Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cliff Hanger

Wouldn't you know it, the week that I am not flying, we get a "Breaking Story" during the 6. Just my luck. My collegue Pete was at the controls and continues until the end of the week. As I have mentioned, we all like to be "on the ice" when the game is on. He brought you the riviting pictures of a "high angle"rescue of a young boy and his dog.
As a viewer, and since I am on my days off, that's what I was, a viewer, I found myself not being able to leave the couch.
It was actually kinda funny as my wife is rivited to the set and I am mumbling about wide shots and peddle turns to avoid seeing the helicopter's skid. Her telling me to keep quiet as she wanted to hear every word from Flight Reporter David Kincaid. But that's how I watch news. I comment. To a person not fimilar with the interworkings of news gathering, it must be annoying, but she is my wife, so I annoy her anyway, it's the natural way.
But watching stories, and knowing how things are done in the aircraft, I found myself in Pete's shoes understanding exactally what he was dealing with. During 40 plus minutes of live TV no commercials, my man Pete had to operate a camera and constantlly adjust for failing light. He had to monitor audio from David's mic, and respond to the station when they called. He would have also had to be in voice communication with Ronn the pilot, and as the IFB line from the station to the helicopter is known for dropping out after several minutes, he would have had to re-establish the line so David could hear the producers and or Bill and Pamala as they speak to him. Again all while Pete is concentrating on following the action on the ground. Now add to this, he is on a long lens and is probibly 2000 ft or more from the cliff where the rescue was taking place.
I am sure that you see we have to be part Octopus to keep your digits on all of the controls that need attention. Yes Ronn was the pilot, Dave was doing the talking, (which comes naturally to Mr. Kincaid) but the busiest guy at CTV was my friend and fellow flight camera operator Pete Cline for that 40 plus minutes.
The story had a happy ending. Boy and dog rescued and it all happened LIVE for those watching CTV News at 6 last evening. We like those kind of stories, lots of drama, yet nobody get hurt.
Good job lads, but try to save some of the good stories for me on my next flight week, OK.
Nice goin' Pete!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Must Be My "Electric" Personality

My first flight week since January ended rather uneventful. The big story this week has been the Queen of the North sinking. When I called into the office to findout what Chopper requirements were needed for the show, an intern summed up my contribution this week, "Chopper who?"

There was a bit of excietment to report. We had been sent out on a pretty routine flight assignment. A typical fire call in Burniby. Man trapped ect,ect. I wasn't going to kick a gift horse in the mouth. It has been a less that stellar flight week, so any flying hours are good hours.
Off we went, hoping for disaster, but finding none. After a few orbits we head back to YVR. As we make the turn west, Hedeya our pilot says over the intercom, "lightning". Did you say lightning?

Tailcam shot of the storm cell over the Straight of Georgia as we fly west along the Fraser

Over the Straight of Georgia there were storm clouds that seemed to be heading our way. I positioned the FLIR camera toward the storm cell. As we flew into our approach pattern into YVR we both noticed a sudden drop in the temprature. "Did you see that?" he said. I told him I had been looking out the window in another direction. But my FLIR camera was pointed in the right direction. We were on the ground a few minutes later. I grabbed my SX camera and set up the tripod just outside the hanger to see if I could luck out and get another shot. The cell was moving fast and stayed to the west, tracking north toward the sunshine coast. ( for those of you back east, if you remember the Beachcombers, Gibsons the place where "Molly's Reach" sits is on the sunshine coast)

Lightning strike as seen from the FLIR camera aboard Chopper 9

Anyway as luck would have it, a bolt flashed in the middle of my frame. I was able to send in the feed the tape and Tamara used it for her weather during the 6. I believe it is the first lightning that has been shot from the helicopter,,,,, well at least for this year.

This frame grab is from just outside the hangar taken with my Sony SX

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Game On!

I have to begin this post with recognition to my colleagues that had been assigned to the Ferry Sinking yesterday. They have done a fantastic job considering we had to mount the mission from Vancouver.
It is hard to believe that I live in a province that is so big. It is actually shorter to drive to San Francisco then it is to drive to Prince Rupert. That said, our SNG team of Gary Tapp and Dave Alexander were able to tag team and drive our SNG Truck to Prince Rupert and enabled CTV BC to provide the only live broadcasting into the 6 PM show. Of course Camera Operators Gary Barndt and Jazz Sangahra (sorry Jazz I can't spell worth shit) and reporters Lisa Rossington and Bob Brown did an amazing job of collecting tape, getting interviews and just getting it done. And I should not forget my national colleagues, Cameraman John Jackson and Reporter and fellow Maritimer, Todd Battis. I look forward to their war stories when they return. I also have to mention the team back in Vancouver that have been recognized by inter office email for their ability to work the logistics of such big story.
Actually we do this every day, but with big stories the adrenalin makes us all hyper aware, and pushes us to approach our respective jobs with enthusiam.
When the game is on we all want to play. We want to win. It is the competitive nature in all of us in the news business.

