. A prompting
system that allows communication with the talent while on
the air. A small earpiece worn by on-the-air talent carries
program sound (including the talent’s voice) or instructions
from the producer or director.
ingest The selection, coding, and recording on a large server of
various program feeds.
intercom Short for intercommunication system. Used for all
production and engineering personnel involved in a show.
The most widely used system has telephone headsets to
facilitate voice communication on several wired or wireless channels. Includes other systems, such as I.F.B. and
cellular telephones.
master control Controls the program input, storage, and retrieval for on-the-air telecasts. Also oversees the technical
quality of all program material.
monitor High-quality video display used in the video studio
and control rooms. Cannot receive broadcast signals.
Also refers to flat-panel viewfinders.
P.L. Stands for private line or phone line. Major intercommunication device in video studios. Also called party line.
props Short for properties. Furniture and other objects used by
talent and for set decoration.
S.A. Stands for studio address system. A public address loudspeaker system from the control room to the studio. Also
called studio talkback or P.A. (public address) system.
studio control room A room adjacent to the studio in which
the director, producer, production assistants, technical director, audio engineer, and sometimes the lighting director
perform their production functions.
Production Environment: Studio
The video production studio provides an environment that is independent of the
weather and the restrictions of an outdoor location. It affords optimal production
control. The studio facilitates the coordination and the effective use of all major
production elements—cameras, lighting, sound, scenery, and the actions of production
personnel and performers—making video production highly efficient.
After visiting a few studios in television stations, independent production houses,
and colleges, you will soon discover that despite their differences in size and layout
they all contain similar installations and equipment. Television studios are designed to
facilitate the interaction of the installations and the team members for a great variety
of production activities. Knowing about how a studio and its facilities function will help
you make optimal use of it.
▶ VIDEO PRODUCTION STUDIO
Physical layout and major installations
▶ STUDIO CONTROL ROOM
Image control and sound control
▶ MASTER CONTROL
Overseeing technical quality and controlling program input, storage, and retrieval
▶ STUDIO SUPPORT AREAS
Scenery and property storage, and makeup and dressing rooms
▶ SCENERY, PROPERTIES, AND SET DRESSINGS
Softwall and hardwall flats; modules, drops, and set pieces; set and hand props; and
set dressings
▶ SET DESIGN
Program objective, floor plan, prop list, and setup
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VIDEO PRODUCTION STUDIO
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The studio provides
maximum production
control.
Video production studios are designed not only for multicamera productions and
teamwork but also to provide an optimal environment for single-camera video and
digital cinema productions. Most studios are fairly large rectangular rooms with
smooth floors and high ceilings from which the lighting instruments are suspended.
They have a number of other technical installations that facilitate a great variety of
productions and help make them highly efficient. SEE 14.1
Physical Layout
When evaluating a production studio, you should look not only at the electronic
equipment it houses but also at its physical layout—its size, floor and ceiling, doors
and walls, and air-conditioning.
Size If you do a simple interview or have a single performer talk to the audience on
a close-up, you can get by with amazingly little studio space. But if you plan a more
ambitious project, such as a large panel discussion or the videotaping of a music
show or drama, you need a larger studio. In general, it is easier to produce a small
show in a large studio than a large show in a small one. But you will quickly learn
that large studios are usually harder to manage than small ones. Somehow large
studios require more energy to get a production started than do smaller ones; they
necessitate longer camera and audio cables, more lighting instruments, and usually
more crew. If you have a choice, use a studio that fits your production needs.
Floor and ceiling A good studio must have a hard, level floor so that cameras can
travel freely and smoothly. Most studio floors are concrete that is polished or covered
with hard plastic or seamless linoleum.
14.1 VIDEO
PRODUCTION STUDIO
A well-designed studio
provides optimal control
for multicamera and singlecamera video productions.
It facilitates teamwork and
the coordination of all major
production elements.
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VIDEO PRODUCTION STUDIO
One of the most important design features of a good studio is adequate ceiling
height. The ceiling must be high enough to accommodate normal 10-foot scenery
and to provide enough space for the lighting grid or battens. Although you may get
by with a minimum ceiling height of 14 feet for a very small studio, most professional studios have ceilings that are 30 or more feet above the studio floor. Such a
high ceiling makes it possible to suspend the lighting instruments above even tall
scenery and leaves adequate space above them for the heat of the lighting instruments to dissipate.
Doors and walls Studio doors seem rather unimportant until you have to move
scenery, furniture, and large equipment in and out. Undersized studio doors can
cause a great deal of frustration for the production crew and frequently damage to
equipment and scenery. Good studio doors must also be soundproof enough to
keep all but the loudest noises from leaking into the studio.
The studio walls and ceiling are normally treated with sound-absorbing material
to “deaden” the studio. A fairly “dead” studio minimizes reverberation, which means
that it keeps the sounds from bouncing indiscriminately off the walls.
At least two or three sides of the studio are normally covered with a cyclorama, or
cyc—a continuous piece of muslin or canvas suspended from a pipe or heavy curtain
track. The light-gray or light-beige cyc serves as a convenient neutral background
for a variety of setups. It should be light enough so that you can tint it with colored
lights. A ground row, which is a curved piece of scenery placed on the studio floor
in front of the cyc, helps blend the vertical cyc into the studio floor to form a seamless background. SEE 14.2
Some cycloramas are suspended from a double track, with the front track holding
a variety of additional curtains, called drops. The most frequently used drops are the
chroma-key backdrop, which consists of a large piece of
chroma-key blue or green cloth, and the black drop, used for
special lighting effects.
Many studios have a built-in hardwall cyc, which covers
part of a studio wall. The ground row is part of the hardwall
cyc. SEE 14.3 The advantages of a hardwall cyc are that it does
not wrinkle or tear even after longtime use and it can be easily repainted. The disadvantages are that it has a high degree
Cyclorama
of sound reflectance, often causing unwanted echoes, and it
takes up considerable studio space.
Air-conditioning Many studios suffer from air-conditioning
problems. Because the lighting instruments generate so much
heat, the air-conditioning system must work overtime. When
operating at full capacity, all but the most expensive systems
create air noise, which is inevitably picked up by the sensitive
studio mics and duly amplified in the audio console. You must
then decide whether to keep the air-conditioning going despite
the noise it makes or to turn it off and make talent, crew, and
equipment sweat. There are quiet systems that transport a great
Ground row
14.2 GROUND ROW
The ground row is a curved piece of scenery that is
placed on the studio floor in front of the cyclorama
to blend the two into a seamless background.
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amount of cool air at low velocity, but they are
prohibitively expensive for most video studios.
Major Installations
Regardless of size, all studios have similar basic
technical installations, which include lights,
electrical outlets, intercommunication systems,
monitors, and studio speakers.
Hardwall cyc
Built-in ground row
14.3 HARDWALL CYC
The hardwall cyc is constructed of fiberboard and placed in front of
one of the studio walls. The ground row is built-in.
Lights Most of the lighting instruments used in
a video production studio are suspended from a
lighting grid or movable battens, as shown in figure 14.1. Hanging the lighting instruments above
the scenery and action keeps the lights out of
camera range, allows the cameras and the people
to move about freely, and, if it is a permanent set,
minimizes the time needed for lighting it.
Some studios still have a physical lighting
patchboard (which routes lights to specific dimmers) and even the actual dimmer controls in the
studio itself. When using computerized lighting
control units, you may find the main control unit
in the control room and an additional remote
lighting control in the studio. The one in the control room is used for the actual studio production;
the one in the studio is for setup and rehearsals. The patching—the assignment of lighting
instruments to dimmers—is usually done with
computer software.
Electrical outlets You may not consider wall outlets an important factor in studio
design until you discover that there are not enough of them or that they are in the
wrong places. There should be several groups of outlets for cameras, microphones,
monitor lines, intercommunication headsets, and regular AC power distributed
along all four walls. If all the outlets are concentrated on only one wall, you will
have to string long power cables and extension cords throughout the studio to get
the equipment into the desired positions around the scenery.
All outlets must be clearly marked so that you will not plug equipment into the
wrong outlet. This labeling is especially important when the outlets are behind the
cyc, where it is usually dark and there is little space to maneuver.
Intercommunication systems Reliable intercom systems are one of the most
important technical installations. Normal studio intercoms use P.L. and I.F.B. systems. The P.L. (private line or phone line) system, also known as the party line, allows all production and engineering personnel to be in constant voice contact with
STUDIO CONTROL ROOM
one another. Each member of the production team and the technical crew wears
a headset with a microphone for efficient communication. Such systems can be
wired (through the camera cables or separate intercom cables) or, in larger studios,
wireless. Most P.L. systems operate on at least two channels so that different groups
can be addressed separately.
Producers and directors make frequent use of the I.F.B. (interruptible foldback
or feedback) system, which allows them to communicate directly with the talent,
who wear tiny earpieces instead of headsets while on the air. Such instant communication from the control room to the talent is especially important during news
and interviews.
Monitors As you recall, a monitor is a high-quality video display that cannot receive broadcast signals. You need at least one fairly large monitor in the studio that
shows the line-out pictures (the video that goes to the video recorder or transmitter)
to everyone on the floor. By viewing the line-out picture, the crew can anticipate a
number of production tasks. For example, the operator of the camera that is not on
the air can vary its shot so that it does not duplicate that of the on-the-air camera;
the floor manager can see how close he or she can be to the talent for the necessary
hand signals without getting into camera range; and the microphone boom operator
can test how far the mic can be lowered before it gets into the shot.
News- and weathercasters often work with several studio monitors that carry
not only the line-out pictures but also the remote feeds and the video playbacks.
Because the weathercaster actually stands in front of a plain chroma-key backdrop
when pointing to the (nonexistent) weather map, the monitor, which shows the
complete key including the map, is essential for guiding the talent’s gestures. For
audience participation shows, you need several monitors to show the audience how
the event looks on-screen.
Studio speakers The studio speakers do for the program sound what video monitors do for the picture portion. The studio speakers can feed the program sound or
any other sounds—music, telephone rings, crashing noises—into the studio to be
synchronized with the action. They can also be used for the S.A. (studio address
system, also called P.A., for public address system), which allows the control room
personnel (usually the director) to talk to the studio personnel who are not on
headsets. The S.A. is obviously not used on the air, but it is helpful for calling the
crew back to rehearsal, reminding them of the time remaining, or advising them to
put on their P.L. headsets.
STUDIO CONTROL ROOM
The studio control room, housed in a separate area adjacent to the studio, is designed to accommodate the people who make the decisions while production is
under way as well as the equipment necessary to control the video and audio portions of the production.
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C O N C E P T
The control room is
designed to coordinate the
studio production process.
P R O D U C T I O N E N V I R O N M E N T: S T U D I O
The people normally working in the control room are the director, the producer,
and their associates; the technical director (TD); the C.G. (character generator)
operator; the audio engineer; and sometimes the lighting director (LD) or even the
video operator (VO).
The control room equipment is designed and arranged to coordinate the total
production process. Specifically, it facilitates the instantaneous editing (selection
and sequencing) of video images, the selection and the mixing of sound inputs, and
the lighting control. Some control rooms have windows that let the control room personnel see what is going on in the studio. More often, however, you will find that the
only way you can see what’s going on in the studio is by watching the monitors that
show the various camera points of view. A studio that is used primarily for instruction, however, should have a large window. Such a window will greatly help students
translate what appears on the control room monitors into actual studio traffic.
Image Control
The image control section contains the equipment necessary to select and sequence
the video inputs, to coordinate the video with the audio, and to communicate with
the production people, technical crew, and talent.
Monitors Recall for a moment the video switcher (explored in chapter 10). Each
of the buttons on the program bus represents a separate video input. But how can
you tell which pictures to choose from all the inputs? Wouldn’t you need a separate
monitor for each major video input? Yes, indeed. This is why even a modest control
room requires a large bank of monitors. SEE 14.4
Even a small control room requires a surprising number of monitors. Let’s count
them and identify their functions. SEE 14.5
Preview
1
Line
1
Air
1
If an on-the-air or cable station studio, this monitor will show
what the home viewer sees
Camera preview
4
One for each camera; camera 4 can also be switched to remote
VRs
3
One for each playback VR
C.G.
1
Electronic still
store system
1
Special effects
1
Remote
1
Total
Remote feeds; can also be used for additional camera
14 Monitors
These monitors are stacked in a variety of configurations in front of the director and the TD. The preview (or preset), line, and air monitors are generally large
color monitors placed side-by-side. They usually have the wide-screen 16 × 9 HDTV
(high-definition television) aspect ratio. All other preview monitors are smaller and
may still have the traditional 4 × 3 STV (standard television) aspect ratio. If the stack
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Previews for 6 cameras
Clock
Remote feeds
Digital effects
previews
Previews for
video recorders
Preview
monitor
Video servers
Line or program
monitor
C.G. and ESS system
Preview
monitor
14.4 CONTROL ROOM MONITOR STACK
The control room monitors show all available video sources, such as the studio cameras, remote video, video recorders (VRs),
servers, C.G., electronic still store (ESS) system, and special effects. The large color monitors show the preview video (the upcoming
shots) and the line-out (what is being sent to the video recorder and/or the transmitter).
14.5 SIMPLE
MONITOR STACK
16 × 9
Preview
Line
Air
4×3
C1
C2
C3
VR1
VR2
VR3
C.G.
ESS
SFX
C4 Remote
4×3
4×3
Remote
Even this simple control room
display requires 14 monitors: three large 16 × 9 color
monitors for preview, line,
and air; four camera previews,
one of which is switchable
to remote; three for VRs; and
one each for C.G., ESS, special
effects, and remote. Except
for the 16 × 9 preview, line,
and air monitors, all are 4 × 3
monochrome displays.
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is relatively simple, some control rooms simply divide a large flat panel screen into
the various monitor displays. Many different configurations are possible with these
multiview displays.
You may wonder how anybody can ever watch all these monitors at the same
time. Actually, you don’t pay full attention to all of them all the time; you scan the
active ones, much like looking at your rearview mirrors while driving, and then
focus your attention on the monitors that carry the video most important to you.
Nevertheless, you must always be aware of what the rest of the monitors are showing. After some practice you will be able to see more and more monitors, much like
a maestro’s reading a complex score while conducting an orchestra.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A reliable and flexible
intercom system is
essential for effective
teamwork in multicamera
studio productions.
Intercom The director also has easy access to a variety of intercom switches that
control the P.L., S.A., and I.F.B. systems. The associate director (AD), who sits next
to the director, uses the same switches. The producer, who may sit next to or behind
the director, will normally have a duplicate set of intercom switches; this extra set
enables the producer to communicate with the talent and the production people
without interfering with the director.
Program sound In addition to watching the preview monitors, giving instructions
to production people, and listening to the P.L., the director must also listen to the
program audio to coordinate the video portion with the sound. A separate volume
control enables the director to adjust the control room speakers, called audio monitors, without affecting the volume of the program sound that goes to the line-out.
You will find that listening to the program sound while doing all the other things is
one of the hardest tasks for a rookie director. (We discuss directing more thoroughly
in chapter 17.)
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The director and the TD
must sit next to each other
in the control room.
Switcher You already learned that the video switcher is located next to the director’s position. But why? This proximity enables the TD (who is normally doing the
switching) to use the same monitor stack as the director and remain in close contact.
Sitting close together helps the director and the TD communicate not only through
the P.L. system but also through hand gestures. For instance, by moving an arm
at a certain speed, the director can indicate to the TD how fast a dissolve or wipe
should be. SEE 14.6 ZVL1 SWITCHING Switching introduction
When fast cutting is required, some directors prefer to do their own switching
(labor unions permitting) or snap their fingers, rather than call for a take once a
shot has been readied. Such physical cues are faster and more precise than verbal
ones. In smaller productions directors may do their own switching, a practice not
recommended for complex shows.
Character generator The C.G. and the C.G. operator are also located in the control room. Although most of the titles are usually prepared ahead of time, there are
always changes to be made. Especially during live or live-recorded productions, such
as sports, the C.G. operator must update the scores and prepare various statistics
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14.6 DIRECTOR/
TD PROXIMITY IN
CONTROL ROOM
The production switcher is
located next to the director’s
position for optimal communication between director
and TD.
Production
switcher
TD operating switcher
Director
during the game; or the producer or director may call for titles that have not been
preprogrammed. With the C.G. operator in the control room, such changes are readily communicated and quickly made.
Clocks and stopwatches These timing tools are essential in broadcast operations, where programs are aired according to a second-by-second schedule. But
even if your productions are video-recorded for postproduction, the clock will tell
you whether the recording session is going according to the production time line,
and the stopwatch will guide you when inserting other recorded material. Digital
stopwatches—actually little clocks—give you a choice of running forward from the
start of the program or backward from the end-time. When running backward the
stopwatch will display the time actually left in the program. Some directors prefer
the analog clock and stopwatch because they can “look ahead” by watching the hands
of the clock moving and thus pace the remaining program more accurately.
Lighting control and CCUs Some control rooms house the lighting control (dimmers) and/or the CCUs (camera control units) for each camera. The advantage of
having this additional equipment in the control room is that all image control is in
a single location, facilitating communication among the various technicians. The
disadvantage is that the control room gets quite crowded with additional equipment and people.
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14.7 AUDIO
CONTROL BOOTH
Video monitors
Audio monitor
The television audio control
booth contains a variety of
audio control equipment,
such as the control console, a
patchbay, a CD player, loudspeakers, intercom systems,
and a video line monitor.
Patchbay
VU meter (volume indicators)
Sound quality controls
Volume controls
Sound Control
The sound control is the audio booth attached to the video control room. It is usually
isolated from the video control room so that the audio engineer is not disturbed by
all the talk. Most audio booths have a window that allows the audio engineer to see
the activities in the control room and, ideally, even the director’s preview monitors.
Well-equipped audio booths have both a preview and a line monitor. The preview
monitor aids the audio engineer in anticipating and executing tight audio cues. The
audio engineer is further aided by a marked script or show format, whose cue lines
prepare the engineer for upcoming audio and help him or her react more quickly
to the director’s cues.
The audio booth normally contains an audio console, a patchbay, a computer,
digital carts and other recording devices, and CD players. The audio engineer can
listen to the director via P.L. headsets or a small cue speaker and can talk to the
control room and the studio through the P.L. and S.A. systems. The program sound
is monitored though high-quality program speakers. SEE 14.7
MASTER CONTROL
If you use the studio strictly for producing video-recorded programs, you don’t need
a master control room, assuming that the CCUs are located somewhere in the studio
control room. But all television stations and most larger nonbroadcast production
houses have an equipment and communication center called master control. If you
are in the business of telecasting programs over the air, on the Internet, or via cable,
master control becomes an essential electronic nerve center.
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MASTER CONTROL
Master control normally houses the studio CCUs, video recorders, video servers, ESS systems, and various routing switchers and installations that monitor the
technical quality of every second of programming that is sent to the transmitter or
cable. In nonbroadcast operations master control may contain CCUs, video recorders and servers, and various monitors and intercom systems.
The basic functions of master control in broadcast operations are overseeing
the technical quality of all program material and controlling program input, storage, and retrieval.
Program input means that master control keeps track of all incoming programs,
regardless of whether they arrive via satellite, cable, Internet, or mail. Because of the
great variety of ways program feeds come into a station, this input process was given
the rather dreadful name ingest. As ingest operator, you are responsible for logging
all incoming program feeds, giving them identification codes (occasionally still called
house numbers), and recording the priority feeds on a video server.
Isn’t ingest a form of capture? Yes, it is. But capture refers more to transferring
camera source footage onto the hard drive of a nonlinear editing program, whereas
ingest refers to selecting relevant material from the various program feeds, translating it into specific data files, and recording it on high-capacity hard drives of video
servers.
Program retrieval refers to the selection, ordering, and distribution of the program material (via on-the-air, cable, satellite transmission, or disc).
The program log is a document that dictates program retrieval and determines
which program goes on the air at what time. It lists every second of programming
aired on a particular day as well as other important information, such as the title
and the type of each program and its origin (local live, videotape, server, or network
or satellite feed). The log is distributed throughout the station by computer and
sometimes also as hard copy. SEE 14.8
The actual switching from program to program is mostly done by computer.
In case the computer system goes down, however, an operator monitors the
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Master control checks
the technical quality
of all programs and
facilitates program input,
storage, and retrieval.
14.8 PROGRAM LOG
The program log is a second-by-second
list of all programs telecast during a
broadcast day. It shows the scheduled
(start) times, program title and type,
video and audio origin (server, tape, live,
or feed), house number, and other pertinent broadcast information.
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14.9 MASTER CONTROL
SWITCHING AREA
Master control serves as
the final video and audio
control for all program material before it is broadcast or
distributed by the station’s
transmitter, satellite, or cable.
Computers run all master
control functions, with the
master control technician
overseeing the automated
functions and, if necessary,
taking over control manually
in case of system failure.
Computer log display
Manual master control switcher
automatic switching and is ready to press into service the manual master control
switcher. SEE 14.9
STUDIO SUPPORT AREAS
No studio can function properly without support areas that house scenery, properties, and makeup and dressing rooms. Unfortunately, even large and relatively
new studios usually lack sufficient support areas. As a consequence the studios
themselves become partial storage areas for scenery and even serve as makeup and
dressing rooms.
Scenery and Property Storage
One of the most important features of scenery and property storage is ease of retrieval. The floor crew must be able to find and pull each piece of scenery without
having to dig it out from under all the others. The prop areas and the storage boxes
must be clearly labeled, especially if they contain small hand props.
Makeup
Wherever you apply makeup, it must be done in lighting conditions that are identical
to those in the studio. Most makeup rooms have two types of illumination: indoor
lighting (with a color temperature standard of 3,200K) and outdoor lighting (5,600K).
Because the indoor standard has a warmer, more reddish light than the cooler, more
bluish light of outdoors, you should always check your makeup on-camera in the actual performance area before the dress rehearsal and again before the performance.
(Color temperature is explained in chapter 8.)
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SCENERY, PROPERTIES, AND SET DRESSINGS
You may wonder why the networks have such gigantic news sets for the single-person
anchor, who usually appears on a loose close-up throughout the show. Although you
see the whole set for only a few seconds during the opening and closing, it is supposed to signal that the news department is large, well equipped, and high-tech. Yes,
you could certainly do the same newscast just as successfully on a much smaller set.
Nevertheless, scenery and properties are used primarily to create a specific
environment in which the action takes place, but they also reflect the nature of
the event. The bookcases filled with matching volumes in an interview set may
be a cliché, but they communicate instantly a lawyer’s office. When dealing with
scenery and properties in video production, you must always keep in mind that it is
the camera that looks at the scenic environment, not the crew or the casual studio
visitor. The set must be detailed enough to withstand the close-up scrutiny of an HD
(high-definition) camera yet plain enough to avoid clutter that can detract from the
performers. Careful attention to set detail is especially important when using HDTV
cameras. The high resolution of HDTV makes even background detail more visible.
The set must also allow for optimal camera movement and angles, microphone
placement and mobility, appropriate lighting, and maximum action by the talent.
It is a major factor in setting style.
Scenery
Although the design and the construction of scenery require specific training and
skills, you should know what standard set units are and how to use them for creating simple environments. Here we discuss softwall flats; hardwall flats; set modules;
seamless paper and painted drops; and set pieces, platforms, and wagons.
Softwall flats A flat is a freestanding piece of scenery used as a background or
to simulate the walls of a room. Softwall flats are background units constructed of a
lightweight wood frame covered with muslin. The wood frame consists of 1 × 3 lumber that is glued together and reinforced at the corners by ¼-inch plywood pieces.
To keep the frame from twisting, it is further strengthened by two diagonal braces
and a toggle rail. If the studio floor is hard, you can put metal or plastic gliders on
the bottom rail of the flat so you can push it around without damaging the flat or
the floor. SEE 14.10
The traditional and still most practical way to tie softwall flats together is by using
lashlines. When joining flats, you actually lash two pieces of scenery together with a
clothesline that is attached to the right top rail of each flat and pulled through cleats,
similar to lacing the hooks of a boot. SEE 14.11 Flats are supported by jacks—wood
braces that are hinged, tied, or fastened to the flats with C-clamps—and are weighted
down and held in place by sandbags or metal weights.
Standard softwall flats have a uniform height but various widths. The height is
usually 10 feet, or 8 feet for small sets or studios with low ceilings; width ranges from
1 to 5 feet. When two flats are permanently hinged together, they are called twofolds
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Scenery must create a
certain environment
and allow for optimal
lighting, audio pickup,
and camera movement.
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14.10 SOFTWALL FLATS
Softwall flats are made of
1 × 3 lumber and covered with
muslin. They are supported by
a wood brace, called a jack,
which is weighted down with
a sandbag or metal weights.
Wood frame
Cleats for
joining flats
Canvas or
muslin cover
Lashline
Sandbag
or books (because they open like a book); three flats hinged together constitute a threefold.
Softwall flats are easy to move, assemble, and store, but their
simple construction is also a disadvantage: they tend to shake when
you close a door or window on the set or if someone or something
brushes against them. They are ideal for rehearsal and for less
demanding productions.
14.11 FLATS JOINED BY LASHLINE
Softwall flats are connected by lashing them
together with a clothesline, called a lashline.
The lashline is woven around alternating metal
cleats and secured with a slipknot.
Hardwall flats Most professional video production sets are
constructed with hardwall flats. They are usually built for a specific set and do not always conform to the standard dimensions
of softwall scenery. Although there is no standard way to build
hardwall scenery, most flats are constructed with a sturdy wood
or slotted-steel frame (which looks like a big erector set) and covered with plywood or pressed fiberboard. Most hardwall scenery
is moved with the help of built-in casters and joined with bolts or
C-clamps. SEE 14.12
The advantage of hardwall scenery is that it is extremely sturdy;
if a scene calls for slamming the door, you can do so without fear
of shaking the whole set. You can also attach pictures or posters
the way you would on a real wall. The disadvantages of hardwall
flats are that they are expensive to build, difficult to move and set
up, and even harder to store. Hardwall scenery is also apt to reflect
sound and cause unwanted reverberations.
Set modules Smaller video production companies, whose scenery demands are usually limited to news, interviews, office sets,
S C E N E R Y, P R O P E R T I E S , A N D S E T D R E S S I N G S
14.12 HARDWALL SCENERY
Hardwall scenery is built with a sturdy wood or metal frame that is covered with plywood or
fiberboard. Most hardwall scenery has built-in casters or is placed on small wagons for mobility.
This is the back of a windowseat.
or environments in which products are displayed and demonstrated, often use set
modules. A set module is a series of hardwall flats and three-dimensional set pieces
whose dimensions match whether they are used vertically (right-side up) or horizontally (on their sides). They can be assembled in different combinations, similar
to building blocks. For example, you might use a modular hardwall set piece as a
hardwall flat in one production and as a platform in the next. Or you might dismantle
a modular desk and use the boxes (representing the drawers) as display units. A wide
variety of set modules are commercially available.
Seamless paper and painted drops As you recall, the cyclorama is a large, plain,
seamless drop that serves as a neutral background (see figure 14.1). In the absence
of a cyc, you can construct a limited neutral area with a roll of seamless paper (usually 9 feet wide by 36 feet long) simply by unrolling it and stapling it horizontally
on softwall flats. Seamless paper rolls come in a variety of colors and are relatively
inexpensive. Painted drops, on the other hand, usually refer to rolls of paper or
canvas with realistic or, more often, stylized background scenes painted on them.
You can also create believable backgrounds electronically. (Synthetic environments
are discussed in chapter 15.)
Set pieces, platforms, and wagons Set pieces consist of freestanding threedimensional objects, such as pillars, pylons (which look like three-sided pillars),
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Square pillar
Pylon
P R O D U C T I O N E N V I R O N M E N T: S T U D I O
Periaktos
Sweep
Screen
14.13 SET PIECES
Set pieces are freestanding three-dimensional scenic objects used as background or foreground pieces.
sweeps (large, curved pieces of scenery), folding screens, steps, and periaktoi (plural
of periaktos). A periaktos is a three-sided standing unit that looks like a large pylon; it
moves and swivels on casters. SEE 14.13 Set pieces are often constructed in modular
dimensions so that they can be fitted together in different combinations. Some set
pieces, such as pillars and pylons, are unstable and must be secured so that they
do not tip over when bumped by crew, talent, or equipment. It is always better to
overbrace than underbrace a set.
Platforms are elevation devices. Normal platforms are 6 inches, 8 inches, or
12 inches high and can be stacked. Platforms are often used for interview and
panel discussion sets so that the cameras see the participants straight-on rather
than look down on them. When used for interviews, the entire platform should be
covered with carpeting. As well as making the set attractive, the carpeting absorbs
the hollow sounds from people moving on the platform. You can further deaden
such sounds by filling the platform interior with foam rubber or foam spray. Some
6-inch platforms have four heavy casters, converting the platforms into wagons that
can support scenery and set pieces.
Properties
In video production properties—props for short—and set dressings are often more
important than the background scenery for signifying a particular environment. You
will work with two kinds of properties: set props and hand props.
Set props Set props include the furniture you use on a set, such as the chairs for
an interview, the table for a panel discussion, the desk from which the corporate
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manager delivers her weekly address, the bookcase and the file cabinet for the office
set, and the inevitable couch in situation comedies.
When choosing set props, look for functional furniture that can be used in a
variety of settings. Small, simple chairs, for example, are more useful and versatile
than large upholstered ones. Most regular couches are too low and make sitting
down and getting up look awkward on-camera. You can easily remedy this problem
by padding the seats or elevating the entire couch. Some set props, such as news
desks or panel tables, are custom-made. As with the news set, do not go overboard
with such custom furniture, especially if most of the scenes show only medium shots
or close-ups of the performers.
Hand props Hand props are items actually handled by the talent—cell phones,
laptop computers, dishes, silverware, books, magazines, glasses, and flowers. Hand
props must work and they must be real. A bottle that doesn’t open on cue can cause
costly production delays. Because hand props are an extension of the talent’s gestures and actions, and because of the close scrutiny of the video camera, you cannot
get by with fake props. A papier-mâché chalice that looks regal on the theater stage
looks ridiculous on the video screen. Equally silly is laboring under the weight of an
empty suitcase. Whereas the theater audience may have some sympathy for your
toil, the television viewer will more likely consider it a comic routine or a production mistake.
If you have to use a handgun, never use an actual firearm; try to get a prop gun.
Shooting blanks at close range can be as deadly as if you were to use a bullet. This is
one place where you can pretend; rather than pull the trigger, you can simply add
a popping sound by pricking a balloon. The balloon pop is uncomfortably similar
to the sound of a handgun going off and can be more accurately synchronized with
the action than a recorded effect. If you add the sound in postproduction, you can
quite readily match the pop with the action.
When using food, make certain that it is fresh and that the dishes and the silverware are meticulously clean. Liquor is generally replaced with water (for clear
spirits), tea (for whiskey), or soft drinks (for white and red wine). With all due respect
for realism, such substitutions are perfectly appropriate.
Set Dressings
Set dressings include things that you would place in your own living quarters to make
them look attractive and to express your taste and personal style. Although the flats
may remain the same from one type of show to another, the dressing gives each set
its distinguishing characteristics and helps establish the style of the environment.
Set dressings include curtains, pictures, sculptures, posters, lamps, plants, decorative items for a desk and bookshelves, or a favorite toy that survived childhood.
Secondhand stores and flea markets provide an unlimited source for such things.
In case of emergency, you can always raid your own living quarters or office. As with
props, set dressings must be realistic so that they can withstand even the probing
eye of an HD camera.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Properties and set
dressings determine the
character and the style
of the environment.
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SET DESIGN
Although you may never be called upon to design a set, you will certainly have to
tell the set designer what environment you envision and why. You will also have to
know how to interpret a set design so that you can evaluate the set relative to the
program objective and the technical requirements, such as lighting, audio pickup,
and camera and talent movement.
Program Objective
Once again, a clear statement of the program objective will guide you in designing
the appropriate environment. For example, if the objective of an interview is to have
the viewer get to know the guest as intimately as possible and probe his feelings
and attitudes, what kind of set do you need? Because you should show the guest in
close-ups throughout most of the show, you don’t need an elaborate interview set.
Two simple chairs in front of an uncluttered background will do just fine.
On the other hand, if the objective is to have the viewer see how the guest uses
the physical environment of his office to reflect his power, you had better conduct
the interview on-location from the guest’s actual office or on a studio set that closely
resembles it.
As with all other medium requirements, in designing or evaluating a set you must
have a pretty good idea of what it is you want the viewer to see, hear, and feel. Once
you have interpreted the program objective as to scenic requirements, you need to
evaluate and translate the scene design—the floor plan—into an actual studio set.
Floor Plan
The floor plan is a diagram of scenery and set properties drawn on a grid that resembles the usable floor space in the studio. To help you locate a certain spot on the
studio floor, the lighting grid is normally superimposed over the floor plan, or a grid
is drawn over the floor area similar to the orientation squares of a map. By using the
lighting grid, the floor plan can also be used for drawing a light plot.
Elaborate set designs are always drawn to scale, such as the common ¼ inch =
1 foot. There are templates with in-scale cutouts for typical set pieces, such as tables,
sofas, chairs, beds, and dressers. You can also use one of the many computer programs on the market for architectural layouts or interior design.
If the setup is relatively simple, the art director may make only a rough sketch
that shows the background scenery, set props, and approximate location of the set,
leaving it up to the floor manager to place the set in the most advantageous spot
in the studio. SEE 14.14 The floor plan should indicate all scenery, including doors
and windows, as well as the type and the location of set props and major hand
props. SEE 14.15
When drawing a floor plan, keep in mind that the set must be workable for the
cameras—it must provide adequate backing for different camera angles. A common mistake of inexperienced set designers is to show inadequate backing for the
set props and the talent action. Another frequent mistake is a set that exceeds the
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14.14 SIMPLE
FLOOR PLAN SKETCH
The floor plan grid (often the
lighting grid) helps locate
the positions of scenery and
set props.
8' window
with curtains
Low cabinet under window
Outside bushes
Sunflower
painting
Family photos
Small chest
of drawers
End table and
Indian sculpture
Magazines
Brick flat
Plant
6' sofa
Gold
wing chair
Bookcase
Round
end table
and lamp
Plant
Door
Potted palm
Picasso print
Coffee table
Tea set
Louvered
screen
Newspaper
on chair
Bookcase
with stereo
Chair
14.15 FLOOR PLAN WITH SET AND HAND PROPS
Elaborate floor plans indicate the type and the position of set props (furniture, lamp, sculpture, and paintings) and major hand
props (newspaper, tea set, and magazines).
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floor area actually available. As mentioned earlier, the cyc and the items stored in
the studio can radically reduce the usable floor space. To help the lighting people
direct the back lights at the performance areas at not too steep an angle and avoid
unwanted shadows on the background flats, all active furniture (furniture used by
the talent) must be placed at least 6 to 8 feet from the background flats, as shown
in figure 14.15.
Some floor plans indicate a generic set. SEE 14.16 This set design has all the
typical ingredients of a situation comedy: a living area with the inevitable couch in
the middle of the room, a door to a second active set area (in this case, the kitchen),
another door to an imaginary area (hallway or front yard), and a staircase in the back,
leading to yet another imaginary room—usually a bedroom. In a generic set, the
basic setup remains the same but can be individualized by different props and set
dressings. Note the “escape” behind the stairs, which helps the actors get back down
to the studio floor, and the two backdrops on either side that display the imaginary
extended space, such as a hallway or front yard on the right and a patio on the left.
Escape
Stairs
Backdrop
Backdrop
Kitchen
Dining room
Living room
14.16 GENERIC SITCOM RESIDENCE
This set is designed so that four cameras, situated side-by-side in front, can pick up the action. It can be easily changed to other
environments by using different set props.
SET DESIGN
Prop List
Even if the floor plan shows some of the major set and hand props, all props must
be itemized on a prop list. Some prop lists itemize set props, set dressings, and hand
props separately, but you can combine them on a single list, provided you don’t
forget anything. Confirm with the property manager that the props you requested
are actually available when you need them, and inspect each one to see whether it
fits the intended scene design. For example, a Victorian chair would certainly look
out of character in an otherwise modern office set. Verify that all listed props are
delivered to you and that they are not damaged in any way before taking them into
the studio.
Using the Floor Plan for Setup
A floor plan is useless if you can’t translate it into an actual set and performance
environment. You must acquire some of the skills of an architect or builder, who can
look at a blueprint of a building and visualize what it will look like when erected and
how people will move through and function in it. The following figure shows how a
simple floor plan translates into the corresponding setup. SEE 14.17
The ability to read a floor plan is a necessary skill for all production personnel. A
good floor plan helps the floor manager and the crew put up and dress the set fairly
accurately, independent of the designer. The director can map out the major talent
positions and blocking and also design the principal camera shots, positions, and
movements before setting foot in the studio. The lighting director can lay out the basic
light plot, and the audio engineer can determine mic placement. Also, by knowing
how to read a floor plan, you can catch and often solve production problems before
they occur. Because the floor plan is such a critical factor in production efficiency,
you should insist on having one drawn even if the setup and the production are
relatively simple.
14.17 FLOOR PLAN AND ACTUAL SETUP
The floor plan on the left translates into the simple set in the photo on the right.
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M A I N
P R O D U C T I O N E N V I R O N M E N T: S T U D I O
P O I N T S
▶ Video Production Studio
Video production studios are designed for multicamera productions and teamwork.
Important features include sufficient floor space, a smooth floor for camera travel,
adequate ceiling height so that the lights can be suspended, large doors, acoustically
treated walls, and relatively quiet air-conditioning.
▶ Major Studio Installations
The major studio installations include a lighting grid or movable battens, adequate
electrical outlets, intercommunication system between the studio and the control room,
studio video monitors, and studio speakers.
▶ Studio Control Room
The studio control room is designed and arranged to coordinate the total production
process. It usually comprises the image control—with the switcher, C.G. (character
generator), monitor banks, intercom lines, and sometimes the lighting control
board—and the sound control, which contains an audio console and recording and
playback equipment.
▶ Director and TD
The director and the technical director (TD) must sit next to each other to share the
monitors and react quickly to physical signals.
▶ Master Control
Master control is the nerve center for television stations. Its basic functions are quality
control, program input/output, program storage, and program retrieval. Most master
control rooms house the CCUs (camera control units), multiple VRs (video recorders),
video servers, and a link to the transmitter. Sometimes nonbroadcast production houses
have a master control that contains camera control equipment, VRs, video servers, and
a variety of communication systems.
▶ Studio Support Areas
Studio support areas include the scenery and property storage and the makeup and
dressing rooms.
▶ Scenery, Properties, and Set Dressings
Scenery consists of softwall and hardwall flats, a cyclorama and various drops, set pieces,
platforms, and wagons. Properties include set props (such as furniture), hand props
(items actually used by the talent), and set dressings (artwork, lamps, and decorative
plants). Scenery must convey a certain environment and allow for optimal lighting, audio
pickup, and talent and camera movement.
▶ Floor Plan
The floor plan is a diagram of scenery and set props that facilitates the setup of scenery,
set decoration, and lighting and the preplanning of shots.
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Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cue
in this chapter is listed here with its corresponding page number.
ZVL1
SWITCHING Switching introduction
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15
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
big remote A production outside the studio to televise live
and/or live-record a large scheduled event that has not
been staged specifically for television. Examples include
sporting events, parades, political gatherings, and trials or
government hearings. Also called remote.
contact person A person who is familiar with, and can facilitate
access to, the remote location and the key people. Also
called contact.
electronic field production (EFP) Video production done
outside the studio that is usually shot for postproduction
(not live).
electronic news gathering (ENG) The use of portable camcorders, lights, and sound equipment for the production of
mostly unscheduled daily news events. ENG is usually done
for live transmission or immediate postproduction.
field production Production activities that take place away
from the studio.
remote survey An inspection of the remote location by key
production and engineering personnel so that they can
plan for the setup and the use of production equipment.
Also called site survey.
remote truck The vehicle that carries the control room, audio
control, video-recording section, video control section,
and transmission equipment.
synthetic environment Electronically generated settings,
either through chroma key or computer.
uplink truck The vehicle that sends video and audio signals to
a satellite.
virtual reality Computer-simulated environment with which
the user can interact.
Production Environment:
Field, Postproduction, and Synthetic
Field production does not mean that you have to move your production to an
actual field—it refers to any video production that happens outside the studio. Field
production includes documentaries that are shot on-location, as well as the elaborate
remotes for sporting events and the Thanksgiving Day parade.
When taking video equipment outside the studio, the world is your stage. The tradeoff
for moving outside the studio and into the field is control. In field productions you
cannot create and control a specific production environment but must adapt to one. If a
shoot takes place outdoors, the weather is always a potential hazard; if you are indoors,
the room may not be to your liking or conducive to effective video and audio pickup.
Still you can make the environment work for you instead of against you.
This chapter gives you some guidance about how to work effectively in the field,
including electronic news gathering, electronic field production, and big remotes.
From the field we move to a production environment in which the computer plays a
central role: postproduction and synthetic image creation.
▶ ELECTRONIC NEWS GATHERING
News gathering and transmission
▶ ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
Preproduction, including the remote survey and location sketch; production, including
the equipment checklist and shooting outdoors and indoors; and the postproduction
wrap-up
▶ BIG REMOTES
The remote truck and remote transmission
▶ POSTPRODUCTION ROOMS
Video postproduction room and audio postproduction room
▶ SYNTHETIC ENVIRONMENTS
Computer-generated settings, virtual reality, and computer-controlled environments
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ELECTRONIC NEWS GATHERING
By their very nature, the time, specifics, and location of most news events cannot be
planned. Neither can the coverage of such events, called electronic news gathering
(ENG). All you can do is run after the breaking story and cover it as best you can. This
does not mean that you give up all control over production procedures. Preproduction in ENG entails having your equipment ready to go at any time and functioning
properly regardless of where you are and under what conditions you are working.
News Gathering
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Whenever possible have
the reporter stand in
the shade rather than
in bright sunlight.
As a news videographer, also called a shooter, you are responsible not only for
video-recording the story but also for making the decisions on just how to tell it. In
a breaking story, you must be able to assess the situation, operate the equipment,
and capture the essence of the event—all in a matter of minutes. You rarely have time
to consult your producer or anyone else about what is going on or how to shoot it.
But even in intense situations, experienced videographers are able to deliver wellcomposed shots that can be edited into a smooth sequence.
If you are covering a story with a reporter, the news-gathering process is slightly
less hectic. You usually have some flexibility in placing the field reporter for his or
her standup report in a location that tells part of the story (city hall, college campus,
county hospital) and in selecting the most effective shots.
Whenever possible have the reporter stand in a shaded area rather than in direct
sunlight or, worse, in front of a brightly lit building. As explained in chapter 8, bright
sunlight will cause unflattering fast falloff and dense shadows, and the bright background will cause the reporter to be seen in silhouette. Even if you have a reflector
handy to slow down the falloff, it is usually easier to place the reporter in a shaded
area than to fight excessive sunlight. Do not forget to white-balance the camera for
every new lighting situation. Watch what is behind the reporter so that you do not
have street signs, trees, or telephone poles appear to be growing out of the reporter’s
head. ZVL1 LIGHTS Field outdoor | use of reflectors
Be mindful of the audio requirements. Don’t have the reporter deliver his or her
report on the windiest corner of the street; find a location that is relatively protected.
Small rooms or corridors with bare walls have a tendency to produce unwanted
echoes and make reporters sound as though they are speaking from inside a barrel.
Take an audio level before each video recording. Always turn on the camera mic to
record ambient sound on a second sound track of the videotape or other recording
media. At the end of the report, record at least one minute of ambient sound to help
the editor bridge the sound shifts at the edit points.
Transmission
As you well know, some big stories have been shot and transmitted to a station or
network solely with a cell phone. In such cases the content is more important than
the picture and sound quality. You can, of course, also capture source footage on
a laptop and transmit it to the station via the Internet. In normal news operations,
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15.1 ENG VAN
15.2 SATELLITE UPLINK TRUCK
For ENG and routine productions, a large car or an
SUV can serve as a production van. If the signal must
be relayed to the station for live transmission or video
recording, a vehicle that contains video-recording
equipment, generators, and microwave transmission
equipment is used.
The satellite uplink truck is a portable station that sends the video
and audio signals to a specific satellite.
however, you use a van with recording and transmission equipment to relay the
video and audio signals back to the station and ultimately to the transmitter or
satellite. SEE 15.1
The signal can be sent from the camera to the van by ordinary camera cable or
via a small microwave transmitter attached to the camera. The more reliable way
is to connect the camera to a tripod-mounted dish. From the van the signal can be
further relayed by microwave to the transmitter. If the signal must be directly uplinked to a communications satellite (positioned 23,300 miles above the earth), an
uplink truck that contains the satellite transmitting equipment is used. SEE 15.2 The
satellite then amplifies the signal and sends it back to the receiving earth station or
stations, called downlinking.
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Although signal transmission is always done by qualified engineers, you should
at least know what is needed to get the live signal from the camera to the station
transmitter. Broadcasting the casual chitchat among the host in the studio and the
guests located in different corners of the world requires a great amount of technical
equipment and know-how.
ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
Electronic field production (EFP) includes all out-of-studio productions except
news and the big remotes that more resemble multicamera studio productions
than single-camera field productions. Documentaries, magazine news stories,
investigative reports, travel shows, and exercise programs that are shot outdoors
are all EFPs.
Because all field productions are planned, you can prepare for them in the preproduction phase. The more preproduction that goes into an EFP, the more likely it
is to succeed. In fact, EFP needs the most careful preparation. Unlike in the studio,
where most of the equipment is already installed, in EFP you must take every single
piece of equipment to the shoot. A wrong or missing cable can delay the production
for hours or even cause its cancellation.
Preproduction: Remote Survey
In ENG you may be sent at a moment’s notice to a location you have never seen in
your life; field productions, on the other hand, require careful and extensive planning. Because you need to adapt to a specific environment, it makes sense to look
at it before showing up with talent, crew, and production gear.
A field inspection is called a remote survey or site survey. You should do a
remote survey even if the field production is relatively simple, such as interviewing
someone in a hotel room. Looking at the room beforehand will help you decide
where to position the guest and the interviewer and where to place the camera. It
will also give you important technical information, such as specific lighting and
sound requirements.
For example, the small table and the two chairs may be adequate for getting
optimal shots of the interviewer and the guest, but the large picture window behind
the table will certainly cause lighting problems. If you shoot against the window,
the guest and interviewer will appear in silhouette. Drawing the curtains would
require lighting the interview area with portable instruments. ZVL2 LIGHTS Color
temperature light sources
Are there enough electrical outlets for the lighting instruments? Are they convenient? Perhaps you can move the table and the chairs away from the window or use
the window as fill or even side-back light. Will the new setup still be workable for the
interviewer and the guest and, most importantly, the camera? Will the background
be reasonably interesting, or will it interfere with the shots? Now listen to the room.
Is it relatively quiet, or do you hear noises through the door or window or from the
air-conditioning? Can you disconnect the telephone so that it won’t ring during the
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ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
interview? As you can see, even this relatively simple field production will benefit a
great deal from a preproduction survey.
For complex productions, careful remote surveys are essential. You need to find
out what the event is all about, where it is to take place, how to adapt the environment to the medium requirements, and what technical facilities are necessary for
video-recording or telecasting the event. For a relatively simple field production,
the director and/or the producer usually make up the survey team. For elaborate
productions, you need to add a technical expert—the technical director (TD) or the
engineering supervisor. If possible, have a contact person accompany you on the
initial remote survey.
Contact person The contact person, or contact, is someone familiar with the
remote location who can help you adapt the environment to the production requirements. For the hotel room interview, for example, the contact person should not be
the guest you are about to interview but rather someone who has the knowledge and
the authority to get certain things done in the hotel. If you overload a circuit with
the lighting instruments, the contact should be able to call the hotel engineering or
maintenance department immediately and have the circuit breaker reset. To prevent
the telephone from ringing during the interview, the contact should be able to have
the hotel operator hold all calls or a maintenance person disconnect the phone line
temporarily. The contact might even find you an empty hotel room that is better
suited for video-recording the interview than the one the guest actually occupies.
If the field production involves the coverage of a scheduled event over which
you have no real control, such as a parade or sports match, the contact person must
be thoroughly familiar with the event and supply you with vital information, such
as names and the order of the parade entries. Most importantly, the contact should
help you gain access to restricted areas or to facilities at times when they are ordinarily locked. Always get the contact’s full name, title, postal and e-mail addresses,
and pager, cell, fax, business, and home phone numbers. Also establish an alternate
contact and have one or the other accompany you on the initial remote survey. This
is especially important if the EFP is scheduled during off-hours or on a weekend.
Conducting the survey Whenever possible, try to conduct the survey at the same
time of day as the scheduled field production so that you can see just where the sun
will be. The position of the sun will ultimately determine camera placement when
shooting outdoors—as well as indoors when large windows are in camera view.
Be sure to prepare a location sketch, which is similar to a studio floor plan. The
location sketch should show the major streets and structures of the outdoor production environment as well as the main features of the indoor production space, such
as hallways, doors, windows, and principal furnishings. Even if the field production
happens in an actual field, make a sketch that indicates the approximate size of the
production area, the major crossroads, and the location of the sun. Include such
details as parking areas, location of the EFP vehicle or remote truck, and the closest
toilet facilities. SEE 15.3 AND 15.4 The following table lists the major survey items and
the key questions you should ask. SEE 15.5
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The remote survey is an
important preproduction
activity for all field
productions except ENG.
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15.3 OUTDOOR
Outdoor EFP — July 15, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Steps
Front Street
In
Park benches
Fountain
Camera limits
Low hedge
Ramp
(EFP truck can
park here)
Parking
Trees &
bushes
Low hedge
Park Merced Blvd.
LOCATION SKETCH
An outdoor location sketch
should show the main streets,
buildings, and facilities of the
immediate production area.
It should also indicate the
location of the EFP vehicle
and the nearest toilet facilities. Also note the position of
the sun during the scheduled
production period.
Museum side
entrance
oilet facilities
(Toilet
inside museum)
Sun travel
15.4 INDOOR
Indoor EFP — July 15, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Window (has drapes)
Low cabinet
Lamp
Sculpture
Plant
Phones
Bookcase
LOCATION SKETCH
The indoor location sketch
should show the principal
production areas (room and
hallway), windows and doors,
and major furnishings, such
as desks, chairs, plants, and
file cabinets.
Desk
Computers
Fax
Pe r s i a n
rug
Chairs
Chairs
Hardwood
floors
Coffee
table
File cabinets
Large door
(3–5 feet)
Plant
AC outlets on all walls
ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
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15.5 REMOTE SURVEY
SURVEY ITEM
KEY QUESTIONS
Contact
Who is the principal contact? Title; postal and e-mail addresses; and business, cell, home, pager, and
fax numbers. Who is the alternate contact? Title; postal and e-mail addresses; business, cell, home,
pager, and fax numbers.
Place
What is the exact location of the telecast? Street address, telephone number. Where can cast and crew park
and eat? Where are the closest toilet facilities?
Time
When is the remote telecast? Where is the sun at the beginning and the end of the telecast?
Event
What type of action can you expect? Where does the action take place?
Cameras (stationary)
Where are the major positions of the camcorder? When doing a multicamera remote, how many cameras
do you need to cover the event? Try to use as few as possible. What are the locations of the cameras?
Do not shoot from, or place the cameras on, opposite sides of the action. In general, the closer together
the cameras are, the easier and less confusing the cutting will be. Shoot with the sun, not against it.
Try to keep the sun behind or to the side of the cameras for the entire telecast. Use an umbrella or large
card behind you to prevent the sun from washing out the foldout monitor. Are there any large objects
blocking the camera view, such as trees, telephone poles, or billboards? Will you have the same field of
view during the actual time of the telecast? Spectators may block a camera’s field of view, although at
the time of the survey the view was unobstructed. Do you need camera platforms? How high? Where?
Can the platforms be erected at this particular point? If a camera is connected to a power outlet or
camera control unit (CCU), what is its action radius? How long a cable run do you need? What camera
mounts do you need? For which cameras?
Lighting
If you need additional lighting, what kind, and where? Can you use reflectors? Can the lighting instruments be
conveniently placed? Can you place back lights so that they are out of camera range? Are there windows that
let in a large amount of daylight? Can they be covered or filtered so that they do not cause silhouette or color
temperature problems? How many watts can each circuit handle?
Audio
What type of audio pickup do you need? Where do you need to place the microphones? Which mics are
appropriate? What is the exact action radius so far as audio is concerned? Which are stationary mics and
which are handled by the talent? Do you need wireless microphones? Otherwise, how long must the mic
cables be? Do you need to make special arrangements for the audio, such as audio foldback or a speaker
system that carries the program audio to the location? Do you need long-distance mics for sound pickup over
a great distance? Where should the mics be located?
Power
What is the power source? Even if you run the camcorders by battery, what about the lights? Does the contact
person have access to the power outlets? If not, who does? Make sure that the contact is available at the
times of the remote setup and the actual production. Do you need extension cords or power cables? Do the
extension cords fit the power outlets at the remote location? Do you need a power generator?
Intercommunications
What type of intercom system do you need? In a multicamera production, you need to set up a system that is
similar to the studio intercom. How many I.F.B. channels and/or stations do you need, and where should they
go? Do you need walkie-talkies to coordinate the crew efforts? Do you need a cell phone hookup?
Location of
production vehicle
If you need a large production vehicle, such as a remote truck, where can you park it? Is it close enough
to the event location? Does the production vehicle block traffic? Make sure that parking is reserved for the
production vehicle and the cars of talent and crew.
Miscellaneous
Will you need the assistance of the local police or other security service to control vehicle and pedestrian
traffic or to secure parking?
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If you have scheduled a field production outdoors, what will you do if it rains
or snows? Obviously, it is a good idea to have alternate dates for a field production,
unless the event is going on regardless of weather conditions, such as a football game
or the Thanksgiving Day parade.
Production: Shooting
Each field production has its own requirements and challenges. Although your careful
preproduction survey should have eliminated most of the potential problems, here
are a few considerations that are not part of the remote survey: equipment checklist,
shooting outdoors, shooting indoors, and general production reminders.
Equipment checklist The success of the field production depends a great deal on
thorough preproduction and how well you have prepared the time line. Contrary to
the studio, where all major installations and equipment are readily available, you
need to transport every single piece of equipment to the EFP site.
Prepare a checklist that includes all the equipment and verify every item that
is loaded onto the EFP vehicle. Use the same list when reloading the equipment for
the return trip. The type and the amount of equipment you need depends on the
production requirements and, specifically, on the preproduction survey. Check the
following list of equipment items you need to consider for EFP.
C H E C K L I S T: F I E L D P R O D U C T I O N E Q U I P M E N T
✔ Camcorders How many do you need? If a spare camera is available, take it
along, even if it is of lower quality. In case of emergency, a properly lighted interview shot with a digital consumer camcorder will certainly be better than having
no camcorder at all.
✔ Camera mounts Always take along a tripod, even if you intend to work the
camera from your shoulder. Do you need special camera mounts, such as tripod
dollies, jib arms, or beanbags?
✔ Recording media Do you have the proper media for the camcorders and the
video recorders (VRs)? Not all ¼-inch digital cassettes fit all digital camcorders. If the
new 60-minute cassette has little tape left on its supply reel, you can be sure that it
will not give you the recording time stated on the box. Note that not all camcorders
accept mini-cassettes. If you use memory cards or optical discs, do you have enough
of them for extended recording periods? If you use the hard drive in the camcorder,
do you need an additional external VR?
✔ Power supply How will you power the camcorder? Are the batteries fully
charged? Take several along. If you use an AC/DC power supply, do you have
enough AC extension cords to reach the AC outlet? You also need extension cords
for portable lighting instruments and a field monitor. If the monitor or external light
ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
is battery-powered, do you have the right battery? Is it fully charged? Do you have
a spare battery?
✔ Audio In addition to lavalier microphones, bring at least one shotgun and one
hand mic. For a more ambitious EFP, you need to match the mics to the acoustics of
the location. Are the mic cables long enough to reach the camcorders or audio mixer?
All remote mics, including lavaliers, need windscreens. Shotgun mics need additional
windsocks. If you intend to use wireless mics, do the transmitter and the receivers
work properly? Test them before leaving for the remote location and again before
the video recording. Do you need mounting equipment, such as clamps, stands, or
fishpoles? Do you need a mixer or an additional audio recorder? If you use a tapeless
digital recorder, do you have an extra memory card? Don’t forget earphones for the
fishpole operator and the audio-recording technician.
✔ Cables and connectors Do you have the appropriate cables and connectors?
Most professional equipment operates with BNC connectors for the video coaxial
cables and XLR connectors for balanced audio cables (see figure 7.26). Some camcorders use RCA phono and mini connectors instead of XLR connectors, also shown
in figure 7.26. Bring along some adapters for video and audio cables. Double-check
all connectors and adapters. If you need to connect the camera to an RCU (remote
control unit), do you have enough camera cable with the proper connectors?
✔ Monitor and test equipment Be sure to take along a monitor for playback. If
you do a multicamera EFP with a switcher, each camera input needs a separate preview monitor unless you have a portable switcher unit with a multiscreen flat-panel
preview. If a narrator is describing the action, you must provide a separate monitor for
him or her. In field productions that require high-quality pictures, you need an RCU
for each camera as well as test equipment such as a waveform monitor and a vector
scope. Ordinarily, the technical crew chief (usually the TD) is responsible for such
items, but you should still see to it that they are part of the equipment package.
✔ Lighting More often than not, you will need at least one or two portable lighting
kits, each containing several lighting instruments, barn doors, diffusers, light stands,
and spare bulbs. Use floodlights (softlights) or diffusion tents and umbrellas for largearea lighting. Do the spare bulbs actually fit the lighting instruments? Do they burn
with the desired color temperature (3,200K or 5,600K)? Use light-blue and amber
gels on the lighting instruments if you need to raise or lower the color temperature,
unless the lights come with color temperature filters. White diffusion material is
always needed to soften key lights. Reflectors (white cards, foam core, aluminum
foil, or professional collapsible reflectors) are essential for outdoor productions.
Even when shooting indoors, reflectors are often much easier to manipulate than
additional instruments.
The lighting package should also include: a piece of muslin to cover an offcamera window; a piece of black cloth to cut down on unwanted reflections; diffusion umbrellas; a light meter; extra light stands; and clamps and sandbags for
securing the light stands. Unless you have access to expandable battens, take along
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some 1 × 3 lumber for constructing supports for small lighting instruments. Pack a
roll of aluminum foil for making reflectors, heat shields, or makeshift barn doors.
You will also need a few wooden clothespins to attach the diffusion material or gels
to the barn doors of the lighting instruments. Take enough AC extension cords and
adapters that fit household outlets. ZVL3 LIGHTS Field indoor
✔ Intercom In small field productions, you do not need elaborate intercom setups, but you should always leave a telephone number at home base where you can
be reached in case of an emergency. A cell phone is a must if you do primarily EFP.
For larger field productions, you need a small power megaphone or walkie-talkies
to reach a dispersed crew. If you use a multicamera and switcher system, you need
to set up a regular P.L. intercom.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Prepare a checklist of
all equipment needed,
and test all equipment
before taking it to the
remote location.
✔ Miscellaneous Here is what you should also take along on every EFP: extra
scripts and time lines to be posted; field VR log forms; a slate or clapboard; several
large rain umbrellas and “raincoats” (plastic covers) to protect equipment and
crew in case of rain; a white card for white-balancing; a large newsprint pad and
markers for writing cue cards or other information for the talent while on the air or
recording; if necessary, a remote teleprompter with batteries and cables; several
rolls of gaffer’s tape and masking tape; white chalk; several wooden clothespins to
hold things in place, even if you don’t use any lighting instruments; a makeup kit;
a large bottle of water; a small plastic bowl; paper towels; a broom and trash bags;
and plenty of sandbags.
Test all equipment before loading it onto the EFP vehicle. At the very least, do
a brief test recording with the camcorder to see whether video and audio can be
properly recorded. If you don’t have a battery tester, attach the batteries one by one
to the camera to see that they are properly charged. Test each mic and each lighting
instrument before loading it. All this checking may seem like a waste of time—until
you get stuck far from your production facility with a malfunctioning camcorder,
mic, or light that you neglected to test.
Shooting outdoors When shooting outdoors, the production environment is
determined by the EFP location. All you can do is decide which portions of the
environment you want to show.
Weather When outdoors you are at the mercy of the elements. Always be prepared
for bad weather. As mentioned previously, take raincoats along for the cameras (a
plastic tarp will do in a pinch) and rain gear for you and the crew. As old-fashioned
as it may seem, a large umbrella is still one of the most effective means of keeping
rain off people and equipment.
If you move from a chilly outside location to indoors, let the camcorder warm up
a bit. The extreme temperature change could cause condensation in the recording
section, shutting down its operation automatically. Such a shutdown will certainly
put a crimp in the shooting schedule. In extremely cold weather, zoom lenses and
even the video-recording transport in camcorders have a tendency to stick. Keep the
camera in a vehicle and run the camcorder for a while when it is exposed to the cold
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ELECTRONIC FIELD PRODUCTION
temperature to prevent the lens and the recording mechanism from sticking. If possible, take a car-battery-powered hair dryer along to speed up the defrosting. Some
mics refuse to work properly in extremely low temperatures unless protected by a
windscreen and/or windsock. Always have a backup plan in case it rains or snows.
Most importantly, watch the weather for shot continuity. If video-recording a
brief scene of two people talking to each other requires several takes that stretch
over an hour or so, you may have a cloudless sky as the background for the first few
takes and a cloudy one for the last takes. The sudden appearance of clouds or rain
between question and answer does not exactly contribute to good continuity. So
long as you are aware of the problem, you can try to choose a background that does
not show the time progression, or arrange the time line so that the time change does
not jeopardize postproduction editing.
Foreground With a prominent foreground piece in the shot—a tree, fencepost, mailbox, or traffic sign—you can dramatically improve the scene, make the composition
more dynamic, and give it depth. If there is no natural foreground piece, you can
often plant one. Instead of looking for a convenient foreground tree, you can simply
handhold and dip a tree branch into the shot. The viewer’s mind will fill in the rest
and perceive the whole tree.
Background Always look beyond the main action to avoid odd juxtapositions between foreground and background. You must also be careful to maintain background
continuity in postproduction editing. For instance, if you show a prominent tree in
the background of shot 1 but not in the following shot with the same background,
the tree will seem to have mysteriously disappeared when the two shots are edited
together. An alert editor will probably rule against such an edit.
Jump cuts can be caused not only by slight position changes of the foreground
pieces but also by a background shift. To avoid background jump cuts, try to
keep a prominent horizon line or an especially conspicuous background object,
such as the single tree on a distant hill, in the same screen portion in subsequent
shots. ZVL4 CAMERA Composition background
Shooting indoors When shooting indoors you may have to rearrange the furnishings and (more often) the pictures on the wall to get optimal shots. Before you start
moving things around, always make a record of what the room looks like, by drawing
a sketch, photographing the scene with a digital still camera, or video-recording the
room with a camcorder. Such a record will greatly assist you in putting things back
where they belong.
Lighting Be especially aware of the lighting requirements. Again, check the available
outlets. Be careful when placing lights inside a room. Do not overload the circuits.
Turn off the lights whenever you don’t need them. Sandbag all light stands and make
a heat shield out of aluminum foil, especially when a lighting instrument is close to
curtains, upholstered furniture, books, or other combustible materials.
Even on a cloudy or foggy day, the color temperature of the light coming through
an outside window is considerably higher than that of indoor light. In this case you
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Watch the weather and
the background for
shot continuity when
shooting outdoors.
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must decide whether to boost the color temperature of the indoor light or lower the
color temperature of the daylight coming through the window. It is usually simpler
to gel the indoor lights than the window. ZVL5 LIGHTS Field indoor ZVL6 LIGHTS
Color temperature white balance
Audio Except for simple interviews, good audio always seems to be a bigger problem
than good video. This is because the microphones are often placed at the last minute
without adequate consideration of the acoustics of the room or the specific sound
pickup requirements. You should include a brief audio rehearsal in the EFP time line
so that you can listen to the sound pickup before beginning the video recording. If
you have brought along several types of mics, you can choose the one that sounds
best in that environment.
As you recall, it is better to record the principal sounds and the ambient sounds
on separate tracks rather than mix them in the field. You may find, however, that
this separation is difficult, if not impossible, in most EFP situations. In this case try
to record a good portion of the background sounds without the principal sounds
after the scenes have been recorded. If necessary, you can then mix the background
sounds into the scene during postproduction. If careful mixing between foreground
and background sounds is required, you can do it much better in the postproduction
studio. If you mix the sounds in the field, you pretty much eliminate the option of
further adjustment in postproduction.
General production reminders Very much like the routines developed for the
studio—striking the sets, rolling up the cables, putting the cameras back in their
regular parking places, and sweeping the floor—there are some general guidelines
for EFP.
Respecting property Whenever you are on someone else’s property, be mindful
that you are a guest and are actually intruding with your video gear and production people. Working in video does not give you license to invade people’s homes,
upset their routines, or make unreasonable demands on them. When you shoot a
documentary in somebody’s well-kept garden, don’t trample on carefully tended
plants just to get a good camera position. Dragging equipment dollies or camera
cases along polished floors or valuable rugs is not appreciated by the owner. Even
if pressed for time, do not get so caught up in the production activities that you lose
your common sense.
Safety As in studio productions, in EFP you need to be constantly aware of safety
precautions. Don’t be careless with extension cords, especially if you string them
outside in damp weather. Tape all connections so that they become waterproof and
don’t pull apart. If you have to lay cables across corridors or doorways, tape them
down with gaffer’s tape and put a rug or rubber mat over them. Better yet, try to
string them above so that people can walk below them unhindered. Ask the police
to assist you when shooting along a freeway or in downtown traffic.
Logging During the shoot keep an accurate field log of all takes, good and bad.
Label all recording media and boxes and put them in a container used solely for
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BIG REMOTES
transporting the video-recorded material. Activate the cassette protection devices
so that the source tapes cannot be accidentally erased. Keep the hard drive cassettes
and memory cards away from magnetic fields.
Strike and cleanup Put everything back the way you found it. Consult your documentation of where things were before you rearranged them. When you are finished,
verify that everything is back as it was. Remove all gaffer’s tape that you may have
used to secure cables, pick up all extension cords, sandbags, and especially empty
soft drink cans and other lunch remnants. An EFP team that had finally gained access
to an old and venerable family ranch after weeks of pleading by the show’s producer
was invited back with a smile for the follow-up show because one of the production
people had brought along a broom and swept the area clean.
Loading the equipment When loading the equipment onto the remote vehicle after
the shoot, pull out the checklist again. Check off every item that is loaded up for
the return trip. Look for missing items right away; it is usually easier to find them
right after the production than days or weeks later. Check that all source media are
properly labeled and that the field logs match the labels. Keep them close to you
until you return to home base.
Postproduction: Wrap-up
The first order of business is to make protection copies of all source material, especially if you can’t perform the capture by the nonlinear editing (NLE) system right
away. Check whether all source footage displays a time code. If not, you need to add
one. You can make window dubs while transferring the source footage to the hard
drive of the NLE system.
You now need to review the copies of the source footage and prepare an accurate
VR log. Recall that such a log must list all shots by in- and out-numbers, identify good
and bad takes, indicate predominant vectors, and list the principal audio for each
shot. Then it is up to the postproduction people to put it all together into a comprehensive message that ideally will convey the intended program objective.
BIG REMOTES
While learning basic video production, you will probably not be called upon to
participate in a big remote, but you should have at least some idea of what a remote
is all about and what equipment it requires. A big remote is the field production of
a large, scheduled event done for live transmission or the uninterrupted recording
of a live event.
Big remotes are devoted to the coverage of major events that are not staged
specifically for video (at least not obviously); these include parades, sporting
events, significant international occasions, and political gatherings. Big remotes
resemble multicamera studio productions in every respect, except that the “studio” is now a remote location: the plaza in front of city hall, the sports stadium,
or the Senate chambers.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
After the production
make sure that you leave
the location the way you
found it and that you
bring back everything
you took to the field.
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▶K E Y
C H A P T E R 15
C O N C E P T
Big remotes resemble
multicamera studio setups
except that the event
takes place outside the
studio, and the control
room is located in a truck.
P R O D U C T I O N E N V I R O N M E N T: F I E L D, P O S T P R O D U C T I O N , A N D S Y N T H E T I C
All big remotes use high-quality field cameras (studio cameras with lenses that
can zoom from an extreme long shot to a tight close-up) and EFP cameras, which
are normally connected to the remote truck by cable. The remote truck represents
a compact studio control room and equipment room. It contains an image control
center with preview and line monitors; a switcher with special effects; a character
generator (C.G.); intercom systems (P.L., P.A., and elaborate I.F.B. systems); an audio
control center with a fairly large audio console, digital audio-recording and playback
equipment, monitor speakers, and an intercom; a video-recording center with several high-quality VRs that can handle regular recordings as well as instant replays,
slow-motion, and freeze-frames; and a technical center with CCUs (camera control
units), technical setup equipment, and patchbays for camera, audio, intercom, and
light cables. SEE 15.6
Although remote trucks can draw power from available high-capacity electrical
sources, most engineers prefer to use portable generators. Because big remotes are
often done live, remote trucks have microwave transmission facilities that range from
small links from camera to truck, to larger ones that transmit the signal from truck
to transmitter. Some large remote trucks have their own satellite uplink; others connect to an uplink truck if a direct satellite feed is necessary. In very big remotes, one
or more additional trailers may be used for supplemental production and control
equipment, such as slow-motion and instant-replay facilities.
POSTPRODUCTION ROOMS
As you are undoubtedly aware, a great deal of video production does not occur in the
studio or in the field but in relatively small rooms that house computers and equipment for video and audio postproduction. Still another production environment
specializes in the synthetic creation of moving images and sound. Because such
activities are highly specialized, we only touch upon these environments and encourage you to learn more about them once you have mastered the basics of video.
