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Rules for TV Direction

1) Be Prepared---set a goal for your production
2) Know precisely what you want from each crew member....and tell them
3) Be specific and decisive
4) Project confidence. Be firm, but never ridicule! Television programs will be long forgotten but sometimes broken relationships aren't.
5) Do not scream at the crew for mistakes! PARTICULARLY during the broadcast.
6) Be respectful of each person. They're all human, too!


Here's a good checklist of preparations before you record any interview segment (or any other program):

1) Be sure your headphones work and you can communicate with all floor personnel

2) Be certain your floor director can communicate as this is the one person you will verbally communicate with more than any other

3) Be certain your audio operator is in place

4) See that your talent and guest(s) are properly placed

5) Be certain your videotape operator is in place

6) Get your three cameras in position for your initial shots. Be specific with instructions: wide shot, medium shot, 2-shot, knee shot, etc.

7) Prepare your crew for any camera movement you expect during the segment, in advance.

8) Ask for a microphone (mic) check from each on-set person, one at a time. Ask them to speak at the volume level they intend to speak while in the segment. Counting or engaging in a conversation would be acceptable for a mike check.

9) When mikes and camera are ready, you are ready to record the segment:

  • Instruct your tape operator to "roll tape"
  • When tape is rolling and up to "speed," tape op should give a "speed" cue
  • Next step is to take "bars and tone." Give a "ready to take bars and tone" cue, then "take bars and tone" by fading up from black to the color bars, with audio op raising the tone on the audio board to 100%.
  • Tape op should check to see if audio on tape machine is calibrated at 100%. If so, you are ready to "take out bars and tone." Advisable is to give a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown to taking it out by fading to black.
  • Give a 30-second cue to the floor. Remind your crew on which camera you will begin (and end) the segment. The floor director should relay those cues to your "host."
  • Give a 15-second cue, then a countdown from 10 to 1. After 1, say "cue talent" and fade up from black simultaneously. The talent should begin talking the moment the picture fades up, if this is carried out properly.
  • Start your clock timer.
  • When the talent begins, alert your crew, "I'm on (# of camera)."

Camera Movement Cues

Tilt Down for less headroom

Tilt Up for more headroom

Pan Left moves objects or people to the right

Pan Right moves objects/people to the left

Zoom In brings objects closer

Zoom Out moves objects further away

Dolly In for full camera movement forward

Dolly Out for full camera movement backward

Truck Left or Right for full camera movement in either direction

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