As a member of the studio production team of LA18–or as one might call it, the Asian Univision–I’ve had the unique experience of working in a cross-cultural, multi-lingual environment right here within the United States. As part of a cross-trained crew, I worked as Floor Manger, Camera Operator, Audio Technician, CG person and, most recently, Senior Technical Director. I also edited video, prepared graphics for the shows and other important functions that helped make our 4 to 5-per-day shooting schedule run.
According to Los Angeles Magazine article The Unique Challenges of Being the Only TV Station That Caters to L.A.’s Asian Communities: “Like Univision, LA18 draws from a potential viewer base that, despite a tough media climate, is actually expanding…The Greater L.A. area contains the largest number of ethnic Koreans living outside of Korea and the largest number of ethnic Filipinos living outside of the Philippines. More than a half million Chinese live here, too; in the United States only New York and the Bay Area have more.”
The main question I get about my experience at LA18 is, How does the crew, not being bilingual, communicate with the talent? Interestingly enough, the process is very efficient. Though the shows are not conducted in English, the on-air talent and producers were bilingual, and they communicated with crew regarding when to insert videos and when to wrap segments the communication was very efficient.
Cross-cutting between shots of guests and hosts within a talk show became intuitive over time, as the ability to observe body language and tone is part of TD’ing shows even in one’s own language.
And also important is that the set up for multi-camera television studios is fundamentally the same wherever you go. This holds whether it’s a popular talk show seen by a worldwide audience or a small local news station; the fundamentals are the same, and so it is really the language of studio production that we communicate in.
That being said, becoming informed about the international news and current events as well as the cultural nuances of different Asian cultures that became part of our understanding of the work environment at LA18, has been a learning experience I will always value.