Video Postproduction Room
Normally, a video postproduction room houses a linear or nonlinear editing system
(see figure 12.2). As pointed out in chapter 12, in a learning situation several such
editing stations may be set up side-by-side in a single room, all working with the
same source footage provided by a server.
Audio Postproduction Room
As mentioned in chapter 7, the specific equipment in the audio postproduction
room depends on how much sweetening a video production company is planning
to do and, of course, on the preference of the sound designer or sound editor of
what such a room should contain. In general, audio postproduction rooms contain
a mixing board and associated equipment, audio recorders, loudspeakers, and
the digital audio workstation (DAW), which is driven by complex audio software
(see figure 7.33).
Stairs
Audio control
Landing
Window
Production control
Producer
AD
Director
Production assistant
TD
C.G. operator
Video-recording room
Switcher
Video
monitors
VRs
Video control
VRs
CCUs
Transmission equipment
Extensions pull out to widen trailer
15.6 REMOTE TRUCK
The remote truck is a studio control center on wheels. It contains the audio, production, and video control centers; a number of
VRs; and transmission equipment.
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SYNTHETIC ENVIRONMENTS
Not all environments are lens-generated (photographed by the video camera); they
can be synthetic as well. Synthetic environments are generated electronically.
You can create a great variety of backgrounds with a chroma key, which you recall uses a specific color (usually blue or green) for the backdrop into which various
still or moving images can be keyed. The actual foreground action then appears to
be playing in the keyed environment. Because you can use any photograph, video
recording, or computer-generated effect as a chroma-key source, your choices of
background are unlimited. SEE 15.7
Computer-generated Settings
Despite all the skills you may have acquired in adapting a real environment to your
video needs, the computer offers novel alternatives. Outdoor landscapes can be
computer-generated, which you have seen many times in fantasy landscapes. But
even highly realistic settings are often easier to compose with the computer than to
build in the studio.
As you can see in following figure, the actor in the red windbreaker is standing
in front of a blue chroma-key backdrop, resting her arm on a small wooden frame
that is also painted chroma-key blue. SEE 15.8A When chroma-keying the person into
the computer-generated background picture, all blue areas (the backdrop and the
A
B
15.7 CHROMA KEY
A The source for this background image is a video frame of the
museum exterior from the electronic still store (ESS) system.
B The studio camera focuses on the actor playing a tourist
in front of the blue chroma-key backdrop. The lighting must
match the environment of the background.
C All blue areas are replaced by the background image; the
tourist appears to be in front of the museum.
C
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SYNTHETIC ENVIRONMENTS
Image not available due to copyright restrictions
A
Image not available due to copyright restrictions
B
wooden frame) drop out and are replaced with the computer image of the lighthouse.
Because she was positioned exactly right in relation to the virtual background set,
she now appears to be standing on the lighthouse platform, resting her arm on the
railing, looking out to the sea. SEE 15.8B
If all this is possible, couldn’t we have actors moving about in front of a chromakey backdrop and keying them into the lighthouse platform? Yes, this is certainly
possible. There is, however, the problem of a changing perspective when the real
foreground figures (the actors) move against the static background, although sophisticated computer programs can compensate for such a perspective shift. The real
problem with such a setup is not technical but human: it is extremely difficult for
even experienced actors to operate in a horizonless, undefined space. You can easily
get disoriented simply by stepping into such a limitless blue-screen environment.
Virtual Reality
Virtual reality consists of computer-generated environments and events that are
animated. You could, for example, change the peaceful scene of vacationers traveling
happily along a sun-drenched road into a frightening event by replacing the fluffy
white clouds with a huge computer-generated twister. You can also generate objects,
animals, or even people and place them in, or have them move through, this virtual
environment. There are synthetic environments that appear to be three-dimensional,
provided you wear 3D glasses when viewing the video screen.
Whenever you combine a blue-screen or virtual reality environment with real
performers, you must pay particular attention to the lighting so that the shadows
of the synthetic environment correspond with the ones in the actual scene. The
size and motion relationships between foreground and background are also a
major concern. Unless you want to achieve a special effect, the synthetic environment should fit the dimensions of the people keyed into it and change according
to the camera angles.
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Computer-controlled Environments
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Synthetic environments
can be built partially or
entirely by computer.
Computer-aided design (CAD) programs can produce from a floor plan an actual
scenic environment. Once the virtual scenery is set up, you can try out a number of
color schemes and textures for the walls, doors, windows, and floor. For example,
you can try out a blue rug, change it to red or beige, and take it out again—all with
the click of a mouse. You can also put virtual furniture into the set and dress it with
properties of your choice. You use the mouse to select the items from a menu and
drag them into the desired positions. If you don’t like what you selected, simply
delete the images and try new ones.
Other such programs let you light the set, with a menu offering an assortment
of lighting instruments that you can drag onto the set and aim at the elements of
the virtual production environment. You can test different lighting setups until you
are satisfied. Finally, you can have a virtual camera move through this virtual space
to show you what shots you can get from various angles and lens settings. Some
sophisticated programs let you generate virtual performers and move them through
the synthetic space. ZVL7 LIGHTS Triangle lighting try it
Even if you do not use the virtual sets as the “actual” environment for your production, such interactive displays of setups, colors, and camera and talent positions
are an invaluable preproduction aid.
When combined with live action, virtual environments can yield startling effects.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Field Production
A field production is any production that happens outside the studio, including ENG
(electronic news gathering), EFP (electronic field production), and big-remote telecasts.
▶ Electronic News Gathering
ENG involves newspeople and equipment for reacting quickly to a news event. The event
is either video-recorded and edited for a regularly scheduled broadcast or, if important
enough, transmitted live. Normally, preproduction amounts to being ready to go
anywhere at a moment’s notice rather than conducting a remote survey.
▶ Electronic Field Production
EFPs, which occur away from the studio, are thoroughly planned in preproduction. They
include documentaries, magazine news stories, investigative reports, on-site interviews,
and so on. One of the most important steps is the remote, or site, survey. When in the
field, you must adapt to the environment.
▶ Preproduction
A remote survey is necessary for all field productions except ENG. It supplies important
information about such technical aspects as power availability, lighting, and sound
requirements, and it gives the director an idea of where to place the camera or cameras.
Establishing a reliable contact person is an important part of preproduction.
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SYNTHETIC ENVIRONMENTS
▶ Production
Use a checklist when taking the equipment into the field and bringing it all back. When
shooting outdoors, changing weather conditions and random sounds are a constant
hazard and must be carefully monitored. Be aware of changing lighting conditions,
which may seriously influence your editing continuity. Be careful not to place lighting
instruments too close to combustible materials. Respect people’s property and take safety
precautions at all times. Carefully monitor the audio pickup.
▶ Big Remotes
Big remotes are devoted to the live coverage or the video-recording of large scheduled
events, such as parades, sports, and significant international occasions. Big remotes
resemble multicamera studio setups and are coordinated from the remote truck. The
remote truck houses a complete production control room, primarily devoted to image
control, audio control, elaborate intercom facilities, video-recording and video control
sections, various other technical facilities, and transmission equipment.
▶ Postproduction Rooms
Video postproduction rooms usually consist of small editing bays that contain a
nonlinear editing (NLE) system. In many cases the NLE is connected to a server that holds
the source footage. Audio postproduction rooms contain a mixing board and associated
equipment, audio recorders, loudspeakers, and the digital audio workstation (DAW),
which is driven by complex audio software.
▶ Synthetic Environments
Environments can be electronically generated through chroma keys of video-recorded
or computer-generated backgrounds. Interactive virtual reality programs can create
entirely synthetic, computer-generated environments. Some programs can also simulate
production situations (camera positions, scenery colors, or lighting), which can be
manipulated to find the most effective combinations. Such a simulation is a valuable
preproduction aid.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cues
in this chapter are listed here with their corresponding page numbers.
ZVL1
LIGHTS Field outdoor | use of reflectors
324
ZVL2
LIGHTS Color temperature light sources
326
ZVL3
LIGHTS Field indoor
ZVL4
CAMERA Composition background
ZVL5
LIGHTS Field indoor
ZVL6
LIGHTS Color temperature white balance
ZVL7
LIGHTS Triangle lighting try it
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333
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VI
P A R T
Production Control:
Talent and Directing
CHAPTER 16
Now that you have acquired the basics of video production, you need to learn more
Talent, Clothing,
and Makeup
about the people who work in front of the camera—the talent—and what they must
do to convey the intended message. It is, after all, the people who appear on-camera
who do the communicating with the viewers, not the ones who work behind the
CHAPTER 17
Putting It All
Together:
Directing
scenes to make this communication possible. Even if you don’t intend to become a
television performer or actor, you need to know what performing in front of the camera
is all about. Once you are in video production, you are bound to be asked to appear
on-camera from time to time, as either a guest or a host. And as a director, before you
can tell the talent what to do, you must have some idea of what to expect from a good
performer or actor. The last two chapters prepare you for the culminating experience of
multicamera directing from the control room and for single-camera film-style directing.
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16
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
actor A person who appears on-camera in dramatic roles.
The actor always portrays someone else.
blocking Carefully worked-out positioning, movement, and
actions by the talent and for all mobile video equipment
used in a scene.
I.F.B. Stands for interruptible foldback or feedback. A prompting
system that allows communication with the talent while on
the air. A small earpiece worn by on-the-air talent carries
program sound (including the talent’s voice) or instructions
from the producer or director.
cue card A large hand-lettered card that contains copy, usually
held next to the camera lens by floor personnel.
moiré effect Color vibrations that occur when narrow, contrasting stripes of a design interfere with the scanning lines of
the video system.
foundation A makeup base, normally done with water-soluble
cake makeup, that is applied with a sponge to the face
and sometimes to all exposed skin areas. Cake foundation
reduces unwanted light reflection.
performer A person who appears on-camera in nondramatic
shows. The performer does not assume someone else’s
character.
talent Collective name for all performers and actors who
appear regularly in video.
teleprompter A prompting device that projects moving copy
over the lens so that the talent can read it without losing
eye contact with the viewer.
Talent, Clothing, and Makeup
The incredible amount of equipment and effort that goes into making even a relatively
simple production, such as somebody’s announcing on-camera the latest company
news, is generally lost on viewers. All they judge the show by is whether the person
on-screen is likable and whether he or she is doing a credible job. Similarly, viewers
attribute the success of a talk show primarily to the host, not to how the show is
lighted, how the cameras are handled, or whether the director shows a reaction shot
at the right moment.
Video talent refers (not always accurately) to all people performing in front of the
camera. We divide talent into two groups: performers and actors. Performers are
primarily engaged in nondramatic activities. They portray themselves and do not
assume the role of other characters; they are aware of the viewers and usually communicate directly with them by addressing the camera lens. Actors, on the other hand,
always portray someone else; they assume a character role, even if the role is close to
their own personality. They normally do not acknowledge the presence of the viewers
but interact with other actors. Because performance and acting requirements differ in
several major ways, they are discussed separately here. Specifically, this chapter focuses
on the techniques of appearing in front of the camera, what to wear, and how to do
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Talent refers to video
performers and actors.
Performers portray
themselves; actors
portray someone else.
basic makeup for the television camera.
▶ PERFORMING TECHNIQUES
Performer and camera, audio and lighting, and timing and prompting
▶ ACTING TECHNIQUES
Environment and audience, close-ups, and repeating action
▶ AUDITIONS
How to prepare
▶ CLOTHING
Texture, detail, and color
▶ MAKEUP
Technical requirements and materials
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TA L E N T, C LO T H I N G , A N D M A K E U P
PERFORMING TECHNIQUES
As a performer you are always aware of the viewers. Your goal is to establish as
much rapport as possible with them and to have them share in what you do and say.
Because video is normally watched by individuals or small groups of people who
know one another, your performance techniques must be adjusted to this kind of
communication intimacy. Always imagine that you are looking at and talking with
someone you know, seated a comfortably short distance from you. Some performers prefer to imagine that they are talking to a small group or family; in any case,
don’t envision yourself at a mass rally, addressing “millions of viewers out there in
videoland.” When viewers watch you at home, it is you who is “out there”—not they.
They are not visiting you; you are visiting them.
To help you establish this intimate viewer contact and perform effectively in
front of the camera, you need to familiarize yourself with some production aspects
of performer and camera, audio and lighting, and timing and prompting.
Performer and Camera
As a performer you have a communication partner—the video camera. It represents
the viewer with whom you are talking. You may find it difficult at first to consider
the camera your communication partner, especially when all you actually see while
talking is the camera or the screen of the prompting device, some lights shining in
your eyes, and perhaps the dim outlines of a few production people who are more
interested in operating the equipment than in what you have to say.
Eye contact To establish eye contact with the viewer, you need to look at the lens,
not at the camera operator or the floor manager. In fact, good performers keep constant eye contact with the lens and seem to look through it rather than merely at it.
When pretending to look through the lens, you will more readily extend your glance
through the screen—toward the viewer—than if you simply stare at the camera. Also,
you must maintain eye contact with the lens much more directly and constantly than
when engaged in a real interpersonal conversation. Even a small glance away from
the lens will be highly distracting for the viewer; it will not be seen as a polite relief
from your stare but as an impolite loss of concentration or interest on your part.
If two or more cameras are used while you demonstrate a product, you need
to know which of the two will remain on you and which will take the close-up of
the product. Keep looking at the camera (or, rather, through the camera lens) that
is focused on you, even when the director switches to the close-up camera that is
focused on the product. This way you will not get caught looking in the wrong direction when your camera is switched back on the air.
If both cameras are on you and switched according to the director’s cues, you
must shift your view from one camera to the other to maintain eye contact. A good
floor manager will assist you greatly in this task. He or she will warn you that a
switch is coming up by pointing on the director’s “ready” cue to the camera you are
addressing and then motioning you over to the other camera on the “take” cue. On
the floor manager’s cue, shift your glance quickly but smoothly in the new direction.
Unless told otherwise, always follow the floor manager’s cues (shown in figure 16.1)
and not the tally light that indicates the hot camera.
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PERFORMING TECHNIQUES
If you discover that you are talking to the wrong camera, look down as if to
collect your thoughts, then look up into the on-the-air camera. Such a shift works
especially well if you use notes or a script as part of your on-camera performance.
You can simply pretend that you are consulting your notes while changing your view
from the wrong camera to the correct one.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Eye contact with
the camera lens
establishes eye contact
with the viewer.
Close-ups On video you will be shown more often in a close-up (CU) than in a
medium or long shot. The camera scrutinizes and magnifies your expressions and
your every move. It does not politely look away when you scratch your ear or touch
your nose; it reveals faithfully the nervous twitch or mild panic when you have forgotten a line. The close-up also does not give you much room to maneuver. In a tight
CU, a slight wiggle of the product you are holding will look as though an earthquake
has struck. The close-up also accelerates your actions. If you lift up a book at normal
speed to show its cover, you will most certainly yank it out of the close-up camera’s
view. Here are a few important rules for working with close-ups:
◾ When on a close-up, do not wiggle—remain as steady as possible.
◾ Keep your hands away from your face, even if you feel your nose itching or
perspiration collecting on your forehead.
◾ Slow down all movements.
◾ When demonstrating small objects, keep them as steady as possible in one
position. Better yet, keep them on a display table.
◾ If they are arranged on a table, do not pick them up. You can point to them or
tilt them a little to give the camera a better view.
There is nothing more frustrating for the camera operator, the director, and
especially the viewer than when a performer snatches the object off the table just
as the camera gets a good close-up of it. A quick look at the studio monitor will tell
you whether you are holding or tilting the object for maximum visibility.
Also, don’t ask the camera to come a little closer to get a better look at what you
are demonstrating. As you well know, the camera operator can get a close-up not
just by dollying in with the camera but much more quickly and easily by zooming in.
You will not make the director very happy by asking for specific shots when the shot
is already on the air or when there are technical problems that prevent the director
from calling up the desired material. Talent—however eager they may be to look
good on the air—should not try to outdirect the director.
Audio and Lighting
A clear, resonant voice alone will not make you a good performer. Besides having
something to say and saying it clearly and convincingly, you need to be aware of the
more technical audio requirements.
Microphone techniques At this point you should briefly review the use of microphones in chapter 7. Here is a short recap of the basic mic techniques of concern
to you as a performer:
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
When on a close-up,
keep your gestures
small and slow.
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◾ Treat all microphones gently. They are not props but highly sensitive electronic devices that respond to minute vibrations of air.
◾ If you work with a lavalier microphone, don’t forget to put it on. If not assisted
by the floor manager, run the cable underneath your jacket or shirt and fasten the mic to the outside of your clothing. Unless you are wearing a wireless
lavalier, once “wired” you have a highly limited action radius. Don’t forget to
remove the mic and lay it gently on the chair before walking off the set. When
using a wireless mic, check the power switch on the transmitter belt pack. It
should be on when going on the air but off whenever you are on a break.
◾ When using a hand mic, see how far the mic cable will let you move. In normal situations hold the hand mic chest high and speak across it, not into it. In
noisy surroundings hold it closer to your mouth. When interviewing a guest
with a hand mic, hold it near you when speaking and toward the guest when
he or she responds. Gently pull the mic cable with your free hand when moving around. If you need both hands for something else, tuck the mic under
your arm. A wireless hand mic will make your movements less restricted but
adds the liability of losing the mic signal on its way to the receiving station.
Unless you are in a controlled environment, such as a television or recording
studio, stay away from wireless hand mics if you can help it.
◾ Once a desk mic has been placed by the audio engineer, don’t move it. Check
with the engineer if you think it should be closer to you or pointing more
toward you. Talk toward it, not away from it.
◾ When using a stand mic, adjust the height of the stand so that the mic is a
little below your chin, pointing toward your mouth.
◾ When a fishpole or boom mic is used, be aware of where the mic is when you
are moving, but don’t look at it. Move slowly and avoid fast turns. If you see
that the boom operator can’t follow you with the mic, stop, then move on
when the problem is fixed.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
When taking a level,
speak at the volume you
will actually use during
the performance, and
speak long enough to
set the optimal level on
the audio console.
Taking a level When asked to test the mic or to take a level, don’t blow into it; say
your opening remarks at the volume you will use when on the air. Performers who
rapidly count to 10 or speak with a low voice off the air and then blast their opening
remarks when on the air will not win points with the audio engineer.
Do not speak louder simply because the camera moves farther away from you.
Although you correctly assume that the camera is the viewer with whom you are communicating, the camera distance has nothing to do with how close the shot actually
is. More importantly, the distance of the camera has nothing to do with how close
the mic is. If you wear a lavalier, you are heard at the same level and with the same
presence regardless of whether the camera is 2 or 200 feet away from you.
Checking lighting Although as a performer you need not be concerned with
lighting, it doesn’t hurt to quickly check the lighting before going on the air. When
outdoors, don’t stand against a brightly lighted background unless you want to be
seen in silhouette. When in the studio and there is no light hitting your eyes, you are
PERFORMING TECHNIQUES
not in the lighted area. Ask the director where you should stand so that you will be
properly lighted. In a play, when you happen to get off the rehearsed blocking into
a dark area, move a little until you feel the heat of the lights or see the lights hitting
you. Such concern for lighting should not encourage you to take over the director’s
function. Always check with the director if you have any questions about the technical setup and your activities within it.
Timing and Prompting
As a performer you need to be acutely aware of time, whether or not you are on
the air. Even nonbroadcast video programs are packaged according to a rigid time
frame. Because the audience has no idea about your time restrictions, you need to
appear relaxed and unhurried when you have only 2 seconds left or you have to fill
unexpectedly for an additional 15 seconds. Experienced performers can accurately
judge a 10-second or 30-second duration without looking at a clock or stopwatch.
Radio professionals can teach you a lot in this respect. They seem to be totally relaxed
and never hurried, even when working up to the last second of the segment. Such
timing skills are not inborn but acquired through practice. Don’t put too much trust
in your instincts; use a clock or stopwatch for precise timing. In any case, respond
immediately to the floor manager’s time cues.
I.F.B. system As a performer you must rely on—or put up with—a variety of
prompting devices. The most direct prompting device is the I.F.B.—interruptible
foldback or, as it is also called, interruptible feedback—system. You have probably
seen performers or interview guests in remote locations touch their ear as though
they were adjusting a hearing aid. That is exactly what they are doing.
When using interruptible foldback, you wear a small earpiece that carries the
total program sound, including your own remarks, unless the producer or director
(or some other production member connected to the I.F.B. system) interrupts the
program sound with specific instructions. For example, if you interview the CEO of
a new Internet company, the producer may cut in and tell you what question to ask
next, to slow down, to speed up, or to tell the guest that she has only 15 seconds to
explain the latest multiplatform software. The trick is to not let the viewer know that
you are listening to somebody other than the guest.
If you conduct an interview long-distance, with the guest in a remote location,
he or she may also wear an I.F.B. earpiece that transmits your questions on a separate I.F.B. channel. You may find that many guests experience some problem with
the I.F.B. system, especially when the location is relatively noisy. Try to test the I.F.B.
system in advance to make sure the guest is comfortable using it.
Floor manager’s cues Normal time, directional, and audio cues are usually given
by the floor manager. As a performer you will quickly learn that the floor manager is
your best friend during the production. A good floor manager will always be in your
vicinity, telling you whether you are too slow or fast, whether you are holding the
product correctly for the close-up camera, and whether you are doing a good job.
Unlike other prompting devices, the floor manager can react immediately to your
needs and to unforeseen performance problems. Normally, the floor manager cues
you with a system of hand signals. SEE 16.1
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16.1 FLOOR MANAGER’S CUES
Because the microphone is live during production, the talent must rely on visual time cues, directional cues, and audio
cues from the floor manager.
CUE
SIGNAL
MEANING
SIGNAL DESCRIPTION
Standby
Show about to start.
Extends hand above head.
Cue
Show goes on the air.
Points to performer or live camera.
On time
Go ahead as planned
(on the nose).
Touches nose with forefinger.
Speed up
Accelerate what you are doing.
You are going too slowly.
Rotates hand clockwise with extended
forefinger. Urgency of speed-up is
indicated by fast or slow rotation.
Stretch
Slow down. Too much time left.
Fill until emergency is over.
Stretches imaginary rubber band
between hands.
TIME CUES
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16.1 FLOOR MANAGER’S CUES (continued)
CUE
SIGNAL
MEANING
SIGNAL DESCRIPTION
Wind up
Finish up what you are doing.
Come to an end.
Similar motion to speed-up, but usually
with arm extended above head.
Sometimes expressed with raised fist,
good-bye wave, or hands rolling over
each other as if wrapping a package.
Cut
Stop speech or action
immediately.
Pulls index finger in knifelike motion
across throat.
5 (4, 3, 2, 1)
minute(s)
5 (4, 3, 2, 1) minute(s) left until
end of show.
Holds up five (four, three, two, one)
finger(s) or small card with number on it.
30 seconds
(half minute)
30 seconds left in show.
Forms a cross with two index fingers or
arms. Or holds card with number.
15 seconds
15 seconds left in show.
Shows fist (which can also mean
wind up). Or holds card with number.
Roll VR or
server (and
countdown)
2, 1, take VR
or server
VR is rolling. VR or server
insert is coming up.
Holds extended left hand in front of
face, moves right hand in cranking
motion. Extends two, one finger(s);
clenches fist or gives cut signal.
TIME CUES
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16.1 FLOOR MANAGER’S CUES (continued)
CUE
SIGNAL
MEANING
SIGNAL DESCRIPTION
Closer
Performer must come closer or
bring object closer to camera.
Moves both hands toward self,
palms in.
Back
Performer must step back or
move object away from camera.
Uses both hands in pushing motion,
palms out.
Walk
Performer must move to next
performance area.
Makes a walking motion with index and
middle fingers in direction of movement.
Stop
Stop right here. Do not
move anymore.
Extends both hands in front of body,
palms out.
OK
Very well done. Stay right there.
Do what you are doing.
Forms an O with thumb and forefinger,
other fingers extended, motioning
toward talent.
DIRECTIONAL CUES
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16.1 FLOOR MANAGER’S CUES (continued)
CUE
SIGNAL
MEANING
SIGNAL DESCRIPTION
Speak up
Performer is talking too softly for
current conditions.
Cups both hands behind ears or moves
hand upward, palm up.
Tone down
Performer is too loud or too
enthusiastic for the occasion.
Moves both hands toward studio floor,
palms down, or puts extended forefinger
over mouth in shhh-like motion.
Closer to mic
Performer is too far away from
mic for good audio pickup.
Moves hand toward face.
Keep talking
Keep on talking until further cues.
Extends thumb and forefinger horizontally, moving them like a bird’s beak.
AUDIO CUES
As a performer you must react to the floor manager’s cues immediately, even if
you think that the cue is inappropriate. Good performers don’t try to run the show
all by themselves: they react to the floor manager’s cues quickly and smoothly.
Don’t look around for the floor manager when you think that you should have
received a time cue; he or she will make sure that you see the signal without having
to break eye contact with the lens. As you just learned, even a brief glance away from
the lens will tend to interrupt the contact you have established with the viewer. Once
you have seen a cue, don’t acknowledge it in any way. The floor manager can tell by
your subsequent actions whether you received the cue.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Always respond
promptly to the floor
manager’s cues.
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16.2 TELEPROMPTER
The teleprompter consists
of a small video monitor
that reflects the copy onto a
slanted glass plate directly in
front of the lens. The talent
can see the copy clearly
while it remains invisible
to the camera.
Glass plate
reflecting
image from
monitor
Copy as it
appears to talent
Flat-panel
monitor
displaying copy
Teleprompter The teleprompter enables you to read copy without taking your
eyes off the lens. The teleprompter projects the copy off a small, usually flat-panel
monitor onto a slanted glass plate mounted directly in front of the lens. SEE 16.2
While you read the copy on the glass plate, the lens can view the scene through
the plate without seeing the lettering. All newscasters and hosts of shows with a
newslike format use teleprompters, as do people who deliver on-camera speeches.
The copy itself is normally generated by a word-processing program and sent by a
desktop computer to the teleprompter monitor on each camera that focuses on you.
The computer scrolls the copy from the bottom of the teleprompter screen to the
top exactly at your reading speed. If you have to change your pace to stay within the
allotted time, the scrolling speed can be adjusted accordingly by the floor manager
or the teleprompter operator.
When you are using a teleprompter, the camera should be far enough away
that the viewers don’t see your eyes moving back and forth while reading yet close
enough that you can clearly see the copy. Experienced performers still manage to
look through the lens and make eye contact with the viewer even while reading the
copy in front of the lens. Not an easy job by any means!
For the small teleprompters that can be used in the field, the copy originates from
a laptop computer that also controls the speed of the scroll. Simple field prompters
use a paper roll that projects hand-lettered copy over a glass plate in front of the
lens. On some field prompters, the paper roll is mounted below or to the side of the
lens. The roll is battery-powered and can operate at various speeds. If nothing else
is available, read the copy off your script or notebook.
Cue cards One of the simplest yet most highly effective cueing devices is cue
cards—sheets of paper or posterboard on which the copy is hand-lettered with a
marker. The size of the cards depends on how well you can see and how far away the
camera is when you’re reading the copy. A floor person must hold the cards as close
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ACTING TECHNIQUES
A
B
16.3 HANDLING CUE CARDS
A This is the wrong way to hold cue cards. The card is too far away from the lens. The floor person is also covering part of the copy,
is not reading along with the talent, and is therefore unable to change cards when necessary.
B This is the correct way to hold cue cards. The cards are as close to the lens as possible, and the floor person reads along with the
talent to facilitate smooth card changes.
to the lens as possible so that you don’t have to glance too far away and thereby lose
eye contact with the viewer. You must read the copy out of the corner of your eye
while looking at the lens. Decide on an optimal distance, then check that the cards
are in the right order and that the floor person holds them close to the lens without
covering the copy. SEE 16.3 Ask the floor person to practice changing cards with you.
A good floor person will change the card while you are reading the last few words
and have the new card up while you are still delivering the last word from the previous card. He or she will not dump the used cards on the floor but put them quickly
and quietly on a nearby chair.
ACTING TECHNIQUES
To become a good video or television actor, you must first learn the art of acting.
Whereas performers always portray themselves, actors assume somebody else’s character and identity. Even the best stage and film actors must adjust their acting style
and methods to the requirements of the video medium. Some of the major requirements are working in a technical environment without an audience, adjusting to the
small video screen and the frequent use of close-ups, and repeating the action.
Environment and Audience
As a video actor, you will be surrounded by much more technical equipment than if
you were on-stage. Worse, you do not have an audience whose reaction you can see,
hear, or feel. Unless there is a studio audience, all you see are lights, cameras, and
production people who do not pay much attention to you. In fact, you will often feel
neglected even by the director. But realize that the director has to coordinate numerous pieces of production equipment and a great many personnel and that some of
the technical operations may need more of the director’s attention than you do.
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When acting for the video
medium, you must feel the
role rather than act it out.
TA L E N T, C LO T H I N G , A N D M A K E U P
You may feel even more abandoned because of the lack of a live audience. Unlike in the theater, where the audience remains in a fixed place and gives you direct
and indirect feedback, the camera does not respond to your performance but stares
at you impassively and moves quietly all around you. It may look at your eyes, your
back, your feet, your hands, or whatever the director chooses for the viewer to see.
It is a little like acting for theater-in-the-round, except that in video all viewers, as
represented by the cameras, sit at arm’s length and even join you on-stage to get a
better look at you.
Because the viewer is in such close virtual proximity, you need not, and should
not, project your actions and emotions to somebody sitting in the last row. The camera, which is doing the projecting for you, can make a small gesture into a grand act.
When on a close-up, there is no need for you to act out your role; instead you must
feel it. Internalizing your role is a key factor in acting for video.
The intimacy of video also influences the way you speak. You must reduce the
customary stage declamation and voice projection to clear but normal speech. Good
writers help you in this task. Instead of having you, as Oedipus, dramatically request,
“Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it, too?” on video you would simply
ask, “Who did it?” Getting rid of exaggerated voice projection is one of the hardest
things for stage actors to learn when switching over to the video medium. Precise
enunciation is often more important than volume and projection.
Most importantly, you must be able to memorize your lines quickly and accurately. Although there may be a variety of prompting devices available (mainly cue
cards), you cannot and should not rely on them if you want to be convincing in your
role. Because many of your lines serve as important video and audio cues that trigger
all sorts of production activity, you cannot afford to ad-lib. Ad-libbing a cue line will
inevitably cause chaos in the control room and prompt a retake of the scene.
Close-ups
The frequent use of close-ups does not give you much wiggle room. Sometimes you
must stand uncomfortably close to other actors or move much more slowly than
normal without appearing to do so to stay within camera range. The close-up also
limits your gestures. If, when seated, you lean back or move forward unexpectedly,
you may fall out of focus, and weaving sideways just a little may take you right out
of the frame.
The close-up shots require that you be extremely exact in following the rehearsed
blocking—the carefully worked-out stage positions, movements, and actions relative
to other actors and the camera. If you stray even a few inches from the rehearsed
blocking, you may be out of camera range or obstructed by another actor. To help
you remember the critical blocking positions, the floor manager will usually mark
the floor with chalk or masking tape.
If you or the other actor is off the mark in an over-the-shoulder shot, you may
be obstructed from camera view by the other actor. You can tell whether the camera
sees you simply by looking for the camera lens. If you see the lens, the camera can
see you; if you don’t see the lens, you aren’t being seen. If you can’t see the lens, inch
to one side or the other without obviously searching for it. Although the camera can
be adjusted to get the proper over-the-shoulder shot, it is usually easier to adjust
your position than the camera’s.
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To remember blocking, you may want to establish a mental road map that has
prominent landmarks, for example: “First stop, the left corner of the table. Second
landmark, couch. Move to the couch and sit on the right. Third landmark, telephone.
Get up and move behind the telephone table facing the center camera. Pick up the
phone with the left hand.”
Although good directors will block you as much as possible so that your movements are natural, you will occasionally be in a position that seems entirely wrong
to you. Do not try to correct this position until you have consulted the director.
A certain shot or special effect may very well warrant such blocking.
Repeating Action
Unlike the theater, where your performance is continuous and according to plot
progression, video acting—like acting for digital cinema or film—is usually done
piecemeal. You may have to switch from the happy opening scene to the intensely sad
closing scene, merely because both play in the friend’s living room. By remembering
the exact blocking, you can also help preserve continuity. For instance, if you held
the telephone receiver in your left hand during the medium shots, don’t switch it to
your right hand for the close-ups.
In single-camera productions, it is normal to repeat the same scene over and
over again. Such repetitions are done to get a variety of camera angles or close-ups
or to correct major or minor technical problems. In repeats not only must you duplicate exactly the lines and the blocking for each take, you must also maintain the
same energy level throughout. You cannot be “on” during the first takes and “off ”
during the later close-ups.
AUDITIONS
Auditions are a test of your ability as a performer—and of your self-confidence.
Not getting the part does not mean that you gave an inferior performance but that
somebody else was thought to be more suitable. Take all auditions equally seriously,
whether you are trying out for a starring role in a big television drama or for a one-line
off-camera utterance for a product demonstration; but don’t take them so seriously
that you begin to suffer from depression because you didn’t get the part.
Although you may not know beforehand what will be asked of you in an audition,
you can still prepare for it. Be properly groomed and wear something that’s appropriate and that looks good on-camera. Arrive on time, bring your résumé, and don’t be
intimidated by either the number or the caliber of people auditioning with you. You
all have an equal chance; otherwise you would not have been called to try out for
the part. Have a brief monologue ready that shows your range of ability. Keep your
energy up even if you have to wait half a day before being asked to perform.
If you get a script beforehand, study it carefully. If the script calls for you to
talk about or demonstrate a specific product, such as a new computer, familiarize
yourself with the product ahead of time. The more you know about the product, the
more confidence shows in your delivery. Ask the person conducting the audition
what shots the camera will take. If close-ups predominate, slow down your actions
and avoid excessive movements. Remember that you are not addressing a large
audience but an individual or a small family seated near you.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Meticulously follow the
rehearsed blocking during
each take. If you can’t
see the camera lens, you
won’t be in the shot.
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As an actor be sure that you understand the character you are to portray. If you
are not sure what the segment you are to read or the character you are to portray is
all about, ask the person conducting the audition (casting director or producer)—
but don’t ask for the proper motivation. As a professional actor, you are expected
to motivate yourself. Be inventive but don’t overdo it. When working in video, little
mannerisms, such as a specific way of keeping your eyeglasses from slipping down
your nose, playing with keys, or using a slightly rusty fingernail clipper while engaged
in a serious conversation, tend to sharpen your character more readily than simply
working up to a high emotional pitch.
CLOTHING
What you wear depends not only on your preference and taste but also on how the
camera sees your clothing. Because the camera can look at you from extremely close
range or from a distance, you need to consider the overall line of your clothes as well
as the texture and the accessories.
The video camera has a tendency to add a few pounds. Clothing that is cut to a
slim silhouette usually looks more favorable than something loose and baggy. Avoid
horizontal stripes; they emphasize width instead of length and make you look wider
around the middle.