For what my colleagues accomplished yesterday on all sides of the camera, reminds me why I got into this business in the first place, to tell stories. To tell great stories. Nice goin' guys!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Huston We Have A Problem

It seems the technical gods wish to torment me this week. On Monday when I returned home to check my personal email, I found my computer unusually slow. As the session wore on it locked and after a hard reset, the system would not reboot. Huston we have a problem. Hopefully when I get an opportunity to explore the hard drive I will be able to rescue my photos and other important files.

The technical gods followed me to the airport as well. It seems while flying last night for the 5 and 6 shows, Vancouver Base (CTV Control) lost our signal. I noticed a red fault light on the console. Damn! That terminated our flight ops for last night. It seems to be an HPA ( High Powered Amp) thing. Our RF guys will figure it out.
fortunately our team of engineers working the problem this morning seem to be able to get us operational again. The unit in question is on it's way to an engineering bench near you and will get a thorough check over.
The day did begin promising although, with a marine disaster unfolding up north with a BC Ferry on the bottom near Prince Rupert. It is a long long flight to get the the site of the sinking and it doesn't appear as though the aircraft will be deployed. The weather is not good at the moment either. At least reports form our people there is all made it to safety.
Too bad the site was not further south, closer to our area of operations. I am sure we would have been able to get some great shots.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring better weather and a great story to fly on. I guess you can tell I am a bit anxious get some productive flight hours this week.

It will be soon time to go and do battle with my hard drive, may the technical gods give me a freakin break!

Monday, March 20, 2006

New Beginnings

It seems fitting that this is the first day of spring. The tournament this weekend didn't exactally go as the team would have wanted, but it was a good time for my favorate goalie and he ended his hockey with a win. I was very proud of him. So like the winter, the season is over. Time for new beginnings. What he chooses to do next is his decission. I am sure it will have something to do with mountians and biking.

Pilot Brian Douglas bringing the aircraft to the flight line

This is also my first day back at CTV Air Operations. I had missed a number of flight weeks while in Torino. A small price to pay I guess, but none the less, I am glad to be back at the hanger. Dave is away this week so I had Keri join me at flight ops.

Keri Adams with Pilot Brian Douglas as we prepare for flight

It was great day for flying as the sky was clear and sunny. It was off to Boundry Bay Airport to pick up a guest and go in search of nesting bald eagles. It didn't take long to find some. The area around the lower mainland is apparentally some of the best eagle breading in an urban center anywhere on the globe. In our short flight, we were able to "shoot", check that, "roll tape" on 8 nesting sights. All had sitting eagles except one. We were able to observe them from quite a distance as we kept clear as to not disturb them.
Our expert guest had been aboard with us last fall when we were doing a similar story up near Harrison Mills. At that time of the year there are thousands of Bald Eagles that come to feast on salmon that have returned up the river to spawn and die.
Back then our guest was very happy to take us on a guided flying tour of the river area. He boarded with a high end mini dv camera offering me the tape for our story. He told me he had some great shots of the birds and if we were unsuccessful we could use it. I don't think he was much of a believer in the power of the FLIR's 1000mm lens or my ability to use it. But his offer was a friendly one.
As we flew, he was looking out the window, not paying any attention to what I was doing with my "little" camera. He would tell our pilot in which direction the birds were as he zoomed in to get his shots. "If you just look over there" he would say, "You can just barely see,,,,"
"Just ahead there will be some dead trees, we're quite a distance away, but you might see birds perched on the branches"
With that, he leaned over my position to see if he could get a shot out of my window. I stopped him and said "Is that what you are looking for?" pointing to my monitor. "Oh my what a fantistic shot!"
I had framed a perched eagle, a head and shoulders shot, from about 1000 feet. "My goodness! I'll just put my camera away."
I think I made a believer of him.
Anyway it was nice to meet up with him again today. I always enjoy interviewing someone who is passionate about the subject of which they are speaking about. This man loves birds of prey, especially Bald Eagles.

