Remote Operations (Television Production Guide)

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Remote operations cover television production activities that take place away from the studio. We will discuss them in the context of preproduction, production, and postproduction activities.

The preproduction activities include the production and engineering remote surveys and the preplanning by the director as to camera locations, microphone setup, and other production requirements.

In the production section, we will consider the function of the remote truck, instant replay, and major production procedures from the point of view of the director, the floor manager, and the talent.

Camera setups for the remote pickup of some major sports are briefly mentioned.


Isolated Camera

A camera used for instant-replay action only. It is not used for the general pickup of the event.

Microwave Relay

A transmission method involving the use of several microwave units from the remote location to the transmitter.


A method of transmitting the video and audio signals on the same carrier wave. Also, the transmitting of separate color signals on the same channel without mixing.

Remote A television production done outside the studio.

Remote Survey An inspection of the remote location by key production and engineering persons so that they can plan for the setup and use of production equipment.

Remote Truck The vehicle that carries the program control equipment, such as CCU's, switcher, monitors, audio control console, and intercom systems. The director and the T.D. work out of the remote truck.

Spotter A person who helps the director or the announcer to identify significant parts of an event, such as prominent players in a football game, or the nature of a play formation.

Video Disc Recorder A recording device whereby the video signals are recorded on and played back from a disc, which looks like a phonograph record.


When a television show is done outside the studio, we speak of it as a remote telecast or, simply, a remote. During a remote, the program material can be either telecast live or videotaped for broadcasting at a later time. A remote involves the use of electronic cameras. Filming outside the studio is not considered a remote.

A remote is usually done to "pick up" a special event that has not been staged specifically for television. The event-most often a sports or news happening-is merely reported by the cameras, not created for them.

Large, single events, such as football games, are normally covered with a multiple camera set up and coordinated from a mobile control center, the remote truck. Some unforeseen news incidents, or events that are staged outdoors for postproduction editing, are often covered with a single camera (called mini-camera) and sent through microwave relays to the station or transmitter for immediate (live) broadcast or recorded on a portable videotape recorder.

As a director of remote telecasts, you have a rather difficult assignment: you should show the event as realistically as possible, and yet, since you can't show everything at once, you nevertheless must pick out sections that are characteristic of the whole. At the same time, you have to clarify and intensify the occasion while it is unfolding. Even though you have never seen the event before (and, therefore, could not really rehearse the telecast), you should try to report it as faithfully as possible. For example, if the happening is dull, don't try to energize it through fancy closeups and fast cutting. A director who constantly cuts to cute shots of spectators during lull periods of a baseball game does not understand that the viewer at home is not really interested in what the spectators look like; what he wants to do is experience the game with its fast and slow periods. On the other hand, if the event bursts with high-energy action, try to reflect this energy.

Don't have your cameras just sit there and look at it coolly from a distance. Get closeups. Let the percipient see a high-energy football game, for example, and feel it too.

Since the telecast happens away from the studio, some of the medium requirements and therefore production procedures are different from the usual studio productions. We will, therefore, discuss these production aspects: (1) preproduction: remote survey, (2) production: equipment setup and operation, (3) postproduction: some editing considerations and postshow duties.

Preproduction: If you have to cover a scheduled event, such as a parade, a political gathering, or a sports event, thorough preparation is essential to the success of the remote. The major part of this preparation involves the remote survey.

Remote Survey:

As the name implies, this is an investigation of the premises and the circumstances carried out in advance of the telecast. It should provide you with answers to some key questions as to the nature of the event and the technical facilities necessary to televise it. Your first concern is, therefore, to talk to somebody who knows about the event.

This person, called the contact person, or simply contact, may be the public relations officer of an institution, or some other person in a supervisory capacity. On the phone, find out how much the contact person knows about the event to be covered, and whether or not he or she can refer you to other people who might answer some of your questions. In any case, get the full name, position, address, business phone, and home phone of the contact. Then make an appointment for the actual remote survey. Ideally, the time of day of the survey should be the same as the scheduled remote telecast, since the location of the sun is extremely important for outdoor remotes.

The survey itself is concerned with production and technical problems. The remote survey party includes, therefore, people from production and engineering. The minimum party usually consists of the producer, the director, and the T.D. of the remote. Additional supervisory personnel from production and engineering, such as the production manager and the engineering supervisor, may join the survey party, especially if the remote is to cover an important event.