Texture and Detail
Because of the frequent close-ups in video and the extremely sharp image of the
high-definition television (HDTV) camera, you need to pay special attention to
texture and detail. Textured material and ties look better than plain so long as the
texture is not too busy or contrasting. Even the best video cameras have a difficult
time handling closely spaced and highly contrasting patterns, such as black-andwhite herringbone weaves or checks. The electronic scanning of the video image
can’t accommodate the frequency of the high-contrast pattern, causing the camera
to create a new, highly distracting frequency that shows up on-screen as vibrating
rainbow colors and patterns, called a moiré effect.
Prominent, high-contrast horizontal stripes may also extend beyond the clothing fabric and bleed through surrounding sets and objects as though you were
superimposing venetian blinds. On the other hand, extremely fine detail in a pattern will either look busy or, more likely, show up on-screen as smudges even on
high-definition video.
You can always provide the necessary texture by adding such details as jewelry
or a tie or scarf. Although you will undoubtedly prefer wearing jewelry that you like,
refrain from overly large or too many pieces. Too much tends to look gaudy on a
close-up, even if the jewelry is of high quality.
Color
Again, the colors you select are not entirely up to you but must fulfill certain technical requirements. If the set you work in is primarily beige, a beige dress or suit will
certainly get lost in it. Avoid wearing blue if you are part of a chroma-key effect that
uses blue as the backdrop. The chroma-key process renders transparent everything
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MAKEUP
blue and lets the background show through. If you wear a tie or suit whose blue color
is similar to that of the chroma-key backdrop, you will see the keyed background
image in place of the clothing. Of course, if the chroma-key color is green, you can
wear blue but not green.
Although you may like red, most video cameras—and especially home television sets—don’t. Even fairly good video cameras may show highly saturated reds as
vibrating and bleeding into other areas. Such video problems, called artifacts, are
especially noticeable in low-light conditions. But even if the camera can handle the
brilliant red of your dress or sweater, your home receiver will most likely display
vibration or bleeding effects.
Most high-quality cameras, especially HDTV cameras, can tolerate a relatively
high brightness contrast. But, again, you will make the lives of the lighting director
and the VO much easier if you reduce the contrast of your clothing.
You should therefore avoid wearing colors of high-contrast brightness, such as
dark blue and white, or black and white. If you wear a black jacket over a reflecting
white shirt, the camera or the video operator (VO) does not know whether to adjust
for the high brightness values of the white or the low values of the black. If the VO
tries to lighten the black areas to see some shadow detail, the white areas become
overexposed and begin to “bloom.” If the VO tries to control the overly bright areas
to show more picture detail, the shadows become uniformly dense. Your skin tones
will also get a few shades darker. Obviously, if you are a dark-skinned performer, you
should not wear a starched white shirt. If you wear a dark suit, reduce the brightness
contrast by wearing a pastel shirt rather than a white one.
This contrast problem is especially noticeable when the camcorder is on automatic iris. The auto-iris will seek out the brightest spot in the picture and close down
the aperture to bring this excess light under control. As a consequence all other
picture areas darken accordingly. If, for example, you wear a brilliantly white jacket
while standing in front of a relatively dark restaurant set, the auto-iris will close to
darken the brightness of the jacket and, unfortunately, the already dark set as well.
What you will get is a properly exposed jacket in front of an underlighted set.
MAKEUP
All makeup is used for three reasons: to enhance appearance, to correct appearance,
and to change appearance.
Most video productions require makeup that accentuates the features rather
than changes them. For female performers, normal makeup does just fine oncamera; male performers may need some makeup primarily to reduce the light
reflections off the forehead or bald spots and perhaps to cover some wrinkles and
skin blemishes. In both cases, makeup must be adjusted to the technical requirements of the HDTV camera and the scrutiny of the close-up.
Technical Requirements
The video camera prefers warmer (more reddish) makeup colors over cooler (more
bluish) ones. Especially under high-color-temperature lighting (outdoor or fluorescent lighting, which is bluish), bluish red lipsticks and eye shadow look unnaturally
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Makeup is used to
enhance, correct, and
change appearance.
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C O N C E P T
Apply makeup under lights
that have the same color
temperature as those in
the performance area.
TA L E N T, C LO T H I N G , A N D M A K E U P
blue. Warm makeup colors, with their reddish tint, look more natural and provide
sparkle, especially on dark skin.
Regardless of whether you are a dark-skinned or light-skinned performer, you
should use foundation makeup that matches your natural skin color. This foundation
is available in various types of cake makeup. If you perspire readily, you should use a
generous amount of foundation; although it won’t prevent your perspiration, it will
make it less visible to the camera. Too much cake makeup, however, will make your
face look pasty, especially when the lighting is rather flat (slow falloff ).
Because you will be seen on a close-up, your makeup must be smooth and subtle.
This requirement is the reverse of theatrical makeup, which you need to exaggerate
as much as possible for the spectators sitting some distance from the stage. Good
video makeup should accentuate your features but remain invisible, even on an
HDTV close-up.
If possible, check your makeup on-camera: have the camera take a close-up of
you in the performance area. You may consider this method a frivolously expensive
mirror, but it will benefit you during the performance.
Always apply makeup under the lighting conditions of the performance area. If
you apply your makeup in a room that has bluish fluorescent (high-color-temperature
5,600K) lights and then perform under normal studio lights (with a lower color temperature of 3,200K), your makeup will be excessively reddish and your face will look
pink. The opposite is true if you apply your makeup under lights with the indoor
standard of 3,200K and then move into a location that is illuminated with the outdoor
standard of 5,600K: your makeup will look unnaturally bluish.
If you need to use makeup to change your appearance, enlist the services of a
professional makeup artist.
Materials
You can easily find a great variety of excellent makeup materials for video. Most
large drugstores carry the basics for improving a performer’s appearance. Women
performers are generally experienced in using cosmetic materials and techniques;
men may, at least initially, need some advice.
The most basic makeup item is the foundation that covers minor skin blemishes
and cuts down light reflections from oily skin. Water-based cake makeup foundations
are preferred over the more cumbersome grease-based foundations. The Kryolan
cake series is probably all you need for most makeup jobs. The colors range from a
warm light ivory for light-skinned performers to a very dark tone for dark-skinned
performers. For critical makeup in digital movie making, you may try Kryolan’s HD
micro foundation, which is sprayed on and looks smooth even in an extreme CU
with a digital cinema camera.
Women can use their own lipsticks or rouge, so long as the reds do not contain
too much blue. Other materials, such as eyebrow pencils, mascara, and eye shadow,
are generally part of every performer’s makeup kit. Additional materials, such as
hairpieces or even latex masks, are part of the professional makeup artist’s inventory.
They are of little use in most nondramatic productions.
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MAKEUP
Regardless of whether you will be on-camera as a reporter, a performer, or an
actor, a solid knowledge of basic video production techniques will aid you greatly
not only when working behind the camera but also when working in front of it. In
fact, talent who know basic production techniques seem more relaxed in front of the
camera and more prepared to cope gracefully with the technical commotion and the
unexpected problems while on the air than performers who know little or nothing
about video production. Likewise, knowing how to perform and act in front of the
camera will make you a better behind-the-camera production person. As a director,
such knowledge is essential.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Talent
Talent are people who work in front of the camera. Talent include performers, who are
primarily engaged in nondramatic activities, and actors, who portray someone else.
▶ Performing Techniques
The performer must imagine the video camera as his or her communication partner, keep
eye contact with the lens when addressing the viewer directly, handle the microphone for
optimal sound pickup, and use prompting devices discreetly, without making the viewer
aware of it.
▶ Close-ups
When on a close-up (CU), move slowly and keep all gestures small.
▶ Prompting Devices
In addition to the floor manager’s cues, the major prompting devices are the I.F.B.
(interruptible foldback or feedback) system, the studio or field teleprompter, and cue cards.
▶ Cues
Always respond promptly to the floor manager’s cues.
▶ Acting Techniques
Good video actors learn how to work well within a highly technical environment, adjust to
frequent close-ups, and repeat certain actions in the same way and with the same intensity.
▶ Blocking
Meticulously follow the rehearsed blocking during each take. If you can’t see the camera
lens, you won’t be in the shot.
▶ Clothing
On-camera clothing should have a slim silhouette, with textures and colors that are
not too busy or contrasting. The camera does not like closely spaced, high-contrast
herringbone weaves or checks and highly saturated reds.
▶ Makeup
Makeup is used to enhance, correct, and change appearance. Always apply makeup
under lights that have the same color temperature as those in the performance area.
17
C H A P T E R
K E Y
T E R M S
angle The particular approach to a story—its central theme.
blocking Carefully worked-out positioning, movement, and
actions by the talent and for all mobile video equipment
used in a scene.
camera rehearsal Full rehearsal with cameras and other pieces
of production equipment. Often identical to the dress
rehearsal.
dry run Rehearsal without equipment, during which the basic
actions of the talent are worked out. Also called blocking
rehearsal.
fact sheet Script format that lists the items to be shown oncamera and their main features. May contain suggestions of
what to say about the product. Also called rundown sheet.
multicamera directing Simultaneous coordination of two or
more cameras for instantaneous editing (switching). Also
called control room directing and live-switched directing.
news script Fully scripted text with video information on pageleft and news copy on page-right. The copy (spoken text)
can also be in a large center column that also contains
some additional information.
program objective The desired effect of the program on
the viewer.
script Written document that tells what the program is about,
who says what, what is supposed to happen, and what and
how the audience will see and hear the event.
shot The smallest convenient operational unit in video and film,
usually the interval between two transitions. In cinema it
may refer to a specific camera setup.
shot sheet A list of every shot a particular camera has to get.
It is attached to the camera to help the camera operator
remember a shot sequence.
single-camera directing Directing a single camera (usually a
camcorder) in the studio or field for takes that are recorded
separately for postproduction.
single-column drama script Traditional script format for television plays. All dialogue and action cues are written in a
single column.
take Any one of similar repeated shots taken during videorecording and filming.
time line A breakdown of time blocks for various activities on
the actual production day, such as crew call, setup, and
camera rehearsal.
trim handles Recording additional footage before and after the
major shot content for precise editing. Also called pads.
two-column A/V script Traditional script format with video
information (V) on page-left and audio information (A)
on page-right for a variety of television scripts, such as for
documentaries or commercials. Also called two-column
documentary script.
visualization The mental image of a shot. May also include
the imagining of verbal and nonverbal sounds. Mentally
converting a scene into a number of key video images and
their sequence.
walk-through/camera rehearsal A combination of an orientation session for talent and crew and a follow-up rehearsal
with full equipment. This combination rehearsal is generally conducted from the studio floor.
Putting It All Together:
Directing
Directing is where everything you have learned so far comes together. The job
description is relatively simple: all you need to do is tell people behind and in front of
the camera what to do and how to do it. The difficulty is that you must know exactly
what you want them to do before you can direct them to do it.
Of course, reading about directing or listening to somebody explain it can take you
only so far. The real test is when you sit in the control room and literally call the shots.
Once you feel comfortable with directing multiple cameras from the control room,
you can adjust relatively easily to single-camera directing—from the studio control
room or in the field.
Before you dash into directing by reserving cameras, drawing a storyboard, and marking
up a script, you must ask yourself what the intended program is all about. Recall the
discussion from chapter 1 about the production model: moving from the idea to the
desired effect on the viewer, then backing up to the specific medium requirements
to achieve the program objective. Fortunately, most scripts and program proposals
state the program objective as the goal or purpose on the cover page or in the general
introduction to the project.
You should also be clear about the angle with which the topic is approached. The angle
of the program—its central theme and major storytelling approach or framework—is
often buried in the script itself. The angle is usually provided by the writer or producer,
but it is sometimes up to you, the director, to find one.
Now it is time to learn about the various script formats, how to visualize and “hear” the
scripted information as video and audio images, and finally how to coordinate your
team to accomplish the actual production steps efficiently and reliably.
▶ SCRIPT FORMATS
Fact, or rundown, sheet; news script; two-column A/V script; and single-column
drama script
▶ VISUALIZATION
Visualization of image, sound, context, and sequence
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▶ PREPARING FOR A MULTICAMERA STUDIO PRODUCTION
Floor plan, talent blocking, camera positions, and script marking
▶ CONTROL ROOM DIRECTING
Terminology, time line, rehearsals, and directing the show
▶ SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
Differences between multicamera and single-camera studio directing, and directing
a single-camera production in the field
SCRIPT FORMATS
The script interprets the show idea into what the viewers should actually see and
hear when watching the program. It is similar to a recipe in that it lists the major
ingredients of the program and how they must be mixed to get the desired result. In
the language of the production model, the script helps you translate the program
objective into specific medium requirements. Although you may not aspire to be a
scriptwriter, as a director you must be familiar with the basic script formats used
in video production so that you can make this translation process as efficient and
effective as possible.
Despite considerable variations, there are four basic script formats for video
productions: the fact, or rundown, sheet; the news script; the two-column A/V script;
and the single-column drama script.
Fact, or Rundown, Sheet
The fact sheet format is used for simple demonstrations by a show host. Also called a
rundown sheet, it normally lists the major features of a product that the host should
mention, although the presentation itself is ad-libbed. The director may write in the
cameras used for the demonstration, but the cutting from one to the other depends
on the host’s actions. SEE 17.1
News Script
The only thing the news scripts from different newsrooms have in common is that
they are, more or less, two-column. In a news script format, every word spoken by
the news anchor is fully scripted. You may find news scripts that have two equally
sized columns: The right column contains the spoken news copy plus the out-cues of
the words of prerecorded segments. The left column contains cues to who is talking;
the name, number, and length of the prerecorded clips, C.G. (character generator)
copy, and effects; some shot designations; and whether the prerecorded insert is
to be played with a voice-over (VO) of the anchor describing what is happening on
the video insert or with SOS (sound on source)1 or SOT (sound on tape)—the actual
sounds that are recorded on the sound track of the news package. At other times,
the news copy takes center-stage and is written as a single-column text, with the
non-text information squeezed into a narrow left margin column or embedded in
1. The term sound on source was suggested by television producer Phil Sigmund to adapt to a tapeless video operation.
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S C R I P T F O R M AT S
17.1 FACT SHEET
Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0 DVD-ROM COMMERCIAL
SHOW:
DATE:
PROPS:
Desktop computer running Zettl’s VideoLab 3.0.
VideoLab package with disc as hand props.
FEATURES TO BE STRESSED:
1.
New multimedia product by Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
2.
Sensational success.
3.
Was nominated for prestigious Codie Award.
4.
Designed for both the production novice and the video
professional.
5.
Truly interactive. Provides you with a video studio in your
home. Easy to use.
6.
You can proceed at your own speed and test your progress at
any time.
7.
Will operate on both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
8.
Special introductory offer. Expires Oct. 20. Hurry. Available
from all major software and bookstores. For more information
or the dealer nearest you, visit www.academic.cengage.com.
the center column. In the latter case, the non-text information is clearly separated
from the spoken copy by lines and/or a different typeface. SEE 17.2
A news package is a brief, prerecorded, self-contained story by the field reporter
that is inserted into the newscast after the news anchor’s lead-in. There are usually
several packages in a newscast.
What news writers don’t seem to agree on is just how to format the audio column. Many use uppercase letters for the spoken words, but some prefer upper-/
lowercase letters; others use a combination of both. Reading from a printed page
seems easier to do when the copy is in upper- and lowercase letters. When using a
teleprompter, however, the all-caps copy seems easier to read than an upper- and
lowercase script. In fact, some of the larger news services change all types of news
scripts into an all-caps format when used as teleprompter copy.
Two-column A/V Script
The two-column A/V (audio/visual) script is also called the two-column documentary script or, simply, documentary format, although it may be used for a variety
of nondramatic programs, such as interviews, cooking shows, or commercials. In
a two-column A/V script, the left column contains all the video information, and
The fact, or rundown, sheet
lists the major points of
what the talent is to do and
show. The talent ad-libs the
demonstration, and the
director follows the talent’s
actions. No specific audio or
video cues are listed.
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KHZV NOON NEWS 04/16
SFX bumper
JODEE O/C (on-camera)
IS SILICON VALLEY IN TROUBLE? YESTERDAY,
CU
PROFESSOR JOSEPH ALEXANDER OF THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY UNVEILED HIS
SUPERCOMPUTER IN HIS PHYSICS LAB. INSTEAD
OF SILICON CHIPS, ITS PROCESSOR IS BUILT
ENTIRELY OF NANOTUBES. NONOTUBES WILL MAKE
OUR FASTEST COMPUTERS SEEM LIKE DINOSAURS,
SAYS ALEXANDER.
Server 04
File 147 (1:02)
JODEE VO
TEN YEARS OF INTENSIVE RESEARCH HAVE FINALLY
PAID OFF FOR THE ALEXANDER RESEARCH TEAM AT
BERKELEY. THEIR NEW SUPERCOMPUTER IS ABOUT THE
SIZE OF A MATCHBOX AND A THOUSAND TIMES FASTER
THAN THE BEST THAT SILICON VALLEY CAN MUSTER.
Package 1
IN-CUE: “The secret is nanotubes . . .”
Sound on source
Server 02
File 12
JODEE O/C
(0:27)
OUT-CUE: “. . . will make silicon chips
totally obsolete.”
PROFESSOR ALEXANDER THINKS THAT THIS IS ONLY
THE BEGINNING . . .
(more--more--more)
17.2 NEWS SCRIPT
In this two-column news script format, the left margin contains such production information as who
is on-camera, the type and the length of the video inserts, and special effects. The right or center
column shows every word to be spoken by the newscaster as well as the audio in- and out-cues of the
video-recorded inserts.
the right column lists all the audio information. SEE 17.3 Review the content of this
script as well, as it is the basis of your control-room directing assignment later in
this chapter. ZVL1 PROCESS Ideas scripts
Note that all audio cues in the audio column, including the names of the talent
speaking the lines, are in uppercase letters. All spoken words are in upper-/lowercase
style. The instructions in the video column use both upper- and lowercase. Some
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S C R I P T F O R M AT S
LIGHT AND SHADOWS Series
Program No. 4: High- and Low-key Lighting
VIDEO
AUDIO
VR standard opening
SOS
Mary on camera
MARY
Hi, I’m Mary, your LD. Today I will
show the differences between high-key
and low-key lighting. No, high-key and
low-key has nothing to do with how
high or low the key light hangs but
rather with how much light is on the
scene. High-key has plenty of light on
the scene. Low-key uses only a few
instruments to illuminate specific
areas. But high- and low-key make us
feel differently about a situation.
Let’s watch.
Susan sitting on bench
waiting for bus
OPEN MICS. SFX: DISTANT TRAFFIC SOUNDS.
OCCASIONAL CARS GOING BY.
Key titles
John walks to telephone
Freeze-frame
SFX OUT - MARY (VO)
This is a high-key scene. It is obviously
daylight. There is plenty of light on
the set with fairly prominent shadows.
But the faces of the people have enough
fill light to slow down the falloff and
make the attached shadows transparent.
Now let’s see what John and Susan are
up to.
17.3 TWO-COLUMN A/V SCRIPT
In the two-column A/V (audio/video) script format, the left column contains all the video information,
and the right column shows all the audio information. The dialogue or narration is fully scripted.
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VIDEO
AUDIO
John by the phone,
SFX: DISTANT TRAFFIC SOUNDS.
looking for change
OCCASIONAL CARS GOING BY.
John approaches bench
JOHN
Excuse me. Could you please change a
five-dollar bill? I need to make a
call and . . .
Susan gets up and walks
toward curb
SUSAN
No!
Freeze-frame
MARY (VO)
Oops. They don’t seem to be hitting it
off too well. In the meantime, note
that the high light level helps give
the scene a great depth of field.
Although Susan and John are relatively
far apart on the z-axis, they are both
in sharp focus. Sorry about the
interruption. Let’s see how this plot
develops.
CU John
JOHN
I didn’t mean to startle you. But I
really need to make this call. You
wouldn’t have a cell phone I could
borrow?
Susan studies the bus
schedule; she looks
through her purse
SUSAN
No, I am sorry.
17.3 TWO-COLUMN A/V SCRIPT (continued)
369
S C R I P T F O R M AT S
VIDEO
AUDIO
CU John
JOHN
You wouldn’t use pepper spray on me,
would you?
Susan moves to the lamp
post; John steps closer
SFX: BUS APPROACHES AND STOPS
POLICE SIREN COMING CLOSER
SUSAN
I'm not so sure . . .
Susan boards the bus
SFX: BUS PULLS AWAY
JOHN
Thanks a lot.
The scene will be repeated under low-key lighting. Mary now comments over the
freeze-frames on the specifics of low-key lighting. She emphasizes the change in how
we feel about the situation under high-key and low-key lighting.
Mary O/C
MARY
I would certainly prefer to have John
ask me for change in the high-key scene
than in this low-key scene. Wouldn’t
you? With all those ominous cast shadows
around and such sparse street lighting,
I wouldn’t have taken a chance with him
either. Poor John!
Freeze-frame of
MUSIC
low-key scene
Closing credits
Fade to black
17.3 TWO-COLUMN A/V SCRIPT (continued)
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scriptwriters maintain the all-caps convention because these words are not spoken.
Because upper-/lowercase lettering is much easier to read, however, you will find
that most scripts use that style for the video column.
Partial two-column A/V script If there is considerable ad-libbing to be done by
the talent, the audio column indicates only who is speaking and the general topic;
such a script is generally called a partial two-column A/V script. SEE 17.4 This partial
A/V script format is often used for instructional shows, even if they contain some
dramatic scenes.
VIDEO
AUDIO
CU of Katy
KATY
But the debate about forest fires is
still going on. If we let the fire
burn itself out, we lose valuable
timber and kill countless animals, not
to speak of the danger to property and
the people who live there. Where do
you stand, Dr. Hough?
CU of Dr. Hough
DR. HOUGH
(SAYS THAT THIS IS TRUE BUT THAT
THE ANIMALS USUALLY GET OUT UNHARMED
AND THAT THE BURNED UNDERBRUSH
STIMULATES NEW GROWTH.)
Cut to two-shot of
Katy and Dr. Hough
KATY
Couldn’t this be done through
controlled burning?
DR. HOUGH
(SAYS YES BUT THAT IT WOULD COST TOO
MUCH AND THAT THERE WOULD STILL BE
FOREST FIRES TO CONTEND WITH.)
17.4 PARTIAL TWO-COLUMN A/V SCRIPT
The partial two-column A/V script shows all the video information in the left column but only
partial dialogue or narration in the right column. The questions are usually fully scripted, but the
answers are paraphrased.
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V I S U A L I Z AT I O N
Single-column Drama Script
The single-column drama script format contains the complete dialogue, narration over video, and all major action cues in one column. SEE 17.5 As you can see,
all names of characters (“ALAN” and “VICKY”) and audio cues (“THEME #2”) are
in uppercase letters. All spoken dialogue (or narration over a scene) is in upper-/
lowercase. Specific delivery cues (“surprised”) and directions (“getting an extra chair
for Alan”) are also in upper-/lowercase but are clearly isolated from the dialogue
either by double-spacing or by parentheses or brackets. You will, however, find
scripts in which these instructions are in all-caps. The specific descriptions of shots
are omitted and usually left for the director to add in the visualization and script
preparation phases.
VISUALIZATION
Take just a moment and pretend that you see your mother on television. Just how
do you picture her? In a close-up (CU) or a medium shot (MS)? Seated or moving
around? Do you see her indoors or out? What is she wearing? What is she doing?
Reading? Getting ready for work? Cooking? Sweeping the front steps? Now imagine
your dream car. What color is it? Is it parked in your garage or tearing up a winding
country road? What sounds do you hear in these scenes?
What you just did is called visualization. In video production visualization
means creating a mental image of a shot or a sequence of shots. A shot is the smallest convenient operational unit in video and film, usually the interval between two
transitions. In a wider sense, visualization also includes imagining the sounds that
go with the pictures. For the director visualization is an indispensable preproduction tool.
Image If the script gives you only general visualization cues, such as “young
woman waiting at the bus stop” or “bus stop in an isolated part of town,” you need
to fill in the details to make a specific person out of the “young woman” and to give
the bus stop a certain look (refer to the script in figure 17.3). You would certainly
have different visualizations if the scene were to take place at midday than if it were
played on a deserted street at night. Providing such details is an important part of
the director’s job.
Sound Though you may find it difficult at first, you should always try to “hear”
the sounds simultaneously with the pictures you are visualizing. For example, what
sounds do you imagine at a brightly lit bus stop scene and at a dimly lit one? You
probably think of different sounds in the two scenes. Assuming that you will support
the lighting shifts with audio, we should probably hear more traffic sounds in the
daytime scene than in the nighttime one. But the few traffic sounds in the low-key
scene should be more penetrating. Similarly, we should hear the steps of the person
approaching the young woman much more distinctly (higher volume) in the nighttime scene than in the daytime one. If music is used, the nighttime scene should
have ominous music and, for good measure, be mixed with a faint police siren. It is
usually easier to establish the emotional context of a shot or scene with the sound
track than with the video.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
The four basic script
formats are the fact, or
rundown, sheet; the news
script; the two-column
A/V script; and the singlecolumn drama script.
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SCENE 6
SKY ROOM. TABLE BY THE BANDSTAND.
THEME #2
We hear the last bars of dance music. The band is taking a break.
ALAN and YOLANDA are coming back to their table to join STUART, who
has been watching them dance. During their dance, VICKY joined STUART
and is now sitting in ALAN’S chair.
ALAN
(surprised)
You’re sitting in my chair.
VICKY
Oh, it’s YOUR chair? No wonder it felt so good.
But I didn’t see any name on it. You know--reserved
for . . . what’s your name again?
ALAN
Alan.
VICKY
Alan who?
ALAN
Alan Frank . . . like in frank!
VICKY
Reserved for Mr. Alan Frank!
STUART
Dr. Alan Frank.
VICKY
Oh, DOCTOR! What are you a doctor of?
STUART
(getting an extra chair for Alan)
He’s a doctor of philosophy.
VICKY
(laughing)
A doctor of philosophy? You look like one!
17.5 SINGLE-COLUMN DRAMA SCRIPT
The single-column drama script contains every word of characters’ dialogue and occasional descriptions
of their major actions.
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P R E PA R I N G F O R A M U LT I C A M E R A S T U D I O P R O D U C T I O N
Context Besides the program objective and the angle, your visualization is ultimately determined by the prevailing context in which a scene plays. For example,
in the nighttime scene you would probably work with more tight close-ups of the
young woman and have the man approach her more aggressively. But even if you
kept the shots pretty much the same for both lighting scenes, the sound tracks could
readily establish their different contexts.
Sequence Your visualization must include not only the key shots but also a shot
sequence. Unless you are dealing with a static setup and little camera movement,
such as in news or studio interviews, your visualization must include how to get
from one shot to the next. This is where your knowledge of vectors and the mental
map comes in handy. A good storyboard can also be of great help in planning shots
and sequencing. As you recall from chapter 12, the storyboard shows a number of
carefully framed shots and their sequence (see figure 12.17). Such a sequence illustration is especially important for maintaining shot continuity when shooting out
of sequence for postproduction editing.
But even in seemingly simple directing assignments, such as video-recording the
monthly campus report by the college president, shot continuity must be foremost
in your mind. Recall from chapter 13 how to preserve continuity when somebody
misreads a word during a recording session. This advice is important enough to be
repeated here. If, for example, the college president mispronounces a name, stop
the video recorder (VR) and inform her of the problem. Do not resume the recording
just before the mistake was made; ask her to go back to a point where a new idea—a
new paragraph—is introduced. You can then start with a different camera angle or a
tighter or looser shot, or have her look up from her notes, thus making the edit look
natural and properly motivated.
A good rule is to keep your visualization simple. Don’t be afraid to use conventional approaches; they are conventions because they have proved effective.
As pointed out earlier, there is nothing wrong with a steady close-up of a “talking
head” so long as the head talks well and has something worthwhile to say. Using
conventional approaches is different from stereotyping, which deliberately seeks out
event details that reinforce prejudices. Creativity in directing does not mean doing
everything differently from all other directors; it means adding subtle touches that
intensify your message and give your visualization personality.
PREPARING FOR A MULTICAMERA
STUDIO PRODUCTION
With your understanding of the program objective and the angle, you must now
interpret the script for its medium requirements. This implies visualizing the shots;
working out major talent and equipment positions and moves, or blocking; and
marking the script with cues to the talent and the crew.
Unless you are directing soap operas or dramatic specials right away, most of
your initial directing assignments will not involve complicated shots or the blocking of complex scenes. More often you will have to coordinate where an interview
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A storyboard helps
translate the director’s key
visualizations into effective
shots and shot sequences.
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Brick
flat
Bushes
Newspaper rack
Pay
phone
Bench
Trash can
Streetlight
Bus schedule
17.6 BUS STOP FLOOR PLAN
This floor plan shows the principal scenery and props for simulating a bus stop.
set should be located for optimal lighting, making sure that the audio is functioning
properly and that the cameras are positioned for the best shots. Nevertheless, let’s
revisit the lighting-show script of the bus stop scene (figure 17.3); it is a bit more
complicated than setting up an interview, but it will help you learn to read a floor
plan, block talent and cameras, and mark a script.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
A floor plan specifies
the studio set and the
set props, facilitates
the blocking of talent
and cameras, and
helps determine the
basic lighting and
audio requirements.
Reading the floor plan A floor plan will greatly assist you in visualizing key
shots, determining the lighting and audio requirements, and blocking the talent
and the cameras. Let’s take a brief look at the floor plan sketch for the bus stop
scenes. SEE 17.6
This bus stop floor plan will make your job relatively easy. You have four major
action areas: Susan’s bench, John’s telephone, the bus stop sign and schedule, and
the streetlight. Both cameras can be positioned for z-axis blocking of John and Susan in the bench and streetlight areas. The four areas offer a good opportunity for
demonstrating selective low-key lighting. The audio is best handled by two wireless lavaliers, which eliminates any problems with unwanted shadows during the
low-key scene.
Blocking the talent Although the script has already given you basic visualization
and action cues, such as “Susan sitting on bench” and “John walks to telephone,”
you need to be specific about exactly where on the bench Susan will sit and just
where John will be at the pay phone. You can probably come up with several blocking ideas, but try to keep them simple. According to the program objective, you
are not demonstrating clever blocking but the difference between high-key and
low-key lighting. SEE 17.7
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P R E PA R I N G F O R A M U LT I C A M E R A S T U D I O P R O D U C T I O N
John
Susan
C-2
C-1
17.7 TALENT BLOCKING AND CAMERA POSITIONS
With a floor plan, the director can block the major moves of the talent and the cameras.
Positioning the cameras Note that whenever possible you should block the talent
first, then place the available cameras in optimal shooting positions. This will achieve
a more natural flow than if you move the talent to accommodate the cameras. Of
course, there are many circumstances in which camera positions are established
before you can do any talent blocking. Don’t forget that you are essentially blocking
for the cameras, not for a stage performance. In your current directing assignment,
two cameras should be sufficient. Both are positioned to cover z-axis blocking and
effective over-the-shoulder shots (see figure 17.7). With minor reblocking you could
even do this scene with a single camera.
Marking the script Unless you have a photographic memory, you need to mark
your script for multicamera directing. Although there is no universal standard for
marking a script, over the years certain conventions have been developed that make
the job easier. The key to good script marking is to keep it consistent and to a minimum. Because every command should have a ready or standby cue preceding it, you
don’t need to mark the ready cues. A circled number 2 not only designates camera
2 but also implies the “Ready 2” cue. The worst thing you can do is overmark your
script: While you are trying to read all your scribbles, you won’t be able to watch
the preview monitors or listen to the audio. Before you know it, the talent is a page
or two ahead of you. As you can see in the next figure, some of the cues that were
included in the script are reinforced, but most of the other essential cues are marked
by the director. SEE 17.8
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LIGHT AND SHADOWS Series
Program No. 4: High- and Low-key Lighting
VIDEO
AUDIO
VR standard opening
SOS
Mary on camera
MARY
Hi, I’m Mary, your LD. Today I will
show the differences between high-key
and low-key lighting. No, high-key and
low-key has nothing to do with how
high or low the key light hangs but
rather with how much light is on the
scene. High-key has plenty of light on
the scene. Low-key uses only a few
instruments to illuminate specific
areas. But high- and low-key make us
feel differently about a situation.
Let’s watch.
Susan sitting on bench
waiting for bus
OPEN MICS. SFX: DISTANT TRAFFIC SOUNDS.
OCCASIONAL CARS GOING BY.
Key titles
John walks to telephone
Freeze-frame
SFX OUT - MARY (VO)
This is a high-key scene. It is obviously
daylight. There is plenty of light on
the set with fairly prominent shadows.
But the faces of the people have enough
fill light to slow down the falloff and
make the attached shadows transparent.
Now let’s see what John and Susan are
up to.
17.8 MARKED SCRIPT
This script has been marked by the director. Note that the markings for the field of view (how close
a shot appears) are written in by the director, not the scriptwriter. Many script-marking symbols
have become standardized, but you can use your own so long as you are consistent. The ready cues
are not written but implied.
P R E PA R I N G F O R A M U LT I C A M E R A S T U D I O P R O D U C T I O N
VIDEO
AUDIO
John by the phone,
SFX: DISTANT TRAFFIC SOUNDS.
looking for change
OCCASIONAL CARS GOING BY.
John approaches bench
JOHN
Excuse me. Could you please change a
five-dollar bill? I need to make a
call and . . .
Susan gets up and walks
toward curb
SUSAN
No!
Freeze-frame
MARY (VO)
Oops. They don’t seem to be hitting it
off too well. In the meantime, note
that the high light level helps give
the scene a great depth of field.
Although Susan and John are relatively
far apart on the z-axis, they are both
in sharp focus. Sorry about the
interruption. Let’s see how this plot
develops.
CU John
JOHN
I didn’t mean to startle you. But I
really need to make this call. You
wouldn’t have a cell phone I could
borrow?
Susan studies the bus
schedule; she looks
through her purse.
SUSAN
No, I am sorry.
17.8 MARKED SCRIPT (continued)
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VIDEO
AUDIO
CU John
JOHN
You wouldn’t use pepper spray on me,
would you?
Susan moves to the lamp
post; John steps closer
SFX: BUS APPROACHES AND STOPS
POLICE SIREN COMING CLOSER
SUSAN
I'm not so sure . . .
Susan boards the bus
SFX: BUS PULLS AWAY
JOHN
Thanks a lot.
The scene will be repeated under low-key lighting. Mary now comments over the
freeze-frames on the specifics of low-key lighting. She emphasizes the change in how
we feel about the situation under high-key and low-key lighting.
Mary O/C
MARY
I would certainly prefer to have John
ask me for change in the high-key scene
than in this low-key scene. Wouldn’t
you? With all those ominous cast shadows
around and such sparse street lighting,
I wouldn’t have taken a chance with him
either. Poor John!
Freeze-frame of
MUSIC
low-key scene
Closing credits
Fade to black
17.8 MARKED SCRIPT (continued)
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17.9 SHOT SHEET
C2
Shot #
1
3
5
Shot
MS Mary
CU John by phone
CU John
7
CU Susan’s purse
9
2-shot Susan walks
past camera
12
This shot sheet shows the
shot sequence for camera 2.
