How TV directors call the shots at live events


I’ve always been kinda fascinated by how live TV broadcasts get put together. We’ve all seen depictions of the process, either fictionalized in movies, or in brief behind-the-scenes glimpses: there are people in a small dark control room, or a production trailer, staring at a bunch of TV monitors. One person, the director, calls out the numbers of the cameras whose shots he wants at particular moments. And that’s what we see on our single TV screen at home. 

This video of a marching band’s routine, from the Drum Corp International YouTube channel, of all places, includes two headset feeds from that control room. On the left channel is the voice of the director, calling the shots. On the right channel is the voice of an assistant, who is following the script of the marching band and telling the camera operators what to shoot, in anticipation of the shots the director will soon want. 

I don’t know if this was shot for broadcast on a cable network, or was perhaps commissioned by the promoters of the competition for a promo DVD. Either way, it doesn’t seem like a big production compared to, say, the broadcast of an NFL game, where there are probably three times as many cameras, plus instant replay and on-screen graphics to weave into the picture. Still, it seems plenty sophisticated, and for a nerd like me, it’s fascinating to listen to these pros as they work.