In general, the production part is determined first; engineering then tries to make the planned production procedures technically possible. Depending on the complexity of the telecast, extensive compromises must often be made by production people as well as engineers.


16.1 Remote Survey Production

Survey Item:

Contact Place Time Nature of Event Cameras (stationary)


Key Question:

Who is your principal contact? Title, address, business phone, home phone. Who is your alternate contact? Title, address, business phone, home phone.

Where is the exact location of the telecast? Street address, telephone number.

When is your remote telecast? Date, time.

What is the exact nature of the event? Where does the action take place? What type of action do you expect? Your contact person should be able to supply the necessary information.

How many cameras do you need? Try to use as few as possible.

Where do you need the cameras? Never place your cameras on opposite sides of the action. In general, the closer together they are, the easier and less confusing the cutting will be. Shoot with the sun, never against it. Keep it behind or to the side of the cameras for the entire telecast. The press boxes of larger stadiums are generally located in the shadow side of the stadium.

Always survey the remote location during the exact time of the scheduled telecast--from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M., for instance--so that you can observe the exact location of the sun and the prevailing lighting conditions. If it is not a sunny day, try to determine the position of the sun as closely as possible.

Are there any large objects blocking the camera view, such as trees, telephone poles, or billboards? Will you have the same field of view during the actual time of the telecast? A stadium crowd, for instance, may block the camera's field of view, although at the time of the survey the view was unobstructed.

Can you avoid large billboards in the background of your shots, especially when the advertising competes with your sponsor's product? Do you need special camera platforms? How high? Where? Can the platforms be erected at this particular point? Can you use the remote truck as a platform? If competing stations are also covering the event, have you obtained exclusive rights for your camera positions?

Cameras (mobile):

Do you need to move certain cameras? What kind of floor do you have? Can the camera be moved on a field dolly, or do you need remote dollies (usually with rubber tires)? Can you use portable cameras (usually much more flexible than the studio cameras)? If you have to use studio cameras, make sure that the camera and the dolly can pass through hallways, doors, if necessary. How far does the cable permit the camera to go? For some events, the camera should be as unobtrusive as possible. Indeed, there is some concern that it and other television gear might act as a catalyst in touchy situations, such as riots and demonstrations. An unobtrusive camera location somewhat removed from the center of action might be preferred to a portable camera that is moved up close to the event.


For the remote originating indoors, you will almost always need additional lighting.

If you need additional lighting, what kind and where? Again, the particular event may make certain lighting procedures difficult, if not impossible. If you put your cameras in an orchestra hall, you will find that the musicians almost always complain about "too much glare and heat" from the additional lighting required. Or, if you cover a committee hearing, the members are usually less than delighted to be in this kind of spotlight. They like to look good but are often hesitant to accept the technical requirements of good television.

Can the lighting instruments be hung conveniently, or do you need light stands? Do you need to make special arrangements for back lights? Will the lights be high enough so that they are out of camera range? Do you have to shoot against windows? If so, can they be covered or filtered to block out undesirable daylight that may turn everything in the foreground into silhouette?


Proper sound pickup is usually a major problem on remotes. Either your microphones are too far away from the sound source, or the ambient noise is too great. What type of audio pickup do you need? Where do you need it? What is the exact action radius as far as audio is concerned? Can the microphones be seen? Can they be used by the sound source? Generally, remote telecasts tolerate the microphone to be seen in the shot.

What type of microphone do you need? Can you get by with lavalieres? Try to use them as much as possible, even outdoors.

Besides assuring good audio pickup, the lavaliere usually allows the person wearing it to feel less conscious of having to speak "for the microphone" than if he or she is confronted with a hand mike close to the face. Where do the microphones have to be? How many do you need? Do you need wireless microphones? Otherwise, how long must the mike cables be? Do you need special audio arrangements, such as program sound at the scene? For example, if you have a singer walk through the park, singing her favorite song, she needs to hear the program audio (her recording of the song) so that she can synchronize her "mouthing" to the recording.

Do you need long-distance mikes for special sound pickups over great distances?

Intercommunications: The importance of a reliable intercommunication system for remotes cannot be stressed enough. It is not uncommon for the members of the production team to be widely scattered over the whole production area and physically isolated. The only contact they have with one another and the director is the intercom system. What type of intercom system do you need? Do you have to string special lines or can the floor crew plug their earphones into the cameras? If you need separate lines, where do they have to go? Don't forget intercom lines for the talent (usually an announcer). The P.I. (Program Interrupt) system is very important during remotes. If the director has to coordinate different people at the production site from the remote truck, he needs a P.A. (Public Address) talkback system. Since the floor manager can't be in several locations at once, the talkback system permits the director immediate contact with the people in the performance area.