MS Mary
Make the markings big enough that you can see them clearly in the dark control
room. Try to keep all the camera markings in one row so you can easily grasp the
sequencing cues without having to read all the lines. If there are many shots, you
should number them in ascending order as they occur in the script. You can then
prepare a shot sheet for each camera. SEE 17.9 Don’t number the shots for each
camera with 1, 2, 3, etc. Rather, copy the shot number that you assigned each camera
in the script.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Keep your script marks
to a minimum and make
them big enough for
easy recognition.
CONTROL ROOM DIRECTING
Now you are ready to step into the studio to rehearse before going into the control
room and video-recording the show. To communicate effectively with talent and
crew and to make efficient use of your assigned time, you now must learn about the
director’s terminology, the time line, directing rehearsals, standby procedures, and
on-the-air procedures.
Terminology
Most of the director’s commands and cues have become pretty well standardized.
The following five tables introduce you to the basic visualization, sequencing, specialeffects, audio, and video-recording cues. SEE 17.10–17.14
Time Line
All studio productions must be done within a tight time frame. The overall production schedule, which lists the deadlines for the production, is usually prepared by
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
Keep your terminology
consistent.
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17.10 DIRECTOR’S VISUALIZATION CUES
The visualization cues are directions for the camera to achieve certain shots. Some of these
visualizations can be achieved in postproduction (such as an electronic zoom through digital
magnification), but they are much more easily done with proper camera handling.
ACTION
DIRECTOR’S CUE
To reveal what is in the upper
off-screen space or to increase headroom
Tilt up.
To reveal what is in the lower
off-screen space or to decrease headroom
Tilt down.
To center an object
Center it.
To reveal right off-screen space
Pan right.
To reveal left off-screen space
Pan left.
To raise the camera height
Pedestal up.
or:
Boom up. [with a jib or crane]
To lower the camera height
Pedestal down.
or:
Boom down. [with a jib or crane]
To move the camera closer
Dolly in.
To move the camera farther away
Dolly out.
To move the camera in a slight left curve
Arc left.
To move the camera in a slight right curve
Arc right.
To zoom to a tighter shot
Zoom in.
or:
Push in.
To zoom to a looser shot
Zoom out.
or:
Pull out.
To move the camera to the left with the
lens pointing at the scene
Truck left.
To move the camera to the right with the
lens pointing at the scene
Truck right.
To tilt the camera sideways to the left
Cant left.
To tilt the camera sideways to the right
Cant right.
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17.11 DIRECTOR’S SEQUENCING CUES
The sequencing cues help get from one shot to the next. They include the major transitions.
ACTION
DIRECTOR’S CUE
Cut from camera 1 to camera 2
Ready two — take two.
Dissolve from camera 3 to camera 1
Ready one for dissolve—dissolve.
Horizontal wipe from camera 1
to camera 3
Ready three for horizontal wipe [over 1] — wipe.
or:
Ready effects number x [the number being specified by the switcher program] — effects.
Fade in camera 1 from black
Ready fade in one — fade in one.
or:
Ready up on one — up on one.
Fade out camera 2 to black
Ready black— go to black.
Short fade to black between
cameras 1 and 2
Ready cross-fade to two — cross-fade.
Cut between camera 1 and
clip 2 from server
Take clip two.
[Sometimes you simply call the server number. If , for example, the server is labeled 6, you say:
Ready six — take six.]
Cut between VR and C.G.
Ready C.G.— take C.G.
or:
Ready effects on C.G.— take effects.
Cut between C.G. titles
Ready change page—change page.
17.12 DIRECTOR’S SPECIAL-EFFECTS CUES
Special-effects cues are not always uniform, and, depending on the complexity of the effect, directors may invent their own
verbal shorthand. Whatever cues are used, they need to be standardized among the production team.
ACTION
DIRECTOR’S CUE
To super camera 1 over 2
Ready super one over two — super.
To return to camera 2
Ready to lose super— lose super.
or:
Ready to take out one — take out one.
To go to camera 1 from the super
Ready to go through to one—through to one.
To key the C.G. over the base picture on camera 1
Ready key C.G. [over 1]— key.
To key the studio card title on camera 1 over the
base picture on camera 2
Ready key one over two — key.
To have a wipe pattern appear over a picture, such as a
scene on camera 2, and replace a scene on camera 1
Ready two diamond wipe — wipe.
Many complicated effects are preset and stored in the computer program. The retrieval goes by numbers. All you do to activate a whole effects
sequence is call for the number: Ready effects eighty-seven—take effects.
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17.13 DIRECTOR’S AUDIO CUES
Audio cues involve cues for microphones, starting and stopping audio sources such as CD players, and integrating or
mixing those sources.
ACTION
DIRECTOR’S CUE
To activate a microphone in the studio
Ready to cue talent. [Or something more specific, like Mary —cue her.
The audio engineer will automatically open her mic.]
or:
Ready to cue Mary — open mic, cue her.
To start music
Ready music—music.
To bring the music under for an announcer
Ready to fade music under—music under, cue announcer.
To take the music out
Ready music out—music out.
or:
Fade music out.
To close the microphone in the studio (announcer’s
mic) and switch over to the sound on source, in this
case, a clip from the server
Ready SOS [sound on source]—close mic, track up.
or:
Ready SOS— SOS.
To roll an audio recording
(such as a clip or CD)
Ready audio recorder, clip two [or CD two].
Roll audio.
or:
Ready audio clip two— play.
To fade one sound source under and out
while simultaneously fading another in
(similar to a dissolve)
Ready cross-fade from [source] to [other source]—cross-fade.
To go from one sound source to another without
interruption (usually two pieces of music)
Ready segue from [source] to [other source]—segue.
To increase program speaker volume
for the director
Monitor up, please.
To play a sound effect from a CD
Ready CD cut x— play.
or:
Ready sound effect x— play.
To put slate information on the recording media (either
open floor manager’s mic or talkback patched to the VR)
Ready to read slate— read slate.
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17.14 DIRECTOR’S VIDEO-RECORDING CUES
These cues are used to stop or start the recording mechanism (VR, optical disc, hard drive, or video server), to slate a video
recording, and to switch to the recording output.
ACTION
DIRECTOR’S CUE
To start recording a program
Ready to roll VR one — roll VR one.
[Now you have to wait for the “in-record” or “speed” confirmation from
the VR operator.]
To “slate” the program after the VR is in the record
mode. The slate is on camera 2 or on the C.G.; the
opening scene is on camera 1. (We are assuming
that the color bars and the reference level audio
tone are already on the recording media.)
Ready two [or C.G.], ready to read slate—take two [or C.G.], read slate.
To put the opening 10-second beeper on
the audio track and fade in on camera 1.
(Do not forget to start your stopwatch
as soon as camera 1 fades in.)
Ready black, ready beeper — black, beeper.
Ten — nine — eight — seven — six — five —
four—three—two—cue Mary —up on one.
[Start your stopwatch.]
To stop the recording on a freeze-frame
Ready freeze—freeze.
To roll the recording out of a freeze-frame
Ready to roll VR three—roll VR three.
To roll the recording for a slow-motion effect
Ready VR four slo-mo—roll VR four.
or:
Ready VR four slo-mo — slo-mo four.
To roll a VR as a program insert while
you are on camera 2; sound is on source.
Assuming a 2-second roll.
Ready to roll VR three, SOS—roll VR three.
Two—one, take VR three, SOS.
If you do not use a countdown because of instant start, simply say:
Ready VR three, roll and take VR three.
[Start your stopwatch for timing the VR insert.]
To return from VR to camera and Mary
on camera 1. (Stop your watch and
reset it for the next insert.)
Ten seconds to one, five seconds to one.
Ready one, ready cue Mary— cue Mary, take one.
the producer. The time line for the single production day is your—the director’s—
responsibility; it assigns each production activity a block of time in which the specific
job must be accomplished. Initially, you will feel that the allotted time is much too
short to even get through the basic rehearsals, or you may allocate too much time
for one activity and too little for another. With some experience, however, you will
quickly learn how long the individual production activities take and what you can
accomplish in a certain period of time. The time line in the following figure allows
generous time blocks for your lighting-show assignment. SEE 17.15
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17.15 TIME LINE
The time line shows a breakdown of the major activities on the production day.
6:45 a.m.
Crew call
7:00–10:00 a.m.
Setup and lighting; dry run in rehearsal room
10:00–10:30 a.m.
Talent and crew meeting; trim lighting
10:30–11:30 a.m.
Camera and talent blocking in studio
11:30–11:45 a.m.
Notes and reset (correction of minor problems)
11:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Lunch
12:15–1:15 p.m.
Camera (dress) rehearsal
1:15–1:30 p.m.
Notes and reset
1:30–1:35 p.m.
Break
1:35–3:00 p.m.
Recording
3:00–3:30 p.m.
Spill (grace period to fix whatever needs fixing)
3:30–4:00 p.m.
Strike
Once you have a realistic time line, you must stick with it. Novice directors tend
to spend an inordinate amount of time polishing the first takes and then have to rush
through the better part of the show before having to clear the studio. (Recall that a
take is any one of similar repeated shots taken during video-recording and filming.)
When rehearsing, good directors move on to the next activity according to time line,
even if they are not quite done with the current one. They usually gain enough time
to pick up the skipped part at the end of the rehearsal.
Rehearsals
For most nondramatic shows, you probably need only two rehearsal methods: the
dry run and the walk-through/camera rehearsal. The best way to explain these two
methods is to apply them to your lighting-show assignment.
Dry run You use the dry run, or blocking rehearsal, to work out the basic actions
of the talent—where they stand and walk and what they do. If you have worked
out such blocking on the floor plan, you simply test your blocking schematic in a
real situation. Any room will do because you don’t need an actual set. You can use
masking tape on the floor to indicate the sidewalk and use chairs for the bench. For
CONTROL ROOM DIRECTING
the dry run of your lighting show, you could use three chairs for the bus stop bench,
another chair for the pay phone, a trashcan for the streetlight, and a fifth chair for
the sign with the bus schedule. Your eyes will substitute for the cameras.
Watch the blocking first from camera 1’s PoV (point of view), then from camera 2’s PoV. In a complicated scene, you may want to use a director’s viewfinder (an
optical device that is similar to a monocular with which you can set aspect ratios and
zoom lens positions) or a small camcorder to check the approximate shot framing.
Effective dry runs usually include some or all of the following points:
◾ Start with the more complicated blocking, but don’t get hung up on details.
In the lighting show, you can block Susan first, then John, then both of them.
If your time is limited, you can block both talent simultaneously. Have Susan
seated on the bench, anxiously looking for the bus. Enter John from cameraright and have him go to the pay phone and look for change. Susan gets up
and walks toward camera 1, and so forth. Check especially the z-axis positions
so that the camera can get good over-the-shoulder shots.
◾ Be as precise with your cues as possible. Don’t just say, “Susan, sit on the
bench,” but, “Susan, sit on the left side—your left—of the bench.” Your cue
to the floor manager would be: “Have Susan sit on the camera-right side
of the bench.”
◾ Whenever possible, run through the scenes in the order they will be recorded.
This will help the talent prepare for the sequence. More often than not, the
scene sequence is dictated by location and necessary talent rather than narrative development.
◾ Call out the cues, such as, “Ready two, cue John—take two,” and so on. This will
enable you to get used to the cues and will help the talent anticipate them.
◾ If timing is critical, do a rough timing for each scene.
Walk-through/camera rehearsal A form of dress rehearsal or orientation, the
walk-through/camera rehearsal is conducted from the studio floor and involves
crew, talent, cameras, audio, and other necessary production equipment.
To rehearse a routine show, such as a standard interview in a permanent set,
you can go straight to the control room. From there you ask the cameras to line up
their shots, ask the audio engineer to check the audio levels of host and guest, have
the video-record (VR) operator calibrate the VR with the audio console, and ask
the C.G. operator to run through the titles and the credits for a final check of proper
sequence and correct spelling of names.
If the show is a special event, you need to do a walk-through and a separate
camera rehearsal. If you have enough time (a rare occurrence), you can do one
after the other. In a walk-through you have the talent repeat the rehearsed blocking
on the actual set, and you give the technical people some idea of what you expect
them to do during the show. Then you go to the control room and conduct a camera
rehearsal, which should approximate the on-the-air or recording sessions as closely
as possible except that the signal goes only as far as the line-out monitor.
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More often than not, you won’t have time for separate walk-throughs and camera
rehearsals, so you must combine them to stay within the allotted rehearsal time. Even
then you won’t have time to rehearse the entire show but only the most important
parts of it, such as the talent entrances and exits and the camera positions for overthe-shoulder and cross-shots.
Here are some recommendations for conducting a walk-through/camera
rehearsal combination:
◾ Always conduct such a rehearsal from the studio floor, not the control room.
To change some minor blocking or camera positions, you can simply walk to
the spot where you want the talent or camera to be. Explaining such corrections over the intercom would take up too much valuable rehearsal time. Use
a headset or a wireless lavalier to communicate with the control room.
◾ If possible, have the technical director (TD) show a split feed of all cameras
used. (You may have to discuss such a split-screen display with the TD prior
to the rehearsal.) This way you can preview the cameras from the studio floor.
If this is not practical, have the TD switch as usual and feed the line-out signal
to the studio monitor.
◾ Have all talent and crew who are actively involved in the rehearsal take their
positions. On the studio floor, this includes the floor manager and the floor
persons, all camera operators, and the fishpole mic operator. In the control
room, you should have the TD, the audio engineer, and, if necessary, the LD
(lighting director), standing by to adjust the lighting.
◾ Give all cues as you would in the control room. The TD will execute your
switching calls and feed them to the studio monitor (assuming you don’t have
a split-screen setup).
◾ Have the floor manager do all the cueing, as though you were giving the instructions from the control room. The more you involve the floor manager
in the walk-through/camera rehearsal, the better prepared he or she will be
when you give the cues from the control room during the actual recording.
◾ Once the talent has moved into a new position or you are satisfied with an
especially demanding camera maneuver, skip to the next section. Do not get
hung up on a minor detail while neglecting to rehearse more important parts.
For example, in your lighting show, don’t waste time rehearsing John standing at the pay phone, looking for change. Instead, rehearse his walk from the
phone to the bench while Susan walks to the curb.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
All but routine
multicamera shows
require a dry run and a
walk-through/camera
rehearsal combination.
◾ If you encounter some minor problems, don’t stop the rehearsal. Have the AD
(associate director) or the PA (production assistant) take notes. The time line
should have notes and reset time scheduled at least twice for this rehearsal
(see chapter 2).
◾ Allow some time for yourself in the control room to rehearse the most critical
parts of the show. At least go through the opening of the show and the opening cues to the talent.
CONTROL ROOM DIRECTING
◾ Stay calm and be courteous to everyone, even if things don’t go as well as expected. Give the talent and the crew a brief break before the video recording.
Rehearsing right up to airtime rarely contributes to a better performance.
Directing the Multicamera Show
You are finally ready to undertake multicamera directing, also known as control
room directing and live-switched directing; that is, to use switching to coordinate
two or more cameras from the control room while directing a live recording. Live
recording does not necessarily mean that you must do the entire show in a single
take but that you video-record fairly long, uninterrupted sequences that require no,
or only minor, postproduction editing. Normally, such editing consists of joining the
video-recorded segments in their correct sequence.
Once in the control room, your directing job becomes largely a matter of coordinating and cueing the production crew to instantly execute their assigned tasks.
The following lists give some pointers about the major standby and on-the-air procedures. Of course, such lists are no substitute for actual control room experience,
but they can help you avoid common mistakes and speed up your learning curve.
Standby procedures Use these procedures immediately preceding your onthe-air or live-recorded show. We assume here that the program is videotaped rather
than recorded on another recording media.
◾ Use the S.A. (studio address) system and have every crewmember put on a
P.L. (private line) headset. Call on each crewmember and ask whether he or
she is ready. This includes the TD, audio technician, VR operator, C.G. operator, teleprompter operator (if necessary), floor manager, camera operators,
audio boom or fishpole operator, and lighting technician (if light changes
occur during the segment).
◾ Ask the floor manager whether the talent and the rest of the floor crew are
ready. Tell the floor manager who gets the opening cue and which camera will
be on first. The floor manager is the essential link between the control room
and the studio.
◾ You can save time by having the TD and the VR operator prepare the video
leader. Have the VR operator do a test recording, including a brief audio feed
of the talent’s opening remarks.
◾ Announce periodically the time remaining until the telecast or taping.
◾ Alert everyone to the first cues and shot sequence. Ready the VR operator to
roll tape, the C.G. operator to bring up the opening titles, the audio engineer
to fade in the opening music, and the TD to fade in the opening shot.
◾ Have the floor manager get the talent into position.
On-the-air procedures You now need to use the director’s terminology as explained in figures 17.10 through 17.14. When giving standby and on-the-air cues,
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speak clearly and precisely. Do not chatter on the intercom to show how relaxed you
are; you will only encourage the crew to do the same. Don’t shout, even if something
goes terribly wrong. Keep your cool and pay particular attention to these matters:
◾ Call for the VTR roll and wait for the “speed” or “in-record” confirmation.
◾ Unless done by the AD or TD, start the recording with the leader information.
◾ Fade in the camera that has the opening shot and key the opening titles.
◾ Cue talent by name. Don’t just say, “Cue her”; say, “Cue Susan.”
◾ Cue the talent before you fade in the camera. By the time the floor manager
has relayed your cue to the talent and the talent begins to speak, the TD will
have faded in the picture.
◾ Talk to the cameras by number, not by the name of the operator.
◾ First call the camera before you give the instructions: “Three, dolly in. One,
stay on the close-up.”
◾ Do not pause too long between your ready and take cues. The TD may no
longer be ready by the time you get to the action cue.
◾ Do not pause between the “take” and the number of the camera. Do not say,
“Take [pause] one.” The TD may punch up your camera at the take cue.
◾ If you change your mind after your ready cue, cancel the cue by saying, “No”
or “Cancel” or “Change that.” Then give the correct ready cue.
◾ Try to watch the camera preview monitors as much as possible while reading
the script. Large but clear script markings make this juggling act easier.
◾ Do not do one take after another to get the first scene right at the expense of
the rest of the show. Realize that the crew and the talent may lose energy and
interest if you require too many takes.
◾ If you must stop the tape because of a technical problem, ask the floor manager to inform the studio crew and the talent of the nature of the problem. If
solving the problem takes more than a few minutes, have the crew and the talent relax until you call for the taping to resume.
◾ If timing is critical, keep an eye on the clock and the stopwatch.
◾ After fading to black at the end of the show, call for a “Stop VTR” and give the
all-clear signal. Have the VR operator spot-check the recording before dismissing the talent and calling for a scenery strike.
But we are not there yet. It’s time to go into the control room and do the show.
Again, we are assuming that the program is recorded on a VTR.
Standby. Ten seconds to VTR one roll. Ready VTR. Roll VTR [wait for the in-record
confirmation]. Bars and tone. Ready slate. Take slate. Read slate [done by the AD or
audio technician; this will give you an additional audio slate]. Black. Countdown
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SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
[done by the AD or audio technician; the numbers from 10 to 2 flash by each second].
Ready VTR three. Roll VTR three, take it, sound up. Two on Mary. One on Susan.
Ready two. Cue Mary. Take two. Ready one. Take one. Cue Susan [this is strictly an
action cue]. Traffic sounds. Open mics. Ready key. Key. Change page [new title from
C.G.]. Lose key. Cue John [action cue for John to walk]. Ready freeze-frame. Ready
to cue Mary voice-over...
You are on your way. Don’t bury your face in the script; by now you are pretty
familiar with it. As much as possible, keep your head up and watch the preview monitors. Listen to what is being said, but especially to the cue lines. Unless something
went wrong, stop the tape only after the daylight segment is finished. You can use
this break for a brief notes session, and the lighting people can use the opportunity
to fine-tune the nighttime lighting. Give everyone a short break before taping the
nighttime scene but tell them the exact time to be back in the studio.
This time around you don’t need a new tape leader, but you should have a new
slate that indicates you are now doing the low-key scene. Before you start the VTR
again, make sure that Mary’s VO script includes the commentary for the low-key
lighting segment. Fade in camera 1 (with Susan sitting on the bench), key the lowkey scene titles, cue John to walk to the phone, freeze the long-shot frame, and cue
Mary for her voice-over segment.
When you have about one minute left, get ready for the closing (two-shot on C2):
Thirty seconds. Ready bus effect [sound effect of the bus pulling up]. Ready to cue
Susan. Bus effect one. Cue Susan [she delivers her last line, turns, and walks past
C2]. SFX police siren low under. Bus effect two [sound effect of bus closing door
and driving off ]. Ready one on John. Take one. Cue John. Zoom out. Slowly. Freeze.
Ready two on Mary. Cue Mary. Take two. Ready dissolve to one. Ready C.G. credits
and music. Dissolve. Music. Roll credits. Key. Lose key. Fade music. Fade to black.
Stop tape. Hold everything. Check tape. All clear. Thank you all. Good job.
If everything goes that smoothly, you have indeed done a superior job. But don’t
be discouraged if you need to stop down to repeat a portion of the scene or even
reblock a shot. Just don’t spend an inordinate amount of time polishing a specific
shot while the clock ticks right into the next time line segment.
SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
In single-camera directing, you need to observe all the continuity principles of
multicamera directing except that you are video recording the shots piecemeal and
not necessarily in the order of the script. Let’s first look at some of the more obvious
differences between single-camera (film-style) and multicamera directing and then
demonstrate these differences briefly with the lighting-show example.
Major Differences
When switching from multicamera to single-camera directing, you will find major
differences in the way you conduct rehearsals and in how and when to engage performers and actors. Continuity becomes a prime consideration, as well.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
When in the control room,
give all your calls with
clarity and precision.
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Rehearsals Single-camera scenes are easier to rehearse than multicamera scenes
because you can walk through and rehearse the talent and the crew immediately
before the actual video recording. The performers can quickly review their lines, and
you can give detailed instructions to the crew as to the nature of the upcoming shot
and the specific lighting and audio requirements. Because of the short time lapse
between rehearsal and recording, your directions will be fresh in the minds of talent
and crew for each take.
Rehearsing single-camera scenes can also be more difficult, however, because
you need to reconstruct the preceding and following shots for each take to maintain
continuity of action, emotion, and aesthetic energy. This is why many movie directors like to work from carefully worked-out storyboards. The storyboard helps them
recall what happens before and after the specific shot they are rehearsing.
Performing and acting Single-camera production puts an added strain on the
performers. Because the video-recording sequence is not governed by the narrative
continuity of the script, the talent cannot build or maintain a specific emotional
level but must often switch from one extreme to another. Also, many repetitions of
a single take to get a variety of camera angles and close-ups require the actors to
deliver identical performances each time. As a director you need to make sure that
the talent not only repeat the same blocking and actions but also maintain the same
energy level and rhythm during each subsequent take.
▶K E Y
C O N C E P T
In single-camera directing
of out-of-sequence shots,
watch for continuity of
vectors, action, sound,
and aesthetic energy.
Continuity One of the major challenges for the director in single-camera shooting is maintaining continuity from shot to shot. Because the shots are almost always
video-recorded out of sequence, you need to maintain a mental map of how they
will cut together for good continuity. In the absence of a detailed storyboard, marking the field log with principal vector symbols can greatly facilitate your lining up
shots for proper continuity. For example, if in the lighting show you want to imply
in a CU that Susan is watching John walk to the phone, Susan’s index vector must
converge with John’s screen-left motion vector. The field log would simply show i→
(for Susan’s CU) and ←m (for John’s walk). This notation will be enough for you to
remember John’s shot even if the actual takes are fairly far apart.
An experienced director of photography (DP), who might also be operating the
camera, or the AD can be of great assistance in continuity matters, such as continuity
of vectors, sound, and general aesthetic energy. Don’t be afraid to ask them if you
are not sure whether your next shot will provide the necessary continuity. To make
the editor’s job a little easier, ask the camera operator to start the camera before you
call for action and to let it run for a few seconds after the action is finished. These
trim handles (ample “leaders” and “tails”) will give the editor some wiggle room to
cut precisely on action and dialogue. At this point it might be worthwhile for you to
revisit the discussion of field production in chapter 15.
Single-camera Studio Directing
Most directors do single-camera directing from the studio floor, similar to a walkthrough/camera rehearsal. If you direct the single-camera production from the
studio floor, you can have the AD in the control room, handling all the operational
SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
activities such as rolling the VR, putting on the leader, calling for the slate, and keying the titles. The AD or the PA can also keep the field log. You, as the director, are
then free to watch the line monitor on the studio floor and call for action to get the
first take recorded.
For practice, let’s direct the first three “scenes” of the lighting show. Strictly defined, they are actually shots, but for logging they count as scenes. Your first scene
in the lighting program is Mary’s intro: “Hi, I’m Mary...”
The AD rolls the VR and calls for the slate: Scene 1, take 1 (Mary). After Mary
says, “Let’s watch,” have her stand there quietly for a moment before calling “cut”—to
stop the action. This will make the exact edit-out point more flexible. “Cut” in this
context means to stop the action and the camera.
Because Mary did such a good job, you can now move on to the next scene, John’s
walk to the pay phone. The slate should now read: Scene 2, take 1 (J walk). On your
“action” call, John walks to the phone and the camera pans with him. John stops at
the phone and waits for your “cut.” Both John and the camera operator did a great job,
but you must call for another take. Why? Because your cut to a CU of John looking for
change would not allow the editor to cut on action—a fundamental requirement for
smooth continuity in postproduction editing. John must start to reach into his pocket
while still on the wide or medium shot and then repeat the action on the close-up.
The editor can now cut from an LS to a CU during the action, not before or after it.
This way the cut will remain virtually invisible to the audience. For the second take
of John’s walk, the slate now reads: Scene 2, take 2 (J walk).
Next you can line up the camera on the z-axis shot that includes Susan in the
foreground and rehearse John’s approach to the bench. Now the slate should read:
Scene 3, take 1 (J and S). Again, start the scene with John looking for coins before approaching Susan, to give the editor the necessary trim handles and the opportunity
to cut on action. Susan blocks John while he’s walking to the curb, so you need to
retake the scene. The slate now reads: Scene 3, take 2 (J and S).
Although not in the script, an essential shot would be a CU of Susan watching John walk to the phone. You decide to do this reaction shot, so the slate reads:
Scene 3, take 3 (S CU).
What happened to the traffic sounds, the occasional cars going by, and the
police siren? Shouldn’t the AD have cued the sound engineer to mix John’s walking
sounds and the brief dialogue between John and Susan with the traffic sounds? No.
That audio will be laid in later in postproduction mixing. That way you can keep
the background sounds continuous through John’s walk, fishing for coins, and
talking to Susan.
Single-camera Field Production
Your single-camera production changes radically if you were to take the lighting
show on-location—to an actual bus stop. In effect, you would now be directing a
single-camera electronic field production (EFP). The major change would be in the
script breakdown, that is, how the scenes are arranged for video recording.
The order of the shooting script is no longer determined by narrative progression
(Susan waiting for the bus and John walking to the phone) but by location. Location
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here refers to the action areas of the bus stop. All shots are exterior—outdoors and,
in this case, at a real bus stop. This is how the script might read:
Daytime Shot Breakdown
1. Location: Bus stop. Bus pulls up. Susan boards bus. Bus drives off. This shot
is listed first because you need to adhere to the bus schedule to get a variety
of angles. The timing of all the other shots is under your control.
2. Location: Pay phone and bench. John walks to phone and bench. Show
John walking to the phone and to the bench from several angles. Get CUs
of him looking for change and glancing at Susan. Ordinarily, you would do
a pickup of close-ups after shooting most of the long shots and medium
shots. In this case, however, the continuity of lighting is crucial, so you
should get the close-ups right away.
3. Location: Bench. Susan sitting on the bench. Susan performs moves 1
through 4 in combination with John’s blocking and, depending on the
angle, without John (seated on the bench, looking for the bus, and watching
John; walking toward the curb and looking back at John; looking at the bus
schedule, looking through her purse, moving to the lamp post, and talking
to John; and moving toward the curb to board the bus).
4. Cutaways: Bus pulling up and departing, the bus schedule, the pay phone,
the newspaper rack, and the bench. Shoot additional cutaways of whatever
other event details could serve as transitions and intensifiers.
5. Audio: You will have ample background sounds of traffic and cars going by
whether you like it or not, but this can be a disadvantage, especially if the
street noise overpowers the talent’s lines. Wind noise is always a potential
hazard. Be sure to audio-record a generous amount of such sounds after
you are done with the actual production. This will help the postproduction
editor establish shot continuity through ambient sound. The police siren
can be supplied by the sound-effects (SFX) library.
The real problem is that all these shots must now be repeated as closely as possible for the nighttime scene. Night shooting is always difficult because of the additional lighting requirements. Also, as pointed out earlier, the audio requirements
change (fewer traffic sounds). In this case the postproduction sound manipulation
is becoming more difficult.
As you can see, the single-camera EFP of the lighting show is getting more and
more complicated. What at first glance seemed to be the easier aspect of the production assignment turns out to be a much more formidable job than the multicamera
studio production.
Isn’t shooting on-location a rather clumsy way of doing the lighting show, especially if it can be done more efficiently with multiple cameras in the studio? Yes,
in a way, it is. This is where the producer’s judgment comes in. A relatively simple
production, such as the lighting show, is much more efficiently done as a multicamera studio production than a single-camera EFP. But bigger projects are often more
easily and effectively done film-style with a single camera. Fortunately, neither video
production nor filmmaking is locked into one or the other approach.
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SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
Many digital cinema productions use multiple cameras simultaneously, not just
for spectacular one-time-only shots—like blowing up a building—but also for ordinary scenes. Video too uses both approaches, depending on the nature of the production. There are two EFP formats that are almost always produced with a single-camera
setup: the interview with a single guest and various forms of documentary.
Interview The standard formula for setting up an interview for a host and a guest
is to position the camera next to the host (interviewer), pointed at the guest (interviewee), who is sitting or standing opposite the host. SEE 17.16 Unless the emotional
context requires a tighter shot, ask the camera operator to get the same close-up of
the guest throughout the interview, even if the interview is interrupted from time to
time. At the end of the interview, place the camera next to the guest’s chair or where
the guest was standing and get some reaction shots of the host.
In this reaction shot session, watch that you don’t cross the vector line with the
camera in the new setup. If the host sports an automatic smile when on-camera, be
careful that he or she doesn’t smile in all reaction shots, especially when the interview
had some serious moments. To show the host asking some of the questions, you can
have him or her repeat them. Try to match the CU sizes of guest and host—don’t
make one or the other CU noticeably larger. The editor will insert the reaction and
question shots in the spots you designate.
Documentary When shooting a documentary, you cannot and should not direct
the event itself but simply the coverage of it. Although you usually have a basic objective or angle in mind before you start recording, don’t try to predetermine shots
before you see the actual event. Directors who draw up detailed scripts and storyboards before they have seen at least part of the event they are to document often
fail to see the event essences but instead seek shots that fit their preconception of
what the event should look like. Ultimately, they document their prejudices rather
than the true event.
17.16 STANDARD SINGLECAMERA INTERVIEW SETUP
Interviewer (host)
In the standard single-camera interview
setup, the interviewer (host) sits opposite
the interviewee (guest). The camera is
placed next to the interviewer.
Interviewee (guest)
Camera
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A good initial approach is to “take notes” with the camera before doing the actual
EFP. If you are open-minded and sensitive to what is going on, you may not only
refine your initial objective but also develop an idea for an effective angle.
In any case, get some shots that best express the essence of the event; then get
some environmental shots that establish the location and the atmosphere, as well
as plenty of cutaways. Remind the camera operator or DP to shoot tight: inductive
sequencing with plenty of close-ups packs a more powerful punch than a series of
medium and long shots.
Your real directing skills may have to come into play during postproduction,
when you work with the video and sound editors. If you have a specific idea of what
the show should look like, do a paper-and-pencil rough-cut for the editor that will
quickly communicate your idea.
M A I N
P O I N T S
▶ Program Objective and Angle
The success or failure of a director depends to a large extent on the degree of preparation.
A clear understanding of the program objective and the angle are essential starting
points for the director.
▶ Script Formats
The fact, or rundown, sheet simply lists the major points to be covered by the talent and
the director. The news script and the two-column A/V (audio/visual) script contain the
video and some directing information on page-left and all spoken words and additional
audio information on page-right. The single-column drama script contains all spoken
dialogue, major character behaviors, and action cues in a single column.
▶ Visualization
A principal task of the director is translating the script into video images and sound.
Visualization is one of the techniques employed. It means creating a mental image
of a shot or a series of shots. It also includes the mental imaging of sound, context,
and sequence.
▶ Floor Plan
A floor plan can help the director visualize key shots, determine lighting and audio
requirements, and decide on blocking for talent and cameras.
▶ Script Marking, Director’s Terminology, and Time Line
Easy-to-read script markings, consistent terminology, and a realistic time line are
essential to successful multicamera directing.
▶ Rehearsals
A dry run, or blocking rehearsal, is used to block the movements of the talent—where
they stand and walk and what they do. In a walk-through/camera rehearsal
combination, the director explains to talent and crew what is happening on the set
before doing a run-through with full equipment. The initial walk-through/camera
rehearsal should be conducted from the studio floor.
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SINGLE-CAMERA DIRECTING
▶ Multicamera Directing
When directing from the control room, the director communicates all major cues to the
crew via P.L. (private line) headset. The director’s cues and procedures must be consistent.
▶ Single-camera Directing
In single-camera directing, production efficiency rather than script narrative dictates
the order of shots. Utmost care must be taken that the out-of-order shots will enable
seamless continuity in postproduction editing. Always provide the editor with usable
cutaways and trim handles.
Z E T T L ’ S
V I D E O L A B
3 . 0
For your reference, or to track your work, the Zettl’s VideoLab program cue
in this chapter is listed here with its corresponding page number.
ZVL1
PROCESS Ideas scripts
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Epilogue
Enough of my preaching! It’s now up to you to apply these techniques and principles
effectively and efficiently. But I cannot help but give you one more bit of advice: You are
now in command of a powerful means of communication and persuasion. Use it wisely
and responsibly. Treat your viewers with respect and compassion regardless of whether
they are third-graders, the local university alumni association, corporate employees, or a
worldwide audience. Whatever role you play in the production process—pulling cables
or directing a complex show—do the very best you can muster. Ultimately, your video
accomplishments, however modest they may seem, will make a difference and help us
all see the world with heightened awareness and joy.
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Glossary
480p A scanning system of digital television. The p stands
for progressive, which means that each complete television frame consists of 480 visible lines that are scanned
one after the other.
720p A scanning system of digital television. The p stands
for progressive, which means that each complete television frame consists of 720 visible lines that are scanned
one after the other. Generally considered high-definition
television. See progressive scanning.
1080i A scanning system of high-definition television. The
i stands for interlaced, which means that a complete
frame is formed from two interlaced scanning fields.