Of course the first day back in air ops would not be complete without a technical glitch of some type. This one cost me a hit at 5. Kinda stupid really, but I believe my elbow hit a button that put the auto tracking transmitting dish into "manual". It was something I did not notice until just before we were to go to air and realizing there was a problem, I scrubbed the hit. It took a bit of working the problem with an engineer on the ground but we figured it out. I am a bit pissed at myself, but I haven't been on the machine in such a long time, anyway excuses are for losers.
I'll just have to make it up for tomorrows 5 show.
Tomorrow, a new beginning.

Murman "working the problem"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Favorate Goalie

If you have been reading this blog, then you already know how much the game of hockey means to me. My brother and I both played. He played US College Hockey, I played Jr. The game has always been in someway a part of my life.
Hockey has been a strange mistress. At times she leaves me full of excietment, high on life, satisfied. Conversly, she also can leave me dissapointed, angry, and empty.

This weekend will be such a time. It is the last tournament of the year for my son's bantam team. What makes this weekend different is it will be the last time my son will play. He has expressed his desire to leave the game that his dad had loved so much. I am OK with that, after all I am not one of those dads that wants to relive and play through his child. My dad told me when I was a young player, "Murray, when the game is no longer fun then it is time to leave hockey" . My dad was right then and those words I have passed onto my favorite goalie, my son.
I will miss the joy of watching him play. Seeing that little frame of his guarding the net. Ben is smaller than most of his teammates, but has always played like he's 8 feet tall. He's fearless.
Being a goalie parent has always been a bit more stressful than I ever thought it would be. But everytime he stopped the puck, I would beam with pride. For me it wasn't about wins and losses, it has been about doing your best. I know his mother also feels every save, every goal, such is the way of every goalie mom. He has won, he has lost and he has had fun. But somewhere along the line the fun stopped.
He had been ready to give it up a year ago, but hung in for one more season. This season proved to be even more turbulant that last. He hung in there and I am proud he did.
I hope that this weekend when he takes the goal for that final time, he playes his best, has fun and the game gives to him, what it had given to me, joy in playing.

My favorate goalie guarding the net

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Amazing Race/Long Journey Home

Photo: The Last Edit

My last full day in Italy began very early. After just a few hours sleep, I was to get up with Brent and head to the Lingatto. Brent would be leaving us on this day. He would fly with the VANOC group, Mayor Sullivan and the newly acquired Olympic Flag. His mission was to do a story during the flight back. I would grab shots and of the group leaving and getting ready for the trip back to Vancouver. The tape that we would acquire here would form the basis of our last item in Torino.
The mood was upbeat with the VANOC group. They were gettin' out. I guess the trip back was filled with war stories. It would give Brent two items when he got back.
Because of the time zone thing and travelling westerly, the group would arrive back in Vancouver at 6 pm pacific, just in time for the the suppertime newscasts. We would be covering the arrival live into the show, plus our item, plus tape from the flight itself. It was what the CTV beast required and it was delivered.
Mike and I also had some Canada AM requirements during that last afternoon. These would be done at the Crackhouse. When we arrived there, most of the rooms that had been filled by various broadcast media were now vacant. With the flame out, they were gone.
We would return back to the Polytechic to do the editing and then return later to make our feed. It should be an easy day.
Mike and I enjoyed our last Donairs at this neat little shop a couple of blocks away. Then it was down to business.
Alby was back to school, he had an exam, yet he had been out with us the night before until 3 am. That was probibly not the best thing to do before an exam.
He took us to the Crackhouse one final time later on so we could make our last feed. I don't think any feed went smoother. And just like that, we were done. No more shooting, no more cutting. It was over.
We went upstair to say our good byes to the national crew and went to pack up. The truth be known, I had been packing for the last 3 days. The guys joked about it saying "Murray has been waiting at the door packed for days, he just wants out!"