Do you have an outside telephone available in the remote truck? (The engineers usually hook up a telephone so they can communicate with the station and the transmitter.)

Miscellaneous Production Items:

Where do you need easels for title cards (or other title devices)? Do you need a special clock? Where? Do you need line monitors, especially for the announcer? How many? Where should they be located? If your program is videotaped, the floor manager will need a VTR slate. Is one slate enough? Sometimes you may want several in order to be able to slate a program from any one of the cameras used.

How much videotape do you need?

Permits and Clearances: Have you (or the producer, if you don't act as producer-director) secured clearances for the telecast from the police and fire departments? Do you have clearances from the originators of the event? In writing? Do you have parking permits for the remote truck and other station vehicles? Do you have passes for all engineering and production personnel, especially when the event requires admittance fees or has some kind of admission restrictions? Do you have proper liability insurance, if necessary? Check with the legal department of your station.

Special Production Aids :

Does everybody involved in the telecast have a rundown sheet of the approximate order of the events? These sheets are essential for the director, floor manager, and announcer, and extremely helpful to the camera operators, audio engineer, and additional floor personnel. Does the director have a "spotter" assigned to him-somebody who knows the event intimately and who can spot and identify the major action and people involved? In sports, spotters are essential.


Assuming that you don't work from a battery pack or your own generator, is enough electricity available at the remote site? Where? You will need at least 80-125 amperes for the average remote operation, depending on the equipment used (color generally needing more power than monochrome television). Has your contact person access to the power outlets? If not, who has? Make sure that he is available at the times of the remote setup and the actual production.

Do you need special extensions for the power cable?

Location of Remote Truck and Equipment :

Where should the remote truck be located? Its proximity to the available power is the most important factor. Are you then close enough to the event location? Keep in mind that there is a maximum length for camera cables beyond which you will experience video loss (usually beyond 2,000 feet or roughly 700 meters). Does your truck block normal traffic? Does it interfere with the event itself? Make sure that parking is reserved for the truck.

Do you need special CCU's for portable cameras? Do you need special receiving stations for wireless video and/or audio equipment? Where are they located?


If the program is recorded, do you have the necessary VTR equipment in the truck? If you have to feed the signal back to the station to be videotaped, are the remote signal transmission devices (microwave link and telephone wire if the audio is sent separately) working properly? Do you have enough tape to cover the full event? Have you made provisions for switching reels without losing part of the event (switching over to a second VTR)?

Signal Transmission :

If the event has to be fed back to the station for videotape recording or directly to the transmitter for live broadcasting, do you have a good microwave location? You can send the video signal (or the multiplexed video and audio signals) only if you have a clear, unobstructed line of sight from the point of origin to the transmitter.

Otherwise you need microwave relays, a service generally supplied by the telephone company. Have you made arrangements about this with the telephone company? Or can you send the video signal via cable? Sometimes you can use existing cable systems for signal transmission. Watch for possible sources of video and audio signal interference, such as nearby X-ray machines, radar, or any other high-frequency electronic equipment.

Routing of Cables:

How many camera cables do you need? Where do they have to go? How many audio cables do you need? Where do they have to go? How many intercom lines do you need? Where do they have to go? How many A.C. (power) lines do you need? Where do they have to go? Route your cables in the shortest possible distance from remote truck to pickup point, without, however, blocking important hallways, doors, walkways, and so on.

Try to route cables above doorways and doors. Tape all loose cables to the floor so that the danger of someone's tripping is at least minimized. Put a floor mat over the cables at the key traffic points.

If you have to cover a great span with free-hanging cables, relieve the tension by tying them on a strong rope stretched over the same distance. Be careful not to run mike cables parallel to power cables.


Are there enough A.C. outlets for all your lighting instruments? Are the outlets fused for your lamps? Don't overload ordinary household outlets.

Do you have enough extension cords and distribution boxes (or simple multiple wall plugs) to accommodate all your lighting instruments? Don't forget the A.C. line for the announcer's monitor and the electric clock.

Telephone Lines:

Do you have access to telephone lines for communication to the station and transmitter? For the audio feeds? Make prior arrangements with the phone company.


