Using the video tape machine assistant directing
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Using the Video Tape Machine – Assistant Directing. Samuel Edsall. Our VTR’s. We have two types of DVCAM VTR’s, but they essentially work the same way VTR’s 1 and 2 use an external controller for jogging and shuttling while VTR 3 is its controller built in. Assistant Director.

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Our vtr s
Our VTR’s

  • We have two types of DVCAM VTR’s, but they essentially work the same way

  • VTR’s 1 and 2 use an external controller for jogging and shuttling while VTR 3 is its controller built in

BC 322 Television Production


Assistant director
Assistant Director

  • The assistant director basically does two things

    • Cue various tapes to play

    • Play the tapes and count them down

      • Lets everyone know how much time is left on the tape you are playing

  • What can make this job challenging

    • Sometimes you are cuing and counting out a tape at the same time

      • Having your time cues already figured out and written down will help you

BC 322 Television Production


Cueing tapes
Cueing Tapes

  • There are three types of tapes to cue

    • News or sports packages

      • These are complete video stories with a reporter (normally) and interviews

    • B-Roll and VOSOTs

      • These are video pieces played during an anchor story

        • Video that does not contain audio is called B-roll

        • Video that does contain audio, usually a brief sound bite, are called VOSOTs (voice-over-sound-on-tape)

    • Sports Highlights

      • These are similar to B-Roll/VOSOTs, but are used to highlight sporting events

        • When the video has no audio such as game highlights – B-Roll

        • When the video includes a brief soundbite from a player or coach - VOSOT

BC 322 Television Production


Cueing packages
Cueing Packages

  • Usually, the director would like all packages cued to one second before first video

    • That is, one second before the story begins

  • Procedure

    • Find the first frame of the package on tape

    • Reset the counter

    • Back up the tape one second

    • Wait for the “Roll” cue

    • Roll tape and give time cues

BC 322 Television Production


Counter select
Counter Select

  • To help you find and count out a tape, the VTR has 3 different counter selections

    • Timecode

    • Counter

    • UBit

  • We only use two

    • Timecode and counter

BC 322 Television Production


Counter select1
Counter Select

  • Timecode

    • This number is ‘burned in’ on the tape and cannot be changed

    • This is a handy reference for finding a package on a video tape

      • When a tape is given you, its location on tape is usually referenced in timecode

    • This number cannot be reset

BC 322 Television Production


Counter select2
Counter Select

  • Counter

    • This number is arbitrary and can be reset at any time

    • This is handy for timing out a tape

      • When you find the first frame of video you can reset the counter to 0:00

      • This will make it easier to tell how much time is left on a rolling tape

BC 322 Television Production


Counter select3
Counter Select

  • UBit

    • Our VTR’s are not set up to read or record UBit so the display will always indicate 0:00:00, even when the tape is rolling.

    • For this reason we never use UBit

BC 322 Television Production


Tape transport controls
Tape Transport Controls

  • VTR decks work very much like VCR’s at home

    • You can play, stop, rewind, fast forward, and shuttle a tape

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Tape transport controls1
Tape Transport Controls

  • VTR’s 1 & 2

    • Have basic controls on the deck and on the remote control unit but -

    • Jog and shuttle can only be done on the remote control

    • Eject can only be done on the deck

BC 322 Television Production


Remote control unit
Remote Control Unit

  • Typically, this is how you control VTR’s 1 and 2

  • Jog and shuttle

    • Jog

      • Moves the tape frame by frame

    • Shuttle

      • Moves the tape quickly forward or backward

BC 322 Television Production


Remote control unit1
Remote Control Unit

  • Jog and shuttle

    • Jog/shuttle light must be on to jog or shuttle

      • Push jog/shuttle button to activate

    • If you push play or stop, the jog/shuttle control will be turned off

      • Push the button to reactivate, if necessary

BC 322 Television Production


Remote control unit2
Remote Control Unit

  • Jog

    • Moves the tape frame by frame

      • Slow – very good for finding the first frame of video once you are close

    • Wheel in the center

      • Rotate it clockwise – go forward slowly frame by frame

      • Rotate it counter-clockwise – go backward frame by frame

BC 322 Television Production


Remote control unit3
Remote Control Unit

  • Shuttle

    • Moves the tape forward or backward at various speeds

      • The more you rotate it in either direction, the faster the tape moves

        • Up to 16X speed

    • Outer ring

      • Turn ring clockwise – tape moves forward

      • Turn ring counter-clockwise – tape moves backward

BC 322 Television Production


Remote control unit4
Remote Control Unit

  • Shuttle

    • Being a ‘good shuttler’ is the key to being a good assistant director

    • If you rotate the outer ring just a little from the center detent, the tape moves slowly

    • Changing the shuttle speed as you cue tapes increases efficiency

      • This will take practice

BC 322 Television Production


Remote control unit5
Remote Control Unit

  • Shuttle

    • You cannot jog if the shuttle ring is not back in its center detent

      • The center detent turns off the shuttle

    • You can feel the shuttle ring ‘snap’ to its detent when you are close to center

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Vtr 3 jog shuttle control
VTR 3 Jog/Shuttle Control

  • One knob does it all

    • Right above the knob is an indicator telling you if you are in shuttle or jog mode

