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Using the Video Tape Machine – Assistant Directing

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  1. Using the Video Tape Machine – Assistant Directing Samuel Edsall

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. Tape Transport Controls • VTR decks work very much like VCR’s at home • You can play, stop, rewind, fast forward, and shuttle a tape BC 322 Television Production

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  18. 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

  19. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  20. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  21. 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

  22. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  23. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  24. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  25. 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

  26. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  27. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  28. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  29. Cueing B-Roll and Highlights • The tape is now at first video with the counter reset to zero • Sixth • Press stop BC 322 Television Production

  30. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  31. 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

  32. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. Make something like this BC 322 Television Production

  36. 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 BC 322 Television Production

  37. 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

  38. Using the Video Tape Machine – Assistant Directing Samuel Edsall