What is a Casting Researcher?
A Casting Researcher finds the right people to take part in productions. This could mean the right actor, or for factual productions it could mean a mix of members of the public, experts (eg. a scientist or a specialist medical consultant), or talent (eg. presenters, celebrities).
What is the Job?
The role of Casting Researcher involves finding actors for a film or TV drama, or on the factual side, contributors or interviewees who will be featured. Finding the right people to be at the heart of a production is crucial to it’s success.
This role is one of the first steps to becoming a Casting Director. There can often be a wide range of contributors or actors to find and the Casting Researcher might conduct an initial outreach push, using street casting and social media, or focus on a targeted approach, liaising with specific organisations. They will then conduct initial conversations to edit the list of possible contributors, and may help the Producer and AP film recce tapes or write contributor documents.
Depending on the budget of the production the job may extend into assisting PDs with interviewing contributors, writing interview questions or sending out scripts/information for auditions. Practically speaking, depending on the production budget, Casting Researchers may also handle a lot of the logistical nitty-gritty, from arranging auditions to organising travel for contributors.
What is a Series Producer?
Series Producers, or SPs, have overall responsibility for making programmes happen. They begin work at the pre-production stage and work right through until the series is delivered for transmission. It’s a senior editorial role and particularly important when different directors are making individual episodes, as they are responsible for making sure the overall editorial and narrative structures, as well as the creative look-and-feel of the series, are achieved and maintained.
A Day in the Life of a Series Producer
The Series Producer is usually one of the first people to join a new production and they use their contacts and experience to recruit the best possible production team. They often approach Directors, Producers and Assistant Producers they’ve worked with on previous productions. A Series Producer’s team can vary in size and specialisms, depending on the type of production. They may need an Archive Producer for a history documentary, for example, or a Casting Producer to run a large casting team for a talent show, or a team experienced in live programming.
Series Producers manage the editorial team and make all the content decisions, including which on-screen contributors, such as actors, presenters or experts, should be put forward to the channel’s commissioners (who usually have the final say). They drive all research, edit all scripts and oversee filming in the studio or on location, in the UK and abroad. It’s their job to create a good working environment and they constantly communicate with everyone involved to help the production run smoothly. Series Producers also have the ultimate legal responsibilities for the health and safety of the team and anyone involved in the making of their series.
What is a 3D Animator?
People who work in the field of three-dimensional (3D) animation create visual effects and animated characters for television, video games, and other electronic media. They create moving images using digital models and add details to the pictures, such as landscapes, skin textures or clothing, and portray characters by giving images emotions, habits and expression. 3D animators create drawings or take photographs/films of an actor’s movements and then use technical and design skills to breath life into their digital creations.
What is the Job?
On any given day, a 3D Animator may take on a variety of tasks to create characters, visual effects and even scenery. Different projects have different demands, but an understanding of movement and basic art principles like lines, shadow, light and perspective are always necessary.
Typical duties of a 3D Animator include:
- Meeting with clients and key stakeholders, such as Directors, Actors, Video Game Designers and other Animators, to determine the scope of the work and project deadlines.
- Researching subjects to ensure accurate animated representations.
- Communicating with other Designers to ensure a cohesive vision across the product.
- Storyboarding to develop scenes that require animation.
- Using software to create animated characters, scenes and graphics.
- Adjusting colours, lighting, shadows and textures to perfect lifelike appearances.
- Integrating client and stakeholder feedback into final designs.
What is a Development Assistant Producer?
Development Assistant Producers (or Development APs) are part of the team that comes up with the ideas that get transformed into TV programmes. They research and flesh out briefs given to them by the Development Producer, using their contacts and industry knowledge gleaned from several years’ experience. They have lots of ideas themselves and a nose for a good story.
What is the Job?
Development APs help condense diverse ideas into a communicable pitch. Depending on the type of programme they are developing, they may be responsible for filming and editing ‘casting tapes’, which are short interviews with potential contributors, including experts, presenters or members of the public. They may also be asked to shoot and edit a short ‘taster tape’ (also known as a ‘sizzle’) to give the commissioner a taste of the content, style and tone of the show they are hoping to get commissioned. If they are working on the development of a new quiz show, they may have to write questions and test games or rounds to see if they work.
What is an Archive Researcher?