Generally considered the high-end HDTV system.
above-the-line personnel See nontechnical production
personnel
AB-roll editing Creating an edit master tape from two
source VTRs, one containing the A-roll and the other
containing the B-roll. Transitions other than cuts, such
as dissolves and wipes, are possible.
academy leader See video leader
actor A person who appears on-camera in dramatic roles.
The actor always portrays someone else.
AGC Stands for automatic gain control. Regulates the volume of the audio or video levels automatically, without
using pots.
ambience Background sounds.
analog A signal that fluctuates exactly like the original
stimulus.
angle The particular approach to a story—its central
theme.
aperture Iris opening of a lens; usually measured in
ƒ-stops.
arc To move the camera in a slightly curved dolly or truck.
aspect ratio The ratio of the width of the television screen
to its height. In STV (standard television), it is 4 × 3
(4 units wide by 3 units high); for HDTV (high-definition
television), it is 16 × 9 (16 units wide by 9 units high).
Mobile video has various aspect ratios, including vertical ones.
assemble editing In linear editing, adding shots on videotape in consecutive order without first recording a
control track on the edit master tape.
ATR Stands for audiotape recorder.
AD Stands for associate or assistant director. Assists the
director in all production phases.
additive primary colors Red, green, and blue. Ordinary
white light (sunlight) can be separated into the three
primary light colors. When these three colored lights are
combined in various proportions, all other colors can
be reproduced.
address code An electronic signal that marks each frame
with a specific address. See SMPTE time code.
advanced television (ATV) See digital television (DTV)
attached shadow Shadow that is on the object itself.
It cannot be seen independent of (detached from)
the object.
ATV Stands for advanced television. See digital television
(DTV).
audio track The area of the videotape used for recording
the audio information.
auto-focus Automatic focusing system on most consumer
camcorders and some ENG/EFP cameras.
397
398
auto-iris Automatic control of the aperture (lens opening).
background light Illumination of the set pieces and the
backdrop. Also called set light.
back light Illumination from behind the subject and opposite the camera; usually a spotlight.
barn doors Metal flaps in front of a lighting instrument
that control the spread of the light beam.
baselight Even, nondirectional (diffused) light necessary
for the camera to operate optimally. Refers to the overall
light intensity.
beam splitter Optical device within the camera that splits
the white light into the three additive primary light colors: red, green, and blue.
below-the-line personnel See technical production
personnel
big remote A production outside the studio to televise live
and/or live-record a large scheduled event that has not
been staged specifically for television. Examples include
sporting events, parades, political gatherings, and trials
or government hearings. Also called remote.
binary digit (bit) The smallest amount of information
a computer can hold and process. A charge is either
present, represented by a 1, or absent, represented by
a 0. One bit can describe two levels, such as on/off or
black/white. Two bits can describe four levels (22 bits);
3 bits, eight levels (23 bits); 4 bits, 16 (24 bits); and so on.
A group of 8 bits (28) is called a byte.
blocking Carefully worked-out positioning, movement,
and actions by the talent and for all mobile video
equipment used in a scene.
blocking rehearsal See dry run
book See twofold
boom (1) Audio: microphone support. (2) Video: part of
a camera crane. (3) To move the boom of the camera
crane up or down; also called crane.
G LO S S A R Y
calibrate the zoom lens To preset a zoom lens to keep in
focus throughout the zoom.
camcorder A portable camera with the video recorder built
into it.
camera chain The camera and the associated electronic
equipment, consisting of the power supply, sync generator, and camera control unit.
camera control unit (CCU) Equipment, separate from the
actual camera, that allows the video operator to adjust
the color and brightness balance before and during the
production.
camera rehearsal Full rehearsal with cameras and other
pieces of production equipment. Often identical to the
dress rehearsal.
cant To tilt the camera sideways.
cap (1) Lens cap: a rubber or metal cap placed in front of
the lens to protect it from light, dust, and physical damage. (2) Electronic device that eliminates the picture
from the camera CCD.
capture Moving video and audio from the recording media
to the hard drive of a computer with a nonlinear editing
program. Analog videotape signals must be converted to
digital before they can be imported by the computer.
cardioid Heart-shaped pickup pattern of a unidirectional
microphone.
cast shadow Shadow that is produced by an object and
thrown (cast) onto another surface. It can be seen independent of the object.
CCD See charge-coupled device
C channel See chrominance channel
C-clamp A metal clamp with which lighting instruments
are attached to the lighting batten.
CCU See camera control unit
bump-down Copying a videotape to a lower-quality tape
format. Also called dub-down.
CD Stands for compact disc. A recording media that contains audio and/or video information in digital form.
bump-up Copying a videotape to a higher-quality tape
format. Also called dub-up.
C.G. See character generator
cake A makeup base, or foundation makeup, usually
water-soluble and applied with a small sponge.
character generator (C.G.) A computer dedicated to the
creation of letters and numbers in various fonts. Its
output can be directly integrated into video images.
399
G LO S S A R Y
charge-coupled device (CCD) A solid-state imaging device
that translates the optical image into a video signal.
Also called chip.
compression The temporary rearrangement or elimination
of redundant picture information for easier storage and
signal transport.
chip See charge-coupled device (CCD)
condenser microphone High-quality, sensitive microphone for critical sound pickup.
chroma key Key effect that uses a color (usually blue or
green) for the key source backdrop. All blue or green
areas are replaced by the base picture during the key.
chrominance channel Contains the RGB video signals
or some combination thereof. Also called color, or C,
channel.
close-up (CU) Object or any part of it seen at close range
and framed tightly. The close-up can be extreme
(extreme or big close-up) or rather loose (medium
close-up).
closure See psychological closure
codec Stands for compression-decompression. Can be one
of several compression systems of digital video, graphics, and audio files.
coding To change the quantized values into a binary code,
represented by 0’s and 1’s. Also called encoding.
contact person A person who is familiar with, and can
facilitate access to, the remote location and the key
people. Also called contact.
continuing vectors Graphic vectors that extend each
other, or index and motion vectors that point and move
in the same direction.
continuity editing Preserving visual continuity from shot
to shot.
contrast The difference between the brightest and the
darkest spots in a video image.
control room directing See multicamera directing
control track The area of the videotape used for recording
synchronization information.
control track system See pulse-count system
color bars A color standard used in video production for
the alignment of cameras and videotape recordings.
Color bars can be generated by most professional portable cameras.
converging vectors Index and motion vectors that point
toward each other.
color channel See chrominance channel
cross-shot (X/S) Similar to the over-the-shoulder shot
except that the camera-near person is completely out of
the shot.
color media See gel
color temperature Relative reddishness or bluishness of
white light, as measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. The
norm for indoor video lighting is 3,200K; for outdoors,
5,600K.
complexity editing Building an intensified screen event
from carefully selected and juxtaposed shots. Does not
have to adhere to the continuity principles.
component system See RGB component video, Y/C
component video, and Y/color difference component
video
composite video A system that combines the Y (luminance, or black-and-white) and C (color—red, green,
and blue) video information into a single signal. Also
called NTSC.
crane To move the boom of the camera crane up or down.
Also called boom.
CU See close-up
cue card A large hand-lettered card that contains copy,
usually held next to the camera lens by floor personnel.
cut (1) The instantaneous change from one shot (image)
to another. (2) Director’s signal to interrupt action (used
during rehearsal).
cutaway A shot of an object or event that is peripherally
connected with the overall event and that is relatively
static. Commonly used between two shots that do not
provide good continuity.
cyc See cyclorama
cyc light See strip light
400
cyclorama A U-shaped continuous piece of canvas or muslin for backing of scenery and action. Hardwall cycs are
permanently installed in front of one or two of the studio
walls. Also called cyc.
delegation controls Controls that assign a specific function to a bus on a switcher.
depth of field The area in which all objects, located at
different distances from the camera, appear in focus.
Depends primarily on the focal length of the lens, its
ƒ-stop, and the distance from the camera to the object.
diffused light Light that illuminates a relatively large area
and creates soft shadows.
G LO S S A R Y
rehearsal is often videotaped. (3) Decorating a set with
set properties. (4) Set dressing: set properties.
drop Heavy curtain suspended from a track (usually in
front of the cyc). A painted drop is a large piece of canvas with a background scene painted on it.
dry run Rehearsal without equipment, during which the
basic actions of the talent are worked out. Also called
blocking rehearsal.
DSK See downstream keyer
DTV See digital television
digital Pertaining to data in the form of binary digits
(on/off pulses).
dub The duplication of an electronic recording. The dub is
always one generation away from the recording used for
dubbing. In analog systems, each dub shows increased
deterioration.
digital television (DTV) Digital systems that generally
have a higher image resolution than standard television.
Sometimes called advanced television (ATV).
dub-down See bump-down
dub-up See bump-up
digital versatile disc (DVD) The standard DVD recording
media can store 4.7 gigabytes of video and/or audio
information.
DVD See digital versatile disc
digital video effects (DVE) Video effects generated by an
effects generator in the switcher or by a computer with
effects software. The computer system dedicated to DVE
is called a graphics generator.
dynamic microphone A relatively rugged microphone.
Good for outdoor use.
digitize Necessary step with analog source material
whereby the analog signals are converted to digital
signals prior to capture.
dimmer A device that controls the intensity of light by
throttling the electric current flowing to the lamp.
directional light Light that illuminates a relatively small
area and creates harsh, clearly defined shadows.
diverging vectors Index and motion vectors that point
away from each other.
documentary script See two-column A/V script
dolly To move the camera toward (dolly in) or away from
(dolly out) the object.
downstream keyer (DSK) A control that allows a title to
be keyed (cut in) over the picture (line-out signal) as it
leaves the switcher.
dress (1) What people wear on-camera. (2) Dress rehearsal:
final rehearsal with all facilities operating. The dress
DVE See digital video effects
edit controller A machine that assists in various linear
editing functions, such as marking edit-in and edit-out
points, rolling source and record VTRs, and integrating
effects. It can be a desktop computer with editing software. Also called editing control unit.
edit decision list (EDL) Consists of edit-in and edit-out
points, expressed in time code numbers, and the nature
of transitions between shots.
editing control unit See edit controller
editing log See VR log
edit master The videotape or disc that contains the final
version of an edited program. Subsequent copies are
struck from the edit master.
EDL See edit decision list
effects bus Row of buttons on the switcher that can
select the video sources for a specific effect. Usually
the same as a mix bus that has been switched to an
effects function.
effect-to-cause model See production model
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G LO S S A R Y
EFP See electronic field production
EFP team Usually a three-person team consisting of the
talent, a camcorder operator, and a utility person who
handles lighting, audio, and/or video recording, and,
if necessary, the microwave transmission back to the
studio.
electron beam A thin stream of electrons, which is generated by the electron gun in back of the video tube
and strikes the photosensitive color dots at the face
of the tube.
electronic field production (EFP) Video production done
outside the studio that is usually shot for postproduction
(not live).
electronic news gathering (ENG) The use of portable
camcorders, lights, and sound equipment for the production of mostly unscheduled daily news events.
ENG is usually done for live transmission or immediate postproduction.
falloff The speed (degree) with which a light picture portion turns into shadow areas. Fast falloff means that the
light areas turn abruptly into shadow areas and there is a
great difference in brightness between light and shadow
areas. Slow falloff indicates a very gradual change from
light to dark and a minimal brightness difference between light and shadow areas.
fast lens A lens that permits a relatively great amount of
light to pass through at its largest aperture (lowest ƒ-stop
number). Can be used in low-light conditions.
fc See foot-candle
field One-half of a complete scanning cycle, with two fields
necessary for one television picture frame. In analog
(NTSC) television, there are 60 fields, or 30 frames, per
second.
field dolly A plywood platform supported by four wheels
with pneumatic tires. Used for moving a tripodmounted camera on a rough surface.
electronic still store (ESS) system Stores still video frames
in digital form for easy random access.
field log A record of each take during the video recording.
encoding See coding
ENG See electronic news gathering
field of view The portion of a scene visible through a particular lens; its vista. Expressed in symbols, such as CU
for close-up.
ENG/EFP camera Highly portable, high-end self-contained
camera for electronic field production.
field production Production activities that take place away
from the studio.
ESS See electronic still store (ESS) system
fill light Additional light on the opposite side of the camera from the key light to illuminate shadow areas and
thereby reduce falloff ; usually done with floodlights.
essential area The section of the television picture that is
seen by the home viewer, regardless of minor misalignments of the receiver. Also called safe title area.
establishing shot See long shot
fact sheet Script format that lists the items to be shown
on-camera and their main features. May contain suggestions of what to say about the product. Also called
rundown sheet.
fade The gradual appearance of a picture from black
(fade-in) or disappearance to black (fade-out).
fader A volume control that works by sliding a button horizontally along a specific scale. Identical in function to a
pot. Also called slide fader.
fader bar A lever on the switcher that activates buses and
can produce superimpositions, dissolves, fades, keys,
and wipes of different speeds.
film-style See single-camera production
fishpole A suspension device for a microphone; the mic
is attached to a pole and held over the scene for brief
periods.
flash drive See flash memory device
flash memory device A solid-state read/write portable
storage device that can download, store, and upload a
limited amount of digital audio and video information.
Also called flash drive or memory card.
flat A piece of standing scenery used as a background or
to simulate the walls of a room. There are hardwall and
softwall flats.
floodlight A lighting instrument that produces diffused
light.
402
floor director See floor manager
floor manager In charge of all activities on the studio floor,
such as setting up scenery, getting talent into place, and
relaying the director’s cues to the talent. In the field,
basically responsible for preparing the location for the
shoot and for cueing all talent. Also called floor director
or stage manager.
floor plan A diagram of scenery, properties, and set dressings drawn on a grid.
focal length With the lens set at infinity, the distance
from the iris to the plane where the picture is in focus.
Normally measured in millimeters or inches.
foldback The return of the total or partial audio mix to the
talent through headsets or I.F.B. channels. See I.F.B.
foot-candle (fc) The unit of measurement of illumination,
or the amount of light that falls on an object. One footcandle is 1 candlepower of light (1 lumen) that falls on
a 1-square-foot area located 1 foot away from the light
source. See also lux.
foundation A makeup base, normally done with watersoluble cake makeup, that is applied with a sponge
to the face and sometimes to all exposed skin areas.
Cake foundation reduces unwanted light reflection.
fps See frame rate
frame A complete scanning cycle of the electron beam. In
interlaced scanning, two partial scanning cycles (fields)
are necessary for one frame. In progressive scanning,
each scanning cycle produces one complete frame. See
interlaced scanning and progressive scanning.
frame rate The time it takes to scan a complete frame;
usually expressed in frames per second (fps). In analog
(NTSC) television, there are 60 fields, or 30 frames, per
second. In DTV the frame rate is flexible, ranging from
15 fps to 60 fps. HDTV cinema cameras have adopted
the film standard of 24 fps, but you can change their
frame rate.
frame store synchronizer Image stabilization and synchronization system that has a memory large enough to
store and read out one complete video frame. Used to
synchronize signals from a variety of video sources that
are not locked to a common sync signal. Can also produce a limited number of digital effects.
G LO S S A R Y
Fresnel spotlight One of the most common spots, named
after the inventor of its lens, which has steplike concentric rings.
ƒ-stop The scale on the lens, indicating the aperture.
The larger the ƒ-stop number, the smaller the aperture;
the smaller the ƒ-stop number, the larger the aperture.
gel Generic name for color filter put in front of spotlights
or floodlights to give the light beam a specific hue. Gel
comes from gelatin, the filter material used before the
invention of much more heat- and moisture-resistant
plastic material. Also called color media.
generation The number of dubs away from the original
recording. A first-generation dub is struck directly from
the source media. A second-generation tape is a dub
of the first-generation dub (two steps away from the
original media), and so forth. The greater the number of
nondigital generations, the greater the loss of quality.
graphics generator A computer specially designed for
creating a variety of images and colors. Also called paint
box. See also digital video effects (DVE).
hand props Objects, called properties, that are handled by
the performer or actor.
HDTV See high-definition television
HDV See high-definition video
headroom The space between the top of the head and the
upper screen edge.
high-definition television (HDTV) Includes the 720p,
1080i, and 1080p scanning systems. Because the 480p
system produces high-quality video, it is sometimes,
though erroneously, included in the HDTV category.
high-definition video (HDV) A recording system that
produces images of the same resolution as HDTV (720p
and 1080i) but with inferior colors. The images are much
more compressed than those of HDTV, resulting in a
slightly lower image quality.
high-key lighting Light background and ample light on
the scene. Has nothing to do with the vertical positioning of the key light.
hundredeighty See vector line
hypercardioid A very narrow unidirectional pickup
pattern with a long reach. The mic is also sensitive
to sounds coming directly from the back.
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G LO S S A R Y
I.F.B. Stands for interruptible foldback or feedback. A
prompting system that allows communication with the
talent while on the air. A small earpiece worn by on-theair talent carries program sound (including the talent’s
voice) or instructions from the producer or director.
imaging device In a video camera, converts the optical
image into electric energy—the video signal. Also called
pickup device or sensor.
incident light Light that strikes the object directly from its
source. To measure incident light, point the light meter
at the camera lens or into the lighting instruments.
ingest The selection, coding, and recording on a large
server of various program feeds.
insert editing Produces highly stable edits for linear editing. Requires the prior laying of a continuous control
track by recording black on the edit master tape.
instantaneous editing See switching
interactive video A computer-driven program that gives
the viewer some control over what to see and how to see
it. It is often used as a training device.
intercom Short for intercommunication system. Used for
all production and engineering personnel involved in a
show. The most widely used system has telephone headsets to facilitate voice communication on several wired
or wireless channels. Includes other systems, such as
I.F.B. and cellular telephones.
interlaced scanning The scanning of all the oddnumbered lines (first field) and the subsequent scanning of all the even-numbered lines (second field).
The two fields make up a complete television frame.
See also frame.
iris Adjustable lens-opening mechanism. Also called
lens diaphragm.
jack (1) Audio: a socket or receptacle for a connector.
(2) Scenery: a brace for a flat.
Kelvin (K) The standard scale for measuring color temperature, or the relative reddishness or bluishness of
white light.
key An electronic effect in which the keyed image (figure—
usually letters) blocks out portions of the base picture
(background) and therefore appears to be layered on
top of it.
key bus Row of buttons on the switcher used to select the
video source to be inserted into the background image.
key light Principal source of illumination; usually a
spotlight.
lavalier A small microphone that is clipped to clothing.
Also called lav.
leadroom The space in front of a laterally moving object or
person.
lens Optical lens, essential for projecting an optical image
of the scene onto the front surface of the camera imaging device. Lenses come in various fixed focal lengths or
in a variable focal length (zoom lenses) and with various
maximum apertures (lens openings).
lens diaphragm See iris
level (1) Audio: sound volume. (2) Video: video signal
strength.
light intensity The amount of light falling on an object
that is seen by the lens. Measured in lux or foot-candles.
Also called light level. See foot-candle and lux.
light level See light intensity
light plot A plan, similar to a floor plan, that shows the
type, size (wattage), and location of the lighting instruments relative to the scene to be illuminated and the
general direction of the light beams.
lighting triangle See photographic principle
line See vector line
jib arm A small camera crane that can be operated by the
cameraperson.
line monitor The monitor that shows only the line-out
pictures that go on the air or to the video recorder.
jogging Frame-by-frame advancement of a recorded shot
sequence, resulting in a jerking motion.
linear editing system Uses videotape as the editing
medium. It does not allow random access of shots.
jump cut An image that jumps slightly from one screen
position to another during a cut. Also, any gross visual
discontinuity from shot to shot.
line-level input Input channel on a mixer or an audio
console for relatively high-level audio sources.
See also mic-level input.
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line of conversation and action See vector line
line-out The line that carries the final video or audio
output.
live recording The uninterrupted video recording of a live
show for later unedited playback. Also called live-ontape even if other recording media are used.
live-switched directing See multicamera directing
G LO S S A R Y
the light source. 10.75 lux = 1 foot-candle. Most lighting
people figure roughly 10 lux = 1 foot-candle. See also
foot-candle.
master control Controls the program input, storage, and
retrieval for on-the-air telecasts. Also oversees the technical quality of all program material.
matte key The key (usually letters) is filled with gray or a
color.
location sketch A rough, hand-drawn map of the locale
for a remote telecast. For an indoor remote, the sketch
shows the dimensions of the room and the locations
of furniture and windows. For an outdoor remote, the
sketch indicates the buildings and the location of the
remote truck, power source, and the sun during the time
of the telecast.
MD See mini disc
long-focal-length lens See telephoto lens
medium shot (MS) Object seen from a medium distance.
Covers any framing between a long shot and a close-up.
long shot (LS) Object seen from far away or framed very
loosely. The extreme long shot shows the object from a
great distance. Also called establishing shot.
lossless compression Rearranging but not eliminating
pixels during digital storage and transport.
M/E bus Row of buttons on the switcher that can serve mix
or effects functions.
medium requirements All personnel, equipment, and
facilities needed for a production, as well as budgets,
schedules, and the various production phases.
memory card See flash memory device
mental map Tells us where things are or are supposed to
be in on- and off-screen space.
mic Short for microphone.
lossy compression Throwing away redundant pixels
during digital compression. Most compression is the
lossy kind.
mic-level input Input channel on a mixer or an audio
console for relatively low-level audio sources such as
microphones. See also line-level input.
low-key lighting Fast-falloff lighting with dark background
and selectively illuminated areas. Has nothing to do with
the vertical positioning of the key light.
mini disc (MD) An optical disc that can store one hour of
CD-quality audio.
LS See long shot
mini plug Small audio connector.
luma See luminance
mix bus Row of buttons on the switcher that permits the
mixing of video sources, as in a dissolve or a super.
luma channel See luminance channel
lumen The light intensity power of one candle (light source
radiating in all directions).
luminance The brightness (black-and-white) information
of a video signal. Also called luma to include the grayscale information.
luminance channel Contains the black-and-white part of a
video signal. It is mainly responsible for the sharpness of
the picture. Also called luma, or Y, channel.
lux European standard unit for measuring light intensity.
One lux is 1 lumen (1 candlepower) of light that falls on
a surface of 1 square meter located 1 meter away from
mixing (1) Audio: combining two or more sounds in specific proportions (volume variations) as determined
by the event (show) context. (2) Video: combining two
shots as a dissolve or superimposition via the switcher.
moiré effect Color vibrations that occur when narrow,
contrasting stripes of a design interfere with the
scanning lines of the video system.
monitor High-quality video display used in the video
studio and control rooms. Cannot receive broadcast
signals. Also refers to flat-panel viewfinders.
monochrome One color. In video it refers to a camera or
monitor that produces a black-and-white picture.
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G LO S S A R Y
mounting head A device that connects the camera to its
support. Also called pan-and-tilt head.
noseroom The space in front of a person looking or pointing toward the edge of the screen.
MPEG A digital compression technique developed by the
Moving Picture Experts Group for moving pictures.
NTSC Stands for National Television System Committee.
Normally refers to the composite video signal, consisting
of the Y signal (luminance, or black-and-white information) and the C signal (red, green, and blue color information). See also composite video.
MPEG-2 A digital compression standard for motion video.
MS See medium shot
multicamera directing Simultaneous coordination of two
or more cameras for instantaneous editing (switching).
Also called control room directing and live-switched
directing.
multicamera production The use of two or more cameras
to capture a scene simultaneously from different points
of view. Each camera’s output can be recorded separately (iso configuration) and/or fed into a switcher for
instantaneous editing.
multimedia Computer display of text, sound, and still and
moving images. Usually recorded on CD-ROM or DVD.
narrow-angle lens See telephoto lens
off-line editing In linear editing it produces an edit
decision list or a rough-cut not intended for broadcast.
In nonlinear editing the selected shots are captured in
low resolution to save computer storage space.
omnidirectional Pickup pattern of a microphone that can
hear equally well from all directions.
on-line editing In linear editing it produces the final highquality edit master for broadcast or program duplication. In nonlinear editing the shots listed on the edit
decision list are recaptured at a higher resolution.
over-the-shoulder shot (O/S) Camera looks over the
camera-near person’s shoulder (shoulder and back of
head included in shot) at the other person.
news script Fully scripted text with video information on
page-left and news copy on page-right. The copy (spoken text) can also be in a large center column that also
contains some additional information.
O/S See over-the-shoulder shot
NLE See nonlinear editing (NLE) system
pads See trim handles
noise (1) Audio: unwanted sounds that interfere with the
intentional sounds, or unwanted hisses or hums inevitably generated by the electronics of the audio equipment.
(2) Video: electronic interference that shows up as snow.
nonlinear editing (NLE) system Allows random access
of shots. The video and audio information is stored in
digital form on computer disks. Usually has two external
monitors, small loudspeakers, and an audio mixer.
nonlinear recording media Storage of video and audio
material in digital form on a hard drive, solid-state flash
memory device, or read/write optical disc. Each single
frame can be instantly accessed by the computer.
nontechnical production personnel People concerned
primarily with nontechnical production matters that
lead from the basic idea to the final screen image. Includes producers, directors, and talent. Also called
above-the-line personnel.
PA Production assistant.
P.A. system See S.A.
paint box See graphics generator
pan To turn the camera horizontally.
pan-and-tilt head See mounting head
party line See P.L.
patchbay A device that connects various inputs with
specific outputs. Also called patchboard.
patchboard See patchbay
pedestal To move the camera up or down using a studio
pedestal.
performer A person who appears on-camera in nondramatic shows. The performer does not assume someone
else’s character.
photographic principle The triangular arrangement of
key, back, and fill lights. Also called triangle, or threepoint, lighting.
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G LO S S A R Y
pickup device See imaging device
producer Creator and organizer of video programs.
pickup pattern The territory around the microphone
within which the mic can hear well.
production The actual activities in which an event is
recorded and/or televised.
P.L. Stands for private line or phone line. Major intercommunication device in video studios. Also called
party line.
production model Moving from the idea to the program
objective and then backing up to the specific medium
requirements to achieve the program objective.
polar pattern The two-dimensional representation of the
microphone pickup pattern.
production schedule A calendar that shows the preproduction, production, and postproduction dates and who
is doing what, when, and where. See also time line.
pop filter A wire-mesh screen attached to the front of a
mic that reduces breath pops and sudden air blasts.
postproduction Any production activity that occurs after
the production. Usually refers to video editing and/or
audio sweetening.
postproduction editing The assembly of recorded material after the actual production, in contrast to instantaneous editing with the switcher.
postproduction team Normally consists of the director,
a video editor, and, for complex productions, a sound
designer who remixes the sound track.
pot Short for potentiometer, a sound-volume control.
See fader.
preproduction The preparation of all production details.
preproduction team Comprises the people who plan the
production. Normally includes the producer, writer,
director, art director, and technical director. Large productions may include a composer and a choreographer.
In charge: producer.
preroll To start a videotape and let it roll for a few seconds
before it is put in the playback or record mode to give
the electronic system time to stabilize.
production switcher Switcher designed for instantaneous
editing, located in the studio control room or remote
truck.
production team Comprises a variety of nontechnical
and technical people, such as producer and various assistants (associate producer and production assistant),
director and assistant director, and talent and production crew. In charge: director.
program bus Row of buttons on the switcher, with inputs
that are directly switched to the line-out.
program objective The desired effect of the program on
the viewer.
progressive scanning The consecutive scanning of lines
from top to bottom. See also frame.
properties See props
props Short for properties. Furniture and other objects
used by talent and for set decoration.
psychological closure Mentally filling in missing visual
information that will lead to a complete and stable configuration. Also called closure.
preset the zoom lens See calibrate the zoom lens
pulse-count system An address code that counts the
control track pulses and translates that count into time
and frame numbers. It is not frame-accurate. Also called
control track system.
preview bus Row of buttons on the switcher that can
direct an input to the preview monitor at the same time
another video source is on the air. Also called preset bus.
quantizing A step in the digitization of an analog signal.
It changes the sampling points into discrete numerical
values (0’s and 1’s). Also called quantization.
preview monitor Any monitor that shows a video source,
except for the line and off-the-air monitors.
quick-release plate A mechanism on a tripod that makes
it easy to mount and position the camera so that it is
perfectly balanced each time.
preset bus See preview bus
process message The message actually perceived by the
viewer in the process of watching a video program.
radio mic See wireless microphone
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G LO S S A R Y
RCA phono plug Connector for video and audio
equipment.
scenery Background flats and other pieces (windows,
doors, pillars) that simulate a specific environment.
reflected light Light that is bounced off the illuminated
object. To measure reflected light, point the light meter
close to the object from the direction of the camera.
scoop A scooplike floodlight.
refresh rate The number of complete scanning cycles per
second. Also expressed in frames per second. See frame.
remote A production of a large, scheduled event done
for live transmission or live-on-tape recording.
See big remote.
scrim A heat-resistant spun-glass material that comes in
rolls and can be cut with scissors like cloth; it is attached
to a scoop to diffuse the light beam.
script Written document that tells what the program is
about, who says what, what is supposed to happen, and
what and how the audience will see and hear the event.
sensor See imaging device
remote survey An inspection of the remote location by key
production and engineering personnel so that they can
plan for the setup and the use of production equipment.
Also called site survey.
remote truck The vehicle that carries the control room,
audio control, video-recording section, video control
section, and transmission equipment.
RGB Stands for red, green, and blue—the basic colors
of television.
RGB component video A system in which all three color
signals are kept separate and recorded separately on
videotape. Often called RGB system.
sequencing The control and the structuring of a shot
sequence.
server See video server
set light See background light
shader See video operator (VO)
shot The smallest convenient operational unit in video
and film, usually the interval between two transitions.
In cinema it may refer to a specific camera setup.
RGB system See RGB component video
shot sheet A list of every shot a particular camera has
to get. It is attached to the camera to help the camera
operator remember a shot sequence.
ribbon microphone High-quality, highly sensitive microphone for critical sound pickup in the studio, usually for
recording string instruments.
shotgun microphone A highly directional mic with a
shotgunlike barrel for picking up sounds over a great
distance.
rough-cut A preliminary edit.
shutter speed A camera control that reduces the blurring
of bright, fast-moving objects. The higher the shutter
speed, the less blurring occurs but the more light is
needed.
rundown sheet See fact sheet
S.A. Stands for studio address system. A public address
loudspeaker system from the control room to the studio. Also called studio talkback or P.A. (public address)
system.
safe title area See essential area
sampling Taking a number of samples (voltages) of the
analog video or audio signal at equally spaced intervals.
scanning The movement of the electron beam from left to
right and from top to bottom on the television screen.
scene Event details that form an organic unit, usually in
a single place and time. A series of organically related
shots that depict these event details.
single-camera directing Directing a single camera (usually a camcorder) in the studio or field for takes that are
recorded separately for postproduction.
single-camera production All the video is captured by a
single camera or camcorder for postproduction editing. Similar to the traditional film approach. Also called
film-style.
single-column drama script Traditional script format for
television plays. All dialogue and action cues are written
in a single column.
site survey See remote survey
408
slate (1) To identify, verbally or visually, each videorecorded take. (2) A blackboard or whiteboard upon
which essential production information is written,
such as the title of the show, date, and scene and
take numbers. It is recorded at the beginning of each
video-recorded take.
slide fader See fader
G LO S S A R Y
studio camera Heavy, high-quality camera and zoom lens
that cannot be maneuvered properly without the aid of a
pedestal or some other type of camera mount.
studio control room A room adjacent to the studio in
which the director, producer, production assistants,
technical director, audio engineer, and sometimes the
lighting director perform their production functions.
slow lens A lens that permits a relatively small amount of
light to pass through (relatively high ƒ-stop number at its
largest aperture). Requires higher light levels for optimal
pictures.
studio pedestal A heavy camera dolly that permits raising
and lowering the camera while on the air.
SMPTE Stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television
Engineers.
studio talkback See S.A.
SMPTE time code A specially generated address code that
marks each video frame with a specific number (hour,
minute, second, and frame). Named for the Society of
Motion Picture and Television Engineers, this time code
is officially called SMPTE/EBU (for European Broadcasting Union).
solid-state memory card See flash memory device
sound perspective People (or other sound-producing
sources) sound farther away in long shots than in
close-ups.
source VTR The videotape recorder that supplies the
program segments to be edited by the record VTR.
spotlight A lighting instrument that produces directional,
relatively undiffused light.
stage manager See floor manager
Steadicam A camera mount that allows the operator to
walk and run, with the camera remaining steady.
sticks See tripod
storyboard A series of sketches of the key visualization
points of an event, with the corresponding audio information given below each visualization.
studio production Production activities that take place in
the studio.
super Short for superimposition. A double exposure of
two images, with the top one letting the bottom one
show through.
S-video See Y/C component video
sweep Curved piece of scenery, similar to a large pillar cut
in half.
sweetening The postproduction manipulation of recorded
sound.
switcher (1) A panel with rows of buttons that allow the
selection and the assembly of multiple video sources
through a variety of transition devices as well as the
creation of electronic effects. (2) Production person who
is doing the switching.
switching A change from one video source to another and
the creation of various transitions and effects during
production with the aid of a switcher. Also called instantaneous editing.
sync generator Part of the camera chain; produces electronic synchronization pulses.
synthetic environment Electronically generated settings,
either through chroma key or computer.
take Any one of similar repeated shots taken during
video-recording and filming.
strike To remove certain objects; to remove scenery and
equipment from the studio floor after the show.
talent Collective name for all performers and actors who
appear regularly in video.
strip light Several self-contained lamps arranged in a
row. Used mostly for illumination of the cyclorama.
Also called cyc light.
tally light Red light on the camera and inside the camera
viewfinder, indicating when the camera is on the air
(switched to the line-out).
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G LO S S A R Y
tapeless systems Refers to the recording, storage, and
playback of audio and video information via digital
storage devices other than videotape.
trim handles Recording additional footage before and
after the major shot content for precise editing. Also
called pads.
TBC See time base corrector
tripod A three-legged camera mount. Also called sticks.
TD Stands for technical director. The TD usually operates
the switcher.
truck To move the camera laterally by means of a mobile
camera mount. Also called track.
technical production personnel People who operate the
production equipment, including camera operators,
floor persons, and video and audio engineers. Also
called below-the-line personnel.
two-column A/V script Traditional script format with
video information (V) on page-left and audio information (A) on page-right for a variety of television scripts,
such as for documentaries or commercials. Also called
two-column documentary script.
telephoto lens Gives a close-up view of an event relatively
far away from the camera. Also called long-focal-length,
or narrow-angle, lens.
two-column documentary script See two-column
A/V script
teleprompter A prompting device that projects moving
copy over the lens so that the talent can read it without
losing eye contact with the viewer.
threefold Three flats hinged together.
three-point lighting See photographic principle
tilt To point the camera up or down.
time base corrector (TBC) An electronic accessory to
videotape recorders that helps make videotape playbacks electronically stable. It keeps slightly different
scanning cycles in step.
time code See SMPTE time code
time line (1) Production: a breakdown of time blocks for
various activities on the actual production day, such as
crew call, setup, and camera rehearsal. (2) Nonlinear
editing: shows all video and audio tracks of a sequence
and the clips they contain. Each track has individual
controls for displaying and manipulating the clips.
tongue To move the boom with the camera from left to
right or from right to left.
twofold Two flats hinged together. Also called a book.
two-shot Framing of two people in a single shot.
unidirectional Pickup pattern of a microphone that can
hear best from the front.
uplink truck The vehicle that sends video and audio
signals to a satellite.
variable-focal-length lens See zoom lens
vector A directional screen force. There are graphic, index,
and motion vectors.
vector line An imaginary line created by extending converging index vectors or the direction of a motion vector. Also called the line of conversation and action, the
hundredeighty (for 180 degrees), or, simply, the line.
video leader Visual and auditory material that precedes
any color videotape recording. Also called academy
leader.
video operator (VO) In charge of the camera setup and
picture control during a production. Also called shader.
video-record operator In charge of video recording. Also
called VR operator and VTR operator.
track See truck
triangle lighting The triangular arrangement of key, back,
and fill lights. Also called three-point lighting and photographic principle. See photographic principle.
video server A large-capacity computer hard drive that
can store and play back a great amount of audio and
video information. It can be accessed by several users
simultaneously.
triaxial cable Thin camera cable in which one central wire
is surrounded by two concentric shields.
video track The area of the videotape used for recording
the video information.
