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

Organization of Materials

The materials needed to produce a television program fall into two broad categories. The first consists of the material itself, including the script, on-camera talent, sets, and props. The second consists of the videotape, equipment, and crew which will be involved in production. It's the job of the producer to see to it that both come together at the time of production. Even if you're just shooting home movies, you can appreciate the difficulty in getting the "cast" and your equipment together and ready all at the same time. In the world of professional film and video the problems are the same, only bigger.

Planning and pre-production

The first step in planning a production is usually called a "treatment." This is nothing more than a brief description of the way the material is to be organized and the programmatic goals of the production. For example:

This program is designed to present the services provided by Moving Pictures, including program production, tape duplication, and computer graphics and animation.

This might be followed by an outline showing sequences in the order in which they will appear in the final program and detailing the objectives for each sequence.

I. Open with variety of location shots.

II. Brief description of range of services.

III. POC explains advantages of television over other media.

IV. Examples of too small - too large - too far away - too dangerous concepts.

V. Examples of narrations in different languages.

VI. Computer animation and graphics examples

VIII. Closing statement

The next step is a shot sheet, or storyboard. While a shot sheet describes each shot in writing, a storyboard does the same thing using pictures.

WS Champaign skyline

WS Champaign skyline with MP logo key
1. Aerial WS of Champaign-Urbana 2. Key "Moving Pictures television production & services" over aerial shot
Person on camera

Antique fire truck at parade

3. MWS POC in Vesuvius shop 4. WS Antique fire truck in Fourth of July parade
Telephone wiring

Dick Klein with boy riding special bicycle

5. CU wiring installation at Ameritech Champaign office 6. WS of special "easy to ride" bicycle at Parkland College
Laser light show

Skylights in mall

7. Sequence from "Time Pinnacle" laser light show 8. WS Skylights in Danville Village Mall.

While these storyboard frames were taken from actual video, pictures can be stick figures, cartoons, or (in some cases) professionally painted panels. If it works, its just fine.

Finally, a full script may be written, containing all of the audio and video information to be presented in the program.



Copyright Warning
CU aerial shot MUSIC UP
Key MP Production & Services Music.
over CU aerial shot
POC at Vesuvius intro
Fire truck in parade
Wiring, Ill Bell Champaign office MUSIC UNDER
WS of special "easy to ride" bicycle at Parkland College
"Time Pinnacle" laser show
WS Skylights in Danville Village Mall. NARRATOR: MOVING PICTURES is a television
MP at Business Expo production company.
Danville Village Mall We make television programs for business and government.
Key over stack of labeled tapes We also provide a full range of services related to making and showing television programs,
Tape Duplication from tape duplication to

consulting to
Facilities Design for designing and building
Production both production and
Playback playback facilities.
POC in edit suite POC: At MOVING PICTURES we make pictures that move; images on videotape that move in the literal sense, but also move your audience to understanding or to action. You have a number of ways to communicate with your various audiences;


Not all of these steps are appropriate to every production. In electronic field production the producer will scout each location involved to determine whether lights will be needed, whether sufficient power is available, how any lights will be placed, where the camera will be set up, and how sound recording will be handled. He should visualize each shot, making sure any problems can be overcome and ensuring that the shot will fit into the program without breaking any of the rules of continuity.

For any production that might be shown to the public, the producer should get permission to use each location and make sure that he has a release form for each person he intends to use as on-camera talent at each location. People appearing incidentally in a shot need not sign release forms, provided the taping is done openly in a public place. Even when taping in public places it is a good idea to inform concerned authorities of your intentions to avoid any misunderstandings or problems such as crowd control or interference with other activities at the same location.

If the script calls for the use of any potentially copyrighted materials, it is the responsibility of the producer to acquire the right to use the material, or, failing that, find substitute material for which he can acquire rights. It's important for the producer to anticipate his distribution needs when buying rights, since he could find he has the rights to distribute in one way and needs to distribute in another. For example, having performance rights for a play is not the same as having recording rights to turn it into a television program. And owning a recording of a song in no way gives you the right to use that recording as a part of a program. Special rights called "synchronization rights" are needed to do that.


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