Photo: Mike and the Bags just before we leave Italy

We had a cab meet us early Tuesday. I looked at my watch, it would have been about midnight back in Vancouver. We should call Brent, just to wake him up. ( You know that SOB flew business back, we were in Coach)
Niether of us had his home number, good for him,,,
When we got to the airport, Mike 's seat wasn't confirmed, he was standby. After much discussion, he finally got a confirmed seat. He would be flying out ahead of me via Frankfurt and then Toronto before Landing in Vancouver. He should beat me home by 3 hours. I was leaving some 2 hours later via Munich, and Chicago. His flight was delayed. The race was on.
My flight out of Turin was a comfortable one. As I looked at my watch, I realized that making the connection in Munich would be tricky. When we touched down my connection was to depart in less than 30 minutes. There was a United rep waiting for us as we arrived. She escorted a group of us, all heading to Chicago, though passport control and then onto the aircraft. Made it, just in a nic of time.
The flight to North America was of course a long one. Seating in coach was less than confortable, but I was heading home. I watched bits of the inflight movies, I tried to sleep. The fellow that was sitting beside me moved to the back of the plane, so it gave me a bit more room. Better than the flight over, remember the dead russian women,,,,
When we touched down in Chicago, it would mean I would have to clear US customs. This had potential to be a pain. I was bringing back a case of gear that was supposed to be with Brent. So if someone checked the manifest I would be screwed. I decieded, not to worry about it. After collecting all of my gear I headed to yet another security check. We don't want uncle "Al" Quida gettin' in ya know.
Dubya's men were great, they took pitty on me and waived me through. I then went to find my departure gate. On the way I met two US Olympians that had been on my flight. One of the fellow had smuggled an Olympic Torch on board. He had explained that "he was the "official" (wink, wink) torch barrer for the US Bobsled team. They waved him though. I figured an extra case of TV gear wouldn't be a problem,,, it wasn't.
I picked up a pair of sunglasses at the airport. That was my treat for making it so far.
The flight to Vancouver left on time, but became delayed for 30 minutes because of a fuel pump light or so the captain told us. When we were finally on our way all I wanted to do is sleep. The flight was near 4 hours and my neck and shoulders hurt so bad I didn't sleep much.
Let me tell you I was never so glad to touch down in Vancouver as I was on that night. We had to approach from the west and land on 08 right (that's the south runway at YVR) as we landed I looked out of the window as we rolled by the Penta hanger. Some of you know that's the hanger that Talon Helicopters calls home. And where there's Talon Helicopters, there's Chopper 9. I wondered if she missed me.
Getting through Canadian Customs was easier then I thought. Again I think they were taking pitty on a rather sad looking TV guy with two carts filled to overflowing . "Anything to declare?" No, I said, just that I am tired.
I guess they heard that one before as it got no response. The second guy though was in much better humor. He asked me where I was coming from and when I told him, he went on about what the hell happened to the Canadian Mens hockey team. Preachen' to the choir I said. He waved me through.
Now as I came into the reception area of the arrivals area at YVR, I was expecting to see my wife and at least one of the kids. Sarah my daughter was the first face I saw, then Linda and then my boy Ben. But who was that fimilar looking fellow with them? He was holding a case of diet pepsi. It was my News Director Tom. What a surprise. It is a sight I will always remember. Tom and a case of diet pepsi.
I asked if Mike had got back. His plane beat me by less than 10 minutes. I guess I have been eliminated from the race,,,,
It was good to be home!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Closing

The Olympic Flame Moments Before it is Extinguished

The Closing. It has an air of finality to it. It can be emotional. When the flame goes out and the flag is lowered and handed off, I am sure the folks who played a role in these games, both origanizer or competitor feel a sence of meloncoly. I gues it would only be natural.

The closing had a number of special moments. For me it was being there. Not only was I there, I was there with the person, who whether she knows it or not, was the major influance on me getting into TV Broadcasting in the first place. Let me indroduce you to my Aunt, Susanne.
Susanne and her collegue Rick Brace had been in Turin since last Sunday. They were there as part of a CTV Network team that would be observing/ meeting and planning for the next winter games, the ones in Vancouver.
Susanne had called me earlier in the week to attempt to get together and have lunch or something. Our scheduals never seemed to work out so the week flew by without our chance to get caught up. Finally on Friday I was able to get our editing done early and instead of going out with the team for supper, I thought I would meet up with Susanne and at least spend some time.
She told me that she might have a ticket for me to the Closing Ceremonies. But she would call later if one came available. It was good to see her. Susanne is occasionally out in Vancouver on Business, but we do not get any time together. She's got her thing and I am usually out shooting somewhere.
Nine years ago she headed up the Startup team for the station that became CTV British Columbia. It had been the first project that we had both worked together on. It was a special time for us as we could each observe the other at what we did best. For me it was seeing how she could get people to work togehter, how she could make the impossable happen. To this day I still can't believe that we got the station on the air when we did. It had been a credit to her, and the team. We were all a team back then. We had to be.

