Since the 1920s, 'television' is a word that has been completing our lives. An equal source of entertainment and information, the idiot box is not really an idiot after all. The era of television started in the 1920s, and it isn't over just yet. Even though the concept of 'live television' on laptops has given us the freedom to watch TV at any given time and place, the television set isn't going to be replaced for many more decades to come. From a mechanical device that got news home first hand, it has become a full-fledged sector now, not only in business but in academics too. If you are amongst the many aspirants who wants to pursue one of the interesting careers in the television industry, you have some really nice opportunities to bank upon. The finance freaks, travel tellers, and the raving reporters, there is something here for everyone. If you think media is your cup of tea, then go ahead and take a sip!
Careers the Television Industry Offers
For those you don't know the etymology of the word, it is very important you do, as it tells you the basic purpose your sector serves. Television stands for nothing but far sight. 'Tele' stands for far in Greek and 'Visio' stands for sight in Latin. This means, your basic job would be to help people see what they usually can't, sitting at home. Directly or indirectly, you will have to capture the world through stories, events, news and games, and then present it to the audience at large. The job you choose would determine your role in this process. The following are the options you have!
Production as we all know, is divided into three segments, namely pre-production, production and post-production. The producer of a program is a person(s) who owns that particular program. Producers decide who directs, writes, edits, and provides the screenplay for their program. In earlier days, we found only one producer for an entire program. Today, given the extensive responsibilities and the scale at which production is done, there is effective segmentation in this field too. A few types of producers are the executive producer, associate producer, co-producer, coordinating producer, line producer, and segment producer. Each producer has different job responsibilities. Ruling the hierarchy is the executive producer, while last in line is the line producer who deals with personnel and logistics. Careers in television production demand monetary backing at most times.
Direction is an altogether different game in television, as opposed to that in film. Here, quite a bit of creative management is done by the producer itself. The director is responsible to present exactly what the producer expects. If the project is divided into many segments, like in the case of seasons of a series, a different director might be hired for each. Commercials play a very important part in television. Directors also have to see that these commercials are played on time, and that the show / program goes on air in time, and ends in time as well. If the production house is a really huge one, the producer takes care of these responsibilities. If you take up this job, this industry requires you to specialize in one type of direction, such as reality, VT (video tape), news, sport, etc. This isn't compulsory but preferred by most.
3. Art & Design
Art and design deal with the visual aspect of what you see on TV. There is a team of people who work in this department, the head being the art director. This team is responsible for packaging the product in such a way that it comes across as 'attractive' to the viewer. The way a program or a show looks is very important, as this plays the most vital role in increasing the TRPs. Right from the background sets, to the themes, to the costumes, to the graphics, this department is responsible for presenting the show to the audience in the best possible framework. Advertisements are also mostly developed by this department. For more information on this profile, you can read By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers by V. LoBrutto or Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design by C. Frayling.
Performers basically consist of all people who directly entertain, inform or educate the audience through this medium. Actors, reporters, and dancers, are all part of the performers team. Reporters, investigators and hosts, are all included in performers. If you think you have it in you to present a show or act in one, this career is one to look out for. The payments are great and so is the exposure. People know about the good ones in no time, and your work is more largely accepted and appreciated. There are many positions where you can try to find work. You can try to be a reporter presenting news or stocks for a program. You can act in various soaps for different channels. You can work for chat shows and interview people, though this comes a little late.
Journalism by far has the oldest and strongest hold on this sector. A show might come to an end sooner or later, but journalism will never die. In the book Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan says that television is the most persuasive and influential medium of journalism. Media has some very interesting careers in television for everyone. If you think you can work with people, then hold a show that deals with day-to-day problems of citizens. If celebrities fascinate you, work on chat shows and cover the page 3 events. If finance is what interests you, work for trade and economy related programs. If your skills tell you that presentation is when you are at your best, just present the news other people cover. Your job here would be to inform, and how you do it is left up to you. Then of course, we can't leave out the sensational existence of yellow journalism.