16.3 Sketch of Remote Location: Hearing Room.

As a director, you can make such compromises only if you know what the particular technical setup and pickup problems are and what changes in your production procedures will help to overcome them. You should, therefore, familiarize yourself with the production problems as well as the engineering problems of television remotes.

Although many of the production and engineering survey questions overlap, we will, for better clarification, consider them separately.

The table (16.1) shows some of the key questions for the production survey.

In the engineering survey (see table 16.2), only such points with a direct influence on production procedures and, ultimately, on your portion of the remote survey will be listed. Technical points that have already been mentioned in the production survey, such as cameras and microphones, will not be indicated again. Although most of the points below concern the engineering department, as producer-director you should be thoroughly familiar with them so that you can, if necessary, gently remind the engineers of their particular survey duties. The table (16.2) shows the major survey items and key questions concerning the engineering part of the remote survey.

A good sketch of the location in which the remote is to take place can, very much like a floor plan, help you greatly in preparing for the production and in anticipating major production problems. (See 16.3, 16.4 and 16.8.)

Problems: An Example

Assuming that you could not attend the preliminary survey yourself, your associate director brought you a fairly accurate sketch (though not in scale) of the remote site. The occasion is an important public hearing in the city hall (16.3). What can you tell from this sketch? How much preparation can you do? What key questions does the sketch generate? Limiting the questions to the setup within this hearing room, what are your camera, lighting, audio, and intercom requirements? Let's take these problems one by one.

Cameras--How many cameras do you need and where should they be located? You should be able to see all three supervisors on an LS and get CU's of each one. You should be able to see the witnesses and counselors, in CU's and LS's. You should also see some of the audience reaction and the workings of the press. This means one camera looking at the supervisors and one at the witnesses, the counselors, and the audience.

16.4 Sketch of Remote Location: Lighting, Camera, and Microphone Setup.

Actually, two cameras will do. Where should they be placed? Look again at figure 16.3. Since the supervisors will talk with the witnesses and counselors rather than with the audience and the press, they will look most frequently in the direction of the witness table. Similarly, the witnesses and the counselors will look at the supervisors' bench. This direction (from witness to supervisor) will represent the line of conversation, the principal vector that you should not cross with your cameras.

If you placed cameras on both sides of it, your screen directions would be reversed when you switch from one camera to the other. The supervisors and the witnesses would no longer seem to talk to each other in subsequent closeups, but away from each other. To shoot the faces from as straight on as possible, the cameras should be placed on the right side rather than the left side of the vector. Fortunately, there is a side door through which the cameras can enter and all the cables can be routed without blocking the main access doors in the rear of the chamber. Also, fortunately, the supervisors' bench is high enough so that you can shoot with one of your cameras over the witnesses without the need for a special platform. The other camera (which covers the witnesses and the audience) has a clear view of the witness table (see 16.4). Through zooming in and out, you can get tight closeups, or cover the whole bench in a long shot. The normal 10:1 zoom range should do, without the necessity for range extenders (at least according to the sketch). If you want a third camera for additional shots and protection, it should be located next to camera 2, facing the witness table and the audience. Why there? In this location (16.4), camera 3 can get reaction shots from the audience and the press, and relieve camera 2 for closeups or long shots of the witness table. In an emergency, if camera 1 should fail, camera 2 can still truck left and get a reasonably good shot of the supervisors' bench. Try, therefore, to get three cameras for this remote, although, as we said before, you could manage with two.

There is no indication about the surface of the chamber floor. But you can assume that it is fairly smooth, either wood, tile, or a short-hair carpet.

In any case, the regular field dolly and tripod will do just fine; they allow you some camera movement if necessary.


Your A.D. informs you that, in spite of the large window, the lighting was quite dim inside the chamber. The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. The large window presents a definite lighting problem. Although it does not provide sufficient light for the room, its glare certainly will tend to silhouette the persons who are sitting between the camera and the window. The sketch does not indicate any draperies. Try, therefore, to arrange to have the window covered with something before the telecast.

Now you need additional lighting. How high is the chamber ceiling? Quite high, as your A.D. assures you. You can, therefore, tell your T.D. or lighting director to get some back lights into the corners of the room behind the supervisors' bench, which may also serve as audience lights; some lights for the witnesses and some lights for the supervisors' bench. Exactly where the lights should be can be judged more accurately once the lighting director (or camera operator) sees the chamber. In any case, the lights should not blind the people, nor should the cables block access doors, or aisles. Try to get by with as few instruments (floodlights) as possible. Are the wall outlets sufficiently fused for your lighting instruments? Make sure that the additional lighting is tolerated by the supervisors and that they and the witnesses are prepared for it. Usually, when people know what to expect, they accept the temporary inconvenience more readily (see 16.4).