410
viewfinder A small video screen or flat-panel display on a
camera that shows the black-and-white or color picture
the camera generates. The flat-panel displays are also
called monitors.
virtual reality Computer-simulated environment with
which the user can interact.
visualization The mental image of a shot. May also include
the imagining of verbal and nonverbal sounds. Mentally
converting a scene into a number of key video images
and their sequence.
VO See video operator
volume-unit (VU) meter Measures volume units, the
relative loudness of amplified sound.
VR log A record of each take on the source media. Also
called editing log. When the recording media is videotape, the shot record is also called VTR log.
VR operator See video-record operator
VTR operator See video-record operator
VU meter See volume-unit (VU) meter
walk-through/camera rehearsal A combination of an
orientation session for talent and crew and a follow-up
rehearsal with full equipment. This combination rehearsal is generally conducted from the studio floor.
waveform Graphic representation of a sound that occurs
over a period of time.
white balance The adjustments of the color circuits in the
camera to produce white color in lighting of various
color temperatures (relative reddishness or bluishness
of white light).
wide-angle lens A short-focal-length lens that provides a
large vista.
wind jammer See windsock
window dub A dub of the source tapes to a lower-quality
tape format with the address code keyed into each
frame.
windscreen Acoustic foam rubber that is put over the
entire microphone to cut down wind noise.
G LO S S A R Y
windsock A moplike cloth cover that is put over the windscreen to further reduce wind noise in outdoor use.
Also called wind jammer.
wipe A transition in which one image seems to “wipe off ”
(gradually replace) the other from the screen.
wireless microphone A system that sends audio signals
over the air rather than through microphone cables. The
mic is attached to a small transmitter, and the signals
are sent to a receiver connected to the audio console or
recording device. Also called radio mic.
XLR connector Professional three-wire connector for
audio cables.
X/S See cross-shot
Y/C component video A system that keeps the Y (luminance, or black-and-white) and C (color—red, green,
and blue) signals separate. Y and C are combined again
when recorded on a specific media. Also called Y/C
system and S-video.
Y channel See luminance channel
Y/color difference component video Video-recording
system wherein the three signals—the luminance (Y)
signal, the red signal minus its luminance (R–Y), and the
blue signal minus its luminance (B–Y)—are kept separate during the recording and storage process. All three
signals are recorded separately.
Y/C system See Y/C component video
z-axis Indicates screen depth. Extends from camera lens
to horizon.
zoom To change the focal length of the lens through
the use of a zoom control while the camera remains
stationary.
zoom lens Variable-focal-length lens. All video cameras
are equipped with a zoom lens.
zoom range How much the focal length can be changed
from a wide shot to a close-up during a zoom. The
zoom range is stated as a ratio, such as 20:1. Also called
zoom ratio.
zoom ratio See zoom range
Index
0 VU test tone, 238–239
2 GB SD (2 gigabytes Secure
Digital) memory card, 143
3D image creation, 204
24 fps, 42, 48, 68
480p scanning system, 36, 41,
243
635A microphone, ElectroVoice, 133
720p scanning system, 36, 41,
243
1080i scanning system, 36, 41,
243
Above-the-line personnel,
20, 33
AB-roll editing, 258–259
ADR (automated dialogue
replacement), 146
Advanced television (ATV). See
DTV (digital television)
Aesthetics
complexity editing, 292–295
continuity editing
concerns of, 276, 279, 295
cutting on action, 291
mental map, 279–282
on- and off-screen positions, 286–291
vectors, 282–286
controlling motion, 110–113
manipulating picture depth,
107–110
sound, 123, 147–149
See also Framing a shot
Analog video, 37
Audience, 22, 355–356
Analog videotape recorders
(VTRs), 228, 234, 235, 246
Audio
ambient sound capture, 91,
126, 147, 265–266, 324
field production, 324, 329,
334
mixing of, 136–138, 259, 334
in nonlinear editing systems,
254
in postproduction, 141,
144–147
in single-camera EFP, 392
sound aesthetics, 123,
147–149
sound pickup principle, 118,
149
sound recording, 141–144
studio program, 306
synthesized sound, 147
during video-recording
process, 240, 242
See also Microphones;
Sound control
Analog videotape track system,
228
Angle, story, 2, 4, 9–10, 362,
363, 394
Angle of view, 50, 53
Animated graphics, 196
Announcer, 21
AP (associate producer), 21,
25, 33
APC (automated production
control), 222–224
Aperture, 50, 55–57, 66, 68–69,
109, 155
Arc (camera movement), 70,
73, 74
Acting techniques, 355–357,
361
AGC (automatic gain control),
132
Action, cutting on, 291
Air-conditioning, studio,
301–302
Art director, 21, 24, 25, 33
Ambient sound capture, 91,
126, 147, 265–266, 324,
334
Analog head assembly, 143
Aspect ratio
graphic considerations, 192,
193
of studio control room
monitors, 304, 305
in various formats, 94, 96–97,
113, 190, 206
Analog recording equipment,
141, 143–144
Assemble editing, 248, 262–263,
274
Analog signal
analog sine wave, 45
compared with digital, 43,
47, 49
composite, 60, 231
in digital effects, 203
digitizing of the, 36, 45, 59,
248
Assistant chief engineer, 23
Action, repeating, 357
Active furniture, 318
Actors, 21, 344, 345, 390
Adapters, 67, 90, 139
AD (associate director), 21, 25,
33, 390–391
Additive color mixing, 161–162
Additive primary colors, 152,
161, 162
Address code system
for cueing videotape, 240
in linear editing systems,
260–262
pulse-count system, 248,
260–261, 274
SMPTE/EBU time code, 146,
240, 248, 261
time code, 260–262, 266
in window dubs, 248, 266,
267
Address code track, 229, 266
Ad-libbing, 356, 364, 370
Amplitude, 45, 134
Analog audiocassette
machines, 144
A-roll, 258
Artifacts, 45, 47, 359
Associate director (AD), 21, 25,
33, 390–391
Audio adapters, 67, 90, 139, 331
Audio cables, 67, 139–140
Audiocassette machines, 144
Audio column, 366, 370
Audio connectors, 67, 139–140,
150, 331
Audio console, 137–138, 259
Audio control. See Sound
control
Audio control booth, 308
Associate producer (AP), 21,
25, 33
Audio control center, 336
ATR (audiotape recorder), 116,
137, 143, 144
Audio editing, 264, 272
Analog sine wave, 45
Attached shadows, 152,
157–159
Audio engineer, 23, 25, 27, 33,
308
Analog source tapes, 252
Attenuation of frequencies, 138
Audio inputs, 62
Analog television (NTSC), 36,
230
ATV (advanced television). See
DTV (digital television)
Audio mixer, 132, 134, 150,
254, 258
Audio cues, 366, 370, 371, 382
411
412
INDEX
Basic photographic principle,
152, 175–176, 179–180,
184, 185, 188
Blue-screen technique,
198–199, 338–339,
358–359
Audio postproduction, 141,
144–146
Basic videotape tracks, 228–230
Bluish light, 89, 162–164, 185
Battens, 165, 175
BNC connector, 67, 69, 238
Audio postproduction room,
144–146, 336
Batteries, 90
BNC-to-RCA phono adapter, 67
Beam splitter, 50–52, 57–58, 69
Body-mounted stabilizers,
82, 83
Audio mixing, 136–138, 259,
334
Audio monitors, 306
Audio recording, 141–144
Audio servers, 223
Beanbag mount, 81
Audio signal, 118
Below-the-line personnel,
20, 33
Audio sweetening, 26, 116,
141, 336
“Bending the needle,” 135
Boom up, 73, 74
Camcorders
care/operation guidelines,
90–91, 332–333
color bar/video slate in, 239
color fidelity in, 58–59
containing the camera
chain, 69
desirable contrast, 156
ENG/EFP, 63, 89, 90–91, 155,
238, 261
handheld, 61–62, 73, 75–77
HDTV camcorders, 41, 44
HDV camcorders, 41, 44,
62–63, 87–88, 155, 164
light level for, 155, 183
properties of the, 50, 61–62
shoulder-mounted, 61, 62
transfer to NLE from, 252
white balancing of, 163
Boost frequencies, 138
Camcorder zoom control, 89
Box over newscaster’s shoulder,
203
Camera and performer,
346–347
Body-pack transmitter, 124
Bold letters over busy background, 194
Betacam SP VTR, 234
Book (twofold scenery flat),
311–312
Beyerdynamic M160 microphone, 133
Boom microphones, 120–122,
127–128, 148, 348
Audio text transcription, 269
Big boom, 129
Boom (movement), 70, 73–75
Audio track, 226, 228, 262, 264
Big close-up, 94, 98, 105–106
Boom operator, 129
Audio/video montage, 294
Big remotes
HMI spotlights in, 167
large production switchers
for, 212
parade, 112–113, 322
production team for, 20, 23,
24, 33
qualities of, 322, 335–336,
341
studio cameras for, 65, 66
Booms, 127–129
Audio synthesizer, 147
Audiotape recorder (ATR), 116,
137, 143, 144
Auditions, 357–358
Auto-focus, 87–88, 111
Auto-iris, 56, 359
Automated dialogue replacement (ADR), 146
Automated production control
(APC), 222–224
Automatic gain control (AGC),
132
Automatic white-balancing,
163–165
Auto-transition (AUTOTRANS) switcher button,
216, 218–220
Binary digit (bit), 36, 43
Binary principle, 43, 49
BKGD (background) switcher
button, 216–218, 220
Brainstorming, 6–8
Break, production, 32
“Breathing room” principle,
102–103
Briefing of guest, 32
B-roll, 258
Background, 107, 108, 333
Bus
effects, 210, 216, 217, 220
key, 210, 213, 216, 220–222
mix/effects (M/E), 210, 214,
216–217
mix, 210, 213, 217–220
overview of types, 213–214
preset/preview, 210, 213,
215, 216
program, 210, 213–215,
217–218
Background sound capture, 91,
126, 147, 265–266, 324,
334
Back light, 152, 175–177, 184,
185
Backspacing, 240
Black drop, 301
Blackened tapes, 264, 269
Black-level adjustment, 66
BLK (black) switcher button,
215, 220
Base picture, 190, 197, 198, 200
Blocking
acting techniques and,
356–357
blocking rehearsal, 361, 362,
384–385
defined, 344, 362
in multicamera studio production, 373–375
z-axis blocking, 112–113
Basic camera movements,
72–75, 93
Blocking rehearsal, 361, 362,
384–385
Basic image formation, 37–42
Blocks, title, 194, 195
Backup videotape copies, 242,
266, 335
Balanced cables, 139
Bandwidth, 45, 46, 231, 233
Barn doors, 165, 166, 168, 169,
174–175, 331, 332
Baselight, 152, 154–155, 185
Camera crane, 74, 75
Camera mounting head, 70,
78–79, 85, 93
Black-and-white television,
37–38
Black (BLK) switcher button,
215, 220
Camera control unit. See CCU
Broadband, 245–246
Available light, 183
Background light, 152, 178–179
Camera chain, 50, 65, 66, 69
Camera microphone, 91, 147
Budget, 12, 13, 22
Black-and-white viewfinder, 88
Camera cable, 66
Bright sunlight, 182–183
Black-and-white channel,
230–232
Background (BKGD) switcher
button, 216–218, 220
Camcorder operator, 25, 33
Building a show, 279
Bust shot, 97, 98
Byte, 36
Cable guards, 80
Cables, 66, 67, 91, 139–140,
238, 331
CAD (computer-aided design),
340
Camera mounts
basics of, 93
body-mounted stabilizers,
82, 83
handheld, 75–77, 81–82
homemade devices, 81
importance of, 71
jib arm, 74, 83
robotic, 85–86
shoulder, 61, 62, 73, 77, 89
studio pedestal, 64, 70,
83–86, 91
tripods, 65, 70, 78–81
Camera movement, 72–75, 93,
98–99, 110–113
Camera operation guidelines,
89–92
Camera operator, 23, 25, 33, 394
Camera positions, 288, 375, 385
Camera rehearsal, 32, 362,
385–387
Cake makeup foundation, 360
Camera. See Video camera
Calibration
sound, 136, 137
zoom lens, 70, 86–87, 93
Camera types
camcorders, 61–63
digital cinema, 68, 69
413
INDEX
ENG/EFP, 63–64
studio, 64–67
Cant (camera movement), 70,
72, 73
Choreographer, 21, 25, 33
Chroma key, 190, 198–199, 206,
222, 303, 338–339
of on-camera clothing,
358–359
in studio productions, 66,
167
in video image formation, 38
See also Color temperature;
White balance
Capture, 248, 252–253, 309, 324
Chroma-key backdrop, 160,
198, 301, 358–359
Cardioid pickup pattern/mic,
116, 119
Chrominance (C) channel, 50,
60, 231–233
Cassette record protection, 237
Circuit load, 186
Color bars, 238–239
Cast shadows, 152, 160
Clapboard/clapstick, 239, 240,
264–265
Color channel, 50, 60, 231–233
Cleanup, 335
Color mixing, 161–165
Cathode ray tube (CRT), 37, 162
CCDs (charge-coupled
devices), 50, 57–59
Color filters/media, 163, 185
Clip control/clipper, 221
Color television, 38, 162
C (chrominance) channel, 50,
60, 231–233
Clip light, 168, 169
C-clamp, 175, 311, 312
Clips, protection, 237–238
CCU (camera control unit)
to activate gain, 155
basic functions of, 66, 67, 69
defined, 50
in studio production, 65, 66,
307, 309
for white balance, 164
Clips, source. See Source
footage
Color temperature
defined, 152, 163, 187
in indoor field production,
185, 333–334
on-camera makeup and,
359–360
of studio lighting, 310
and white-balancing,
162–165
CD (compact disc) player, 134,
140, 141, 308
CD operational display, 141, 142
CDs (compact discs), 141–142
Ceiling, studio, 301
Cell-phone screen, 94, 114, 190,
192, 206
C.G. (character generator)
automated production
control of, 223
function of, 190, 206
in keying, 197, 215, 216
studio control room, 306–307
for title creation, 204
for video leader, 239, 240
C.G. operator, 25, 34
Character-generated slate, 239
Charge-coupled devices
(CCDs), 50, 57–59
Checklists
camera operation guidelines, 89–92
EFP equipment, 330–332,
341
lighting safety, 174–175
postproduction videotaperecording, 242
preproduction videotaperecording, 236–238
production videotaperecording, 238–241
Chief engineer, 23
Chinese lantern diffusers, 171
Chip, 50, 57–59
Clips. See Shots
Clocks, control room, 307, 349
Close-up medium, 95, 113
Close-ups (CUs)
aspect ratio and, 192
boom miking of, 127
defined, 94
example, 98
extreme close-up (ECU), 94,
98, 105–106
framing the, 105–106
index vectors in, 285
in interviews, 393
makeup techniques for, 360
and mental maps, 279–281
power of, 95
shallow depth of field for,
110
sound perspective in, 148
tips for the talent, 347,
356–357, 361
zooming and tension, 11
Color video image formation,
37–38
Communication, team personnel, 26–28, 34
Compact disc (CD) player, 134,
140, 141, 308
Coil, microphone, 120
Collision montage, 294
Color
basics of light and, 161–165,
187
beam splitter, 50
in chroma key, 198–199
graphic principles, 194–195
Computer software, 45
Computer-synthesized sound,
147
Condenser microphone, 116,
120–122
Condensing material, in
editing, 278
Conductor, music, 21
Connectors
audio, 67, 139–140, 150, 331
basics on, 66–67, 69, 90
BNC, 67, 69, 238
for field production, 331
FireWire (IEEE 1394), 67,
139, 234, 252, 253
HDMI, 67
RCA phono plug, 67, 90, 116,
139, 238, 252
S-video, 67, 69, 238
XLR, 90, 116, 139
Contact person, 322, 327
Continuing vectors, 276, 283,
289
Component system
Y/C component, 226,
230–232, 246
Y/color difference component, 226, 230–234, 246
Continuity
of color, 164
of graphic vectors, 283
of index vectors, 284
motion, 286–291
of motion vectors, 284
in outdoor shoots, 333
preserved by actor, 357
shooting for, 264
in single-camera shoots, 389,
390, 395
sound, 148–149
in visualization, 373
Composite (NTSC) recording
systems, 230–233, 246
Composite signal, 60, 231, 246
Composition, 95, 100–104
Codec (compression-decompression), 36, 44, 49, 256
Computerized setup panel, 66
Context, 147, 373
Composite video, 226
CMOS (complementary metal
oxide semiconductor)
chip, 69, 58
Computerized lighting control
units, 302
Complexity editing, 215, 276,
292–295
Clothing, performer, 123, 124,
358–359, 361
Clustering, 7–8
Computer hard drive, 142–143
Compact discs (CDs), 141–142
Closure, psychological, 104–107
Cloudy weather, 182
Computer-generated settings,
316, 338–339
Compression
defined, 36
HDTV versus HDV camcorders, 41
and high fidelity, 41
overview of, 43–44, 49
recording media, 242, 243
and transport, 46–47
video signal, 230
Computer, nonlinear editing,
250, 251
Computer-aided design (CAD),
340
Continuity editing
concerns of, 276, 279, 295
cutting on action, 291
mental map, 279–282
on- and off-screen positions,
286–291
vectors, 282–286
Contrast, 152, 156–157, 182,
187, 359
Control center, 336
Computer-controlled environment, 340
Controlling camera/object
movement, 110–113
Computer disk storage, 228, 248
Controlling volume, 134–135
414
Control panel (APC), 222–224
Control room, 298, 303–308,
320
Control room directing
directing the multicamera
show, 387–389
director’s cues, 380–383, 395
rehearsals, 384–387
terminology, 379
time line in, 379, 383–384
Control room monitor stack,
304–306
INDEX
marked script, 375–378
during production, 388
time cues, 349–351, 353
Cue tracks, 262
CUs. See Close-ups
Cutaway shots, 266, 276, 291,
293, 392
CUT switcher button, 214, 218,
221, 222
Cuts, 218
Cuts-only editing, 257, 278
Control track, 226, 228, 229,
263, 264, 269
Cutting on action, 291, 391
Control track system, 248,
260–261
Cyan, 161, 162
Converging vectors, 276,
284–286, 292
Conversion, format, 42
Converter box, 230
Cookies (cucoloris), 172, 173,
179
Copy, news script, 362
Corner wipe, 200
Cut to black, 215
Cyc light, 173
Cyclorama (cyc), 298, 301, 302,
318
digital cinema cameras, 59,
68, 69
frame rate of, 42, 48
versus HDTV, 41
large production switchers
for, 212
use of multiple cameras, 393
in production, 25, 34
role of the, 21, 24
in the studio, 306, 307, 320
use of I.F.B. system, 303
See also Directing
Director of photography (DP),
23, 25, 390, 394
Digital cinema cameras, 59,
68, 69
Director’s cues, 380–383,
385–387
Digital field stereo recorder, 143
Director’s viewfinder, 385
Digital format, 12
Disc, export to, 256
Digital image manipulation
equipment, 201–202
Disorganization of titles, 195
Digital recording equipment,
141–143
Distortion, signal, 45
Digital recording media,
242–244, 247, 252, 330
Diverging vectors, 276, 284–286
Dissolves, 216, 219–220
Distortion of sound, 135
Digital signal, 43, 45, 49
Documentaries, 68, 393
Digital stopwatches, 307
Documentary script format. See
Two-column A/V script
DAW (digital audio workstation), 138, 144–146
Digital subscriber line (DSL),
245–246
“Dead” studio, 301
Digital switchers, 222
Dead zones, 192
Digital system, 43–44
Documentation. See
Recordkeeping
Dolly (camera mount), 65,
80, 81
Decoding, 256
Digital television. See DTV
Default settings, beyond, 35,
52–53
Digital versatile discs (DVDs),
141, 142
Costume designer, 22, 25
Delegation controls, 216–217,
224
Digital video effects (DVE), 190,
201–206
Countdown numbers, 240
Depth of field, 94, 108–110
Counter, 241
Counterweight system, 165
Desk microphones, 129–130,
348
Digital videotape recorders
(VTRs), 229, 234–235,
237, 252
Crane (camera movement), 70,
73–75
Desktop editing system,
201–202
Digital zoom, 55
Crew call, 32
Detail, on-camera clothing, 358
Dimmers, 302
C-roll, 258
Diamond wipe, 200, 201
Diaphragm, microphone, 120
Directing
director’s cues, 380–383,
385–387
single-camera, 389–395
the talent, 386, 390
visualization, 371, 373, 380
See also Control room directing; Multicamera studio
production directing;
Script formats
Drawing software, 204, 205
Crossing the line in cross
shooting, 290
Directional light, 152, 154, 165,
187
DSK (downstream keyer), 210,
222
Directional screen force,
99–100, 113
DSL (digital subscriber line),
245–246
Director
actor and, 355
camera operation and the,
92
in ENG/EFP, 64
in postproduction, 25–26, 34
in preproduction, 27, 33
producer-director, 25, 33
DTV (digital television)
advantages of, 40, 47–48, 233
aspect ratio in, 96
basics of, 43
the digital process, 43–47
quality of, 36, 37
scanning systems of, 40–41,
48
Corporate manager, 22
Correcting production
mistakes, 278–279
Crossing the motion vector
line, 291, 292
Crossing the vector line, 289,
292
Cross shooting, 289, 290
Cross-shot (X/S), 94, 97, 98
CRT (cathode ray tube), 37, 162
C signal, 226, 231, 232
Cube effect, 203
Cucoloris (cookies), 172, 173,
179
Cue cards, 344, 354–355
Cues
audio, 353, 364, 366, 370, 371
directional, 352
director’s, 380–383, 385–387
floor manager’s, 346,
349–353, 386
Diaphragm (lens iris), 50,
55–56, 68–69, 182, 359
Diffused light, 152, 154, 169,
187
Diffuser, portable spotlight, 168
Diffusion tent, 171
Digicart II Plus, 142
Digital, 36, 43
Digital audio, 135
Digital audio consoles, 138
Digital audio production
equipment, 141–143
Digital audio workstation
(DAW), 138, 144–146
Digital cart system, 142
Digital cinema
benefits of, 246, 247
convergence with video, 12
Digitize, 248, 252, 253
Dolly (camera movement), 70,
72–73, 111–112, 114
Downlinking, 325
Downloading data, 44, 46, 49
Downstream keyer (DSK), 210,
222
DP (director of photography),
23, 25, 390, 394
Drags, pan and tilt, 85
Drama script, single-column,
371, 372
Dress rehearsal, 310, 362, 384,
385
Drop in video, 264
Dropouts, 227
Drops, 301, 313
Drop-shadow mode, 198
Dry run rehearsal, 361–362,
384–385
415
INDEX
DTV scanning systems, 40–41
Editing system, DVE, 201–202
Dubs, 231, 242, 248, 266, 267
DVCAM, 234
Edit master, 248, 256, 262, 263,
269
DVCPRO, 229, 234, 237
Editor, video, 23, 34
DVCPRO50, 230
EDL (edit decision list), 248,
266, 269–272
Ellipsoidal spotlight, 172–173
Effects. See Graphics and
effects
Energy, sound, 149
DVCPRO50 tracks, 230
DVDs (digital versatile discs),
141, 142
DVE (digital video effects), 190,
201–206
Dynamic microphone, 116,
120–121
Dynamics, 146
Earpiece, 298, 303, 344, 349
EBU (European Broadcasting
Union) time code, 240
Echo (reverberation), 138
ECM 55 microphone, 133
ECM 77 microphone, 133
ECM 88 microphone, 133
ECM 672 microphone, 133
ECU (extreme close-up), 94, 98,
105–106
Edit controller/editing control
unit, 248, 258, 259, 274
Edit decision list (EDL), 248,
266, 269–272
Editing
complexity editing, 215, 276,
292–295
“editing on the fly,” 211
EDL (edit decision list), 248,
266, 269–272
“fixing it in post,” 209, 241,
279
main points of, 273–274,
277–279, 295
off-line editing, 25, 248,
269–272, 274
on-line editing, 269–270,
272, 274
paper-and-pencil editing,
271, 272
VR log, 241, 242, 248,
266–269, 335
See also Continuity editing;
Linear editing; Nonlinear
editing; Postproduction
editing
Effects bus, 210, 216, 217, 220
Effect-to-cause model.
See Production model
EFP camera. See ENG/EFP
camera
EFP (electronic field
production)
basics of, 322, 326, 340
equipment checklist for,
330–332, 341
lighting for, 167, 173, 188
postproduction wrap-up, 335
preproduction remote
survey, 326–330
production shooting, 330,
332–335
single-camera production
directing, 391–393
time line in, 33
See also ENG/EFP camera
EFP (electronic field production) team
makeup of the, 18, 20
preproduction, 22, 24, 25, 33
responsibilities of, 28–30
Electro-Voice 635A/RE50
microphone, 133
Facilities person, 22, 25, 33
Electro-Voice RE16 microphone, 133
Fade, 216
ELS (extreme long shot), 94, 98
ENG/EFP camcorders, 63, 89,
90–91, 155, 238, 261
Fact sheet, 362, 364, 365
Fader, 116, 134, 135
Fader bar, 210, 216, 219, 220
Fade to black, 220
Falloff, 152, 160–161, 176–178,
180, 182, 187
Fast falloff, 152, 160, 161
ENG/EFP camera
conversion to studio camera,
64, 65
manual focus on, 86
properties and features of,
50, 63–64
use of available light, 183
versus ENG/EFP camcorders, 63
white balancing of, 163–164
zoom lens for, 54
Fast lens, 50, 56
ENG (electronic news
gathering)
basics of, 324–326, 340
cuts-only editors for, 257
defined, 322
depth of field for, 109
personnel for, 20, 25, 33
Field dolly, 65, 81
Engineering supervisor, 25, 327
Field log, 226, 241–242, 247,
266, 334–335
ENG van, 325
Fast-motion effects, 68
Fast zoom, 111
fc (foot-candle), 152
Feedback system, 298, 303,
344, 349
Fiber-optic cable, 66
Field, 36, 38, 39
Field camera. See ENG/EFP
camera
Field lighting
basics of, 182–186
guidelines for, 186–188
interior floodlights, 173
in remote survey, 329
spotlights for, 167–168
Environment, and audience,
355–356
Field mixing, 136–137
EFP floodlight, 173
Equipment, field production,
330–332, 335, 341
Field-of-view distance steps, 98
EFP team, 18, 20, 335
Erase head, 143
Egg crate, 170
ESS (electronic still store) system, 190, 197, 202, 223
Field production
audio in, 324, 329, 334
basics of, 2, 323, 340
converging with studio
production, 12–15
live field mixing, 136–137
miking, 121–122, 124, 125
production phase, 334–335,
341
qualities of, 322
See also Big remotes; EFP
(electronic field production); ENG (electronic
news gathering); Field
lighting; Videotaperecording process
Either/or principle, 43, 47, 49
Electrical circuits, 186
Electrical outlets, studio, 302
Essential area, 190, 192–193,
206
Electricity safety tips, 174
Establishing shot, 94
Electron beam, 36, 38–40
Evaluation, project viability, 10
Electron gun, 38, 162
Event announcers, miking,
130–131
Electronic cinema. See Digital
cinema
Event intensification, 292–294
Electronic field production.
See EFP
Executive producer, 21
Electronic image stabilization,
237
Extension cords, 186
Editing bays, 273
Electronic news gathering
(ENG). See ENG
Editing log, 241, 242, 248,
266–269
Electronic still store (ESS) system, 190, 197, 202, 223
Editing phase (NLE), 253–256,
269–271
Electronic switcher. See
Switcher/switching
Editing software, 250, 252–256,
268–269
Electronic video effects,
196–201
Export to videotape/disc, 256
External hard drive video
recorders, 243
Field of view, 94, 96–101, 113
Field producer, 21
Field survey, 326–329
External microphone, 62
Field teleprompters, 354
Extreme close-up (ECU), 94, 98,
105–106
Figure/ground principle, 148
Extreme long shot (ELS), 94, 98
Fill light, 152, 175–178, 182–184,
186
Eye contact, performer,
346–347, 353–355
File management, 251, 256, 273
Film production, 12
416
INDEX
Film-style approach. See Singlecamera production
Fractal landscape, 205
Filters
cookies (cucoloris), 172,
173, 179
gels, 163, 185
ND (neutral density) filters,
157, 182
scrims, 157, 168, 169, 184
Frame, 36, 38, 39, 48
Final EDL, 270
Frame store synchronizer, 201,
202, 236
FireWire (IEEE 1394), 67, 139,
234, 252, 253
Fishpole, 127–129
Fishpole microphones,
120–122, 127–128, 148,
348
Flash drives, 244
Flash memory devices, 61, 62,
142, 226, 244
Flat, scenery, 298, 311–312
Flat-panel displays, 42, 48, 298
Floodlights, 152, 169–171, 173,
176–178, 184
Floor manager, 22, 24, 25, 33,
387
Floor manager’s cues, 346,
349–353, 386
Floor person, 22, 25, 33
Floor plan
creating with CAD programs,
340
defined, 298, 320
importance of the, 24, 28
light plot on, 181
and set design, 316–318
for setup, 319
used by director, 374, 394
Fractals, 206
Frame-by-frame advance
(jogging), 202
Frame numbers, 240
Frame rate, 36, 40, 42
Frame-rate converter, 42
Framing a shot
aspect ratio, 96–97
composition, 100–104
controlling object motion,
112–113
field of view, 97–99
psychological closure,
104–107
vectors, 99–100
Freezing an image, 202
Fresnel, Augustin Jean, 165
Fresnel spotlight, 165–168, 171,
176–178, 180
ƒ-stop
adjusting for overexposures,
156, 182
and lens speed, 55
light level and, 155
overview of, 50, 56, 68–69
Foldback, 298, 303, 344, 349
Folding screen (set piece), 314
Foldout monitor, 60–61, 77
Food props, 315
Foot-candle (fc), 152, 154
Foreground, 107, 108, 333
Format conversion, 42
Foundation makeup, 344, 360
480p scanning system, 36, 41,
243
fps (frames per second), 2
HDV digital VTRs, 234
HDV (high-definition video)
systems, 36, 40–42, 48
Graphic vectors, 99, 104, 105,
268, 282–283
Head assembly, 143
Grass Valley 100 switcher, 218
Grayscale, 231
Headroom, compositional, 94,
101–102
Great depth of field, 109
Headset microphones, 130–131
Green Room, 32
Hearings, shooting, 322
Green signal, 232, 233
Heavy-duty tripods, 65
Green spikes, 167
Hi8 system, 234
Grip, 22, 25, 33
High-definition camcorders,
41, 44, 62–63, 87–88, 155,
164
Ground row, 301
Guest briefing, 32
Guidelines, camera operation,
89–92
See also Checklists
Headroom, audio, 135
High-definition television.
