*Your technical team can be the difference between a glittering night to remember and a stressful challenge to forget, so it pays to understand what each member of the team do!*When putting on an awards show production, a lot of time, energy, and money goes into the meticulous planning and scripting of the ceremony. From choosing a venue to judging applications, award show production is a detailed, involved process. On the day however, you are putting your trust in the technical production team to execute that plan and vision perfectly. So who are these people, what do they do, and how can they make your next awards show the best yet?
The show caller performs a similar role as a producer in TV. They instruct all the teams on what to do and when to do it, delivering cues such as ‘roll video’ and ‘stand by for award 14’. The show caller is arguably the most important role on the team, leading the rehearsal and ensuring everyone else knows exactly what they are doing. They follow the script throughout the show and know what is coming next at any given moment. Most show callers are specialists, and will often come on board to the team very late in proceedings, learning the script and the show only when everything else has been finalised.
The vision director controls and instructs the cameras. They will have a separate communication link to only the camera operators, and will tell them what shots to get, and when they are about to go live to the screen. Often, the vision director will also mix the camera feed themselves, cutting between different camera angles throughout the show.
The stage manager is the show caller’s eyes, ears, and arms. They instruct presenters when to go on stage, ensure everyone is in the right position, and even solve technical issues or run on spare microphones in the event of an emergency!
The sound operator runs the mixing desk, and ensures mics are live when people come on stage, and muted again when they walk off. They will adjust settings to try and avoid feedback as people move around the stage. They will also often be responsible for playing ‘walk-on’ music for the presenters and winners.
The lighting op is responsible for not only ensuring everyone on stage is well-lit, but also for triggering lighting cues throughout the show, such as winners’ stings and specials.
The Video or VT operator triggers video cues on the screens. Depending on your screen and stage setup, this could be a simple or complex role with many cues. On a complex show, there may be multiple Video operators responsible for different elements of the switching, such as triggering videos, changing the screen states, and stepping through slideshows.
The days of awkward cue-cards and presenters looking down at the floor to follow the script are largely gone. In modern awards shows, the TV-style autocue (sometimes called a teleprompter) is a must. The autocue system displays the script on special transparent glass so the presenter can look out at the audience and still follow the script. The autocue operator is responsible for following along and scrolling through the script as the presenter reads - they also insert helpful cues and pronunciation hints to help the presenter look like they know exactly what they are doing! It sounds simple, but try it and you will realise how difficult this role can be!
The followspot operator moves the large spotlights or followspots around the stage, ensuring it is always focused on the correct person or people. On a large show, there can be multiple followspot operators, or there may even be robotic followspots that are controlled from a single position.
Not all awards shows will have a runner. But these people can be invaluable to the smooth running of the show. The runner is responsible for things like retrieving presenters from dressing rooms or tables, and ensuring the trophies are in the right place at the right time!
These are some of the most important roles at an awards show, but no two awards shows are the same, and there can sometimes be other roles than what we have listed here.
Remember, your technical team can make or break your show, so it always pays to try and understand the challenges they face.
If you’re planning your next awards show and need technical or creative advice, give our team a call.
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