Browsing articles in "Tips"
Sep 7, 2012

What a camera op wants from you

Almost every step of the way, TV is always a collaboration. I’m going to write a few posts to help you put yourself in other people’s shoes and, hopefully, help your production run a little smoothly as a result. In this post I start with the relationship with your camera operator… here’s what they want from you…

A phone call…

Just a quick heads up in the run up to the shoot… where will it be happening, what’s involved, who’s taking part and notice of anything out of the ordinary. For example, asking them to hire in some specialist kit the evening before the shoot is less likely to yield results than a few days before. At this point you can also give them…

…an idea of the story…

Not every last detail and everything that has happened in the set-up to get you to where you are now but the top-line of the story. Then on location as you move onto each set-up let them know how each sequence/contributor fits into the overall idea.


It’s what you’re paid for! Give your crew some idea about the style you like and want or even what you don’t want. Don’t be afraid to step in… you’re wasting time (and breaking his or her back, if working hand-held) if you don’t call “cut” if a sequence isn’t working.

…but not too much…

You might have strong ideas on style or a very definite vision for some of your sequences. But let your camera man or woman get involved too. They can help you achieve your vision if you listen and let them have some input too.

Reasonable working hours…

We’re all under pressure to keep doing more for less but working people excessively won’t give you the best results. Make sure that early call time really is necessary then try to stick to your wrap time. And if it is a tough day, a tea-break and proper lunch break will keep everyone on side.

A thank-you…

Not just at the end of a shoot (naturally), but give them a quick call or send an email from the edit for some feedback… if it’s not all good, make it constructive. And if something could be down to a camera fault tell them as soon as possible, because some other poor production team could also end up suffering the same issue.

All the above apply to the relationship between camera and director. But there are some things that other members of the team can help with as well…

Schedules – include a post code for the sat nav and directions for the last mile or so – for every location and hotel.

Hotels – ask for your camera ops room (and possibly sound recordist) to be near to reception. They always seem to end up carrying kit to a room so far from the front door that it has a different post code!

Tripod – runners/researchers/directors/presenters/anyone – give ‘em a hand lugging the tripod or other bits of kit and the day will be so much more pleasant.

Labels – get someone in the office to pre-print some tape labels. It saves so much hassle and reduces the chances of a tape-labelling cock-up (or worse).

If you have any tips to add, please get in touch – I’m more than happy to add more or better ideas.

Aug 31, 2012

TV Geek Tip 3: Evernote

This blog post is about Evernote – another piece of web tech geekery that can really organise your life both at work and at home.

How many of us have bits of paper on our desk, emails containing scraps of information, documents saved on computers all over the shop? Evernote is a web service that helps you say goodbye to all that.

There is a reason the Evernote logo is an Elephant… it – and, as a result, you – will never forget anything.

The methodology is simple, you can send almost anything to Evernote – email a simple note, documents, images, screen shots, voice memos, web links. Anything you send is then available on a whole host of devices and platforms – computer, smartphone, tablet etc. You can also then find those things by searching for keywords – of, if you get organised, by user-created tags.

I know it all sounds dull, but like Dropbox and Instapaper that I’ve written about before, this is all about using technology to make your life simple and make things easier to access wherever you are. I use Evernote to keep together all those files that you get emailed – insurance, receipts etc. It’s also perfect for keeping and updating all those aide memoires that litter my desk and phone – and invariably I either lose or I’m not at the right location at the right time to view them.

There is a smartphone app, app for your PC or Mac and the service is available through any web browser. You can add ‘notes’ to the apps or email them to a special email address unique to you.

Again this is one of those ‘freemium’ services where the basic functionality is free to all but if you want more capacity and features you pay a few quid. In all honesty, I haven’t needed to upgrade and can’t see that I will in future.

As a final side note, you should check-out Evernote’s little brother Skitch. I’ll try to write about it in more detail some time but it’s  a screen grab tool, but you can also annotate those grabs and other images. It also has full integration with Evernote.

Aug 24, 2012

TV Geek Tip 2: Instapaper

In an occasional series of blog posts, I suggest a bit of geekery that might just make your tv production life a little easier. Instapaper is one of those little bits web technology I use every day – in my work and personal life.

Instapaper is a bookmarking service that can help organise your weblinks and give you access to those links wherever you are. It works by sending links back to a central server – these are then available on any platform you choose. This is especially useful when researching ideas and stories.

First up go to the Instapaper website and sign up for a free account. When you’ve done that go to the Extras section. Work through this page – as a minimum add the Bookmarklet to your web browser toolbar, download the smartphone app and make a note of your personalised ‘email to Instapaper’ address.

From now on, when you find an interesting link – or one you want to save for reading later – send it to Instapaper via any of the methods you set-up above and it will be accessible on the website or app.

You can also configure many of your favourite desktop and smartphone apps that have Instapaper support built-in. It works well with RSS readers and Twitter clients in particular. I haven’t used it, but it also has features that work with Kindle e-readers.

When reading on a mobile app, the pages are stripped down to the text only. This not only saves on time and bandwidth but also makes articles easier to read – especially on a smartphone. If you prefer, you can still open the original article in a web browser.

Articles can be organised into folders (perhaps by project/story), archived or deleted.

It gets the most use from me when I’m about to get on a plane… send a bunch of links to Instapaper, fire up the App in the terminal so that, when you switch on Airplane Safe Mode, everything is there for off-line reading.

Instapaper is run by a single developer so if you do find it useful, consider making a small donation or becoming a subscriber.


Andrew Painten | 07931 353515

Andrew Painten

Hello. I'm Andrew Painten a freelance television Producer/Director.

Click here to view my CV and list of credits.

If you have any questions or would like to book me for your production, please contact me.

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