What does a technical manager do?
Technical managers are the most senior technical people in a television studio. They have overall responsibility for all the technical equipment – lights, cameras and sound.
Before the day of recording, they will liaise with the production team to find out what’s required and often offer advice on the best equipment for the job. This means they need to keep up to date on all the latest kit. They also need to be a point of contact for the many suppliers who bring specialist equipment into the studio, like rock‘n’roll lighting, a public address system or huge LED screens. It all needs to be checked and tested before it can be used.
In addition, technical managers manage the crew. They make sure the crew work well together and for the correct hours. They need to have excellent people skills, making sure the production team feels welcome and, when they turn up to record their programme, that everything is working and ready to go.
The technical manager has to be very alert to the safety of everyone on the crew – and the audience who might not be used to being in a studio. Everything needs to be safe and secure, as heavy equipment can be slung over the members of the public and large camera cranes will be swooping above their heads.
The engineering manager (EM) is a very closely related job to the technical manager. The difference is that EMs work on outside broadcasts, where they often have to be even more ingenious in their problem solving than they do in a studio.
Both jobs are usually filled by people with a strong technical background, but they’re not always engineers. What’s most important is understanding the needs of the production team and being able solve problems with good grace and calm.
Technical managers usually work with one particular studio or studios group, and are very often a member of staff. Engineering managers might be freelance or might work for an outside broadcast production company.
What’s a technical manager good at?
- Electronic engineering: have good working knowledge of electronic and electrical engineering; have an expert understanding and experience of power, cameras, sound and lighting equipment: how they work, how they connect and how to troubleshoot
- Communication: manage a team, ensure everyone knows what they are doing, create a welcoming environment for the production crew, presenters and technical crew alike
- Problem solving: come up with solutions to technical problems, overcome difficulties quickly, sometimes in remote locations with no backup
- Planning: plan the running order of all the technical aspects of production, ensure the right kit is in the right place at the right time
- Health and safety: be aware of the requirements, ensure the welfare of your colleagues and the public before and during productions