Friday, January 08, 2010

648 The Directors

648 The Directors

We were talking about the producers the other day and someone asked "are the directors in the same gauzy vagueness?"

No. They are the elite of the elite in TV. And at least in the "bigs;" without them, you see nothing.

The director is in charge of the picture and the sound that goes with it. He or she has the final word. The president of the network or the President of the United States could walk into a control room and instruct people there to "take" a particular shot for air. But unless the director says so, nobody moves.

It's a grinding job in many cases. Even the relatively simple nightly news takes timing, effort and a sense of the visual that most of the rest of us just don't have.

The anchor is on camera and reads the introduction to a correspondent's story. The director is the guy who makes sure the story gets on the air at the right second. You don't notice the transition unless something screws up. The news usually is a three camera shoot. That and maybe half a dozen other sources, the director has to juggle.

Slightly tougher are the morning talk shows, "Today" and such. A zillion elements all on screens in front of one fella or gal who has to make the flow seamless and usually does. The indoor part of the morning shows generally are three or four camera shoots, plus the taped reports, commercials, and so on. When there's an outdoor event like the Friday morning concert, the camera count can reach 12.

And then there are sporting events. Things move fast in hockey, basketball, football and even (sometimes) baseball. The director is the guy who watches 19 things at once and choses what you see and from which angles. How many cameras at a football game? Dozens. The picture can change every couple of seconds. It's a nightmare.

In the control room, populated by more than a dozen people on a live show, everyone's almost always talking and loud. Everyone but the director who generally retains the flat calm of an airline pilot addressing passengers on a flight.

It's amazing how many of these guys don't die young.


--Funeral services for Percy Sutton were held in the Riverside Church in Harlem. Capacity: 2500 seated and who knows how many others standing. And who knows how many others had to stand outside in the cold, which Percy would not have liked, but would have understood and probably secretly appreciated.

--The church is right near the 125th Street stop on the "one" train and right on one of the bus lines. Good thing, too. You know that if you've ever tried to find a parking space in a neighborhood where everyone has a car and no one ever leaves a spot, where they triple park on Sundays and the cops don't ticket.

--It's one of the few spots in town where no one gets tagged on Sundays. It's not because there's no coverage. It's just that the police and the traffic enforcement people have learned that it's futile to try to stop this.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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