Countdown to Real Time

By Miles Leicher

There are few things that compare to the moments leading up to a live show. It’s like that nervous feeling before you jump out of an airplane or ask a stripper out to your car: there comes a point where you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Fortunately for us, luck has very little to do with a successful show; it’s all in the preparation, which was recently showcased in ‘A Week In Real Time.’ And when Friday rolls around, ready or not, the clock starts and the cameras roll.

Since Real Time is a multi-camera show, what you see on the screen is a result of decisions made by our director, Paul Casey. Here’s what it’s like to be in the control room with Paul and his crew as the show begins:

 

Paul was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about life in the director’s chair:

What’s the best part of directing a live show?

The best part of directing a live show is that when it's done, it's done. There's no going back, no fixing anything, no pick-ups...it is what it is.

And the worst part?

The worst part of directing a live show is that when it's done, it's done. There's no going back, no fixing anything, no pick-ups...it is what it is.

But the fact is, there is nothing quite like the energy and the intensity of directing a live show. Especially one where there's not even a commercial break to catch your breath or regroup. And the production staff is so incredibly well prepared and organized each week, the technical team executes at such a highly professional level that both the content and look of the show every week is something for all of us to be proud of. Our biggest challenge on Friday night is to be as excellent as we all know Bill will be.

How many cameras do you have at your disposal?

We have 6 cameras. A jib, 4 studio “ped” cameras, and a hand-held camera that we use as such for the open and the monologue, then place it on sticks (tripod) for the panel discussion. In some instances, like the Halloween fashion show, we can break that camera back to hand-held to give the segment an appropriately different look.

Do you have a favorite?

If I were to answer this question, I'd have five shattered egos on my hands. So, no.


Do you ever get nervous before – or during – a show?

The most nerve-racking part of the production day is usually the 10 or 15 minutes before Bill's 5:30pm run-through. The entire control room crew is jamming to get all the production elements together and organized so that there will be no technical distractions as Bill goes through the beats of the show. We also have to be ready to make on-the-spot adjustments to the material without bogging down the pace of the run-through. Compared to that, getting through the show is a piece of cake.

What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened while directing?

The most exciting thing that's happened since working on Real Time has most definitely got to be having this video posted on the Real Time Blog so my kids might finally be impressed with me!