See HDTV
High-definition TV camcorders, 41, 44
Full shot, 94, 98
Handgun props, 315
Furniture, active, 318
Handheld camcorder, 61, 62,
73, 75–77
High-end handheld camcorder,
62
Gain circuits, 155
Handheld camera mounts,
75–77, 81–82
Gels, 163, 185
Generating ideas, 6–8
Handheld stabilizer, 82
High-energy color, 194–195
High-energy sound, 149
High-intensity LED lights,
171–172
Hand microphones, 124–126,
128–129, 131, 348
High-key lighting, 152, 180, 188
Hand props, 315
High tally, 218
Golden section framing, 101
Handwritten edit decision list,
271, 272
HMI spotlight, 167, 182
Government hearings, shooting, 322
Hard drive, camcorder, 61
Generic sets, 318
Focus-assist, 88
Graphic vector continuity, 283
HDV camcorders, 41, 44, 62–63,
87–88, 155, 164
High-definition video (HDV)
systems, 36, 40–42, 243
Fluorescent Fresnel spotlight,
166–167
Focus, 86–88, 93, 110, 111
Graphics software, 201
confusion around term, 40
makeup in, 360
on-camera clothing in, 358,
359
scanning systems of, 36,
41, 48
storage space requirements
of, 243, 244
wipes in, 201
Guns, as hand props, 315
Generation, 234
Focal length, 50, 53
Graphics generator, 202,
204–206
ƒ-stop number, 50, 57
Fluorescent bank, 170
Fly effect, 203
readability, 193–194
slow-motion effects, 48, 68
special-effects generator
(SEG), 196, 206, 259
standard electronic video
effects, 196–201, 222
style, 196
superimposition, 190,
196–197, 216
wipe, 190, 199–201, 216, 220
Gobos, 172, 173, 179
Graphic artist, 25
Graphic interface, 253–256
Graphics and effects
animated graphics, 196
aspect ratio, 192, 193
color, 194–195
digital effects, 201–206
essential area, 190, 192–193,
206
key, 190, 197–199, 206,
220–222
principles of graphics,
192–196
Hard drive, video recorder, 243
Hardwall cyc, 301, 302
Hardwall scenery, 312, 313
HDMI cable, 139
HDMI connector, 67
High sampling rate, 46
Homemade camera mounts, 81
Horizon line, 101, 104
Horizontal wipe, 200
Hot shoe monitor arm, 61
Hundredeighty, 276, 286–291,
295
HDTV camcorders, 41, 44, 59
Hypercardioid pickup pattern/
mics, 120
HDTV cameras. See Studio
cameras
Idea, program, 4, 6–10
HDTV digital VTRs, 234
IEEE 1394 port, 234
HDTV (high-definition
television)
aspect ratio in, 94, 96, 190,
192, 206
I.F.B. (interruptible foldback/
feedback), 298, 303, 344,
349
i-link (IEEE 1394), 234
417
INDEX
Illumination, measuring,
155–157
Iris, lens, 50, 55–56, 68–69, 182,
359
Image, in visualization, 371
Iris control ring, 56
Image control, 304–307
iso configuration, 14, 15
Image control center, 336
Image formation, 37–42
Jack (connector), 67, 116
Imaging device, 51, 58–59,
68, 69
Jack (scenery support), 311
iMovie HD (Apple) software,
254
Jib arm, 74, 83
Incandescent lighting, 166
Lighting grid, 316
Jogging, 202, 276, 294
Jump cut, 276, 293–294, 333
Lens speed, 55
Lighting instruments
clip light, 168, 169
ellipsoidal spotlight, 172–173
for field production, 331–332
floodlights, 152, 169–171,
173, 176–178, 184
fluorescent bank, 70
Fresnel spotlight, 165–168,
171, 176–178, 180
LED lights, 171–173
overview of types, 165, 188
portable, 168, 171
reflectors for, 166, 169,
182–184
scoop, 169, 176, 178
spotlights, 152, 165–169,
172–173
strip/cyc light, 173
studio, 165–167, 169–173,
301, 302, 307
supports for, 184, 186,
331–333
Key bus, 210, 213, 216, 220–222
Indoor lighting, 157, 163,
183–186
Key effect, 190, 197–199, 206,
220–222
Indoor location sketch, 328
Keying (key bus), 210
Indoor shoots, 323, 333–334
Ingest, 298, 309
Key light, 152, 169, 175–177,
180, 184–186
In-line recording consoles, 138
Key source, 221
Inputs, 136–138, 140
Key title, 197, 220
Insert editing, 248, 263–264, 274
Knee shot, 97, 98
Installations, studio, 302–304,
320
Kryolan pancake makeup, 360
Intercom (intercommunication
system)
field production, 332
I.F.B. (interruptible foldback/feedback), 298, 303,
344, 349
remote survey considerations, 329
studio system, 298, 302–303,
306
Keyboard (synthesizer), 147
K value, 152, 163
Labeling, 242, 254
Lamp-reflector unit, 166
Large production switchers,
212
Lashlines, 311, 312
Last-minute lighting techniques, 187
Lateral motion, 112, 128
Lavalier microphone (lav), 116,
122–124, 131–132, 348
LCD (liquid crystal display)
panel, 42, 48
LCD monitor, 50, 60, 61
LD (lighting director), 23, 25,
28, 33
Interface, editing, 253–255
Leader number, 388, 389
Interference, audio cable, 139
Leaders, 390
Interlaced scanning, 36, 38–40,
48
Leadroom, 94, 103
Interruptible foldback/feedback (I.F.B.), 298, 303,
344, 349
LED meters, 135
Interviews, 124–126, 179, 181,
184, 373, 393
“In the mud,” riding audio, 135
Intimacy, talent/camera, 346,
356
iPod, 142–143
Lighting control, 302, 304, 307,
320
Lens iris (diaphragm), 50,
55–56, 68–69, 182, 359
Index vector reversal, 284
Interactive video, 226, 245–247
Lighting contrast, 156
Lens cap, 90
Kelvin (K) scale, 152, 163
Interactive multimedia
programs, 245
Lighting battens, 165
Lighting director (LD), 23, 25,
28, 33
Jewelry, on-camera, 124, 358
Index vector, 99–100, 268,
283–286
Intensifying an event, 292–294
See also Field lighting; Lighting instruments
Lens aperture, 50, 55–57, 66,
68–69, 109, 155
Incident light, 152, 155
Instantaneous editing, 14, 15,
209–212, 304
See also Switcher/switching
performer eye contact with,
346, 353–355
wide-angle lens, 53–55, 75,
108–110, 114
and z-axis speed, 110
See also ƒ-stop; Zoom lens
LED lights, 171–173
Lens
basics of, 51, 53–56, 68
depth of field, 94, 108–110
ENG/EFP camcorder, 63
fast and slow, 50, 56, 68
narrow-angle lens (telephoto), 53–55, 75, 88, 109,
110, 113–114
Level, taking a, 348
Level horizon line, 104
Light
basics of, 154–157
and color, 161–165, 187
and shadows, 152, 157–161,
182, 187, 339
Light boxes, 171
Lighting
background, 152, 178–179
back light, 152, 175–177
baselight, 152, 154–155, 185
basics of shadows, 157–161
built-in camera, 62
computer-aided design, 340
diffused, 152, 154, 169, 187
directional, 152, 154, 165,
187
fill light, 152, 175–178,
182–184, 186
fluorescent, 166–167, 170
high-/low-key lighting, 152,
180, 188
incandescent, 166
incident, 152, 155
indoor lighting, 157, 163,
183–186
key light, 152, 169, 175–177,
180, 184–186
last-minute techniques, 187
lighting grid, 316
makeup, 310
measuring, 155–157
microphone shadows, 123
operation of lights, 174–175
outdoor lighting, 157, 163,
182
and the performer, 348–349
photographic principle, 152,
175–176, 179–180, 184,
185, 188
reflected, 152, 156
safety checklist for, 174–175
and set design, 318
studio, 175–180, 307
Lighting safety, 174–175
Lighting triangle, 152, 175–176,
179–180, 184, 185, 188
See also Photographic
principle
Light intensity/level, 154–155
Light meter, 155, 156, 187
Light plot, 152, 181, 316
Light stands, 184, 186, 331–333
Light tents, 171
Line (vector), 276, 286–291, 295
Linear editing
assemble editing, 248,
262–263, 274
basic principle of, 256, 273
cuts-only, 257, 278
importance of understanding, 249
insert editing, 248, 263–264,
274
multiple-source system,
258–260
off-/on-line, 269
pulse-count and address
code, 260–262
single-source system,
257–258
418
INDEX
Linear editing system, 248, 256
M160 microphone, 133
Linear videotape-recording
systems, 228, 246
Magenta, 161, 162
Line-level input, 134
Maintenance engineer, 23
Line monitor, 308
Major studio installations,
302–303, 320
Line of conversation and
action, 276
Magnetic tape, 143
Liquid crystal display (LCD)
panel, 42, 48
Makeup
foundation, 344, 360
lighting, 310
materials, 360–361
technical requirements,
359–360
Live field mixing, 136–137
Makeup artist, 22
Live recording, 209, 241, 387
Makeup room, 310
Live show switching, 209
Manipulating picture depth,
107–110
Line-out signal, 210, 214, 303,
306
Line producer, 21
Live-switched directing,
387–389
Live transmission, 14, 125, 322,
325, 335
Location (action areas),
391–392
Location lighting. See Field
lighting
Location sketch, 327, 328
Manipulation of audio/video,
48, 49
Manual focus, 86
Manual volume control, 132
Marked script, 375–379
Master control, 298, 308–310,
320
sound-generating elements,
120–122
sound pickup basics,
118–120, 149
summary points on, 149
table of, 133
and talent, 124–125, 130–132,
347–348
types/uses of
boom, 120–122, 127–129,
148, 348
condenser, 116, 120–122
desk and stand, 129–130,
348
dynamic, 116, 120–121
hand, 124–126, 128–129,
131, 348
headset, 130–131
lavalier, 116, 122–124,
131–132, 348
overview of, 149
pencil, 127–128, 133
ribbon, 116, 122
wireless, 116, 122–124, 131,
348
Microwave transmission, 325,
336
Logging. See Recordkeeping
Master control switching area,
310
Long-focal-length lens, 53,
54, 68
Master fader, 135
Mini-cassette, 62
Master pot, 134, 137
Mini discs (MDs), 141, 142
Matte box, 68
MiniDV cassette, 234, 236–237
Matte key, 190, 198
Mini plug, 116, 139
MDs (mini discs), 141, 142
Mix bus, 210, 213, 217–220
ME 2 microphone, 133
MIX switcher button, 216–218
Meal breaks, 32
Mixer (audio), 132, 134, 150,
254, 258
Middleground, 107, 108
Motion, 72–75, 93, 100, 110–113
Motion continuity, 286–291
Motion vector, 100, 103, 268,
284, 291, 292
Motion vector line, 276,
286–291, 295
Mounting head, 70, 78–79,
85, 93
Mounts. See Camera mounts
Movement, camera, 72–75, 93,
98–99, 110–113
Movie frame rate, 42, 48
MP3 audio compression, 143
MPEG-2, 44
MS (medium shot), 94, 98, 127
Multicamera production
defined, 2
production team for, 25, 306
setups for, 14–15
switchers for, 212, 214
talent eye contact in,
346–347
vector lines in, 288–291
See also Control room directing; Multicamera studio
production directing
Multicamera setup, 14, 15
Low-key lighting, 152, 180, 188,
374
Media, recording, 242–244, 247,
252, 330
Modular set pieces, 312–314
Multicamera studio production
directing
blocking the talent, 373–375
camera positions, 375
compared with singlecamera directing, 389–390
control room directing,
387–389
overview of, 362, 373–374
reading the floor plan, 374
script marking, 375–379
See also Control room
directing; Multicamera
production
Low resolution, 269, 270
Media convergence, 12–16
Moiré effect, 344, 358
Multimedia, 226, 245, 247
Low sampling rate, 46
Medium requirements, 2, 4, 5,
10–12, 16, 373
Monitor jack, 134
Multiple-microphone interference, 129
Long jib arm, 83
Long shot (LS), 94, 98
Lossless compression, 44, 46,
49, 243
Lossy compression, 44, 46, 49,
243
Low-angle view, 77
Meaning, creating, 294–295
Lowel Omni-light, 168, 171,
176, 184
Measuring illumination,
155–157
Lowel Pro-light, 168
M/E (mix/effects) bus, 210, 214,
216–217
Low-energy color, 194–195
Low tally, 218
LS (long shot), 94, 98
Luma channel. See Luminance
channel
Lumen, 60, 152, 154
Luminance, 230
Luminance key, 197, 198, 220,
222
Luminance signal, 232, 233
Luminance (Y) channel, 50, 60,
226, 230–233, 246
Lux, 152, 154
Medium shot (MS), 94, 98, 127
Memory cards, 62, 228, 244, 355
Mental map, 276, 279–282, 284,
286, 295
Mic-level input, 134
Microphones (mics)
care of, 124
casting shadows from, 123,
128
for field production, 331
handling noise, 116,
123–126, 128
Mixing audio, 136–138, 259, 334
Mixing color, 161–165
MKH 70 microphone, 133
Mobile video, 94, 114, 190, 192,
206
Monitors
field production, 238, 331
LCD (flat-panel display), 50,
60, 61
for linear editing, 257
for nonlinear editing (NLE),
251, 254
studio/control room, 298,
303, 304–306, 308
Monitor stack, 304–306
Multiple-source linear editing
system, 258–260, 273
Multiscreen blocks, 195
Multitrack audiotape recorders, 143
Music director/conductor, 21
Music mics, 124–125, 130
Montage, 294
Narrow-angle lens/view
(telephoto), 53–55, 75, 88,
109, 110, 113–114
Mosaic effect, 202, 203
Narrow-angle z-axis, 108
Monophonic audio mixer, 134
419
INDEX
National Television System
Committee (NTSC), 36,
60, 226, 230–232, 246
ND (neutral density) filters,
157, 182
Neumann 184 microphone, 133
Neutral density (ND) filters,
157, 182
News gathering. See ENG (electronic news gathering)
News package, 364, 365
News production
automated production
control, 222–223
digital video effects, 203
monitors for, 303
robotic pedestals for, 85–86
use of teleprompter, 354
using jump cuts, 293–294
weathercasting with chroma
key, 198, 199, 303
See also ENG
Nontechnical production personnel, 18, 20, 21–22, 33
Outdoor location sketch, 328
Normal key, 198
Outlets, electrical in studio, 302
Normal lens view, 54
Outputs, audio, 140
Noseroom, 94, 102–103
Overcast weather, 182
Notes, production, 29, 32
Overcranking, 68
NTSC (National Television
System Committee), 36,
60, 226, 230–232, 246
Overexposure, 156, 182
Periaktos (set piece), 314
Overloading the circuits, 186
Personnel. See Production
teams
Outdoor shooting, 330, 332–333
Overmodulated sound, 135
Object motion control, 112–113
Object-to-camera distance,
109–110
Over-the-shoulder shot (O/S),
94, 97, 98, 288, 356, 375
and the camera, 346–347
floor manager’s cues, 346,
350–353
goal of, 346, 361
timing and prompting, 349,
353–355
See also Acting techniques
Perspective, sound, 123, 148
Phantom power, 121
Phone line (P.L.). See P.L. intercommunication systems
Off-line editing, 25, 248,
269–272, 274
PA (production assistant), 21,
25, 29, 33
Off-screen positions, 280, 281,
286
P.A. (public address) system,
298, 303, 308, 387
Omnidirectional pickup
pattern/mic, 116, 119
Packets, 45
Photographic principle, 152,
175–176, 179–180, 184,
185, 188
Pads, 240, 241, 265, 362
Pickup device, 51, 58–59, 68, 69
Omni-light, 168, 171, 176, 184
Painted drops, 313
Pickup (new shot), 278–279
On-line editing, 269–270, 272,
274
Painting software, 204, 205
Pickup pattern (microphone),
116, 118–119
News script/script format, 362,
364–366
On-line video recording, 26
Pan-and-tilt head. See Camera
mounting head
News videographer, 324
On-screen positions, 286–291
NG (no good) takes, 266, 267
On-the-air procedures, 387–389
Pan (camera movement), 70,
72, 73, 76, 77, 79, 85
Night shooting, 392
Opening the iris/lens, 55
Panning handle, 79, 85
Picture depth, 107–110,
113–114
Nighttime scene visualization,
371, 373
Open-reel audiotape machines,
143
Paper-and-pencil edit, 271, 272
Picture loss, 102
Picture resolution, 59
NLE. See Nonlinear editing
(NLE)
Operating the camera
adjusting shutter speed, 88
basic camera movements,
72–75
camera mounts, 75–86
controlling camera and object movement, 110–113
focusing, 86–88
general guidelines, 89–92
operational features, 86–89
zooming, 88–89
white-balancing, 89
PA (production assistant), 21,
25, 29, 33
PAR 38 clip light, 168
Parade, shooting, 112–113, 322
“Pinning the [audio] needle,”
135
Parallel steering, 84
Pixel, 38, 58, 59
Partial two-column A/V script,
370
P.L. (private/phone/party line)
intercommunication systems, 298, 302–303, 308
News reporter, 324
Noise, 123–126, 231, 301–302
Nonlinear editing interface,
253–255
Nonlinear editing (NLE)
basics features of, 248,
250–251, 273
capture phase, 244, 246,
252–253
editing phase, 253–256,
269–271
editing software, 250,
252–255, 268–269
export phase, 256
file management in, 251, 256
interface for, 253–255
off-/on-line, 269–270
timeline in, 253, 254
On/off principle, 43, 47
PAL system, 231
Party line (P.L.). See P.L. intercommunication systems
Phone plug, 139
Picture balance, 100
Picture composition, 95,
100–104
Pillar (set piece), 314
Plasma panel, 42, 48
Passing the buck, 26–28
Platforms (scenery), 314
Patchbay, 144, 308, 336
Point of view (PoV), 385
Patchboard, 302
Polarity reversal, 202
Operational controls, audio
recorder, 141, 144
Patching, 302
Polarization (video), 202
Patch panel, 140
Polar pattern, 116, 119
Operational controls, edit
controller, 258
Pedestal, studio, 64, 70, 83–86,
91
Pop filter, 120–121
Operational controls, VTR,
234, 235
Pedestal adjustment, 66
Portable digital cuts-only
editor, 257
Pedestal (camera movement),
70, 72, 73
Portable floodlight, 171
Optical disc, 61, 62, 244
Optical image transduction,
51–52, 69
Pencil microphone, 127–128,
133
Position continuity, 286–291
Optical zoom, 55
Perambulator boom, 129
Nonlinear recording media,
226, 242–244
O/S (over-the-shoulder shot),
94, 97, 98, 288, 356, 375
Performers, 21, 124–125,
130–132, 344, 345, 390
Nonsymmetrical framing,
100–101
Out-cues, 364
Performing
audio and lighting, 347–349
Nonlinear editing system, 228,
246, 251–252, 336, 341
Nonlinear off-/on-line editing,
269–270
Outdoor lighting, 157, 163, 182
Portable spotlight, 168
Positioning the camera, 288,
375, 385
Postproduction
audio in, 141, 144–147
overview of, 2, 5
rooms for, 336–338, 341
420
INDEX
See also Field production;
Multicamera production;
Studio production
Public address (P.A.) system,
298, 303, 308, 387
Responsibility, sharing production team, 28–30
Pulse-count system, 248,
260–261, 274
Retakes, 241
Pylon (set piece), 313, 314
Reversing on-screen positions,
284
Production control. See Directing; Talent
Quantizing, 36, 43, 45, 49
RGB component video system,
233
Production environment. See
Field production; Studio
production; Synthetic
environments
Quick-release plate, 79–80
Potentiometer (pot), 134
Production model, 2, 4, 5, 16,
363
Radio microphones, 131–132
PoV (point of view), 385
Production phases, 4–5, 16
Random access, 242, 248
Power supply, 63–66, 121, 237,
329–331
Production schedule, 18, 23,
30–34
RCA phono plug, 67, 90, 116,
139, 238, 252
Preliminary rough-cut, 271–272
Production switcher, 211–214,
224
RCU (remote control unit),
63–64, 164, 331
Ribbon microphone, 116, 122
Production teams
postproduction, 18, 25–26,
34
preproduction, 18, 22–25, 33
production, 18, 20, 25–30,
33–34, 319
technical and nontechnical,
20–23, 33
in various production
phases, 19–20
See also EFP team
RE16 microphone, 133
Riding gain, 123, 134–135
RE50 microphone, 133
Robotic camera controls, 223
Readability (graphics), 193–194
Robotic studio pedestal, 85–86
Read/write optical discs, 244
Rocker switch, 89
Recording black, 263, 269
Ross OverDrive APC System,
223
Production techniques, 12–15
Recordkeeping
field log, 226, 241, 242, 247,
266, 334–335
field production, 334–335
VR log, 241, 242, 248,
266–269
Postproduction editing
assembling live shows in,
209
facilities for, 272–274
off-line/on-line, 269–272
overview of, 249, 273–274
preparation for, 264–269, 274
See also Linear editing;
Nonlinear editing (NLE)
Postproduction rooms,
272–274, 336–338, 341
Postproduction team, 18, 20,
25–26, 34
Preproduction
field production, 340
idea generation, 6–8
from idea to script, 8–11
importance of, 5–6, 30
overview of, 2, 4, 16
from script to production,
10–12
videotape-recording checklist for, 236–238
Preproduction team, 18, 20,
22–25
Preroll, 240
Preserving on-screen positions,
282, 287
Preset, zoom lens. See Calibration, zoom lens
Production assistant (PA), 21,
25, 29, 33
Production checklist, 238–241
Program bus, 210, 213–215,
217–218
Program input, 309
Program log, 309
Quartz lamps, 166, 174–175
Rack-focus effect, 110
Raincoats, camera, 90, 332
Recording check, 242
Recording levels, 240
Recording media, 242–244, 247,
252, 330
Reverberation (echo), 138
RGB (red, green, blue)
as additive primary colors,
152
in beam splitter, 69
in video image formation,
38, 52, 57–60, 162
in video recorder systems,
231–233
in white balancing, 163, 164
Rico, Gabriele Lusser, 8n3
Rough-cut, 25, 248, 269,
271–272
Rough texture, 158
Rule of thirds, 100–103
Rundown sheet, 362, 364, 365
Run-out signal, 241
Run-through, 29, 32
Program objective
defined, 2, 362
developing a, 9
in production process, 4,
5, 394
and set design, 316
used by director, 363
Record-protect device, 237–238
S.A. (studio address) system,
298, 303, 308, 387
Record VTR, 257
Safe title area, 190, 192–193
Reddish light, 89, 162–164, 310
Safety tips, 89–92, 174–175,
315, 334
Reel-to-reel audiotape
machines, 143
Sampler, 144
Private line (P.L.). See P.L. intercommunication systems
Program retrieval, 309
Reflected light, 152, 156
Sampling rate, 43, 46, 49
Program sound, 306
Sampling software, 147
Process message, 2, 4, 5
Progressive scanning, 36, 40, 48
Reflector, lighting, 166, 169,
182–184, 331–332
Producer, 19, 21–23, 25–27,
33–34, 306
Prompting devices, 344,
354–356, 361
Producer-director, 25, 33
Properties (props), 298,
314–316, 320, 347
Preview monitors, 304, 308
Preview/preset bus, 210, 213,
214, 215–221
Primary colors, additive, 152,
161, 162
Prism block, 57
Product demonstrations, 364
Production
overview of, 2, 4–5
team for, 18, 20, 25–30,
33–34, 319
tips for postproduction,
264–269
videotape-recording checklist for, 238–241
Red on-camera clothing, 359
Refresh rate, 36, 40, 42
Rehearsals, 32, 384–387, 390,
394
Sampling, 36, 43, 46, 49
Satellite uplink truck, 325, 336
Scanning
defined, 36, 37
types of scanning systems,
36, 38–42
Property manager, 22, 25
Remote control unit (RCU), 63,
64, 331
Property storage, 310
Remotes. See Big remotes
Scoop, 169, 176, 178
Prop list, 319
Remote survey, 326–329
Screen, viewfinder, 50, 61
Props. See Properties
Remote truck, 322, 336, 337
Screen-center placement, 100
Protection copies, 242, 266, 335
Repeating action, 357
Psychological closure, 94,
104–107, 113
Reporter, news, 324
Screen depth, 94, 107–110,
113–114
Resolution, picture, 59
Screen forces, 99–100, 113
Scenery, 301, 310–314, 316, 320
421
INDEX
Screen-left/-right, 72
Screen (set piece), 314
Screen size, 42, 95, 96, 98, 112
Scrims, 157, 168, 169, 184
Script, 10–12, 24, 362, 375–379,
391–392, 394
Script formats
fact/rundown sheet, 364, 365
news script, 364–366
overview of, 394
partial two-column A/V
script, 370
single-column drama script,
371, 372
two-column A/V script,
365–370
Seamless paper, 313
SECAM system, 231
SEG (special-effects generator),
196, 206, 259
Sennheiser ME 2 microphone,
133
Sennheiser MKH 70 microphone, 133
Sensor, 58–59
Sequence, shot, 277, 278,
294–295, 373, 387
Sequencing cues, 381
Servo-zoom mechanism, 89
Set, computer-generated, 316,
338–339
pads, 240, 241, 265
pickup shot, 278–279
See also Aesthetics
Short-focal-length lens, 53,
54, 68
Shot breakdown, 392
Shotgun microphone, 120–122,
127–128, 148, 348
Shot(s)
bust shot, 97, 98
cross-shot, 94, 97, 98
cutaway, 266, 276, 291, 293,
392
defined, 362
extreme long shot, 94, 98
full shot, 94, 98
knee shot, 97, 98
long shot, 94, 98
medium shot, 94, 98, 127
in nonlinear editing, 251,
253, 254
over-the-shoulder shot, 94,
97, 98, 288, 356, 375
selecting, 252, 256
three-shot, 97, 98, 281, 282
two-shot, 97, 98, 286
visualization of, 371
See also Close-ups; Framing
a shot; Source footage
Shot selection, 252, 256
Set design, 316–319
Shot sequence, 277, 278,
294–295, 373, 387
Set dressings, 315, 320
Shot sequencing, 256
Set light. See Background light
Shot sheet, 362, 379
Set modules, 312–313
Shoulder-mounted camcorder,
61, 62, 73, 77, 89
Single-chip video cameras,
58–59
Sound on source (SOS), 364
Single-column drama script,
362, 371, 372
Sound perspective, 123, 148
Single-source linear editing
system, 257–258, 273
Sitcom set, 318
Site survey, 326–329
635A microphone, 133
Sound on tape (SOT), 364
Sound pickup principle, 118,
149
Sound presence, 148–149
Soundproofing, studio, 301
Sound recording, 141–144
Slating, 239, 240, 264–265, 391
Sound-recording equipment,
61, 62, 138, 141–146, 244
Slide fader, 116, 134, 135
Sound track, 294
Slow falloff, 152, 160, 161
Sound waveform, 116, 146
Slow lens, 50, 56
Source footage
capture of, 248, 252–253,
309, 324
in nonlinear editing, 48, 254,
269–270
in paper-and-pencil editing,
271
in postproduction, 15, 264,
335
review and logging of,
266–269
Slow-motion effects, 48, 68
SM58 microphone, 133
SM63L microphone, 133
Small EFP floodlight, 173
Small portable production
switchers, 212
SMPTE/EBU (Society of Motion
Picture and Television Engineers/European Broadcasting Union) time code,
146, 240, 248, 261
Source VTR, 257
Softlight, 169–170, 176, 184
Speakers, studio, 303
Softwall flat (scenery), 311–312
Special camera mounts, 81–83
Soft wipe, 200, 201
Special-effect cues, 381
Sony ECM 55/77 microphone,
133
Special effects. See Graphics
and effects
Sony ECM 88 microphone, 133
Special-effects generator (SEG),
196, 206, 259
Sony ECM 672 microphone,
133
SOS (sound on source), 364
Special-purpose lights, 165,
172–173
SOT (sound on tape), 364
Speech transcription (editing),
269
Sound. See Audio
Speed confirmation, 388
Set props (properties), 298,
314–316, 320
Shure SM58 microphone, 133
Sound aesthetics, 123, 147–149
Spill period, 32
Shure SM63L microphone, 133
Sound bites, 278
Split edit, 262, 264, 269
Setup, 32, 66, 316–319
Shutter speed, 70, 88, 91, 93
Sound calibration, 136, 137
Split screen, 200
Sound continuity, 148–149
Sporting events, 131, 322
Sound control
audio console, 137–138
audio mixer, 132, 134–137
cables and patch panel,
139–140
headphones for, 128
manual volume control, 132
riding gain, 123, 134–135
in studio production, 308
XLR pad, 135
Sportscasters, miking, 130–131
Sound designer, 23, 26, 33, 34
Set pieces, 313–314
720p scanning system, 36, 41,
243
Sigmund, Phil, 364n1
Shadows, 152, 157–161, 182,
187, 339
Signal processing, 60
Shallow depth of field, 109, 110
Shock mount, 127
Shooter, 324
Shooting
cross shooting, 289, 290
cutaway shots, 266, 276, 291,
293
editing considerations
during, 264, 278
EFP, 330, 332–335
indoors, 323, 333–334
outdoors, 330, 332–333
Signal noise, 45, 47
Signal transport, 45–47,
324–326
Simple monitor stack, 305
Singer mics, 124–125, 130, 131
Single-camera directing, 362,
389–395
Single-camera field production
directing, 391–393
Spotlights, 152, 165–169,
172–173
Spreader, tripod, 78
Spun-glass cloth, 168, 169, 184
Square pillar (set piece), 314
Squeezing, video effect, 203
Stabilizer harness, 82, 83
Standard camera chain, 66
Single-camera production, 2,
14, 357, 390
Sound distortion, 135
Standard electronic video
effects, 196–201
Sound engineer, 391
Standards converter, 231–232
Single-camera studio directing,
390–391
Sound-generating element,
microphone, 120–122
Standard television (STV).
See STV
422
INDEX
Standby procedures, 387
Studio lighting, 175–180, 307
Stand microphones, 129–130,
348
Studio lighting instruments,
165–167, 169–173, 301,
302, 307
Static setup, 373
Steadicam, 81, 93
Stereo mixer, 134
Sticks, 65, 70, 78–81
Stopwatches, 307, 349
Storage systems, linear, 227,
228, 246
Storage systems, nonlinear,
242–244, 247, 252, 330
Storyboard artist, 24
Storyboards, 264, 265, 373, 390
Streaming data, 44, 49
Stretching, video effect, 192,
203
Strike (studio cleanup), 33, 335
Strip light, 173
Studio
control room, 303–308
floor plan, 319
major installations, 302–303
master control, 308–310
physical layout, 300–302
scenery/properties/set
dressings, 311–315
set design, 316–319
support areas, 310
Studio address (S.A.) system,
298, 303, 308, 387
Studio boom, 129
Studio cameras
care and operation guidelines, 91–92
ENG/EFP conversion to,
64, 65
ƒ-stop markings and, 56
function and elements of,
64–67, 246
light level for, 155
manual focus control on, 86
mounting head, 70, 78–79,
85, 93
rocker switch feature, 89
white-balancing of, 164
zoom control, 89
Studio control room, 298,
303–308, 320
Studio pedestal, 64, 70, 83–84,
91
Studio producer, 21, 25
Studio production
automated production control (APC) in, 222–224
benefits of, 297, 299
communicating with
personnel, 26–28
converging with field
production, 12–15
elements of, 320
monitors for, 298, 303,
304–306
personnel for, 22, 33
single-camera studio
directing, 390–391
See also Control room directing; Multicamera studio
production directing;
News production
Studio speakers, 303
Studio support areas, 310, 320
Studio talkback, 298, 303, 308,
387
Stunt bar, 82
STV (standard television)
aspect ratio in, 94, 96, 190,
192, 206
video image formation in,
38, 40
Style, graphic, 196
Subject placement, 100–101
Subtractive color mixing, 162
Supercardioid pickup pattern/
mic, 120
Superimposition (super), 190,
196–197, 216
Survey team, 24
S-VHS, 232
S-video cable, 252
S-video component system,
226, 230–232, 234, 246
S-video connector, 67, 69, 238
Sweep (set piece), 314
auto-transition (AUTOTRANS) button, 216,
218–220
background (BKGD) button,
216–218, 220
basic switcher functions, 213
black (BLK) button, 215, 220
chroma keying, 222
CUT button, 214, 218, 221,
222
delegation controls, 216–217
downstream keyer (DSK),
210, 222
effects bus, 210, 216, 217, 220
for electronic video effects,
196, 200
fader bar, 210, 216, 219, 220
key bus, 210, 213, 216,
220–222
M/E (mix/effects) bus, 210,
214, 216–217
mix bus, 210, 213, 217–220
MIX button, 216–218
multicamera setup for, 14, 15
in multiple-source linear
editing, 258, 259
overview of, 209, 210, 224
preview bus, 210, 213, 215,
216
production switcher,
211–214, 224
program bus, 210, 213–215,
217–218
in studio production, 304,
306, 307, 309–310
switcher layout, 214–217
switcher operation, 217–222
WIPE button, 217
defined, 21, 344, 361
directing the, 386, 390
in ENG/EFP, 25, 33, 324
floor manager’s cues,
386–388
importance of understanding role of, 343, 361
miking the, 124–125, 130–132
See also Actors; Performers
Talking heads, 117, 373
Tally light, 92
Tape-based videotape-recording systems, 227, 228, 246
Tape counter, 240
Tape format, 231–232
Tape labeling, 242
Tapeless recording media,
242–244, 247, 252, 330
Tapeless videotape-recording
systems, 226, 228, 246
Target audience, 4, 5
TBC (time base corrector), 226,
235–236
TD. See Technical director (TD)
Technical center, 336
Technical director (TD)
general role of the, 23–25
in preproduction, 27, 33
in production, 33, 387
in studio production, 306,
307, 320
switching by, 209, 211
as technical crew chief, 331
in walk-through/camera
rehearsal, 386
Sync generator, 65, 66
Technical meeting, 32
Synchronization, audio/video,
146, 239
Technical production personnel, 18, 20, 23, 33
Sync pulses, 229, 262–263
Technical supervisor, 22, 23, 24
Synthesized sound, 147
Telephoto lens, 53–55, 75, 88,
109, 110, 113–114
Synthetic environments, 313,
322, 338–341
Synthetic image creation, 191,
204–206
Take
defined, 362, 384
logging a, 241, 266–268, 334,
335
Teleprompter, 65, 344, 354, 365
Television stations, 25, 202,
228, 243
1080i scanning system (highdefinition), 36, 41, 243
Tent diffusers, 171
Test equipment, 331
Test tone, 137, 238–239
Studio conversion of ENG/EFP
camera, 64, 65
Sweetening (audio), 26, 116,
141, 336
Studio doors and walls, 301
Switcher architecture, 214
Take number, 239, 264–265
Texture, on-camera clothing,
358
Studio floor and ceiling,
300–301
Switcher layout, 214–217
Taking a level, 348
Texture, shadows and, 158
Switcher/switching
automated production
control, 222–223
Talent
blocking the, 374, 385
briefing the, 32
Three-dimensional (3D) image
creation, 204
Studio installations, major,
302–303, 320
Take cue, 388
Threefold flat (scenery), 312
423
INDEX
Three-point lighting, 152,
175–176, 179–180, 184,
185, 188
Tripod spreader, 78
Vertical wipe, 200
Tripod-supported camera,
78–81
VHS recorders, 234
Three-shot, 97, 98, 281, 282
Truck, uplink, 322, 325, 336
TH (tungsten-halogen) lamps,
166
Video camera prism block, 57
Truck (camera movement),
70, 73
Tilt (camera movement), 70, 72,
73, 76, 85
24 fps, 42, 48, 68
Video camera
beam splitter (prism block),
57–58, 69
camcorders, 61–63
camera movement, 72–75,
93, 98–99, 110–113
camera positions, 288, 375
digital cinema, 59, 68, 69
ENG/EFP, 63–64
function of, 51–53
imaging device or sensor, 51,
58–59, 68, 69
lens, 51, 53–56, 68
studio, 64–67
video signal processing, 60
viewfinder, 60–61
See also Camera mounts;
Operating the camera
Tilting the horizon line, 104
2 GB SD (2 gigabytes Secure
Digital) memory card, 143
Time base corrector (TBC), 226,
235–236
Two-column A/V script, 362,
365–370
Time code, 240, 241, 266, 335
Two-column A/V script, partial,
370
Time code reader, 261
Time code system, 260–262, 266
Time code track, 229
Time cues, 349–351, 353
Time line
in control room directing,
379, 383–384
defined, 18, 34, 362
in nonlinear editing, 253, 254
sample production, 30–33
use of EFP, 332, 334
Timing, performer, 349
Titles
graphics, 192–196, 206
keying of, 210, 213, 216,
220–221
as key source, 197
prevalence of, 191
synthetic image creation
of, 204
Tongue (boom movement), 70,
73, 74–75
Two-column documentary
script, 362, 365–370
Two-column news script, 366
Twofold flat (scenery), 311–312
Two-point indoor lighting, 184
Two-shot, 97, 98, 286
Ultracardioid pickup pattern/
mic, 120
Umbrella reflector, 171,
183–185
Undercranking, 68
Unidirectional pickup pattern/
mic, 116, 119
Uplink truck, 322, 325, 336
USB cable, 67
Utility personnel, 25, 33
VHS tape, 232, 237
types of videotape recorders,
233–235
Y/C component, 230–232
Y/color difference component, 230–233
Video-record operator, 23,
25, 34
Video server, 223, 226, 228, 243
Video signal processing, 60
Video slate, 239
Videotape
basic tracks, 228–230
“blackened” tapes, 264
export to, 256
in field production preparations, 237
labeling in the field, 242
as viable media, 227,
233–234, 242
Videotape editor, 23, 34
Videotape recorders. See VTRs
Videodisc, 141, 142
Videotape-recording process
checklists
postproduction, 242
preproduction, 236–238
production, 238–241
Video editor, 23, 34
Video track, 226, 228–230, 246
Video effects. See Graphics and
effects
Viewfinder, 50, 52, 60
Videocassette recorder (VCR),
228, 242, 271
Video connectors, 67
Video engineer, 25
Videographer, 23, 25, 33, 394
Variable-focal-length lens.
S