Thursday, October 29, 2009

Television Drama Writing

Television drama writing is in high demand. TV constantly needs new writers. They are always looking for the next big hit series or a �box office� smashing mini-series. Even the soaps need writers. After all, the soaps are officially called �Daytime Dramas�. To get a job in television drama writing, you need to first begin to watch television drama with a very critical eye. Analyze why you like or dislike a show. Try asking yourself some of the following questions:
Does the story make sense?
Are the characters believable?
Do they sound and act like real people?
Are there too many characters or not enough?
Is the show exciting or boring? Does it reach your emotions?

After asking your self these questions, go and read what the TV critics had to say about the same program. See if you agree or disagree. One of the most important talents you need in television drama writing is the ability to look at your own writing with a dispassionate and critical eye.

There are several different types of scripts used for television drama writing.

Original Drama serial scripts � these are usually a single story told over several episodes. Steven Spielberg�s �Into the West� is a good example of this type of television drama writing script. You only need to write the first episode but you do need to provide a scene by scene outline for the rest of the story.

Original drama series � networks love this type of television drama writing script. Here you need to write the pilot for the series. Concentrate on creating believable characters and a good story line.

Calling card and Spec scripts � If you are not paid to write it, it is called a spec or speculative television drama writing script. A calling card script is just designed to show off your talent. If it is really good enough, you might even be able to sell it. But the purpose is to get hired on a television drama writing team.

A common place to start a television drama writing career is writing for the soaps � continuing dramas � or daytime dramas, whichever name you prefer. Working on someone else�s story line and characters is a good place to learn the fundamentals of script writing. The first thing you will need to do is write a calling card script. This script must have original characters. Its purpose is to show the head writer or producer your original voice and how you write your own characters. If the producer is sufficiently impressed with your calling card script, they will usually invite you to shadow a current storyline. That means you will do everything that a commissioned writer would do except for the payment and actually seeing your script produced. If they like your �shadow�, you may get hired to write for the show.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Television Damsels In Distress

Television damsels in distress are a common theme used in action shows. For example consider some of the following scenes from recent television shows: a stay at home stripper has her throat cut while performing via web cam (NCIS), a women is killed by a nail gun (CSI Miami), an unseen force holds a women on a ceiling and then she bursts spontaneously into flame (Supernatural), a women�s severed head is found inside a newspaper box on a street corner with a snake in her mouth (CSI), a girl is found murdered in a packing trunk (Crossing Jordan). Television damsels in distress in combination with all of this violence and sex sell products and draws viewers to the shows.

Television damsels in distress have a strong appeal to both men and women. They appeal to a normal, healthy man�s hard wired natural instinct to protect women and children and they appeal to women in the same way that horror movies appeal to us by making us confront our fears. Also in all of these programs, the bad guys do get caught and punished and that is reassuring to everyone.

It is hard to believe that back in the 1960s, the A Team was considered too violent. Television damsels in distress have always been a part of storytelling but it does seem that the violence is getting more gruesome and even more excessive.

I think everyone would like to be able to save someone�s life. We all would like to be considered heroes and we all would like to think that we would do the right thing if we were put into the kind of situations we see regularly on these TV shows that use television damsels in distress to get our attention. Of course, the majority of us will never be in these kinds of situations. Most will never get the opportunity to save someone�s life through our direct actions. So watching programs that use television damsels in distress is a way for us to vicariously do all of these things. Who knows, watching all of these programs may help someone actually do the right thing if they ever do find themselves in one of these situations in real life?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Television Commercial Script

What constitute a good television commercial script? A good television commercial script will convince the viewer that they want whatever it is that the commercial is promoting. Creating that mindset can be accomplished in several different ways. The message can be serious, funny, friendly, confrontational or sad just so long as it has the desired effect on the majority of the viewers. Remember the purpose of a commercial is to create a brand name, introduce a new product or sell more of an existing product.

Put people in your television commercial script. If people see other people that they can relate to using a product or participating in an activity, they will be more likely to see themselves doing the same thing. If they can visualize themselves doing something, it is a fairly short step to actually doing it.

