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One Hour TV Show Structure

Jun 11, 2012 6:44 PM

Trying to crack a bit of a nut that seems to be more well-guarded than the location of the Holy Grail in my rather extensive internet searches.


I am trying to edit existing footage down to a precise one hour format.


This is to say I am editing it into several acts (that will need precise lengths) and leaving black gaps (that will need precise lengths) for several commercial breaks.


It seems like this would be a pretty imperative bit of information since an act that runs 9 minutes would have to be edited significantly (possibly detrimentally) differently than a 5 minute bit between two commercial breaks.


Now I also understand that this elusive "structure" may vary a great deal from network to network – so I am simply looking for a way to ball park simulate it.


Does anyone have any real world experience with having to do this – and better yet perhaps just one legit example or template that has seen actual battle?


Something like (just a fictitious example):


Teaser - 2:00

Title Sequence - 1:00

Act I - 5:00

Commercial - 3:00

Act II - 5:00

Commercial - 3:00

Act III - 10:00

Commercial - 3:00

Act IV - 10:00

Commercial - 3:00

Act V - 5:00

Commercial - 3:00

Act VI - 5:00

End Credits - 2:00


Thanks in advance for any experienced direction.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 11, 2012 7:06 PM   in reply to Cadillacula

    There is not one particular formula. It depends on what sort of program you're writting and for what sort of broadcaster.

    David Trottier has written some good books on screenplay formatting (mainly for film but also som tv info) and he also does private consulting for a reasonable fee, if you're serious.

    Here is his latest book, which I've not read yet, so I'm not necessarily endorsing it: =sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339466313&sr=1-2


    As for your editing workflow, if you use nested sequences you'll be able to work with each segment seperately and then put them together at the end with gaps and content segments of appropriate length. This way, you can start editing now and worry about the excat number of seconds and frames later.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 11, 2012 7:37 PM   in reply to Cadillacula

    my experience has been 22 min for half hours show ( total running length ) and 44 min for one hour show.

    each "station" or "show" ( eg. the discovery channel ) has specific guidelines and its best to go to that channel, station, show (whatever ) and get those guidelines downloaded from them and look it over. It tells you what they want , format, etc.


    also, they cut into it when it suits them have nothing to do with it.


    if it's live TV ( like montel williams or whatever ) which is taped ( not live ) then you would have specific timing limits for breaks and you'd time that as you shoot for the breaks...and new intro do new segment etc... but you aint doing that probably or you'd have that info from the producer etc.


    any template you use is not going to be real world as you basically give up your "rights" to that sorta stuff when you sell them (broadcaster) the right to show your stuff x amount of times during x amount of months, years and so on....before the rights come back to YOU.


    good luck

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 12, 2012 10:18 AM   in reply to Cadillacula

    glad to help... if I can...but I guess I just don't know what you mean by " a one hour program " and this template stuff you're talking about...


    here's some stuff I've worked on...not complete...but gives you general idea.

    My experience has been that people dont write to accomodate some template like youre talking, " oh oh...its like 3min and 20 seconds into our first act and we need to re-write the script now so that it fits the template !!! OMG !!!   "

    I could see people doing that on set during shoots and freaking out because the vampire didn't bite the victim on time !!!!


    maybe if you are more clear about what kinda one hour show you're talking about and what the venue is I can do some searching around and see if I can find anything...would be happy to help... I just don't get it I guess...


    good luck !

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