Coming Attractions: Live vs Live-to-Tape


You’ve heard me say that no reality show airs in real time the way something falls through a lens, but live shows… live shows are a whole different ball of wax.  DANCING WITH THE STARS, save for its produced packages, is as live as they come.  Ditto most live reality competition shows, like our competitor, THE VOICE and shows like AMERICAN IDOL and SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.

Reunion specials are usually done live-to-tape, which means they’ll shoot for several hours and then whittle it down in post.

Live shows are produced from timed rundowns, meaning that we all know how long an act should be, how long a song runs, how long a super-awesome package about how Joe Blow designed his own guitar for his performance runs, and how much host chatter can be crammed into each act.  When something goes long, something else in the show has to get shorter.  Let’s say that Complainy Complainerton decides to explain how her  microphone crapped out during the big sing-off, and suddenly the show is running a minute over.  No worries, we’ll just air two of the alternate packages that were cut down from 1:45 to 1:15 and bingo, we’re on track again.

With live-to-tape, you often have the luxury of cutting as much as 4 or 5 hours of material down to make a jam-packed hour.  Packages that rehash old storylines are produced ahead of time, so if you want to show five minutes of material in a live-show taping, you can always do it and trim the package down later based on the conversation it starts on the reunion stage.

I’ll discuss producing for both types of “live” shows in depth later this week.  Cheers!

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