Breaking out of the Basement–Going Remote #360

Photo Retrieved June 16, 2015 from Tele-Tech magazine, Caldwell-Clements, Inc., New York, Vol. 12, No. 2, February 1953, p. 143 on (1)

Having spent this semester cloistered in the relative luxury of the campus TV Studio and having just read a chapter in Television Production Handbook on Field Production (2), I finally realize just how spoiled we are by the sameness and reliability of our studio shoots. We walk into class, turn the equipment on, assume our assigned positions for the day, prepare the video and audio equipment for recording and off we go on our newest video adventure—usually interviews and panel discussions.

No one makes lists, as we generally shoot on the fly; all the camera and control room equipment stays plugged in; the lights are hung on the grid to provide optimum coverage of the performance area; inclement weather has little effect on our plans. Most of the broadcasts we shoot get corrected in postproduction; many of the projects never get broadcast at all—a good thing for cautious learners like myself.

As part of my Studio Production training, we have not had any Remote or Field Production experience, mercifully, as field production even the simplest two-person Electronic News Gathering (ENG) footage requires experience and a depth of knowledge that novices simply do not have. Being away from the stability and familiarity of the studio seems thoroughly overwhelming to me, even after a semester in the studio.

Preparation and production at a remote location requires meticulous organization, insane preparation and, for large production teams, a great deal of trust that every member of the team will do their job professionally. Location surveys, equipment lists, location sketches, power sources, permits, time lines, transportation, lodging (when required), communication systems, and getting the recorded footage to the airwaves are just a few of the complications one faces when venturing outside the studio.

The responsibilities of a solo Video Journalist (VJ), shooting news footage with a camcorder and microphone, relying on station editors to integrate the footage into a news cast, seem manageable from my newbie perspective. Even working as a two-person remote segment team, filming the latest siren-worthy event, with minimal equipment and no preparation has an appeal, especially to an experienced print journalist/actor like myself.  But the thought of filming “Big Remotes” like sporting events, concerts, parades, debates with trucks or vans full of equipment, large crews, bad weather, fluctuating light sources, unpredictable audio, and a host of other complications has become fodder for my latest college-pressure nightmares. (2)

What I find most astonishing about TV production is the seamlessness of multi-location shows like Midsomer Murders, Vampire Diaries, or West Wing and the thrilling presentation of any NFL or NBA broadcast. I have been watching television all of my life and had never really examined the crazy quilt of work that goes in to even the simplest production until now. The Six o’clock News seems magical to me of late, as I have gleaned an understanding of the collaborative skill that goes into every segment. Watching television maybe a sedentary occupation but making television requires a level of focus, intensity and athleticism guaranteed to keep most people fit, both physically and mentally.

I took this course—Studio Production– as a preamble to Music Video, my ultimate goal for this vein of study.  After this semester, I realize that most of my music video shoots will be remote and will require me to embrace the chaos of leaving the studio. Working with a small, trusted production crew and minimal equipment, I hope to learn the ropes and at long last, video-graph the music I have written over the course of my life.

“A dream doesn’t become reality by magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”–Colin Powell (3)


  1. Photo Retrieved June 16, 2015 from Tele-Tech magazine, Caldwell-Clements, Inc., New York, Vol. 12, No. 2, February 1953, p. 143 on
  2. Zettl, Herbert; Television Production Handbook, San Francisco State University, Twelfth Edision; 2015: Pages 372-405
  3. Dreams; Brainy-quotes:

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