Television Production Handbook 
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1980-2009 Roger Inman & Greg Smith. All rights reserved.


There are essentially two ways of doing television. Programs are shot either in a specially designed television studio using several cameras which are fed into a control room and assembled in "real time," or they are shot using a single camera on location and assembled later in an editing room or on a computer. Obviously, almost all non-professional video is shot using a single camera. That makes it what the pros call "electronic field production," or EFP.

In electronic field production, the director is like a composer of music, creating and assembling images and impressions, fitting them together carefully, weighing the quality and importance of each as he goes. He works much as a film director would, in a linear fashion from one shot to the next, one scene to the next. He is dealing with only one picture and one situation at a time. Since the program will be edited later, he can shoot out of sequence, repeat shots, and record extra shots to be included later. Electronic field production allows for a richness of scene and artistic creativity born sometimes out of necessity and sometimes out of opportunities suggested by the location itself.

Professionals spend most of their time planning, scripting, and organizing their productions. The amount of time spent actually recording the program is surprisingly short compared to the time spent preparing for it. Each program goes through several important stages, from development of the concept through planning and scripting, then on to set design or location scouting, acquisition of performers and rehearsal. Along the way, the producer schedules his equipment, finds a competent crew, and brings all of the necessary elements together for actual production of the program.

Television is an amalgam of many diverse disciplines. Professional productions often depend on the skill and cooperation of many people, as well as the ability of the producer and director to bring these people together in a cooperative effort. On the other hand, with digital technology, it is also possible to be a "one man band," performing all of the various functions yourself, and produce a “broadcast quality” program. While this book will deal with many of the techniques of production, it doesn't pretend to tell you how to do anything. After all, rules are made to be broken. Or ignored. Still, picking the mind of a professional television producer will help you get better results every time you pick up a camera.

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