Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Fountain

One of the things I enjoy the most doing what I do is meeting people. I have met the rich, the famous, the not so famous. The good, the bad and yes even the ugly. But what keeps me comin' back for more are the people that make me laugh and bring laughter to those around them.

This week Brent and I found such a person at the PNE. He's a performance artist that has daily shows as part of the Fair. His act, one of the most unusual and unique busker performances I have ever seen. The faces that look upon him when he performs are a testament to that.

Brent found this guy on a search of the grounds after our original story went sideways. He went on a recon of the grounds while I was on another assignment. I was actually shooting an 'Olsen on Your Side" taste test at our PNE Broadcast Center.

Anyway, Brent comes back to me and has that excited look on his face. I had seen that look before while we had been on assignment at the Olympics in Turin. That look that said, he had found something better than our original story. I was to soon find out what a gem it really was.

We had arrived at the performance location I set up my sticks and waited. All at once a fellow with what looked like a over sized business suit and an odd hair style, lumbers up to the stage area. Hooks himself up to a hose and climbs up onto a seat at a work station.

Now this wasn't just any work station, this was a station that was elevated a couple of feet above a large children's wading pool. That's right a wading pool. He sat down and went lifeless.

Lifeless, our performer waits for someone to get on the bike

He sat motionless for a couple of moments. All at once a child sat up on a stationary bicycle that powered a pump. That pump was attached to a hose. That hose was attached to him.

All at once as the kid began to peddle, our performer came to life. Water spouting in every direction. He began to bark out some orders on a phone, his arms flailing about, water everywhere.

With a spray of water the performance begins

People looking on, taking in the spectacle. Laughter filled the air. Then suddenly as fast as it began, our spouting man loses energy. He slows and goes lifeless. The kid on the bike has worn himself out and is winded. Another takes his place and the performance continues. This cycle repeats itself. The crowd gathers, now there is a line up of children and even some adults at the bike.

One of the adults tries his luck at the bike/pump

The water continues to flow, our performer bangs away on his computer terminal, answers his phone and drinks from his spouting coffee cup. It is like a cartoon character from by-gone days. A poor schlep at his office, water flying, people laughing. It was the oddest performance I maybe have ever seen. Certainly one not to be forgotten.

Water spouting from everywhere including his work station

Now the genius is in the design of this as we were to find out in a post performance interview. He got the idea sitting on his couch watching TV. All of the equipment used is from Home Depot and IKEA. The office character is based on his very own father, a business man working in an office somewhere in Edmonton. It certainly is an odd way to make a living, spraying liquid laughter where ever he goes. His name- "The Human Fountain"

The Human Fountain

The Eyes of Chopper 9

Many regular visitors to this post know I spend a great deal of my time flying around hunting for stories from the air aboard a news gathering ship called Chopper 9. I have posted many photos or frame grabs of some of the stories that we have been to. Well now from the makers of "Blogger" a handy new button on the posting tool has enabled me to post video.

I know what you are saying. "Hey Putz, people have been posting videos on their blogs for a long time."
Yes you are correct. Bloggers like Turdpolisher and BeFrank have been doing this for some time. But I didn't have the time or the inclination to search out how such a magical feat could be executed. Blogger has now made it easy for techno "dummies" like me.

And so I present to you, my faithful reader a treat. My first video entry to World Wide Murman. A little thing I cut together some months ago. A look from my camera aboard Chopper 9.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Model Maker

The lineup to get a peek inside of CTV Chopper 9 at the Abbotsford Airshow this past weekend

For the past 3 years we have had our helicopter on a static display as part of the Abbotsford International Airshow. It is a show that runs over three days during the first full weekend of every August. In past years, aircraft of every shape and description find their way to the ramps of Abbotsford Airport and Chopper 9 is no different.

During the past 3 shows we have met thousands of people and given them a tour of Western Canada's first news gathering helicopter. Some have questions, most are excited to get an up close look and a hands on attempt at operating the FLIR camera. It's all in good fun and it helps us make a personal connection to our viewers. We give away hats and tee shirts give the kids fridge magnets and this year we introduced tattoos. A big hit with the kids. By the end of the weekend our crew's voices sound a bit on the raspy side, but it is worth it.

Last season I met a gentleman who introduced himself as a model maker. His name is Duncan. During the course of our conversation he told me he had given up his career to follow his passion for building hi end aircraft desk models.

Duncan the Model Maker speaking to a potential client as he explains how he crafts his creations

Duncan was beginning his new business and was using the opportunity of having hundreds of aviation people in one place to make as many contacts as he could. He presented me with his card and asked me about the possibility of producing a scale model of our very own Chopper 9. I was of course interested. I gave him the VIP tour of the machine and he showed me photos of some of his work.
There were photos of Planes and helicopters all finely detailed and decaled. We shook hands and agreed to make contact after the Airshow weekend.
Over the next few months we had exchanged phone calls and emails. He came to the hangar to take some photos and some measurements. "There was no rush" I had told him, as he was making this one on spec. He had many paying clients that had deadlines and like any business you need to look after your clients.
Duncan would email and tell me of his progress. I know he wanted this one to be a one of a kind item. Eventually I get a call and it's done. He and I had agreed on a price and a pick up. He told me he had kept his molds and he would be able to make more if required.

The "Quality Scale Models" kiosk at the Abbotsford Airshow this past weekend

When I went to pick it up, he opened the box and there it was. An incredible scale model of Chopper 9. I could not wipe the grin off my face. He went and showed me some of the detail he worked into the piece. A FLIR camera that moved. Main and Tail rotors that turned. The tubing that went from each float on the skid to the underbelly tank. All that and it was mounted to look like it was flying. Not to mention the detailing of the decals. Wow.

Well I had hoped that when the brass saw this beautiful replica they would be jumping all over it, wanting one for clients or perhaps for themselves. But it was not to be. At least not then.

Duncan was at the Airshow again this year. This time with his own kiosk, many of his fine pieces on display for potential buyers. In his book of photos there's a model, yes my model of CTV Chopper 9. I own it with pride.

Our Model of THU Chopper 9 created by Duncan

If you would like more information about Duncan and his work you can drop me a line and I would be happy to hook you up.