She had worked her first Olympics back in Montreal and then onto Lake Placid. This was my first "working " games something that was not lost on her.
We enjoyed the drink we had at the end of the evening and I hoped that the ticket would work itself out. It did, in spades.
On sunday morning before I went to the hockey game with Vicki and Mike, my cell rang. Susanne secured tickets for the whole of my team. Mike, Brent and our driver Alby. Wow.
I was going to spend the last night of the games with my Aunt Susanne. It would be a special time and one that I will never forget.

Mike and I would sit with Susanne and Rick. It was Rick that was the "Ticket Master" and so I must say a special thanks to him for making this all possible.

Rick, Susanne, Murman and Mike at the Closing

Brent and Alby were on the other side of the stadium. Mike and I would only stay until the Vancouver portion of the show and then we would go and shoot some standups for the show outside the stadium before the crowds. The problem of course was our car was parked some 15 min walk from the stadium.
When we arrived, we found the crouds had gathered outside the stadium. They did not have tickets, but were there to watch the flame go out. The air was electric. The sound of low flying helicopters, made me homesick for my beloved Chopper 9. We waded through the crowd. All at once we heard a fimilar voice it was Lucia, Alby's Mom. Late in the day I had come across 2 more tickets from another source. Alby's parents opened thier home to us on the night of the opening ceremonies. We thought giving the extras to them would be a token of our thanks for thier hospitality. She was very excieted. They had not seen any events live, just on TV. I was glad she was going to go see the show. Alby's dad had fallen ill so his girlfriend went with his mom.

When Mike and I finally got in, it wasn't long before we ran into some fimilar faces. The VANOC Crew. Priemer Campbell, the whole gang. There was a great deal of excietment with the group, because they would have possession of the flag after tonight.

Mike with VANOC President John Furlong, Premier Campbell and Jack Poole

Mike and I got situated and then went to meet up with Susanne and Rick. When we returned to our seats the show was about to begin. I had taken the oportunity to call some family and friensds back in Vancouver to let them know that we were in the stadium. Dave Alexander, our Technical Supervisor and all round good guy, was most pleased that I called. He was in Whistler, gearing up for our big show for later in the day. I took a photos of myself as I spoke to him from the stadium.

Murman on the cell to Dave in Whistler

When the show finally began, I could help think of all of the work we had done together up to this point. It was good to sit down and drink in the spectical.
There were Three defining moments for me at the Closing. The first one is very personal, Susanne and I were there together.

Susanne and I at the Closing

The second moment actually took me back to our time with Alby's family for the Opening: At each closing ceremonies the IOC hads out the last medals of the games. In the Summer it's the Marithon Medals, in the winter games it's the 50K Cross Country Medals. It had been won by an Italian. The flag was raised and the whole stadium sang the national song. It was a beautiful moment.
The third was the moment that we had all been waiting for. The Flag handoff to Mayor Sam Sullivan. Man what a moment. I was caught up in the scene. You can clearly hear me say on my home video tape, "Thata Boy Sam. You Rule!" That was very cool.

Sam accepts the Flag and gives it a fantastic Wave Photo: Reuters

And as I said, I got to share these moments with family, my auntie Susie.

Men's Hockey Gold

This kinda sums it up, doesn't it ?

It had been 3 full weeks since Brent, Mike and I had landed in Torino Italy. It seemed longer. Little sleep and down time will do that to you. But we had packed a lot in during the past three weeks. We had some great laughs, we had some times that we thought that this assignment would get the better of us. It didn't.

I had always wanted an Olympic assignment. From the time I first decided that broadcasting was to be my future, I thought of an Olympic assignment as being the choice gig. What with games in far away places and the chance to meet people from around the world, how could it not be the prima assignment. Yes it would be hard work. It's certainly not a vacation, but if you seize your moments, you experience things you cannot imagine.
Such was the final weekend of our Olympic Tour.

Saturday brought a busy day and a late assignment at BC House. The governor general was to make an appearance. The event was to be filled with Olympian, VANOC and other VIPs. The event also caused a bit of concern because of it's timing. It was set to begin just before our feed window would open at The Crack House. I would have to have all my editing done early and then head over to th Gov.'s event. It was supposed to begin at 7:30. Traffic was bad, very bad. I had Alby drop me off at the river and I sprinted the 8 blocks to BC House. I made it without having a heart attack, not bad for a short fat guy I thought.
fortunately the same traffic that conspired against me was also working to delay the Gov.
It all worked out in the end. I got what I needed and rushed off to meet up with the crew at ABC to feed.

