Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Taming of the Beast

I am sorry, it has been a while since my last post. In that time, the weeks have been anything but routine.

Let's set the "way back" machine to the week after my last Flight week. It was all about our Live specials around the Olympic Countdown to 2010. I love specials. They are a nice break in the routine of general assignment. I was hoping to get on one of the out of town assignments, but I was tasked to our main set. Oh well, can't have everything. As it was, the main sets during our 3 specials had it's moments.

One thing about these kinds of events, and I am sure that all of the folks that do this kinda work will agree, there is a hell of a lot of set up for what seems like very little TV. In any event there had been weeks of planning, preparing, and booking for all of the shows.
The first one of these was a broadcast of our full hour long Saturday 6PM show from an event called "Winter Fest" in Richmond. For those of you not familiar with Vancouver, Richmond part of the greater Vancouver area, the city where the airport is located and is also the city that will be home to the Olympic Speed Skating Oval for the 2010 games. This event was part of a week long celebration that the games were three years out.

Early stages of the Richmond main set

This show of ours would be broadcasting from the event kicking off the beginning of a number of special programing events related to the 2010 games.
As I said earlier my assignment was to set up and light and shoot our main set. This particular show had the talented Kari Adams sitting in the anchor chair. Our stage was a 12X12 elevated stage, covered with one of our tents that we had used at the Pickton trial, and cabled back to our Sat truck and fed back via the bird to CTV on Robson and Burrard. We also had elements of our show coming Live from Whistler. Our Richmond set up was a three camera deal with myself at our main set with a prompter, Mike L on an elevated position high above the crowd shooting the main stage for the event as well as color and bumper shots and Wayne H on a hand held doing reporter hits and invues.
In the truck we had Dave A and Gary T as well as engineer Ron N for support and trouble shooting.Gary and Dave pointing fingers

One member of the field team that usually finds herself back in the station was Tanya B. Tanya usually works on the desk handing the camera requests. She is a very shy person and has a gift for organization and being able to work the problem until there is a solution. She hates to have her photo taken and as a camera hump, I take that as a personal challenge to get a photo of her on the job with out her hand or other blocking object obscuring her face. I managed to squeeze off a few shots. Maybe they will make the calender next year.

The elusive but talented Tanya speaking to Dave at the back of the set

The first known shot of Tanya, speaking to an event official

The show itself had at least from my perspective, little or no glitches. Of course you ask someone else higher up the technical food chain and you may get a different answer. But all and all the show went very well.

Kari preparing before the first of her news breaks

Next up on the special lineup was a Monday noon show from the Olympic Clock unveiling. This show had more challenges. I for one when given a set up assignment, like to be faxed out at least 90 minutes before show time. This time however our stage position was still being built at 9:30 am. The next hours would test us all. The key of course is to make sure that your little piece of the machine was working. My piece of the machine was again a main anchor position. That meant lights, monitors, prompter, mics and IFB and of course camera.
During the set up our GM popped by and remarked as he checked his watch, that he would have expected us doing tech checks by now. At the time I was just getting all of the equipment up on the stage. Keep in mind that the stage had just been erected.
I calmly ( well I was calm on the outside, while inside, I was thinking, this could be the biggest disaster since Katrina) said "Not to worry, we'll be ready within the hour"
"Ready within the hour" I thought. God I am going to need a time machine to pull this one off.
Somehow I got things together with the assistance of my colleague Wade C and truck guy Toby. Wade would be on a camera with a high wide shot of the area. Toby would be sending our pictures and audio back via the microwave truck to our control room. Little did we know about the other technical demons that were rearing their ugly sides back at control.

Part of the team back in the control room

We got our position at the ready very quickly. Our fax check didn't happen until less than 30 minutes to the show. We had been ready earlier, but as I mentioned demons back at control were being "exorcised".

As we went to air all I could do is worry about my set and my shot. I used to hold a position in the company that would require me to worry about the whole show. I'm glad that's someone else's job now.
Up on the main event stage an even bigger drama was about to unfold. A group of thugs (I call them thugs because to call them "protesters" does a disservice to legitimate protesters.) forced there way on stage and grabbed the mic from the VANOC M.C and began dropping "F" bombs.
When it was all said and done several had been arrested and the show went on.

Anchor Bill Good just before going to air for the Noon Special

During all of this Bill, our anchor, lost the prompter, a fact he would not reveal to me until almost the end of the hour. It was a credit to Bill, he just did his thing. He's a pro and nothing seems to rattle him.

Camera and all round great guy Wayne H capturing a moment at the clock with a Alpin Hornsmen

The Olympic Countdown Clock

The prompter problem was corrected before the 6. As the 6 would be the last of the remote broadcast specials for me that week. The show itself looked and sounded great. The technical demons had been vanquished. All that would be left as Bill said his good nights was to strike the set and go home and wonder where the hell the last 4 days went.

Bill just before the Good Nights on our 6 PM Set

That's what I love about the live TV special thing. Taming technical beasts, making a hostile TV environment into something airable. It's what men and women all over TV land do every night when they do live hits into their respective shows.

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