June 24th, 2008
04:56 PM ET

TV Talk: "Get ready for a hotroll!"

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David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Hey gang,

In the spirit of giving you more behind the scenes action, I wanted to share with you things that we say around the newsroom... Language we use, for things you watch.

So from time to time we'll bring you a new phrase in our TV vocabulary:

Here is today’s "TV Talk:"

So last I left you, we realized we were 'crashing a package...'
So what happens if we don’t have enough time to finish?


"Get ready for a hotroll!"

Playing a piece of edited material directly from the editing station


When there is no time to save the material you are editing as one item, it's time for plan B: To literally 'roll' the story 'hot'... in-real time. Not from tape, not from a computer file, but directly from the editing station where you are working.

In TV, this is a phrase you never want to use, and the phone call you never want to make.

The producer calls the control room to let them know the package is going to 'hotroll.'

The director can normally see all completed pieces of video on a screen in the control room, but not if the piece is incomplete – like our hotroll... the director now needs another way to see the story. The control room routes the signal from the edit bay. Now the director can see the piece, to make sure the colors look OK, the sound is good, etc...

At this point the director tells the edit bay when the hotroll will happen, to manually queue the editor to press 'play.'

This is always an awkward and difficult dance.

Think about it from the director's view: The director must take into account the anchor's introduction before the story, the satellite delay, and a whole series of other problems... before calling out 'play.'

Think about it from the editor's view: Imagine you are watching a CNN.com/video clip on your computer... and you were on the phone with the director, who is going to tell you the exact moment to hit play.

  • Hit play too early and the world misses your story's introduction...
  • Hit play too late and every viewer will see a frozen shot to start.

Even if you hit play at the precise moment needed, you aren't out of the woods yet:

If the computer playing the piece fails... or someone hits pause by accident... or if a piece of video is missing... it will show up on-air... and the control room must be ready at any moment to 'dump out' of the hotroll.

If you are lucky, the piece plays exactly when it needs to, and plays with no audio or visual problems...

The viewer at home won't even know there was a hotroll, and you can wipe the sweat off your brow, and vow never to go through that again.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • David M. Reisner
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Minou, New York City

    Hey, next time you server us a hot-roll, let us know on the live blog! 🙂
    I actually love it when things go wrong, that's the fun part of being live...well, for the viewer at least, ha ha. But seriously, who needs perfection?

    June 24, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  2. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hey David,
    Nice adrenal rush. Even if you mess up we probably don't realize it.
    Funny~Now I'll be paying attention! 😉

    June 24, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Stacy

    It's cool to learn the terminology, but what happened to "Blog From the Back Row"?

    June 24, 2008 at 7:11 pm |
  4. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    LOL...you guys like to live on the edge.

    I think I will stay far away from that place.

    But it has to be fun knowing that you've pulled it off and no one knew.

    so is "Dumb out" our next phrase for tomorrow? It sounds like a Wipe out in surfing...not fun at all.

    June 24, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  5. Genevieve M, TX

    I enjoy learning about the "tv talk" you all use on the set.

    The "hotroll" sounds very stressful as there are quite a few things that can go awry. I sprouted a gray hair on my head just reading this entry as I got a sense of how stressful having to do a "hotroll" can be!

    June 24, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  6. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    Hey David,

    Wow thanks! This is so great. I love learning all of the behind the scenes stuff, however, it also makes me realize that y'all must truly have nerves of steel. Good God, just thinking about this "hotroll" process made me get rather stressed! I am picturing people flying down hallways at ballistic speeds to deliver the vids "just in the nick of time". Ah, the good old days.

    When I went on the Inside CNN Tour at Time Warner, the tour guide found me when it was over and gave me a list of all of your terminology. Guess she got how interested I was with the process ( I was like a kid in a candy store). Anyhow, your explanations are much more in depth and we get the whole picture as it were (pun intended). So thanks again and keep 'em "rollin". No, not hotrolling. LOL. I believe this is what we try to avoid.

    Very exciting stuff and in spite of the stress, it sounds like the best job on earth to me. You guys are lucky.

    June 24, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  7. Hannah Storm

    Hey David

    Thanks for today's TV Talk. hope there are not too many hotrolls in the future

    June 24, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  8. Fay, CA

    Mmmm...hot rolls...

    Well I can certainly see now why that word would be unwelcome around the 360 studio, the potential for disaster seems pretty high, but I've noticed that 360 rarely is plagued with technical difficulties or glitches–and that's a testament to the skills of the great team that's working on the show.

    June 24, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  9. Cindy

    So...in a hotroll you are cutting it extremely too close then huh!? Let's hope that you guys at 360 are much better at getting your work done than having to hotroll stuff a lot! Don't be messing up our 360 we may have to hurt ya! LOL


    June 24, 2008 at 5:16 pm |