A Guide to the Jobs in Creating Quality Programming
Specific jobs may change from school to school, but the duties of the many people on the production team are clear and pretty much remain the same. These jobs comprise the standard live show staff. There are also many jobs and duties involved in running a production facility as an organization and in planning and creating stories for other broadcasts. These might include a weekly magazine show, a sports telecast, graduation, or any other special event.
It would be impossible to include every duty and detail a given job might entail. What follows should be taken as a guide to the high points of the responsibilities in each individual job
Remember that broadcasting is largely a lesson in problem solving.
When difficulties arise, how well they are handled will largely determine how successful the production team is.
Before selecting the group of students that will become the production team, it is a good idea to list and identify the jobs and positions that you need to fill. Any teacher or media specialist will tell you never have more students than you have jobs! You should know that saying, "idle hands. . . . . . . .!" It is never more true than in this situation.
Likewise, never assign a student a position that is not a "real" job. For example, don't have a lighting director if you don't have any lights to adjust. If all your student has to do is flip on the light switch to turn on the fluorescent lights in the ceiling: that is not a job. A set director should have more duties than just changing the bulletin-board paper behind the anchor desk once every nine weeks. Each student in the team should have an active part in producing the news show. The more sophisticated the show, the more jobs that are needed to fulfill the positions.
That said, here is a list of possible jobs you may need to produce a typical news show.
The Line Producer is responsible for producing that day's program. He or she is in charge the studio for the day and oversee the setup of and preparation of studio. Also the run down, overall broadcast when it's the air, including directing performance of the anchors and other presenters on the program.
The Line Producer should oversee the pre-show run-through, making certain that the script is smooth and that any tricky portions are corrected and, if needed, phonetic spellings are added. Direct the run- through. Make certain anchors are sitting up, speaking clearly, pacing the material properly, pausing between items, and making a pleasant presentation with a smile. Be in charge of the run-through. Keep the studio quiet and orderly. Make certain everyone is on-task and working hard to prepare for the program.
Anchors are responsible for the day's script (with oversight from the assigned producer), preparing properly the broadcast, presenting script on-air in a pleasant professional manner, and generally serving as the hosts the day's broadcast. During live show, anchors are to present the script in a professional manner. (See A Guide to On-Air Performance, later in this book.) They should present with good posture, speak clearly for the microphones, pace reading clearly and slowly, take appropriate breaks between items in the script, and smile with a pleasant, happy expression throughout the show. They should be mindful they may be on camera at any moment during the show, should behave accordingly, and should not watch themselves on the studio monitor. They should carefully keep track of pitches and catches during the show and should handle any emergencies or problems which occur during the program calmly and so as to create the least disruption possible.
The Director calls the shots and is in charge of the production.
During the broadcast, the Director should:
• Guide camera persons on the design good shots.
• Perform a live mix of the show using a video mixer. Mix must be with quick, interesting cuts at the appropriate times and no miscued cuts. Use only standard fades or wipes.
• Handle playing of all videotapes and clips that are included as part of the broadcast.
• Work to cover any mistakes on the broadcast by keeping them off the air.
The camera persons are responsible for cameras and camera work for the broadcast.
At the beginning of the period, camera person should set up their camera on the tripod, hook up all wiring and turn the camera on. Check to make certain the camera is feeding signal to the control room. . Cameras should not be turned on until fluorescent lights are off and show lights are on as they adjust to the light they initially encounter. White balance the camera to the light that will be used on the broadcast.
The camera operator should be present in the studio during the run- through and paying attention to become familiar with that day's run- down and to pre-plan shots. This is a practice for cameras as well as anchors. Special shots can be planned for some shows.
During the broadcast, the camera operator follows the direction of the director to compose the needed shots. It is important that shots be varied to avoid a visually boring presentation, but the operator should be careful not to change the shot while his or her camera is on live. Any movement should be performed when the camera is offline and under direction of the director.
It is also important that the camera operator fill the frame with the subject rather than centering subjects in a wide field of unimportant visual information.
After the broadcast, the camera operator must disconnect the camera, carefully disengage it from the tripod, and stow it safely in its designated place.
The teleprompter operator scrolls the script for one or two run-throughs prior to air time. During run-throughs, this person works with the anchors to perfect the script. As a group, they should look for portions of the script which are tricky and rewrite these so that the script will flow smoothly during the broadcast. Any words which prove a pronunciation problem may be rewritten phonetically for the broadcast.
During the show, the operator operates the teleprompter. It is crucial that he or she does so extremely carefully so as not to jump to the wrong portion in the script. Remember that people generally read a bit ahead of what they are saying and roll through the script accordingly. Try to move smoothly through the script, not in a choppy or jumpy manner.
Character Generator (CG) Operator
This person will create all the pages; of text using the character generator or modifying the overlays which will be used in the broadcast. The opening page may a standard opening previously created and stored in the media bin. I Any changes or additions to the I credit rolls should be made and saved.
Avoid visual clutter. Choose one font or two matching fonts and stick with them. If a standard has been imposed, use the standard format.
Make sure that the text will be readable against the background. Be careful of the spelling of all words and names. Nicknames or joke names should not be used. You should also have pages prewritten for emergencies. The person carrying out this role should know where these are located and should be able to broadcast them in the event of an emergency. It is a good idea to have the opening page of the run on screen to block those tuning in early from seeing preparations for the show.
Before the show, the audio engineer must on the sound board check that it is working properly and the signal is of proper strength. Using the meters, make certain all microphones are feeding sound and that all members of the broadcast can be heard. Work with the line producer on this.
Control the audio appropriately during the run-through simulating a live broadcast. Remain present in the studio and pay attention to run-throughs to plan for the actual show.