Audio: Since the chamber is already equipped with a P.A. system, tie into the existing mikes. If the system is not operational, desk mikes are the most logical answer. Set up a dual redundancy system for extra protection. Make sure that the mike cables will not interfere with your camera movement. String the cables behind the cameras, not in front of them (16.4).

Intercommunications: Since there is no cuing involved (no cues are given to the supervisors, for example), the floor personnel (one person for each camera) can eliminate additional cables by plugging their earphones into the cameras. Don't forget the slate.

Special Considerations:

The camera that needs most protection by the floor manager is camera 1, since it is closest to an access door. Perhaps you can have this area closed off with ropes that can be struck quickly in case of an emergency. Don't lock this right door unless you have checked with the fire marshal and received his OK. By the way, do you have written clearances from the Board of Supervisors and the counselors? Again, try to make the additional lighting as inconspicuous as possible. The counselors, the witnesses, or the audience may occasionally stand up. Can you still shoot around them? If the doors are kept closed during the hearing, you can always move camera 1. in front of the middle door for an unobstructed shot of the bench.

As you can see, at least at this point, the remote of the public hearing does not seem to present too many unusual problems. With the preparation as just demonstrated, you should have little trouble with the actual production, barring unforeseen technical problems.

More complicated remote productions need, of course, more intricate and thorough survey and preparation procedures than in the example above. But basically the process remains the same.

As in any other production, the more time and effort you spend on preparation, the easier the actual production will be.

16.5 Portable Videotape Recorder: This Ampex 2-inch portable tape recorder can be carried as a backpack by the camera operator. Usually, however, the VTR is carried and operated by a second production person.

16.6 Remote Truck: The remote truck represents a complete control center. It contains preview monitors, line and off-the-air monitors, CCU's, a complex switcher, audio control equipment, and videotape facilities. The larger remote units also contain character generators for titles, and instant-replay equipment.

For especially complex remotes, a second remote truck contains the equipment for instant-replay operations.


There is no clear-cut formula of how to set up equipment for a remote telecast. As with a studio production, the number of cameras, the type and number of microphones, the lighting, and so forth depend entirely on the event to be covered or, rather, the process message as defined in the preproduction meetings.

Employing a great number of cameras and microphones, and other types of technical equipment, does not necessarily mean you will end up with a better telecast than when using less equipment. In fact, one or two portable cameras and backpack videotape recorders (16.5) are sometimes much more flexible and effective than a cumbersome remote truck with the fanciest of video, audio, recording, and switching gear. With the constant development of high-quality, small portable camera chains and videotape recorders or transmission equipment, the large remote truck is becoming more and more obsolete, especially for coverage that demands flexibility and speed of operation, such as an unplanned news event.

However, for such standard remote operations as the coverage of major sports events, the comfort of the remote truck and its technical convenience will still be necessary. An elaborate control center on wheels, it still permits productions of the highest technical quality. (See 16.6.) While in general the setup in a remote does not differ significantly from the setup and use of the cameras in studio productions, the instant-replay procedures deserve special mention since they are used almost exclusively in remote operations.

Instant Replay:

Instant replay means that a key play or other important event is repeated for the viewer, often in slow motion or stop motion, immediately after it has happened. Instant-replay operations are quite complex and need several additional pieces of television equipment: (1) an isolated camera, or cameras, (2) an instant-replay switcher, and (3) an instant-replay video recorder.

Isolated Camera:

When watching an instant replay of a key action, you may notice that the replay either duplicates exactly the sequence you have just seen or, more frequently, shows the action from a slightly different angle. In the first case, the picture sequence of the regular game coverage-that is, the line output-has been recorded and played back; in the second case, the pickup of a separate camera, which was not involved in the general coverage, has been recorded and played back. This separate camera is called the "isolated camera." Its sole function is to follow key plays and other key action for instant replay. In large productions, two or more isolated cameras are used and controlled from a separate instant-replay remote truck.

Instant-Replay Switcher:

Since the instant-replay operation is largely self-contained and independent of the general coverage, it frequently uses separate switching facilities. A small switcher is usually installed right next to the main switcher or in the special instant-replay remote unit, enabling the T.D. to feed the instant-replay recorder, or recorders, with either the isolated camera picture or the line-out picture of the regular coverage (see 16.7).