Carefully plan the video portion of your television commercial script. If you are promoting a single product, it is not a problem. If you are promoting a toy store for example, pick one or two items to feature. Then get a child to play with each of the items you picked. Remember you have between 30 and 60 seconds to get your message across to the viewer. With the toy store, no matter what you say, you want the image to be of a child having fun with the featured toy. It is also a good idea to put the name of the toy or the store in text on the screen. That way even if the viewer isn�t listening they will make the mental association that �featured toy� equals kids having fun or �your Store� is the place to get toys the kids will enjoy.

The audio portion of your television commercial script must be shorter than the time you bought. Use verbal headlines. You have to get the viewer�s attention. Use as few words as possible to convey your message. Always tell the viewer what you are advertising (the name of the product or the name of your business) so they know what is going on even if they are not watching at the moment.

The audio and video on your television commercial script must match. To continue the toy store example, the audio needs to tell them about the toys the children are playing with or if you are advertising your toy store, tell them that you can get all of these toys here and maybe at great prices or whatever.

Don�t forget to tell the viewer exactly what you want them to do as part of your television commercial script. If you want them to buy a specific product, say �Get this product� or if you want them to come to your store, say �Hurry on into the store and get your toys before the supply runs out�. If you follow these simple guidelines, your television commercial script should be successful.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Syndication In Television Work

Syndication in television work is the basic selling structure used in the TV industry. This is a fundamental component of the financing structure of the entertainment industry. Syndication in television work is selling the airing rights of a single show or series of programs to multiple broadcasters such as television networks, cable networks and independent stations across the country or around the world.

Syndication in television work is what makes it possible for many shows to be aired at all. Without it, productions costs would be prohibitive and only the largest studio could afford to invest in any new programming.

Syndication in television work is what makes all of the existing American TV programs available to broadcasters throughout the world. It is the source of �Reruns�. Most TV programming produced by independent small production studios is produced strictly for syndication to anyone who will buy the program. Almost everything that is seen on TV is a syndicated program except for the individual network�s prime time programs. Even the prime time programs may be available in non-US markets as first-run syndications. American viewers frequently get to watch syndicated versions of British, Canadian and Australian and Spanish speaking networks programs.

Syndication in television work has historically served to underwrite the cost of taking the enormous risks associated with creating new TV programming. In the 1960s the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules were established that govern the copyright ownership of independently produced TV programs. Basically, the rules allow the copyright to revert back to the production company after the contractually agreed to number of runs on the purchasing network. After that, the producers are free to sell the shows to anyone. The idea is to make it possible for a production company to finance many �failures� with one or two highly successful programs. Production is an extremely risky business because the TV viewing public is a finicky group to please. Syndication allows the producers to produce the show at a loss without going bankrupt.

Syndication in television work programs are classified by terms such as first-run, second-run, off-network or barter syndication. First-run is self explanatory. It is exclusive right to air a new program. Second-run refers to running on another network. If run during the same season, the show must be run at a later date than the first-run version. An example would be TNT running WB�s Sunday night episode of Charmed on the following Tuesday night. Off-network refers to any national network program being run on another network. The majority of reruns fit in this category. Barter syndication is where advertisers purchase the time slots associated with the program no matter where it is run. Syndication in television work is the system that makes new TV programs possible.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Surface TV Show

The Surface TV show is a prime time combination science fiction, mystery and action adventure series. The premise is fairly simple. A new species of creature has appeared in the earth�s oceans and absolutely nobody knows anything about it. The Surface TV show follows the lives of four main characters, all of whom have had encounters with the new life form.

The first principal character on the Surface TV show is Richard Connelly. He is a Louisiana insurance salesman. He and his younger brother go spear fishing off the Louisiana coast. While they are underwater they run into something they have never seen before. Connelly is an experienced diver and hides from the strange creature. His brother is new to diving and shoots it with a spear gun and is dragged to the depths and presumably killed but no body was found.