Lighting, as this sector is officially known by, is another big boy in the television industry. People who work in this department are responsible for working with lights in such a way that they create a mood or style desired by the director / producer. Information and study of various lights is very important in this field, and so is commitment and stamina. Stamina because the work hours for this segment are long, in most cases. Shooting might require lights to be taken to undesirable locations, and this isn't solely done by the runners. An interesting position here is that of a Gaffer, who decides what equipment is necessary, orders what is not available, and also understands the creative aspect of the requirement. This department is headed by either the Lighting Director or Director of Photography (DOP), who heads this sector.
Positions in this sector are the least precarious of all in the entire industry. Anything that needs to be telecast, needs to be shot, and anything that needs to be shot, needs a camera. This again is a part of the larger segment - Production (Technical). The job of a cameraman is to capture and create moving images that are then broadcast. In the hierarchy, on the top is the DOP, followed by the Camera Operator, who is then followed by a few assistants. Runners working as interns stand last. Specializations are a part of this sector too. There are specialized cameramen who are hired for underwater scenes, and the Steadicam Operators who excel at shooting moving scenes. Whether one camera person is required or the entire team, depends on the size of the production house. Lighting Camera Persons are people who work in both camera and lighting, dealing with both to meet creative requirements.
8. Make-Up Artists
Lana Turner said she would rather lose a good earring than be caught without make-up. The world might continue to live in denial and natural maybe the in-thing, but makeup cannot die, ever! If you're on TV, you are credited only if you sell. Who / what looks best, sells most, is nothing but a law of nature. Every performer, presenter, host and actor, wants to, and to a certain extent, has to, look good. If you think you can make the worst look the best, this is what you should do! Makeup artists are required in every production house, big or small. Information about different styles of makeup and knowledge of the latest trends is a must. Experience here would count more than the academics, so start assisting right away, even if you have to do it for free. This sector has to closely work with the lighting department. Hairstyling and decorating is also included. Your purpose would be to add to the character, with the tools you possess.
The sound department in television consists mainly of the Sound Supervisor, the Sound Recordist, the Sound Assistant and the Boom Operator. This department is also very diverse with the opportunities that it has to offer. The supervisor supervises / heads the entire crew in this department. The sound recordist / operator, operates the desk in a studio, known as a mixing console. The sound department is also responsible for arranging vocal microphones to all those who need them. They also have to produce music as and when required. If the shoot is scheduled on a different location (outdoor / indoor), they are also responsible for carrying the equipment along with the operating part. Basic audio theory is expected from every person who works for this sector, and some might require specializations. Boom operators have a somewhat distinct profile. They are supposed to hold the long boom arm to achieve maximum quality.
10. Studio Broadcast
Studio broadcast is a sector which deals mainly with the procedures of broadcasting, transmitting and telecasting. People have to work for a particular channel or a company that holds the rights of many channels. They have to collect material that needs to go on air from different production houses, and make sure that they are aired on time. They are responsible for checking the quality on content they are taking in, technically. The formats and conditions of the material needs to be checked, and if something is found faulty, they need to correct it. This is mainly the job of the Network Operations Assistant. Another position in Broadcasting Media, is that of a Transmission Engineer, who is not only responsible for hiring people, but also for managing shifts and freelance employments. Careers in television broadcasting are highly administrative. Some people are hired to mix scenes and visions, specially during the broadcasting of news. These people are hired under the title of Vision Mixers.
I hope this array of positions and opportunities emboldened you, and that you finalize one stream of your liking soon. Careers in television and film are not only mere jobs, but jobs that have this life in them, that they make the work experience king size. As you must have read, every sector will demand relative educational requirements, but more of experience. If you are a freshman looking at the various interesting careers in television, with the intent of changing your field, you should take up any job as a trainee. The payment won't be very lucrative in the short run, but in the longer run, you would certainly be minting some big bucks.