Video source decks are an essential element of a TV studio. A video source deck is used to play video that has been shot and edited already. If you are watching the news on TV and they show video of the crime scene, that video is being played on a video source deck.
A video source deck can be a video tape player, a DVD disc player or even a computer. A huge TV studio operation might have twenty or more video source decks. My high school TV production class had two and we usually only used one.
A video source deck is used to play video during a live show. The video might be the show’s intro or it might be video of whatever the hosts are talking about. The video source deck is plugged into the switcher and the director can take its video anytime.
When a live studio shows cuts to pre-produced video shot in the field, (like going from the news anchor man to the story of the police chase) this is done by the director punching a button on his switcher to take the viewer from the camera in the studio to the tape running in one of the video source deck.
One person operates the video source decks. They might be in another room, but they can listen to the director over the off-camera audio system. The director punches the video source deck up about one second after the video source deck operator punches play on the machine. Or at least it’s supposed to work that way. This critical timing often gets messed up which is why you see news anchor people staring hopelessly into the camera waiting for the video to come up.
In my classroom, we had two VHS machines which were fed into a small, two input router. That one router was given a spot on the switcher. The director would punch the same button to bring up the video whether it was being played in deck one or two. The video source deck operator had to flip the switch of the router as well as start the tape on time. This way, we could go directly from video of the homecoming parade to video of the science fair without cutting back to the anchor people in between.
In a production like a football game, all the instant replays and player profiles are run off video source decks. So think of that next time you’re watching a Sunday afternoon game!
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