The second principal character on the Surface TV show is Laura Daughtery. She is an oceanographer living in California who discovers that there is something new out there but when she tries to tell the world, she is shut up by a government agency. She is a single parent that becomes obsessed with finding out what is really going on.

The third principal character on the Surface TV show is Dr. Aleksander Cirko. He is a government scientist trying to keep the knowledge of this new life form secret at least until the government figures out what it is and whether it is a danger to the country or whether it can be used as a weapon against our enemies. He is killed in by his second in command who is working for a mysterious gardener.

The last principal character on the Surface TV show is Miles Bennett. Miles is a teenager living on the North Carolina coast who finds an egg from the new species and brings it home and puts it in the family�s aquarium. The egg hatches and eats all of his father expensive tropical fish. Since the creature is amphibious, Miles raises this new creature in his garage without having any idea of what it really is. He gets into trouble with his parents and the authorities because of his pet �dragon� who he named Nimrod or Nim for short. Nim has the ability to zap things with electricity similar to what some species of eel can do.

After the third Surface TV show Connelly and Daughtery team up in their quest to find out what this new creature really is. Much later in the series �Nim� is killed after he saves Miles life. The show is full of mystery and suspense. The Surface TV show created by Josh and Jonas Pate of Dragnet fame and is produced by NBC Universal Television Studios. It airs on Monday night.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sound Mixing of Television Programming

Sound mixing of television programming is also referred to as audio mixing. The purpose of sound mixing of television programming is to take all of the sources of the audio portion of the TV program and combine them into a single sound track that is properly synchronized with the video portion of the program. I know everyone has watched a Japanese action film where the actors were speaking in Japanese and the sound track was in English. You can see the actor�s lips moving incorrectly for what you are hearing. Most audiences will tolerate that particular problem when watching a foreign film. The purpose of sound mixing is to prevent any obvious inconsistencies between what you see and what you hear from being apparent to the viewing audience.

Sound mixing of television programming combines the volume and frequencies from a variety of sound sources to get the proper balance to create the effects the director wants in the program. Typically there will be sound from music played by an orchestra, band or even a single instrument. There usually are sound effects from the actions that you are seeing on the screen like when somebody drops something. The sound effects may have been recorded at the same time as the scene was shot or they may have been created later by sound engineers and added to the sound track. Of course, you have the actor�s dialogue as well.

Sound tracks for sound mixing of television programming start out as separate recordings. A sound engineer combines the tracks into a single multi track recording that is synchronized with the video part of the show. That means that they can�t add the sound track until after the video editing has bee completed. Frequently that means they have to completely re-record the entire sound track to makes the changes that are needed to resynchronize everything after scenes have been added or removed during the video editing.

Professionals use an audio mixing console for the sound mixing of television programming. This console is a sophisticated electronic device that has the necessary electronic components to manipulate the volume, add special effects such as reverb, adjust the different track frequencies so they don�t cancel each other out and adjust the bass and treble of each track independently. Sound mixing of television programming on a personal computer is also gaining popularity. More and more independent artists are starting to use their personal computers for digital recording and mixing their work. One reason is because although the software is very expensive, compared to an audio mixing console, it is relatively cheap and perfect for lower budget productions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stuart Mad TV

Stuart mad TV is a fictional character created by Mad TV cast member, Michael McDonald. This is McDonald�s seventh season on the show. That means that Stuart is now 7 years old. In fact, Stuart has appeared over 40 times over the lat seven years. He probably would appear more often except the producers do not want to overuse any one of character no matter how popular they are with the viewers. This is a very good policy because it keeps characters like Stuart mad TV from losing their novelty and the excitement fans feel when the character appears. Considering that the show routinely beats Saturday Night Live in the rating with the 18 to 49 year old demographic, it seems like the right call.

Stuart mad TV is a character that viewers either love or hate. His is a very strange little boy with the body of a full grown man. It is the disparity between Stuart�s physical appearance and his child like actions that make for great comedy and the love hate relationship with the audience. It really is funny to watch a full grown man steal a cookie and try to hide from his mother while eating. It is something reminiscent of the great physical comedians like Jim Carey and Dick Van Dyke. Stuart has appeared over 40 times on Mad TV over the past 10 years.

