Ah Bugger

The vapid utterings of a neurotic mind.

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Location: DC, United States

I ain't too proud to bug.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Making TV

I like watching TV. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. It is amazing how much time can easily be wasted watching things on a screen. The images are accepted without question even though in the span of 30 seconds we will have seen the two characters we are watching converse from every which angle. Honestly, how often do you run behind your friend to see the back of their head, then run back to catch their profile, then squat to see them from below when you are having a conversation with them? Yet we accept, nay we demand! these erratic changes in angle from our televised pals. Otherwise we get bored.

What's crazy to me, as I learn this about filmmaking, is how much work goes into a 22 or 44 minute show. Next time you watch your favorite sitcom, watch to see how many camera angles they use. Most comedies use what is known as a single camera setup. Each angle is at least one take, though most get at least 3 takes. Then there is the editing. They have to take all of that footage and craft that seamless story for the viewer. Hopefully the lighting and the sound is consistent as well as the actor's movements. Editing takes time, my friends. Lots of time. Tedious time. Then, if you are anything like me, you tweak each little thing over and over again. Then you add in music, and sound effects (known as foley). You add in special effects and dissolves and in the case of shows like Ugly Betty, you add in some wacky transitions.

There are a bazillion people involved, too. First you have the writers. There is a team that gets together and pitches ideas. Then one writer takes the story home and creates the first script which will then be revisited by the team until it is perfect for shooting. There is a table read with the actors, then they shoot it. There is a director, assistant directors, director of photography, producers, gaffers, camera operators, grips, and my favorite people, the craft service people (they provide the eats). Prior to filming, the director draws out each scene with a storyboard. The camera angles are decided on. The lighting scheme is created. There is a person on hand just to make sure that there is continuity, meaning that if "Bob" picks the coffee cup up in his left hand, that he keeps it in his left hand for the following scene.

There are makeup and hair and costume people. There are production assistants who make sure to take the chewed gum out of an actor's mouth. In addition to key actors, there are extras. Please watch the background actors next time you watch a show. They are fantastic. These are comprised of various types of people: they are friends of people on the show, or people who want to become key actors. In any case, they are always fun to watch because they get bored and they want to be seen. They are also not allowed to make any noise, so while they may look like they are talking or carrying on in a mad way, they are actually mouthing their words. Usually they are overacting in an immense way. No one throws their head back that far. Watch them. I swear it is worth your time.

Speaking of actors, watch the actor who does not have the lines. It's fascinating.

Now you know. Watching a show is easy, but making it is hard. Appreciate the work that goes into it.


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