16.7 (a) Ampex Slow Motion Unit. (b) Simple Operator Controls.

Instant-Replay Video Disc Recorder:

In order to be maximally effective, the replay of the key action must, indeed, be almost instant-that is, it must follow the action as soon as possible. Also, the replay of the action should permit the viewer to analyze the action somewhat more critically than was possible during the normal coverage.

The video recorder used for instant playbacks must therefore permit extremely fast recuing and also slow and stop motion. Special video recorders have been developed to fulfill these requirements to some degree, although not without sacrificing picture quality. Since the rewinding and cuing of videotape is relatively time-consuming, a disc recorder has been developed that operates somewhat like a disc dictaphone machine. No rewinding is necessary since the video pickup "arm" can be reset to the beginning of the recorded action very quickly. Special attachments to the recorder allow the action to be replayed either in a form of slow motion (which looks like a rather jerky series of several frames) or in stop motion (which shows each frame individually). Depending on the instant-replay requirements, one or more video disc recorders are used. (See 16.7.) The instant-replay operation is often guided by the producer or the associate director rather than the director because (1) the director is much too occupied with the regular coverage of the event to worry about which actions should be replayed; and (2) the producer, free to follow the game, can become adept at spotting key plays and deciding which ones to have replayed; hence he can pay full attention to the replay procedures.

Instant-replay operations are very expensive and complicated and are, therefore, rarely attempted by small stations.

As far as the operation is concerned for remote telecasts, let us briefly discuss some of the major production procedures for (1) the director, (2) the floor manager, and (3) the talent.

Director's Procedures:

Here are some of the major production items you should consider during the remote setup, the on-the-air telecast, and directly after the telecast.


The setup includes all activities before the actual telecast of the remote event. Thorough set-up planning is especially important for sports remotes (see 16.9).

1. As soon as the remote truck is in position, conduct a thorough technical and talent walk-through. Tell the technical staff where you want the cameras located, where they should move, what lighting you want, where the major action is to take place, what audio you need, where the announcer is going to be, what intercom system you need where, and so forth. Explain the major visualization points to the camera operators. Explain to everybody the process message objective.

2. Be as decisive and precise as possible. Don't change your mind a hundred times before deciding on what you really want. There is simply no time for such deliberations on a remote.

3. Work through your floor manager and T.D. as much as possible. Don't try to direct everything yourself.

4. Pay special attention to the intercom system. During the telecast, you will have no chance to run in and out of the remote truck to the actual site of the event; all your instructions will come via remote control from the truck. Make sure that your floor manager thoroughly understands the whole proceedings. He holds one of the most important production positions during a remote.

5. Usually, you as a director have no control over the event itself; you merely try to observe it as faithfully as possible. If an announcer is involved for narration and explanation of the event, walk through the event site with him and explain as best you can what is going to happen. Double-check on the announcer's rundown sheet and the specific information concerning the occasion.

6. Check the telephone line to the transmitter or station.

7. Check with the videotape operator on the length of the tape. Will it be sufficient to cover the whole event, or at least part of it, before a new tape is needed? If you have only one VTR in the truck, when is the best time for a reel change?

8. Walk through the site again and try to visualize the event from the cameras' positions. Are they in the optimal shooting position? Do you have all of them on only one side of the principal vector so that you will not reverse the action on the screen when cutting from one camera to the other? If you are outdoors, is any one of the cameras shooting into the sun? Where will the sun be at the end of the telecast? Try to get your cameras as close to the action as possible in order to avoid overly narrow-angle zoom lens positions.

Realize that you are a guest while covering a remote event. Try to work as quickly and as unobtrusively as possible. Don't make a big spectacle out of your production.

16.8 Sketch of Remote Location: Outdoor Dance.

On-the-Air Telecast:

Once you are on the air and the event is unfolding, there is no way you can stop it because you may have missed a major point. Try to keep on top of the event as well as possible. If you have a good spotter, you will be able to anticipate certain happenings and therefore be ready for them with your cameras. Here are some general points you will want to remember:

1. Speak loudly and clearly. Usually there is lots of noise at the site, and it is often hard for the camera operators and the floor crew to hear. Yell if you have to, but don't get frantic.

