Director's Cues

During production, the director should use a series of standard calls and set procedures to direct the efforts of the video crew.

A consistency of protocol allows the crew to anticipate their responsibilities by following standard operating procedures with clearly defined and universally understood jargon.

Be sure that the directors of the student productions are familiar with these protocols and jargon, and encourage them to adopt these procedures.  The students have seen the procedures and jargon many times in movies and on TV, and will find it thrilling to be part of the action.

Here are the procedures and director’s cues for a typical scene:

Director's Comments           Explanation

Standby on the set.This means "attention" and "quiet" on the set. The command is given 15-30 seconds before rolling tape.
Standby to roll tapeGet ready to start the videotape that will record the show
Roll tapeThe tape is rolled, and when it stabilizes the tape operator calls "speed
Ready to take bars and toneTake bars and tone. The electronic test pattern (ETP) and audio tone is recorded at the reference level (generally 0dB). This segment will be used to set up playback equipment for proper video and audio. This will last from 15 to 60 seconds, depending on the technical requirements of the production facility
Standby camera ONE on slate; stand by to announce slateTake ONE.
Read slate. Camera one's first shot is the slate identifying the show
Standby blackDuring this time the announcer reads the basic program identifying information we previously listed
Go to blackThe technical director cuts to black
Ready TWO with your close-up of lead anchor; ready mic; ready cueThe show opens "cold" (without an introduction of any kind) with a close-up of the host. This "tease" statement is intended to grab attention and introduce the show's guest and topic
Take TWO, mic, cue! Cut to camera two with a close-up of the anchor, turn her mic on, and cue her to start
Stand by ONE on the guest 

Lead anchor introduces subject and makes a quick reference to the guest. host mentions the guest, the director makes a two- to three-second cut to the close-up camera on the guest and then back to host on camera two.

Standby black and standby
to roll commercial on tape 4

 

Roll tape 4. Go black.
Take it.

The commercial is rolled. During the second or two it takes for the tape to stabilize, the TD cuts to black 

The commercial is then taken as soon as it comes up. The audio person brings up the sound on the commercial without being cued. (Everyone's script should list basic information, such as machine playback numbers, etc. Some things, such as cutting mics when they are not needed, are done as needed without a director's command.)

Camera 1 truck left for your wide shotDuring the commercial camera #1 will reposition for the opening wide shot. This shot will be used for keying the opening program titles
Fifteen seconds.
Standby in studio
 
Standby opening announce and theme 
Ready ONE on your wide shot;
ready TWO on a close-up of host
 
Standby to key in title 
Take ONE; hit music; key titleWhen the commercial ends, a wide shot is taken on camera one, the theme music is established, and the title of the show is keyed over the screen
Fade [music] and readThe music is faded under and the opening announce for the show is read by an announcer. This will probably include the show title, followed by the topic, and the name of the show's host
Ready TWO with a close-up on Host. Standby mics and cue 
Take TWO, mic, cueThis is a close-up of the show's interviewer who now fully introduces the day's guest, and asks the first question
Camera 1, ready on your close-up on the guest 


During this time Camera 1 trucks back to the opening position for the close-up of the guest. Host covers the interval for the camera move by fully introducing the show and guest.

 Take ONE The guest answers first question

Show continues alternating between close-ups of host and guest. Occasionally cameras will zoom out to get over-the-shoulder shots. Closing of show is similar in pattern to the opening.

Excluding the commercial all of the above takes less than a minute of production time.

At the end of the show the opening wide shot on camera one can again be used.
During the 30 seconds or so that the interviewer uses to wrap up the show camera one can truck right to the mid-position and zoom back. This shot can be used (possibly with dimmed studio lights) as a background for the closing credits and announce.

Even though this example is a bit of old-fashioned in its format, it illustrates all the things the director is concerned with "behind the scenes" (and it represents a good starting assignment for laboratory exercises).

"Standby"
Note the constant use of the terms "ready" and "standby" in the director's dialogue. During a production, crew members are normally thinking about or doing several things at once, including listening to two sources of audio: the PL line and the program audio. "Standbys" warn them of upcoming actions. They also protect the director.

If a "standby" is given in reasonable time, the director has every right to expect the crew member involved to be prepared for the requested action — or to quickly tell the director about a problem. But if the director simply blurts out, "Take one!" when the cameraperson is not ready, the audience may see a picture being focused, complete with a quick zoom in and out. Since no "standby" warning was given, the director can hardly blame the cameraperson.


Remember: Have fun, Its ONLY Television!

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