Most productions will use footage or images that they haven’t filmed themselves. Archive Researchers are responsible for finding archive footage that is suitable and can be used to recreate a past event, or to convey a certain mood.
What is the job?
The role of Archive Researcher involves sourcing archive footage that can be re-used in a new film or TV show. The role also involves clearing the footage for use and negotiating the price with the rights holder.
The variety and type of work that you will carry out as an Archive Researcher will depend on individual producers and the companies you are working for. However, most Archive Researchers will carry out duties such as meeting with Producers, Directors, Designers, Presenters or Writers to discuss the research needs of a program, as well as sourcing the archive content itself. In addition to this, an Archive Researcher may also be asked to provide administrative support such as dealing with contracts.
What is a Layout TD?
A Layout TD (Layout Technical Director) is a VFX (Visual Effects) role, responsible for providing a foundation in terms of shots for the rest of the production team.
What is the Job?
A Layout TD (Layout Technical Director) determines the position of the virtual camera, and ‘blocks’ the characters for computer generated image shots of a virtual effects sequence. This involves choreographing where the characters will be positioned and where they will move to throughout the shot.
As a Layout TD, you will have to consider a shot’s framing, composition, camera angle, camera path and movement, as well as paying some attention to the lighting of each key scene. The work of a Layout TD will enable other VFX artists to carry out their work – as a Layout TD, anything you create is going to be passed onto the CG departments as the foundation of their shots.
What is a Sound Designer?
A Sound Designer is responsible for creating the soundscape for a TV, film, theatre or animation production.
What is the job?
Sound designers have overall responsibility for everything an audience hears during a production, from sound effects to the voices of the actors. They usually start to work at the same time as the Sound Editors, which might be after the picture lock or even before production starts, depending on the film budget.
It the decision of Sound Designers to decide which sounds to use in order to create the right atmosphere and communicate the story and characters to the audience. Whilst it is their decision to decide what sounds to use, they will discuss ideas with the Director to get an overview of the effect and atmosphere that the director wants to create.
What is an Edit Assistant?
An Edit Assistant is an individual that supports the Editor(s) in all aspects of putting together a production/film.
What is the job?
An Edit Assistant will be responsible for keeping a log of all materials coming into the editorial department. As well as video, this may include storyboard panels, animated scenes, dialogue, sound effects, and soundtracks. They will take care of digitisation, conversion, and storage of all the necessary footage and other assets.
In addition to this, Edit Assistants may also have administrative duties, which could include booking appointments with clients and in-house staff, making sure that equipment is correctly working, and placing orders with suppliers. The role will also involve an element of keeping up to date with changes in software and technology.
What is VFX Producer?
The VFX (Visual Effects) Producer is responsible for achieving the creative aims of the Director or Producers through the use of visual effects. It is a senior role, with a high level of responsibility running the visual effects department.
What is the Job?
The VFX Producer works in pre-production, on set, and in post-production. On set, the VFX Producer is responsible for overseeing the schedule, as well as the budget of the visual effects department. This means they are responsible for ensuring that the VFX Artists and VFX Supervisor complete work in a timely and fiscally responsible manner.
In the pre-production stage, the VFX Producer will have to meet with creative and technical executives, in order to discuss the Director’s overall visual concept. This will allow them to estimate the amount of VFX work that will be required after filming, and allow them to decide how many on-set special effects will be used. This stage of production will involve adjusting the pre-determined schedule and budget to fit in with the planned work.
What is a Steadicam Operator?
A Steadicam is a camera stabilizing system used to capture tracking shots with motion picture cameras. A Steadicam Operator is an individual who is responsible for setting up the Steadicam, and capturing the footage for the production.
What is the Job?
Before Steadicams were invented, smooth moving shots had to be prepared through a very time consuming rigging of a lot of bulky tracking equipment. Nowadays, even though it’s much easier, operating a Steadicam still requires plenty of expertise and physical effort. A Steadicam is a system that keeps the camera operators movements smooth regardless of how fast the operator is moving, or how bumpy the surface that the camera is on is. Steadicam Operators are responsible for the equipment they operate, which sometimes is actually their own.
The equipment that a Steadicam Operator is in charge of usually weights around 40kg and it has to be worn for long periods while performing movement, so excellent physical fitness is essential.