McDonald was born and raised in Orange County, California. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in, he became a loan officer at a Los Angeles bank. One night a friend took McDonald to an improve comedy show at the Grounding Theater. After seeing the show, McDonald quit his bank job. Then he enrolled in Grounding�s improve program. He played with the troupe for five years. He has TV credits for Stienfield, News Radio and Just Shoot Me and also made cameo appearances in all three Austin Powers movies. In case you are not familiar with Mike McDonald�s character Stuart mad TV, check out this site, http://www.smithappens.com/video_madtvstuart.php. You will find it has several video of Stuart mad TV for you to watch.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sound Design of Television Programming

Initially they could just record speech and by multiple sound tracks could add background sounds and music and the need for the sound design of television programming was created. After the introduction of high fidelity sound reproduction, more expertise was needed to achieve the best results with the new technology. Then after the introduction of Dolby sound, very sophisticated sound effects became possible and rather than just augment the program, sound effects, like visual effects became an integral part of the show. As a result, the sound design of television programming became one of the more important aspects of producing a TV program.

A sound designer is a member of the film crew who is responsible for all or a specific part of the sound track. Unlike some of the positions on a film crew, the union does not provide a specific definition of the responsibilities of a sound designer. This is true primarily because the position has existed for centuries in the world of theater and was introduced into the world of film making by director, Francis Ford Coppola. Sound design of television programming follows the same rules as it did in the movie industry.

Basically that means that a sound designer is ultimately responsible for all aspects of a program�s audio track, from the dialogue and sound effects recording to the re-recording of the final track. Re-recording is the process by which the audio track of a video production is created. As sound elements are mixed and combined together with the visual elements, it is frequently necessary to re-record some of the sound parts to achieve the desired final effects.

The responsibilities for the sound design of television programming can be compared with the role of supervising sound editor. In fact, many sound designers are also the supervising sound editor. This position became necessary as the demand for more sophisticated soundtracks emerged because they became expected by the viewing audiences. The supervising job for the sound design of television programming required the individual to be the head of the large sound department. These departments employ dozens of sound editors so that they can achieve fast turnaround times to keep the cost of production to a minimum.

Friday, October 16, 2009

RCA Scenium DLP TV

The RCA scenium DLP TV is a line of high definition home theater products. These are premium grade DLP television sets. They start at a 50 inch diagonal screen size. These televisions sets are base on the Texas instrument�s DLP technology using the second generation mustang/HD 2 chip that provides improved contrast and brightness. The RCA scenium DLP TV does away with the boxy styling typical of RCA�s other television sets and has a new sleek styling making it look like the cutting edge video display machine that it truly is.

The RCA scenium DLP TV has an extremely small footprint with only a 16 inch depth. These TV sets have extremely bright displays that make them ideal for anyone who wants to watch TV during the daytime or in an brightly lit room. Of course, it performs best in a moderately lit room. However these sets are somewhat lacking in deep black levels. Of course you really only notice this when watching a black and white scene like some producers use to indicate memories.

Also, like all RCA television sets, the color are less saturated than most other manufacturers. This is not a defect but rather the way RCA designs it color palettes. However, the RCA scenium DLP TV has a series of advanced settings that can actually cause the color palette to be more saturated. So if you want to that way you can change the settings to suit your personal preferences.

The RCA scenium DLP TV comes with one of the nicest remotes I�ve used. There is a forefinger grip that makes it comfortable to hold and easy to use. It had an illumination mode for use in the dark which is a really nice feature. The remote also comes with learning buttons on top that can be programmed to operate almost any type of audio video equipment.

The RCA scenium DLP TV has a number of really nice built in features that add to its value. There is an integrated ATSC tuner that is cable ready. You can use the NetConnect feature to access the internet using your TV as long as you have an already established high speed internet connection (either cable or DSL). The RCA scenium DLP TV sets come with a web browser that works with the remote or an optional keyboard you can buy for about $50.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Orleans TV Stations

The New Orleans TV stations suffered millions of dollars in damage to their buildings and electronic equipment as the result of hurricane Katrina. While hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast of the United States into a water soaked pile of rubble, the local New Orleans TV stations news teams were all out in the field covering the storm. No storm of this severity had ever been seen in this country by anyone still living.

