- Personality type:
- Studio and Broadcast Technology
- Editing programmes live (as they are being transmitted or recorded), using a variety of transition methods, such as cuts, mixes, wipes and frame manipulation
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- be able to work on a variety of different vision mixing desks and equipment
- have a good understanding of the language of the transmission
- be able to stay calm and react quickly and accurately under pressure
- have high levels of concentration and stamina
- have the discipline to respond to cues accurately according to predetermined plans
- have the confidence to take the initiative and deal with unforeseen circumstances or problems when they arise
- be able to multitask
- have excellent organisational abilities
- pay precise attention to detail
- have excellent verbal and written communication skills, showing diplomacy, patience and sensitivity
- have effective team working skills
- have advanced IT skills
- have excellent visual and aural awareness, combined with artistic and aesthetic abilities
- have excellent colour vision
- have good sense of rhythm in order to produce accurate and sensitive transitions
- be able to read a musical score, or to bar count
- have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
What does a Vision Mixer do?
Vision Mixers edit programmes live (as they are being transmitted or recorded), using a variety of transition methods, such as cuts, mixes, wipes and frame manipulation. They join together images from various visual sources, including cameras, video tape recorders (VTR Machines), graphic generators and digital video effects (DVEs). They are the Director's ‘second pair of eyes’ in the gallery.
Vision Mixers work on programmes that are either transmitted live, recorded as live, or pre-recorded in a multi-camera environment in studios or during Outside Broadcasts (OBs). On studio-based programmes, Vision Mixers work in the production gallery, on OBs they are based in the mobile production gallery in the OB vehicle.
In pre-production for a news, current affairs or light entertainment programming, Vision Mixers work from running orders, usually prepared by Producers, which outline the premise of the programme, and detail the shot requirements. They then work closely with Directors to interpret the script, discussing which transitions are required from shot to shot, whether and when visual effects and/or graphics should be used, and suggesting alternatives where certain transitions are impossible.
Vision Mixers must be aware of the capabilities and limitations of different vision mixing desks, and suggest ways of using them to fulfil the Director's vision for each production.
During recording or live transmission, Vision Mixers work with the Director to visually create the programme. Vision Mixers must be able to multitask, as they may be required to cut from shot to shot during a live interview at the same time as listening to the Producer's instructions to the Director about the next item to be transmitted, at the same time as setting up the next transition on the effects bank, at the same time as listening to the Production Assistant's countdown to the next item.
As running orders on news programmes can change by the second, Vision Mixers must be able to react quickly and accurately to rapidly changing demands. They often work from more than one visual source, for example when adding graphics with the required name, location and date, to relevant shots.
On some light entertainment, and all sitcoms, soaps and drama, Vision Mixers use rehearsals to practise the required transitions, and where appropriate to suggest alternatives to Directors. They make detailed notes on the camera script about transition types, graphics and technical effects.
On music programming, Vision Mixers are given more leeway and must cut to the music or beat, or to a musical score, particularly when working on classical music productions. On live productions, they are required to react quickly when problems arise, for example by cutting to another suitable camera source smoothly and calmly.
On especially complicated productions, particularly in light entertainment, two vision mixers may work together: one vision mixing, the other operating all other equipment, such as Stills Store, DVE, hard disc/VT play-ins.
Will I need a qualification?
You won’t need a specific qualification to become a Vision Mixer. However, a degree in a media-related, drama or specialist subject may give you a good grounding.
If you are considering taking a TV production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the TV industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a TV career:
TV production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick
Because of the pivotal nature of this role to any multi-camera production, you will need wide experience in and knowledge of the TV production process.
What’s the best route in?
You can become a Vision Mixer having started out in a wide variety of roles, including creative (graphics), administrative (PAs and secretaries), and technical (Camera Operators, VT Operators).
An excellent way to gain a wide experience of vision mixing on a number of different production formats is to gain work with a larger broadcaster. This will also build up your confidence for this high energy, demanding role.
You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:
Interested? Find out more...
- The Guild of Vision Mixers - represents the interests of Vision Mixers working in TV production throughout the UK and Ireland
- BBC Academy - College of Production - information and advice on the skills required to make engaging TV, including interviews with producers in music, speech, factual and comedy about what it takes to work in TV
- BECTU - the UK media and entertainment trade union with information on pay and conditions, training, and access to individual advice on personal and contract issues