  • Changing from shuttle to jog and back

    • Push the knob in

      • The indicator should change to the other mode

  • Shuttle/jog tape behavior is the same

BC 322 Television Production


Cueing a package
Cueing a Package

  • To cue a package you need to know how to shuttle and jog a tape, change the counter select, and reset the counter

  • First

    • Put tape in the deck and change the counter select to Timecode if necessary

      • When you are given a tape, it is usually marked where the story is in timecode

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Cueing a package1
Cueing a Package

  • Second

    • Use the shuttle control to get close to the beginning of the package

      • In this case the story starts at 0:30:00 in timecode

  • Third

    • Switch to jog and find the first frame

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Cueing a package2
Cueing a Package

  • Fourth

    • Push counter select until Counter is selected

      • VTR 1 and 2 - this is next to the eject button

      • VTR 3 - this is close to the shuttle wheel

BC 322 Television Production


Cueing a package3
Cueing a Package

  • Fifth

    • Press the reset button

      • VTR 1 and 2 - this is right below the eject button

      • VTR 3 - this is right next to the counter select button

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Cueing a package4
Cueing a Package

  • The tape is now at first video with the counter reset to zero

  • For B-roll, VOSOT’s, and highlights you are done, but –

  • With packages you have one more step

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Cueing a package5
Cueing a Package

  • Sixth

    • Using the jog control, jog back one second

      • The counter should now read -0:01:00 more or less

  • Last

    • Press stop

      • This saves the deck and tape from wear and tear

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Cueing b roll and highlights
Cueing B-Roll and Highlights

  • All the steps are the same except you do not back up the tape after you find first frame of video

  • First

    • Put tape in the deck and change the counter select to Timecode if necessary

      • B-Roll and highlights are usually marked where the footage is in timecode

BC 322 Television Production


Cueing b roll and highlights1
Cueing B-Roll and Highlights

  • Second

    • Use the shuttle control to get close to the beginning of the footage

      • In this case the footage starts at 0:50:00 in timecode

  • Third

    • Switch to jog and find the first frame

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Cueing b roll and highlights2
Cueing B-Roll and Highlights

  • Fourth

    • Push counter select until Counter is selected

      • VTR 1 and 2 - this is next to the eject button

      • VTR 3 - this is close to the shuttle wheel

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Cueing b roll and highlights3
Cueing B-Roll and Highlights

  • Fifth

    • Press the reset button

      • VTR 1 and 2 - this is right below the eject button

      • VTR 3 - this is right next to the counter select button

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Cueing b roll and highlights4
Cueing B-Roll and Highlights

  • The tape is now at first video with the counter reset to zero

  • Sixth

    • Press stop

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Timing out tapes
Timing out tapes

  • The assistant director gives time cues on their headset so everyone knows how much time is left on the tape that is playing

  • Time cues

    • For every minute left

    • 30 seconds

    • 15 seconds

    • 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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Timing out tapes1
Timing out tapes

  • Package lengths

    • These tend to vary, but usually not longer than 2 minutes

  • B-Roll/VOSOT lengths

    • Typically these are no more than 20 seconds

      • Most news stories are not longer than this

      • Sometimes the B-Roll editor will provide longer footage, but you still count 20 seconds

    • Some VOSOTs may run longer than 20 secs

      • Since they contain audio, it is important that the timing is perfect

BC 322 Television Production


Timing out tapes2
Timing out tapes

  • Highlight footage

    • This can be a mixed bag

      • Sometimes you have just one short game highlight

      • Other times you may have 3 highlights with a VOSOT thrown in

      • There are days when you may have 3 minutes of highlights!

    • Time out each sports video piece like it was a package, but cue it like B-Roll

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Timing out b roll vosots
Timing out B-Roll & VOSOTs

  • When there is more than one B-Roll or VOSOT

    • When the director says, “Roll tape” roll and time cue the first piece

    • When we are back in studio (director has the anchor back on the air) - Slow shuttle to the next piece

    • Try to get as close as possible to the first frame of video, stop, and reset your counter

    • When the director says, “Roll tape” roll and time cue the second piece

    • Repeat this process if necessary

BC 322 Television Production


Keeping track of time cues
Keeping track of time cues

  • Unless you are a math wizard it will help if you figure out your time cues before airtime

  • When you get your tapes, cue and double-check how long they are

    • Sometimes the actual length is miscalculated

  • Make a chart

    • Write down the video piece, its length, and its time cues

BC 322 Television Production


Make something like this
Make something like this

BC 322 Television Production


Keeping track of your tapes
Keeping track of your tapes

  • Try to line tapes up on the counter as you will need them for the show

  • If the tape is not labeled, then label it

    • Sometimes you are given a tape with no labeling

    • It’s easy to misplace tapes or get them in the wrong order if they are not clearly labeled what they are

  • When you are done with a tape, put it back in its proper case

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Keeping track of your tapes1
Keeping track of your tapes

  • Returning tapes

    • Package tapes are returned to Roger or to the reporter if they are present

    • Highlight tapes are returned to the sports anchor

    • B-Roll and VOSOT tapes stay in the control room or to the owner of the tape if they are present

BC 322 Television Production