In the television industry, there are many little-known “experts in their fields. And there are “behind-the-scenes stories that only such people can tell.
Did you know that behind-the-scenes of movies that you casually watch on TV also have such “professional craftsmen”?
Movies that are broadcast on TV under the name of “◯◯ Roadshow” or “◯◯ Yo-ga Gekijo” are not broadcast as they are shown in movie theaters. In fact, they are “broadcast movies” only after they have been “processed” by a number of professionals.
In this interview, we spoke with a craftsman who specializes in making films for television. We would like to introduce some behind-the-scenes stories of the production process of the “movies for TV” that you are watching, which may surprise you a little.
Difference between “theatrical version” and “made-for-television version
So, what kind of “processing” is involved? To understand this, it is easy to understand what the difference is between a “theatrical movie” and a “made-for-TV movie.
The first thing that comes to mind is “length. The first thing that comes to mind is “length,” in other words, the length of the film. Naturally, theatrical films vary in length, ranging from relatively short films of around 90 minutes to full-length feature films of several hours in length. For theatrical release, there is no particular harm in having films of varying lengths, as long as they are not too long.
On the other hand, TV broadcast slots have a fixed time each week. The “length” is the same every week, unless there is a special program. The total length of the main program and commercials must be kept within 120 minutes, 0 seconds, and 0 frames.
If it is even one second too long or too short, it is a broadcast accident and will not be tolerated. Therefore, the process of “adjusting the length” of a film is always necessary in order to broadcast a film on TV.
The next thing that comes to mind is probably “with or without commercials.
Commercials are usually interspersed between the main program on commercial terrestrial TV and BS. On the other hand, commercials are not usually interspersed between the main feature films shown in theaters. Once a movie has started, the only interruption is probably a “bathroom break,” which is common in long Indian movies.
Therefore, the process of “cutting across commercials” is one of the processes that are often necessary in the production of films for television.
We interviewed a director who specializes in this process. They told us that they have their own unique methodologies and tricks for this work.
I always try to adjust the length of the film by combining the “quick” and the “short”. When a film is too long, I first cut off a block, and then cut short scenes to make it fit the time.
When I make a “short” cut, what do I cut first? I usually start with a wide shot of a cityscape. In most films, the long shots of cityscapes are the first to be cut, because they usually do not affect the storyline of the film.
Even as a longtime TV cameraman, I was blind to the fact that “long shots don’t affect the storyline. I had never thought of that, but now that you mention it, it may indeed be true.
The usual visual grammar is to start with a long shot to give the viewer a vague idea of the situation after a scene change, and then gradually increase the size of the scene to develop the story more concretely.
In other words, I realized for the first time that, in reverse, it can be said that “even if you cut the long cut at the beginning of a scene change, the story will still be understood, although it will lose some of its emotion.
So, what is the theory behind the “basari cut” method?
The best way to “cut a chunk” is to cut a block that is not likely to be of interest to the audience for that particular frame.
When cutting a film, it is best to leave the first and last scenes untouched, because the “first scene” and the “last scene” are the ones that leave the greatest impression. However, the middle part of the film can be left untouched unless it affects the development of the storyline.
For example, if the broadcast slot has a large male audience, many of them want to see flashy scenes such as action scenes, so romantic scenes and psychological descriptions that have little to do with the storyline are boldly cut. On the other hand, if the broadcast slot has a large female audience, we will keep romantic and psychological scenes as much as possible and cut violent scenes.
Unlike customers who go out of their way to go to movie theaters, people who watch movies on TV “tend to watch them kind of in a daze, as if they are watching an image video,” he says.
Therefore, they “don’t mind if the movie is missing scenes other than the ones they want to see,” he said.
As if to illustrate this point, he says, “In terms of viewer ratings, ‘flashy movies that aren’t that good’ tend to get higher ratings than great movies. It is said that “the ratings are often higher for ‘not so good but flashy movies’ than for masterpieces. It is said that “movies that make you wonder, ‘Why such and such movie?
So, how do they straddle commercials?
Many programs make it a rule to (1) not have commercials during the first 20 minutes of the program, and (2) not have commercials after the hour (Note: “hour” means 12:00, 20:00, or 0:00 every hour. (*Note: “New Year’s Day” means 12:00, 20:00, etc., or the zero hour of every hour.)
