How to make a Live Broadcast

17 May 2022

It takes a bigger team than you might think to create a Live Broadcast of one of our theatre productions 

As Ross Willis’ Wonder Boy comes to viewers On Demand from 23-29 May, we thought we’d dive behind the scenes to give you an idea of what goes into bringing a Bristol Old Vic production to a live global audience, through Bristol Old Vic On Screen.


The Digital team will first meet with the Creative team of the stage production and talk about the show’s design, staging and sound requirements, along with the director's vision for the show and how to recreate the thrill of the live production for our digital audience. 

Plus, there might be additional requirements particular to the show, such as any access needs.

For example, Wonder Boydirected by Olivier Award winner Sally Cookson, not only features live music and musicians on stage, but also uses creative captioning, projecting over 2,000 lines of dialogue on the set behind the actors as they speak.

As these captions can't be seen on screen during close-up shots, the team needed to create a second set of creative ‘subtitles’ which matched the artistic vision for the captions and which were cued live and overlayed on the broadcast as it went out


The Digital Producer then puts together a team of camera operators, sound mixers, broadcast engineers, a shot caller, a vision mixer and a camera director, who are all experts in capturing live theatre productions on film.

We use anywhere between six and twelve BlackMagic cameras for our filmed productions. These need to be strategically placed throughout the theatre to capture the best angles of the action on stage without interfering with the show itself or any audience member’s view or enjoyment of the show (this can take a bit of time to get right!)

During camera rehearsals, as guided by the camera director and vision mixer, and working with the actors, the camera team need to work out which camera angles best capture the actors’ performances, using a mixture of close-ups, wide and tracking (moving) shots to reflect the dynamic movement or moments of stillness on stage.


When it comes to the night of the filming, everything is as live on screen as it is on stage – with everything being simultaneously filmed and broadcasted to viewers all over the world!

At the helm on the night is this team of wizards: the camera director, shot caller and vision mixer:

Each camera feeds into one big monitor, and the vision mixer, alongside the camera director, essentially has to choose what shot or angle should be shown at any one time and then live cut between each camera – much like live TV or at a big music event. It happens in real time, and it is incredibly complex and pressured. Respect!

If you think that a set up like this might take up a lot of space backstage, you’d be right! That’s why the vision mixers actually sit under the orchestra pit in the depths of the theatre, guiding the camera operators through earpieces to keep everyone on script and on time.

The Live Broadcast engineer, meanwhile, has the job of making sure the final stream is getting to the viewers. They are the ones to connect the live feed to the streaming platform (that's where you're watching it) and making sure the signal doesn't fail.

Finally, the Box Office team are always on hand for people to contact in case they cannot access the show. Phewph!


Once the Live Broadcasts have taken place, the team sometimes re-release the broadcast film as a limited run on-demand film, allowing audiences who missed it a final opportunity to catch the show. 

Sometimes the films will also be shown by one of our broadcast partners (for example, you can watch our previous film, Touching the Void, on Sky Arts now).

Then comes trailer production and all the digital assets needed to make sure the production can be seen far and wide.

They also create access versions of our films (this could be Audio Described, subtitled or BSL interpreted) so that all audiences have an opportunity to enjoy our films.

The Wonder Boy team worked extensively with the show’s Deaf Consultants and Hearing-Impaired team to create these versions – the latter particularly involved working closely with the actors and creative team to accurately capture the tone and feel of the show through audio description.

The Wonder Boy On Demand film streams from 23-29 May 2022. See below to book: