Filming reality TV is typically fast-paced, pressure-filled, and full of twists and turns, but that’s also what makes it fun to produce.
This is a summary of how we filmed three reality TV episodes in a single day.
Our client was Austin-based Hahn Agency, and their client was the Texas Beef Council. We were tasked with producing “The Ultimate Beef Loving Texan,” which showcases some of Texas’ best culinary talent. The project included three pilot episodes, each about 20 minutes long. We filmed at the Texas Beef Council headquarters in Austin.
The Texas Beef Council is passionate about telling nonfiction stories in the beef space to promote Texas beef. Previously, they released a TV series called BBQuest that goes “beyond the pit to discover stories of dedicated pit masters and ranchers.” We aimed to mirror the look of the show in “The Ultimate Beef Loving Texan.”
The cooking challenge for the first episode was ground beef, the second was steak, and the third was each chef’s choice. There were two final contestants, three judges, and a host. We brought a 10-person crew for support—
Executive Producer: Tony Stolfa
Producer/Assistant Director: Michael Zumaya
Production Assistant: Deni Roque
Camera Operator: Austin Lorenzen
Camera Operator: Caleb Kuntz
Camera Operator: Tyler Gorrell
Key Grip: Tanner Goheen
Sound Mixer: John Clark
Gaffer: Peter Klemek
Video Engineer/TD: Brent Klein
Producing reality TV comes with a unique set of challenges.
Crews must deal with unpredictable situations, often resulting in retakes and reshoots. The ideal sound bite or interaction can come-and-go quickly, and it may not be repeatable, so there’s a constant pressure to capture authentic, unscripted moments. Doing so while following a tight schedule is a tough balancing act.
Additionally, we faced a logistical hurdle navigating the complex, multi-location setup within the Texas Beef Council office. We had to set up in one area for interviews, a separate area for the kitchen, and then a third where the judges sat. Not only did we film three episodes in one day, but it happened in essentially three locations.
With proper planning during pre-production and close coordination with our crew and partners, we made this production a success and gave the post-production team everything it needed to turn around the episodes in a short timeframe.
Given the constraints of this project, we decided to film live to tape to save time both on the production day and in post-production.
Understanding Live to Tape Filming
Live to tape, often referred to as “LTT,” is a production technique that blends the best of both live and recorded television. It involves shooting scenes as they happen but without broadcasting them in real-time. Instead, the footage is recorded simultaneously, and the line cut can be edited or screened later to make post-production more efficient. This approach offers incredible advantages when faced with the challenge of filming multiple episodes in a short timeframe.
The Technical Aspect of Live to Tape Filming
To successfully execute live to tape filming, you need specialized equipment, skilled camera operators, and a well-coordinated crew. The cameras record in high-definition, and there is a continuous feed to a master control room, allowing real-time monitoring and switching between camera angles. This setup is crucial when working on a tight schedule.
Benefits of Live to Tape Filming
Live to tape allows for real-time feedback, the ability to capture unscripted moments, and significant cost savings compared to traditional live broadcasting. This method combines the authenticity of live events with the control of post-production editing.
With one pre-light day followed by the production day, we wrapped filming on Sept. 7. Two weeks later, the episodes were published on YouTube and BeefLovingTexans.com.
We were able to work seamlessly with Hahn. As Tony Stolfa, our head of production, put it: “Hahn let us take the ropes, trusted us to own it, and gave the Texas Beef Council direction on what we needed.”
Watch the series here.
“Partnering with 3rd + Lamar on The Ultimate Beef Loving Texan was one of the best decisions we made. Everyone here at Hahn was blown away by their professionalism and hustle, and it made a big difference to the overall success of the project.”
-Russ Rhea, Vice President, Hahn Agency