Sunday brought that sense we were at the end. Our story would be about the star of the closing, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan. We wouldn't have to roll a camera until late. That gave Mike and I the chance to go and see some hockey. Vicki Gabereau, talk show host extrodinare, had been working with Brent and I on and off through out the last 3 weeks. Brent and here produced items for E-Talk Daily and CTV Vancouver. Brent got to the point that he even tried his hand at editing some of these. I appreciated that very much.

Vicki and I at the Mens Hockey Gold Medal Game .

Thanks Vicki

She in her amazing generosity, gave me two tickets to the mens gold medal game. I guess early on, seeing how hard we were all working, and knowing how much I loved hockey, she took pitty on me. It was very kind and something that I will never forget. Mike also liked hockey. Brent was busy figuring our his logistics for the plane ride home and wasn't a big hockey fan. Brent was going to fly home with the VANOC people and the Olympic Flag. Our competitors were not aware of our plans and Brent was going to get the only exclusive of the games.
Mike and I would have rathered Canada was playing in the final. Hell you have already read about my disappointment with the mens team, but hey, I would be there and there were a number of Vancouver Canucks playing.
It was a fun afternoon. I sat with Vicki and Mike. Sweden won, the twins got their gold medals. I was happy for them.

The fans that were sitting beside us, they had a great time as did we. At least they went home happy!

Mike and I enjoying the Game

Team Sweden Celebrates it's second Gold Medal in Olympic Mens Hockey

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Heros and the Zeros

Mike's return on Thursday signaled the beginning of the end of our Olympic Time. We were going to be staying an extra day as programming required. But the end was in sight. I had been lucky up to this point to get out to 3 hockey games. I figured if that was all, then I was happy to have been able to attend those 3. Thursday was also the day Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan was to hold a news conference and a demonstration of how he was going to accept the Olympic Flag during the closing ceremonies. For those who might not be familiar with Sam's story, it goes like this: Sam was injured when he was a younger man as a result of a skiing accident. It left him a quadriplegic. He has been a city counselor for many years and in the last municipal elections became Canada's first quadriplegic Mayor.
VANOC and Sam would be before the world's press at the International Broadcast Center explaining the Flag handover ceremony. This would be our story for Today and when Mike arrived later in the day, all he would have to do is pick his clips and write the item. The story pretty much wrote itself. Sam was the story. His clips were funny and telling. We put this one to bed early.
Friday brought another VANOC item, this time what has the team learned while embedded with the TOROC people. They spoke about tickets sales and empty seats and transportation. They were very careful with their words and I am sure that more will come out in the coming months about what they really thought of the Torino organization and the execution of the games. Again this was a fairly easy item with little extra travel. Both pressers were early in the morning giving us plenty of time to get things together before our feed window. Low pressure, I like that.

As I left the press area at the main Media Center, I noticed a group of people just in front of me. The center piece to this group was the Russian mens Figure Skating Gold Medalist. I sort of recognized him. Anyway we seemed to be going in the same direction. I ended up ahead of the small group and went outside the security zone to wait for my ride. Mike and Brent went to get some food in the media center, so I would wait for several minutes outside the gate. A Van pulls up. I pay little attention to it. I notice the Russian and his posse coming my way. It become obvious that this Van was here to pick him and his group up. They are still inside the security fence and have stopped to speak to another group, all with Russia jackets on, so I suspect that this second group which numbered about 3 persons, were Russian Olympians or coaches. While this is going on, an Italian lady who was going to catch a bus or something notices the figure skater. She recognizes him immediately. She is shaking with excitement. She was a fan. She notices me standing there and askes if she can borrow my sharpie. I know what she wants. Her hero has not yet come out of the gate yet and she decides to wait. She is shaking, quivering, smiling. I notice she has a small film camera. She is hoping for a photo so her friends and family will believe her encounter with skating greatness. Then the moment of truth, the skate champion makes his way out side the fenced area, his group running interference for him. He blows right by this one lady, refusing to sign her meager piece of paper, then turns his back so as not to present a photo opportunity for her. And all at once the van leaves, without so much as a wave. The lady was crestfallen.
I would have understood if there had been many wanting and waiting, but there was one. This adoring middle aged average Italian women who would have cherished that piece of paper and or photo for the rest of her life. And Mr. Russian skater, like the classless self centered prick he probably is, proved to both me and my broken hearted sharpie borrowing friend just what kind of a ZERO he was.
You know the great ones, they are different. They at least wave, they at least smile, even when they are in a hurry.
Later that evening I had the good fortune of getting into a private party at the Log House. There were many Olympians there and the event was sponsored by Whistler/Blackcomb. I met the President of CTV, Rick Brace and Vice President Susanne Boyce inside. I also ran into several Canadian Olympians. I had my photo taken with Canadian Womens Hockey Capt. And Gold Medalist, Cassy Campbell. (Photo: Gold Medalist Cassy Campbell, Hero!)It was a pleasure to meet her.
I was introduced to Susanne's driver or "fixer" as driver/translators are known as. Stephano was his name. This guy was a chic magnet. Nice fellow. The next thing you know he's getting his photo with the "Kokinee Girls". They had been flown in by the organizers of the event. Well lets just say World Wide Murman was not going to be out done. I got in there for my photo and one of the ladies asks, "Do you fly Chopper 9?" She saw my Chopper 9 hat I had on. "No, I am CHOPPER 9" I said. Lets just say with that they got a little closer,,,, We will have to see about getting the ladies a ride sometime. ( Photo: Me and the Glasier Girls from Kokinee , when team Torino saw this photo, I was the Hero))
Oh what a job, someone has got to do it, it might as well be me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Worth The Effort

As mentioned the edit move to Polytechincal Media Village had it's advantages. With Mike gone, Team Torino was down to just Brent, Alby our driver/translator and yours truly. The work load was about the same , but as I had posted earlier, Brent had a plan to get us a day ahead. It made for slightly shorter days and enabled us to explore a bit of the local hood around the Media Village. Just a short walk away from the Stalag, we found quaint cafes and a grocery store. Brent also discovered a donair place, run by a family of Egyptians. They were very friendly and we ate there often.

One of the items Brent and I wanted to do involved the Italian Auto Industry and how it related to the Games. We had lined up interviews and tours with Fiat, Pininfarina, and Bertone. Fiat was a sponsor and the largest employer of Torino. Pininfarina, a design and engineering company, were the creators of the Olympic Torch and Olympic Flame cauldron. So there was an obvious hook. Bertone was part of a larger Non accredited media tour and first on the agenda. So to get to Pininfarina, we had to take the Bertone tour. A potential waste of time, but it seemed a necessary evil.
When we arrive to take the tour, we were informed Pininfarina canceled. Damn this was the tie we needed, the bridge into our item into the games. Brent decided we would go anyway.
The drive out to the plant was a long one. One in which gave time for some reflection on our time spent in Italy so far. It hadn't been all bad. I considered myself lucky to have seen two hockey games, Germany and Finland. And I had been able to see the women win their gold medal. I figured if it was to end now, I had done more than I had expected. As we traveled through rual roads outside of Turin proper, into the foot hills of the Alps, I found myself making comparisons to my time 10 years ago in Bosnia. The mountains in the area were quite steep and rocky. Much like the mountains around Klujc. The homes and buildings here looked similar to those in the Bosnian countryside. The difference, the buildings and homes all had their roofs and were free from battle damage. (Photo: Murman 10 years ago near Klujc, Bosnia) We passed a particularly steep mountain, one that overlooked the whole of the Piedmonte lowlands, where the city of Turin is located. There was a building perched on the top. Our tour guide told us it was some 1000 years old. It was an Abby. There were still Monks and it had been used during the crusades as a stopping point and a resting point for pilgrims heading to the Holy land. Wow, that's history. Back in Vancouver, we hardly know ours. Heritage buildings in the lower mainland are barely fifty years old. (Photo: The Abby)It stood as a sentinel of time. It would remain long after the games had been forgotten and the grand venues build for the games were long gone. Very sobering.
We did our thing at the Bertone facility. It was dull TV, but there was a car museum. My son would have loved it. He loves sports cars. What teenage boy doesn't.
We left the tour with our driver and headed back to the City. We had an interview and a tour with Fiat. Surely this would save the item. Again fate would deal us cards that we did not expect. Fiat sent a PR flack that was unable to speak on camera and he told us it would be quite impossible to get a tour in the plant. God this story was dying fast and we had wasted 5 hours. We had to get back and edit and feed.
The PR guy was able to arrange for a senior spokes person to meet with us, but not until tomorrow. God could this get worse I thought. All of the work of the past couple of days got us a day ahead and now we were going to be back to square one. Shooting and cutting the same day. Damn.
Wednesday started early. We got our interview with Fiat. The guy was very good and animated. Made for TV. Still however he was unable to get us in the plant. There goes the visuals. He did get us footage of the assembly line from a company video on PAL. That presented some logistics problems, but it would be better than nothing. Brent took the tape to the Crack House and got it dubbed to NTSC and would take a taxi back to the Media Village. Alby and I went to get some exteriors of the Pininfarina Plant.
It took some time to get to Pininfarina as it was in the next town. When we got there, we saw a large fenced in compound. A guard house, security, the place looked like a prison. There was not much of a sign, really there was not much of a shot. I could believe it. The video gods didn't seem to want this story.
Now what happens next impressed me more than you can possible imagine. Alberto, goes up to the security guard house and asks if it would be possible to get into the plant. Now for those of you who deal with large companies, you know you just don't "show up" and expect to get any cooperation. But Alby managed to get the security person to call the PR office. The next thing I know we are IN. They too have a car Museum. I am told I can shoot as much as I want. But they had an Olympic torch on display in the museum. We at least it would help out visually. The next thing I know I am asked to follow into a board room and told that Mr. Francesco Lovo, head of the creative team for the Olympic Project would speak to us. There were drawings and prototype models in the board room and Mr. Lovo was the most animated and passionate about his creations. Jack Pot!!!
It made the item, it tied it all together. I conducted the interview myself. When the interview had concluded I asked if I could get a photo with the torch. I got one of Alby as well.
On the way home Alberto says to me, "Murray, it had been a dream, to hold the Olympic Torch."
This Olympic experience just had got a lot better.

