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October 2017

In the magazine
Only available in print
  • The Facilities 50
    Jon Creamer launches Televisual's 30th exclusive annual Facilities 50 survey featuring the top post production houses in the UK and 52 pages of analysis of the sector
  • Interview: Grant Mansfield
    Hiring top talent and investing heavily in development have been key to growing his Bristol indie Plimsoll Productions, says founder Grant Mansfield
  • The clear view: lenses
    What ever genre you work in, you need to be lens savvy. Here three DoPs guide us through the lens market, picking out the models they like to use in drama and factual
  • Over the top
    The growth of Netflix and Amazon is proving a boon for UK indies, but broadcasters are starting to panic. Tim Dams reports
From the magazine
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  • Blue Planet II
    The producers of Blue Planet II tell Tim Dams how tech advances and military planning helped them capture the secrets of the deep
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The Art Of Studio Direction Back to Reports & survey Listing


The crew I work with are very familiar with my style and my convoluted notes. Getting everything to gel is such a symbiotic process that I like to jump straight in and tweak as we go. Until you actually see it you won’t really be able to realise the idea. I have open talk back to all departments, but while the show is running the main two people I talk to are the gallery producer and the floor manager – the equivalent of an AD in film.

This is the most important person for me during a live show. If things are calm then the airwaves should be pretty clear and communication between myself and the lighting director is the way most people know that things are smooth. My script supervisor and vision mixer sit right next to me and unfortunately for them have to listen to my jibber jabber for hours on end. They cannot switch me off!

Meticulous planning
I love a scripted show. Every shot in The X Factor and The Brits is pre-ordained and meticulously rehearsed. Then we make constant changes and tweaks until I think we are close to getting the best show possible. It takes a long time but being able to hit one or two beat shots in a music performance is extremely satisfying. It is a relatively analogue process: I watch a rehearsal movie and physically write the cut points on paper using a pencil, sharpener, rubber and ruler – I find this type of prep very liberating.

When things go wrong prior planning is the key. If you know what is supposed to happen, then reacting to things when they don’t go to plan is much easier. You always know the parts of your show where things could get hairy so you make mental contingencies, and always have a plan B in your back pocket.

It is your job to steer the ship through the choppy waters, so clear communication is vital. There should be one clear voice imparting instructions. Then cross your fingers and hope you’ve made the right call. I like a quiet gallery and try to remain as Zen as possible.

The occasional raised voice does happen but there is a difference between reaction and panic.

The right kit
I am extremely picky about lenses and filters. The difference between a J11 and J14 wide angle lens is massive, so I spend a lot of time with the camera supervisor choosing lenses for specific roles.

In a world of live HD I love to use Glimmer Glass #1 – it is subtle but gives you  high production values. However acrylic lenses will provide similar results. Lee Soft 1 or ¼ Black or White Pro Mist really help unflattering close ups whilst enhancing the general glow and sheen – hiding a multitude of HD sins.

I am currently at the vanguard of trying to re-introduce the liberal use of the 4 and 6 Point Star Filter into light entertainment. I consider it a personal crusade.

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