Multi Camera Formats

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
A multi camera production consists of more than one camera focusing on a subject/subjects at once, most commonly formatted for television. Live multi camera productions are usually ‘edited’ live by a vision mixer, whose job is to cut between the cameras using a mixing desk. These productions are always planned and correctly prepared for whatever genre the programme is. Live concerts are always filmed using a multi camera set up, the positives of this are endless in that you can not only showcase the whole stage/band but you can also punch in on the signer and connect with the performance from a more personal perspective. No matter how bad or enjoyable the concert is, vision mixers can cut live to crowd members enjoying themselves, telling the audience that the people in the venue are having a great time. This is just one example of how a multi camera format benefits a show. In this report, I will critically evaluate the production process of different production formats and give elucidated examples.

Outside broadcasts commonly showcase events, sports matches and live concerts. A key example of a multi camera production and in this case broadcast is London’s annual New Year firework show on BBC1, usually titled a different name each year. This broadcast features large cranes scattered alongside the river bank facing the London Eye (where the fireworks take place), one or two cameras positioned on top and inside nearby buildings and even a camera operator inside the London Eye its self. The cranes move over the crowd and onto the fireworks, the most common moving shot begins with the crowd cheering and panning up to see the fireworks. A helicopter is also on patrol, constantly filming the crowds throughout the night, BBC Radio 1 DJ’s always encourage the crowd to cheer and wave as the helicopter flies past to show the audience how much fun the crowd are having. The show is presented in the BBC News studio (which will also contain a multi camera set up, possibly the same as used in the News. They will recap events that happened throughout the year using montages, using a VT Loader to play the footage and the vision mixer to cut on time. A live stable shot of Big Ben is also constantly recording and is keyed into the background of the studio whenever the presenter mentions the countdown or the time.

Outside broadcasts are fantastic for sports broadcasting as for example in football, goals can be replayed in slo motion.

Studio productions are usually indoor multi camera shows featuring a large lighting rig with different types of professional studio lights, rigged by the lighting technicians to match the mood/setting. For example, a news show would have realistic natural lighting whereas a game show would have many coloured gels to match the colour scheme and directors vision and spotlights would be used for dramatic effect. Genres of studio productions include news broadcasts, chat shows, game shows and sitcoms, most having a studio audience. A lot of reality studio productions are staged or embellished. Shows often tell their audience when to boo or laugh, a famous example is on the show Britain’s Got Talent. When singer Susan Boyle cracks a joke, a shot of an audience member rolling her eyes is shown. The girl received a lot of hate online and told the public that she rolled her eyes at her friend, and not even at the exact time the shot cut to.

The first studio show I will discussing the process of ITV’s Jeremy Kyle. This daytime TV show streams out to the whole world three minutes after the action, but is still counted as live. They do this to make sure the broadcast contains no swearwords that aren’t bleeped out. The camera set up for this show consists of jibs that move over the audience. This is so if a client gets angry the jibs can move quickly out of the way and if Jeremy for example interacts with an audience member the cameras will always capture the action. Jeremy has two bouncers with him that stand on stage to inform the audience that there may be action, this intrigues the viewer. Sound is recorded through lapel microphones which are attached to the client. Boom operators are also active so that they can switch between the booms and the lapels if the audience members were to speak and/or a lapel mic fails on set. Another camera is used backstage to record the clients when they storm off and when they enter the stage. This contrasts highly with relaxed celebrity chat shows such as The Graham Norton Show, which uses fixed relaxed tripod shots and comfortable sofas to match the mood. Sound is recorded through lapel microphones which are attached to the client. Boom operators are also active so that they can switch between the booms and the lapels if the audience members were to speak and/or a lapel mic fails on set.

British BBC made soap opera Eastenders is a semi studio based fictional drama that has been watched all over the UK since 1985. The show airs at least three times a week, therefore scenes need to be filmed quickly and set in recurring locations. The fact that the show is a multi cam production allows the cast and crew to film a great take in one go and for lighting situations to remain consistent. The 180 degree rule will need to be considered whilst filming, as well as making sure no cameras appear in shot and in the way of actors movements, as using more than one camera can clutter space on set. The directors for the show use long and mid shots for the majority of the show and cut at a slow pace, allowing the audience to take in information, as the drama is mostly conversation based. The cameras occasionally punch in when needed, usually when an important conversation is taking place or an action that the directors want the audience to take in. This show is an evening rewind for over 15 million British citizens, the show needs to appear as realistic as possible, therefore it is shot in 50 frames per second. Most live TV shows or dramas use this format, as this will appear less cinematic and more realistic, making the audience feel as if they are a part of the action.

The way a programme is shot needs to connote to its genre and target audience. Some are shot for practical reasons like Jeremy Kyle’s jibs to move quickly out the way of the action or unexpected violence and some shows are shot in a specific way to entertain and inform the audience. For example, football shows don’t only show the whole pitch and action using master wides but also film goals in slo motion and have cutaway cameras focusing on player reactions. Some single camera based TV dramas and films use more than one camera for specific scenes, for example filming an explosion or a naturalistic fight scene. Calling a show out by the amount of cameras it uses will not define its genre, as almost all live TV productions use more than one camera, just for very different purposes and effects.