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The duties of a television director vary depending on whether the production is live (as in a television news or sports television event) or recorded to video tape or video server (as in a dramatic or interview production).
In both types of productions, the director is responsible for supervising the placement of professional video cameras (camera blocking), lighting equipment, microphones, and props. In a dramatic arts production, the television director's role can be similar to that of a film director, giving cues to actors and directing the video tape operator when to start and stop the video tape recorder (VTR). In a television show composed of individual episodes, the television director's role may differ from that of a film director in that he or she may work only on some television episodes as opposed to being the auteur of the entire production. In an episodic television production the major creative control will likely reside with the television producer(s) of the show. The television producer with creative control is called the showrunner.
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Other than quickly calling out commands, the television director is also expected to maintain order among the staff in the control room, on the set, and elsewhere.
A news studio might have multiple cameras and few camera movements. In a sports broadcast, the director might have 20 or 30 cameras and must continuously tell each of the camera operators what to focus on.
While the director is responsible for specific shots and other production elements, the producer (typically seated behind the director in the second row of chairs in the control room) coordinates the "big picture", including commercial breaks and the running length of the show.