2. Listen to the floor manager. He or she may be able to spot special events and report them to you as they occur.

3. Watch your monitors carefully. Often the off-cameras will show you especially interesting shots. But don't be tempted by cute, yet meaningless or even event-distorting, shots. If, for example, the great majority of an audience listens attentively to the speaker, don't single out the one who is sound asleep, as colorful a shot as this may be. Report the event as truthfully as you possibly can. If the event is dull, show it. If it is exciting, show it. Don't use production tricks to distort it to fit your previous expectations.

4. Listen to the audio. Often, this will give you clues as to the development of the event.

5. If things go wrong, keep calm. If a spectator blocks the camera, cut to another camera, but don't scream at the camera operator.

6. Exercise propriety and good taste in what you show to the audience. Don't capitalize on accidents (especially during sports events), or situations that are potentially embarrassing to the person in front of the camera, even if such situations might appear hilarious to you.


16.9 Many remote telecasts are devoted to the coverage of sports events. The number of cameras used and their function depend almost entirely on who is doing the remote pickup of the event. Networks use a great amount of equipment and personnel for the average sports remote. As mentioned before, dual remote units are often used, with one truck taking care of the regular pickup, and the other entirely de-voted to instant replay. Local stations, if engaged in a sports pickup at all, must get by with far less equipment. In order to obtain a general idea of how many cameras you would need and where to put them for minimum pickup requirements, refer to our list of the setup methods for some major sports events.

Sport | Number of Cameras | Location

Baseball Football Basketball Tennis Boxing or Wrestling


Camera 1: behind home plate. Should be able to move to either side to accommodate right-or left-handed batters.

Camera 2: middle of first-base line.

Camera 3: near first base.

Camera 4 (optional): opposite camera 1 (watch action reversal) or high behind home plate.

Cameras 1, 2, 3: high in the stands, near the 20-50-20-yard lines. Opposite sun (press box, shadow side). Camera 4: portable or on special dolly in field. (No isolated cameras considered.) Camera 1: high in stands, left field.

Camera 2: high in stands, center field.

Camera 3: high in stands, right field.

Camera 4 (optional: at one end of court, low, behind, and to one side of basket.) Camera 1: at end of court, high enough so it can cover total court, shooting with sun.

Camera 2: next to camera 1, but higher.

Camera 3: at side of the court, opposite officials or place where players rest between sets.

Camera 1: high enough so that it can overlook the entire ring.

Camera 2: about 10 feet to the side of camera 1, low, slightly above the ropes.


After the Show The remote is not finished until all equipment is struck and the remote site restored to its original state. Here are some points that are especially important for the director:

1. If something went wrong, don't storm out of the remote truck accusing everybody of making mistakes except yourself. Cool off first.

2. Thank everyone for his or her efforts. Nobody ever wants a remote to look bad. Thank especially the contact person and others responsible for making the event and the remote telecast possible. Leave as good an impression of you and your team as possible with the persons responsible. Remember that you are representing your station and, in a way, the whole of the "media" when you are on remote location.

3. If you don't have a producer, complete all the necessary production forms.

4. Thank the police for their cooperation in reserving parking spaces for your remote vehicles, controlling the spectators, and so forth. Don't forget that you will need them again for your next remote telecast.

5. See to it that the floor manager returns all the production equipment to the station.

Floor Manager's Procedures:

As a floor manager (also called stage manager), you have, next to the director, the major responsibility for the success of a remote telecast. Since you are close to the scene, you have often more overview of the event than the director, who is isolated in the remote truck. Here are some of the major points you should consider:

1. Familiarize yourself with the event ahead of time.

Find out where it is taking place, what its major development is, where the cameras and microphones are relative to the remote truck. Make a sketch of the major event developments and the equipment setup (16.8).

2. Triple-check the intercom system. Find out whether you can hear the instructions from the remote truck, and whether you can be heard there. Check whether the intercom is working properly for the other floor personnel.

3. Try to control the traffic of onlookers around the major equipment and action areas. Be polite, but firm.

Try to work around the crews from other stations. Be especially aware of reporters from other media. It wouldn't be the first time that a news photographer just happened to stand right in front of the key camera while snapping his pictures. Try to appeal to their sense of responsibility. Tell them that you, too, have a job to do in trying to inform the public.

4. Have your slate ready if the telecast is to be videotaped.

5. Check on all cables and make sure they are properly secured so that potential hazards are minimized.

6. Try to contact a member of the police assigned to the remote. Clue him or her in on its major aspects. You will find the police quite cooperative and especially helpful in controlling spectator traffic.

