The Tricks of the Trade

To make the best format programme possible, it’s important to apply some ‘tricks of the trade’.

TV programs relies a lot on it’s looks so its hugely important to pay attention to Set design and lighting. How you present the studio is really important. It tells the audience everything they need to know about the tone and intended audience of the programme. The colour schemes used in TV are very soft and easy viewing.

In regards to the actually show itself, you have to take into effect the following:

  • How often the shot changes
  • What type of shot (wide shot, medium shot or close up) is used
  • How often the camera moves within a shot
  • What visual clues are included in the shot
  • What the lighting is like
  • How graphics (words on the screen) interact with the rest of the visuals

In radio however, it works a little differently. Radio relies on words to paint the pictures.

  1. Work out what the story is, be clear  and precise on this.
  2. Who are you going to talk to?  You will need a range of voices from experts and public opinions
  3. Choose a location carefully.  EG Market gives your piece some good background noises and set the scene.
  4. Check your kit before you go out.
  5. Remember the people who speak to you the most passionately
  6. Record wildtrack.  That’s background sound to cover the edits.
Listening to more speech radio will help when trying to script and present your show. The more you do this, the better your scriptwriting and presentation will become.  
When considering contributors, there is always going to be a constant need for members of the public to take part in shows. Finding “good people” will make your programmes work. And good contributors are not necessarily the loudest or most extrovert;

These are the main points to consider when looking at casting:

  1. Casting contributor takes time. The longer and harder you take to cast the better the results.
  2. You don’t want a load of TV wannabes. You want a good ethnic mix.
  3. You don’t always want loud, brash, noisy people. You need people who hold attention, have a strong presence and something about them that audiences will relate to.
  4. Don’t cast individuals, cast the team – people who will work well together or not (as the format determines).
  5. Audition and screen test your shortlist is the next stage in the process.
  6. BE HONEST about your show. You don’t want anyone to pull out at the  last minute. Prepare contributors for the  media exposure they might get.

Vox-pops are a massive need in radio and in theory, these are the contributors to these shows.

When recording vox-pops, it’s important to consider the following:

  1. Smile!
  2. Learn to take rejection
  3. Listen…. people will surprise you with what they tell you!
  4. Ask open questions – that start with why or how or what to avoid yes or no answers.
  5. Speak to a variety of people to get different opinions and perspectives.

Voice is everything – looks mean nothing! Both television and radio are all about words.  if your a writer and a presenter, it’s important to sharpen up your script writing skills and your ‘talking’ skills. Practice by talking about random subjects. The more you practice, the better you will get.

Communication is also of massive importance, especially between the producer and presenter. Take these into consideration:

  • Make sure everyone knows who everyone is and care about your team. Remember to give the team a break.
  • Tell the team what you want to achieve
  • Presenters are isolated from the action, they want to know what’s going on
  • Tell the presenter what type of shot you are using so they know what the audience is seeing
  • Make sure the presenter knows the tone of the item/programme
  • Do say “action” and “cut”!

And finally, Karen gave us this anecdote at the end of todays session. 

“Making programmes should be fun.  This is the main reason people who work in telly work in telly.  These clever, articulate, creative people have chosen a profession that at it’s core is about promoting happiness. Leave the stress at the studio door – You can’t make good telly stressed!”

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