Alberto holding the Olympic Torch with Mr. Lovo

The "Passion Lives Here" Olympic Flame as it burns before the closing ceremonies

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Logistics. The distance and difficulty of logistics. This would be the Achilles heel of Team Torino. We were challenged everyday of this assignment. Email is how messages, assignments and other vital CTV information was being relayed. The problem for us was our email and internet access was less than satisfactory. At our so called home at the Polytechnical Media Village, there was no internet service. There was at our workspace that was being provided at British Columbia House/ Canada Place. The difficulty there was the rooms were constantly being booked and we were constantally being moved from place to place. Sometimes as we were in the middle of an edit. That would mean we packed up and moved the deck and everything else to another room or desk. As of late we had been sharing a room with a spirited group of techno wizards. Yes they were friendly, but as you can imagine, the hubbub was less than favorable to the editing process. Add to the mix, fatigue and you can see this situation was just not going to work.
Finally after being moved for the umteenth time, I had enough. I pulled the plug. I decied to relocate to my room at Stalag 13 Polytechical Media Village.
Editing would be without interuption and I wouldn't have to move gear everytime someone felt like moving us.
What is cost us was our link to email, the life blood of the CTV Machine. ( well "life blood", might be just a bit of an overstatement, No on second thought, I'll stand by "life blood") This would mean for the rest of the games, CTV Vancouver, CTV National, CTV Resources information for us would only be accessable to us once a day.
The "BC House" was about 3 Km from the village. It took about 15 minutes to drive there in traffic. The feed area at the Crack house was about 2.5 Km from the Media Village, but 3.5 Km from the BC House. It was sort of a triangle on a map. Traffic was especially bad after 4 in the afternoon and particularly bad on Friday nights.
Here it was Friday, the 17th and we had just finished a marithon edit. It was 30 min before our feed window was to open, and I said "we're takin' everything, we're not coming back to edit at BC House"
We loaded everything into Alby's Fiat and set a course to the Crack House.
Traffic was very bad. it was after 9 and the window was going to open at 9:30. This would be tight.
We made it just as the window opened. A credit to Alby our driver. We fed the material and relocated the editing equipment to my room. It turns out that was a smart decission.
But it was at the cost of being dialed into the network. Communications from here on in were via cell phone, which didn't seem to work in certain parts of my room.

When we would get to check our email, would take a while to get caught up and respond. Often we were in such a hurry, I would not get a chance to log in.
Feed times especially Down Link coordination relied on email. It would cause some problems over the next week. Nothing we couldn't handle.