While their New Orleans TV stations studios and homes were being destroyed, the reporters, camera men and other personnel were trying to let the public know what was happening in an effort to inform them of the dangers and relay necessary information from the disaster relief teams trying to stop the flooding when the levies broke.

All though the disastrous aftermath, the New Orleans TV stations and their crews valiantly continued to bring the pictures and stories of the survivors to the American public and the rest of the world. With their base stations destroyed, many were broadcasting from nearby stations that were still operational.

It is because of the efforts of New Orleans TV stations personnel that the nation and the world got to watch the evacuation of the Gulf coast region and the poignant, sometimes sad, sometimes belligerent interviews with displaced survivors. These stories touched our emotions�hard.

New Orleans TV stations news personnel are dedicated professional who stayed and did their jobs until the National Guard came and forced them to evacuate with the rest of the residents. In the aftermath, with their national affiliate provided the hookups, the New Orleans TV stations reports kept us informed of the devastation and provided the pictures that convinced millions to send money to help the victims. We would like to thank the personnel from these local stations: ABC channel 26, FOX 8, Cox Cable, WB channel 38, WDSU channel 6, WHNO TV channel 20, WLAE channel 32, WWL-TV Channel 4, and WYES Channel 12 for doing an exemplary job at keeping us informed and putting a �human face� on one of the worst disasters to strike the US in many years.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Plasma Flatscreen Television

Until fairly recently when LCD and plasma flatscreen television was introduced, all television screens were cathode ray tubes. The cathode ray tube was invented in 1897 by Karl Braun. The cathode ray tube is commonly called a picture tube. Inside a picture tube is an electron gun that fires a stream of electrons inside the vacuum tube. The back of the viewing screen is coated with phosphorous. Phosphorous is a metal that glows when the atoms are �excited� by being hit with the negatively charged electrons coming from the electron gun. The picture is created by causing different areas of the screen to glow with different colors at different levels of intensity. Plasma flatscreen television works on the same general principles but does it differently.

Cathode ray tubes produce clear vibrant images with great color depth. The problem is that to increase the screen size, you have to increase the overall size of the tube. This results in a big, bulky and extremely heavy TV sets. Enter LCD and plasma flatscreen TVs as a solution to the problem.

Plasma flatsceen television can have a 60 inch wide screen but only need to be about 15 inches thick. They weight only a fraction of what a CRT television with the same size screen weighs. However they are not lightweights either. But they do take up a whole lot less space in a room. The screen is composed of individual pixels (or dots) however unlike other technologies these dots are made up of three solid state florescent lights that glow red, green and blue. Using a very high energy electron gun, the florescent lights are �turned on� to produce the correct color to create the image.

Remember high school chemistry? The plasma flatsceen television is filled with plasma. Plasma is basically an inert (neither positive nor negatively charged) gas. By introducing negative electrons into the gas, collisions are created and the gas becomes charged which causes it to glow. The charge causes to positive and negative particle to rush toward each other and the same signed particles to repel each other. Remember all the neat experiments you did in grade school with magnets?

The gases used in the screen of a Plasma flatsceen television are xneon and neon. They are contained in thousands of tiny cells between two plates of glass. Electrodes are placed in-between each cell and the whole thing is insulated with dielectric material and then coated with magnesium oxide. The inside of the cell is coated with phosphorous. This setup converts each one of these tiny cells into a florescent light.

Pictures are created by hitting each individual cell within a Plasma flatsceen television with a current where it connects to another cell. The charge difference cause current to flow through the cell and the gas releases ultraviolet photons which collide with the phosphorous atoms causing them to glow in different colors depending on the prosperous compound used. Varying the current controls the intensity of the red, blue and green colors in each cell which makes it possible to create all colors visible to the human eye. And that, a folk is how a Plasma flatsceen television works.