Choose appropriate music for the broadcast. Music should be upbeat - nothing dark or heavy. It is your responsibility to make sure that music chosen is appropriate for your in-school broadcast. It must be completely clean with no bad language, sexual innuendo or explicit references to drugs, alcohol or violence. If you disregard these rules, you can be punished. Before the show, cue up music and pre-set the audio level on the music channel in the audio mixer.
In the last five minutes before air time, pot down all microphones to prevent audio to be broadcast to classrooms that might have tuned in early.
Sound should be loud enough but clear and clean. As the final title on the opening credits fades, fade down the music, then pause the disk for use at the close of the show.
During the show, control the audio of all input sources, working to keep them out of the red-line on meters without topping out and getting blurry.
Script Editors have a heavy responsibility to make sure that everything necessary is in the script, that all writing is clear and grammatical, and that all elements of the script are completed and up-to-date. If problems are evident, script editors must gather all necessary information and make all necessary corrections.
This job requires editors with strong grammatical and writing skills and the ability to organize. Careful analysis and editing of the script is important.
Daily News Producer
This producer goes online every day prior to broadcast time and finds two appropriate and interesting national or local news stories to be highlighted in the daily program. The adviser will discuss appropriate and approved sources for this information. The stories are then printed, important facts are highlighted, and the papers are then considered for use by the anchors in the creation of the day's script.
Daily News Producers should use sound news judgment to choose stories for the broadcast. Consider:
• Is the story of major national importance?
• Does the story affect our students?
• Does the story affect High School age people?
• Is the story particularly unusual or interesting?
• Does the story affect our town or county?
The sports producers have simple, but key duties:
• Gather scores from the previous day's (or weekend's) and sporting events
• Provide scores and results a timely manner to the for inclusion in the script each day
• Make certain sports schedules are available and included in the daily script
• Assist producers in the planning and scheduling of taped report shoots of key sporting events and feature stories
Guest Segment Producers
Ideally, there should be special guests on the broadcasts as often as possible. The segment producers work to plan and schedule these guests and events. Each pair of producers should be constantly on the lookout for guests and events that can be included on the live show. These can be in-school or from out-of-school as long as they are entertaining and informative. A suggested number of segments to be produced by each team will be discussed in your class.
Often, guests come on the show to promote events around school. Therefore, segment producers should keep track of upcoming events and schedule guests accordingly. Other segments are about interesting people, groups or things going on around the school.
The Segment Producers:
• Make contact with guests or teachers.
• Work with potential guests to plan segments in advance
• Schedule the event on the show
• Prepare the set for the event.
• Work with segment hosts to plan questions/interviews/intros &. outros.
• Arrange for guests to arrive on set at the appropriate time.
• Oversee the live presentation of the segment.
• Thank guests and escort them out of the studio.
• Clean up the set.
Examples of guests or events that could be featured on the show:
• Organization raffle drawings
• Special musical events Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc.
• The annual school play or musical
• Art students who exhibit in the art show
• Chemistry students who blew stuff up real well .
• Special sporting events / playoffs, etc.
Special Segment Producers
The Special Segment producers should:
• Solicit and gather prizes for an event
• Organize, store and track prizes
• Write daily quiz questions and add them to the script
• Get daily quiz questions approved by the adviser
• Arrange prizes and entries on the set the day of the show
• Oversee the live presentation of the segment
• Deliver prizes to the recipient
• Make contact with teachers and contestants and arrange for them to come to the program well in advance
• Determine whether classes are coming to view the live show and arrange the studio
• Clean up the set and put away all the elements of your segment
When writing questions, remember that they should be somewhat challenging, but not so difficult as to exclude people. Choose questions that someone who has been paying attention might know. You do want to encourage participation. In addition, choose questions that have a hook to the date or things going on. Generally, we have themed sets of questions, i.e. baseball, Black history, holidays, etc.
Bloopers producers gather funny moments shot by the staff and assemble them into regular segments on the program. These blooper segments could be produced and shown as a special program.
• Address the staff and encourage them to keep track of and provide bloopers
• Search through taped report footage for bloopers
• Download footage found to a file in a computer you have established
• Remember that footage can also be downloaded from the live show
• Assemble footage into a quarterly segment of bloopers
Remember that bloopers footage must be appropriate for airing in
• Makes certain there is a fresh media in the output VCR or DV recorder for use each day
• Makes certain the line producer records the program each day
• Makes certain the line producer stops the tape at the end of each program
• Gathers and libraries all tapes or DVD of the live TV show
• Gathers and libraries all taped collections of taped reports
• Catalogs all taped collections of taped reports for the year and keeps those catalogs available
• Downloads captured reports to a portable hard drive after they have run on the program and clears them from the original medium
• Provides media as needed to staff and tracks it.
The equipment manager is in charge of all the schools portable video production materials.
• Signs all equipment in and out of the room
• Tracks the location of all equipment at all times
• Organizes camera bags and prepares sets of equipment to leave the studio for on-location production
• Makes certain the appropriate shoes are with tripods at all times
• Checks and maintains the condition of all equipment and reports any issues to the advisor
• Makes certain that equipment needed is in the stucio and available in time for the live show each day
• Makes certain that cameras are assigned to capture sotires and that equipment is available for all planned shooting
Floor (Stage) Manager
The stage manager is in charge of the studio.
• Makes certain everything needed is on the set and ready every day
• Makes sure the set is clean and neat every day
• Makes certain that all debris is removed from the set daily
• The set is appropriately decorated for all holidays and events
• Cleans, dusts and vacuums the entire set on a regular basis
• Cleans the production desk.