7. Help the camera operators in spotting key event detail and in moving their cameras.

8. Give all your cues immediately and precisely.

Make sure that the talent sees your cues. (Most of the time, announcers are hooked up to the program interrupt system via small earphones, so that the director can cue them directly without the floor manager as an intermediary.)

9. Have the necessary title cards ready and in order.

You will need a large clip to fasten the cards to the easel during a windy day. While doing hot flips of title cards, hold the cards behind the one you are pulling so that they don't all come flying off the easel.

10. After the telecast, pick up all the production equipment for which you are directly responsible-easels, platforms, sandbags, slates, earphones. Doublecheck whether you have forgotten anything before you leave the remote site.

Talent Procedures:

The general talent procedures, as discussed in Section 13, also apply for remote operations. However, here are some points that are especially pertinent for remote telecasts:

1. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the event and your specific assignment. Know the process message objective and try to do your part to effect it.

2. Check out your microphone and your communication system. If you work with a program interrupt system, check it out with the director or the T.D.

3. Check whether your monitor is working. Have the T.D. punch up a camera on the line-out.

4. Check with the director on your show format and fact sheet.

5. If you have the help of a contact person or a spotter, discuss with him or her the major aspects of the event and the communication system between the spotter and yourself, once you are on the air. How is the spotter going to tell you what is going on while the microphone is hot?

6. While on the air, tell the audience what they cannot see for themselves. Don't tell them the obvious. For example, if you see the celebrity stepping out of the airplane and shaking hands with the people who came to meet him, don't say, "The celebrity is shaking hands with some people," but tell who is shaking hands with whom. If a football player lies on the field and can't seem to get up, don't tell the audience that apparently the player got hurt; they can see that for themselves.

But tell them who the player is and what might have caused what type of injury. Also, follow up this announcement with more detailed information on the injury and how the player is doing.

7. Don't get so involved in the event that you lose your objectivity. On the other hand, don't remain so detached that you appear to have no feelings whatsoever.

8. If you make a mistake in identifying someone or something, admit it and correct it as soon as possible.

9. Don't identify parts of the event solely by color.

There are still many viewers who watch the telecast in black-and-white. Don't refer just to the boxer in the red trunks, but also to the one on the left side of your screen.

10. As much as possible, let the event itself do the talking.


If you have done a remote pickup for postproduction editing, try to match in the final edited tape version the relative energy and general feeling of the original event. This is true especially when the process message objective implies a reflection of the event rather than a reconstruction of it. Don't try to energize the screen event by fast cuts and montage effects. Simply edit for continuity. Try to avoid jump cuts and reversals of screen directions.

Hopefully, you will have provided the editor with enough cutaways so that he can bridge a reversal of screen directions without too much effort or loss of continuity (see Section 10). Usually the audio will provide the necessary continuity, even if your visuals may not always cut together as smoothly as you might desire.

As a producer or a director, or a combination thereof, your major postshow duty is to write thank-you letters. Don't neglect this task, as anticlimactic as it may seem after a successful production. If you had little cooperation, try to find the source of the trouble and gently suggest ways of improving cooperation. Don't get angry. It is more likely than not that you will have to work with the same people in future telecasts.

Again, check on the release forms and file them for future reference. If you have time, hold a post-production meeting with the production people and the talent, and talk about the good points and the not-so-good points of the remote. Listen to the suggestions of the crew and try to apply them during your next remote.


A television show done outside the studio is called a remote telecast, or a remote.

Remote production falls into three major parts: (1) preproduction: remote survey, (2) production: equipment setup and operation, and (3) postproduction: editing considerations and postshow duties.

The remote survey is the major preproduction activity. It concerns ascertaining what the event is all about and how it can best be televised. This study is usually done by a survey party, normally consisting of the producer, the director, the technical director, and an engineering supervisor. The production remote survey is concerned principally with (1) place, time, and nature of the remote event, (2) cameras, (3) lighting, (4) audio, (5) intercommunications, (6) miscellaneous production items, (7) permits and clearances, and (8) special production aids.

The engineering remote survey is concerned principally with (1) electrical power, (2) location of remote truck and equipment, (3) VTR possibilities, (4) signal transmission, (5) routing of cables, (6) lighting, and (7) telephone lines.

The production of a remote includes (1) equipment setup, (2) instant replay, and (3) production procedures for the director, the floor manager, and the talent.

While a great number of remotes are telecast, or videotaped uninterrupted for later playback, some are done for postproduction editing.

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Updated: Wednesday, 2020-10-14 6:54 PST