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
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.