Radio and television production involves many persons. It is, therefore, a team work or activity. The success of each production depends upon harmonious working relationship among the production crew. The crew is made up of the producer, director, set designer, lighting technician, camera persons, floor manager, performers, technical director and sound recordist.
A producer as one of the production crew has his role. He acts as the boss of a production project. According to Warritay (1986:84) his main task is to provide funds for production, or he may represent the financiers. If a producer works in a broadcast station or a production company, he may combine the roles of a producer and director. In radio production not all the crew members would be of use to the production, for example, the camera person would not be necessary because pictures are not needed in radio production.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- explain TV production and production techniques
- identify the roles of the producer and those of the other members of production crew
- explain TV production treatment and basic production methods.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 Definition of Television Production
Television production is regarded as a carefully balanced compromise between artistic aspirations and hard practicalities. There are certain things that seem to be not too important, but without them, production would be marred. These are artistic aspects of the programme. For example, the way your present your ideas, the camera, arrange lighting and sound will give the subject a certain amount of genuineness.
Production could be primarily a matter of organisation, this involves bringing together the right elements, such as, the script, performers, setting, that is equipment and the production crew, “and using cameras and microphones to display the performance through carefully selected shots” (Millerson, 1993:12).
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1
- In your own words, define television production.
3.2 The Producer’s Role in TV Production
In simple terms television production is the art and science of filling a broadcast content. The station’s audience may have a vague idea of the role of the producer or even if the producer exists at all. After other arrangements have been made, the producer decides which programme will go into the day’s broadcast, in what form and in what order. The producer supervises the ordering of all graphics for the production.
Tuggle, Carr and Huffinan (2001:133) state that in carrying out those duties the producer must accomplish the following tasks:
- Precise time of broadcast. The production must end at the appointed time. It should not run long, and it should not run short. Some kind of content must separate the commercial breaks; they can’t bump together.
- Choose the right mix of stories. The producer working in concert with the assignments editor, in case of news programme, newscast resources and coverage are devoted to the right stories, that is those stories that are most newsworthy in line withstation’s philosophy.
- Work with the director and production crew to get the programme on the air. A good producer does not lose sight of the fact that the director is an equal partner in the programme. Good communication and cooperation between the producer and director is absolutely essential.
- Show leadership. The producer makes sure that all the different parts fit together and has to put all efforts together to achieve a satisfactory, high quality product. In doing so, the producer works with many people whose primary responsibilities pertain to a much smaller part of the production. In order to put all these parts together, the producer must have excellent leadership skills and must contribute to a positive and productive work environment.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 2
- By your estimation why must a producer possess leadership qualities?
3.3 The Need for Production Techniques
When the cameraman frames a segment of a scene with the camera lens, he is detaching the scene from reality. The audience members only see what the director wants them to see. They cannot know what is happening around. The lens often conveys what is called impressions of scale, distance and certain proportion of the environment which are often quite false. For example, a small object can be made to dominate the screen, while a big subject may pass unnoticed, but we accept the result as reality.
According to Millerson (1993:84) there are various reasons for production techniques:
- The television does limit the amount of information shown to the audience. Where the camera wants the audience to see a broader view of the scene, a long shot is needed. Where only interaction between people, then a medium shot would be required. A close-up shot would be necessary for specific details. Shots are as such altered from time to time to present the various aspects of the subject and the scene.
- If a subject is talking or holding, for example, a coin, then a close-up shot is necessary. If members of the audience cannot see properly, they become frustrated and, if a shot is held for too long, their interest fails.
- The director is at times directing the audience’s attention to particular aspects of the action or the scene. For example, throwing a stone at the window and breaking the glass, the audience may see or hear the sound only. This will depend on what impact the director wants to make on the audience.
- Effective directing techniques encourage audience reactions. Images presented to the audience members are meant to arouse their interest, persuade and intrigue. They act as encouragement to the audience response. If the techniques are wrongly applied, the audience may become disenchanted with the station and this may lead to the destruction of empathy with the station’s audience.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 3
- What becomes of a production if techniques are carelessly applied?
3.4 Production Treatment
In production, every shot is considered as information package. In ideal situations a series of shots within any sequence or scene should form a continuous thought process in a story line. Shots should not be distorted unless the camera is aiming at a sudden dramatic impact. In a situation where the audience is unable to follow the linkage between shots, they are likely going to be distracted as they face the task of working out what exactly is going on.
In an attempt to move from one scene to another, the camera has to be careful. Change of scenes should not be made to appear unnatural. There are no hard rules in the presentation of a subject, but there are certainly many wrong ways of doing so. Wrong techniques are capable of confusing, misleading or simply being ineffectual.
Millerson (1993:86) states that successful methods can produce such a smooth flow of events that the audience is completely unaware of the mechanics of the production.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 4
- Why is production treatment important in broadcast production?
3.5 Basic Production Methods
Before production begins, certain basic things have to be in place. They include lighting, talent or artist, camera and sound. There are several ways in which production can be organised depending on the type of programme and the method to be adopted.
- Live production – Here the programme is not pre–recorded. The performance is carried out live. To present live transmission that is free from mistakes it requires careful organisation, clear-headed direction, and closely coordinated skilled teamwork. Any problems that arise while on air have either to be covered up in some way or simply accepted (Millerson, 1993:90).
- Basic Retakes – At the end of the rehearsal recording is done continuously and if there are errors of any kind, performance is halted and the bad section is retaken. The section may be recorded all over again or taken separately. If this is done it can be inserted afterwards in its proper place.
- Rehearse-Record Method – This method is also called discontinuous recording. Here individual shots are rehearsed then recorded. Then separate corrective retakes are recorded before proceeding to the next sequence. This method is time consuming and there is always insufficient time to remedy problems in the setting, lighting and costume.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 5
- What are the basic differences between live production and other methods of production?
Production involves many persons and that is why it is regarded as team work. Its success depends largely upon cooperation among the production crew. The hardware for production are cameras, microphones, lights, sets, props, switcher, videotapes, cassettes and multiplexer. All these have to be present for a production to take place. Each unit and section must be closely united or knitted with the other otherwise production would not be possible.
Any programme that comes on air is meant to be consumed with satisfaction by the station’s audience, and that is the station’s principal objective. In doing this the cameraman has to frame his shots in such a way that the audience knows what is happening.
If the audience is faced with a crowded active scene, their eyes would wander at random to select what to view. However, guided action or selection concentrates on detail, spurious factors distracts attentions and a wide angle shot presents details in so small a manner that they lose individual impact. The correct shots give the audience members what they want to view.
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
- What are the principal roles of a producer among the production crew?
- Why would you employ certain techniques during production?
- What is production treatment?