) I often insert commercials “just before the climax of the show,” say, 15 seconds or so before. This gives the viewer a sense of anticipation.
However, it is not a good idea to be too aggressive, so I use the “15-seconds-before” technique occasionally, based on the principle of inserting the commercial at the end of the block.
It is not a good idea to “look back at the previous scene after the commercials,” which is often done in other programs, in film programs. However, if the film is short, an exception may be made in order to fit in with the program.
Since films are, after all, “highly artistic works,” it seems that commercials are spanned in a more restrained manner than the “elaborate and blatant splicing of commercials” that is common on television.
There is one more point that is often forgotten, but is actually a major difference between movies and TV. That is the aspect ratio of images.
The aspect ratio for movies is often 2.35:1, which is called CinemaScope, while that for terrestrial digital broadcasting is often 16:9. In other words, to put it simply, “movies are longer horizontally than TVs, so they cannot fit on TV screens unless they are cut.
In my case, I use three types of screen size adjustment based on where the important things are: (1) pull to the left and cut the right, (2) pull to the right and cut the left, and (3) leave the center and cut both ends.
However, TV stations have rules that prevent them from showing wounds or raw necks in atrocity scenes, or various sexy scenes that cannot be shown, so I sometimes use screen size adjustment to cut such scenes.
When the screen size adjustment is not enough to cover up a scene, defocusing (*Note: To blur the screen. In television, defocus is generally used rather than mosaic) and blow-up (*Note: to enlarge the screen).
So, what did you think of the “artisans of film production for TV” so far? By the way, a few more bits of trivia.
Some production companies, such as Tohoku Shinsha, are very good at dubbing Japanese for TV and producing such movies for TV.
Usually, the station that will broadcast the film on TV first takes the initiative and orders the production of a “TV version” to a production company that specializes in the production of such films for TV.
However, since the rights to the dubbed TV version produced by the production company are often owned by the film distributor, the distributor often lends the TV version to the station for the second and subsequent TV broadcasts.
In other words, for example, if the first broadcast is by NTV, the production company creates a TV version based on NTV’s order, and if the second broadcast is by TV TOKYO, the “TV version once broadcast by NTV” is loaned to TV TOKYO by the film distribution company, and then re-edited and broadcast by TV TOKYO. This is a common practice.
In some cases, such as when the voice actors dubbed for the same movie are different between DVD and TV, it is because the DVD version and the TV version were ordered by different parties.
In addition, when broadcast rights for a movie are sold to a TV station, they are often sold as a “set”.
When broadcast rights to a blockbuster movie are sold, such as a foreign movie, a set called a “00 (movie title) package” is often put together, which combines one blockbuster movie, two medium-hit movies, and several movies that were not successful at all, and is sold together. The number of times and duration of broadcasts are also set for each.
In other words, each TV station is “forced to buy a number of movies it does not want” in order to air one hit movie on prime time, and often has a movie slot, such as late night, in order to digest the “forced-bought movies.
Now, how was this behind-the-scenes story of the “world of movies for TV”? I would be very happy if you can enjoy watching movies on TV from now on from a slightly different perspective, and if your enjoyment of watching movies on TV has increased even more.
Interview and text： Hiromichi Chinmoku / TV producer and writer
Joined TV Asahi in 1992. After covering the Great Hanshin Earthquake and Aum Shinrikyo-related events as a reporter in the Social Affairs Department, he worked as a director for Super J Channel, Super Morning, and News Station before becoming a producer. He has covered many overseas events, including coverage of China and the Korean Peninsula and the terrorist attacks in the U.S. He also launched the ABEMA service. He also participated in the launch of the ABEMA service. In August 2019, he became independent and is active not only in broadcasting programs but also in various media. He is a part-time lecturer at Edogawa University and an instructor at MX Television Visual Academy. As a member of the Society for Public Communication, he studies local media and has researched and written articles on face-framing panels as his life's work. His recent books include "Dramatically Increase Access and Registrations! Video Production: 52 Professional Tricks" (Nihon Jitsugyo Shuppansha, Ltd.).