What does a multi-camera director do?
Multi-camera directors are at the heart of a large studio or outside broadcast (OB) production. They can work on big-budget programmes, either in the studio or outside, sometimes with as many as 30 cameras or more. When the red light goes on for recording or live transmission, multi-camera directors are in the gallery in front of a huge bank of monitors, running the programme from moment to moment. They direct the camera crew, guide the lighting and sound team and set the pace and style of the production. They are responsible for the look and feel of a programme.
They work closely with the producer, who’s responsible for the editorial content of the programme, and the vision mixer who cuts the shots as the director instructs. It’s a bit like being the conductor of an orchestra.Arguably, their most important job is to bring out the best in the presenters. The presenters need to feel confident that the director will be able to support them throughout the programme and steer them through any tricky moments, especially if rehearsal time is tight.
For fast-turnaround daily magazine programmes, directors often have very little time to plan ahead and may only brief the craft team on the day of recording. But for a high-profile entertainment show or a completely new series, the director should be able to meet all the key members of the team before the day of the recording, have time to go through the running order and the script in detail and work out all the camera shots. Having a well-prepared camera script saves an enormous amount of studio time and should result in a far more polished programme.
What’s a multi-camera director good at?
- Multi-tasking: be simultaneously across multiple camera shots, lighting and sound issues, whilst liaising with the vision mixer, producer and presenters
- Staying calm under pressure: be creative during a live transmission, make good decisions within milliseconds, problem solve in the moment
- Artistic vision: be able to envisage and establish the look, feel, tone and pace of a production
- Leadership: communicate the artistic vision to the crew, make quick, effective decisions, give instructions clearly, make good judgement calls, have a good understanding of all crew roles
- Photography: have a good eye and understanding of composition, light, colour, texture, focus and framing, have an in-depth understanding of how all camera and lighting equipment works