Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Road Trip

I have just spent the last week on a road assignment. I had been in the northern part of our province covering a Coroners Inquest into the death of a young lad who had been in police custody. Houston is a small town on the Yellowhead Highway on the way, I suppose to Prince Rupert and Alaska. I had never been this far north before and as I always look forward to going to places I have never been, Houston would prove to be an adventure.

Covering Inquests are very similar to covering court trials. Lots of hurry up and wait for a witness, a family member or a lawyer to walk in or out of the building. In this case the building in question would be the Houston Community Center.

Covering one of these would be mighty lonesome if I had been the only camera laying in wait, but this Inquest has generated interest with most of the provincial media. We had our SNG Truck and our competitors from Global had theirs. There was also a TV Crew from the people's network, the CBC. So I would have lots of company during those long periods of waiting for my shots.

There was a good crew on hand for this one. Al from Global, Jim from CBC, both camera/ editors, good company to keep both have great stories, both have a sense of humour. Our SAT Truck op Gary, joined us as well as did Jamie, SAT Truck guy with Global. Rounding out the technical/ camera gathering was a stills photog from the Globe and Mail, John and a stringer for the provincial papers, a fellow I have never met before named Rolf.

Al, Jim and Jamie wait across the street for a break in the proceedings

Each morning at about 8 we would all begin to gather outside the hall, waiting for the key players to arrive. At about 9 everyone was inside, and so the banter would begin.

"Where did you eat last night?"
"What time did you guys arrive in town ?"
"Where are you staying?"

All the usual pleasantries.
As the morning wore on, out would come the first folding chair, it was usually mine, and the rest would follow. We would all sit across the street watching the front doors, cameras at the ready, by each of our chairs. Yes we were at a constant state of readiness.

Like a coiled spring, Al waits

Our reporters of course were inside, diligently taking notes and paying attention to the details of the testimony, formulating the stories that they would tell to the viewer later in the day.

Then all at once the three of us would leap out of our chairs, grabbing our cameras and powering them up almost instantaneously. We all would roll. slightly different angles of basically the same shot. People going in, people coming out. Only at the end of any given day would we collect clips from family, friends, a lawyer or a witness.

Clips now collected, I head back to the truck to prepare to edit

Each of our reporters would then head to the trucks and begin to write. Before long each of us would be editing and then feeding. Then live hits. After all of that it was finally time to pack up and head to the motel. Supper, then bed.

And we do it all over again, tomorrow.

The road trip.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Uplink Refresher

The last few weeks haven't been all bad. During my non flight weeks I was given the opportunity to get some refresher training on our SNG Truck. You see, the skill of operating an uplink had been something I had wanted to acquire for several years. I had pursued it back in the Maritimes, but since our Uplink was based in Halifax and me five hours drive away in New Brunswick, well you see it was not a viable option from the employer's perspective.
Year later I would get my chance, but due to my responsibilities in the office I would not get out in the truck for any extended period.
My first real opportunity came quite by chance during the end of a Vacation period when one of the primary Uplinkers was boarding a plane to get some much needed vacation.
That was the weekend in the fall of 2004 when Mount St. Helens began to get restless.
My assignment was to travel down to St. Helens and meet up with Toby, another one of the primary Ops and team up with him. The truck was already parked and set up for the most part and I would provide relief for young Toby who had been burning the wick at both ends for the better part of 4 days. We had demands for content and hits into our network shows back east which meant crew calls of 3 am as well as providing hits and content into our own shows both at suppertime and late night.
I was essentially booking and babysitting the truck. And that was my first quasi real SNG assignment. Not bad either, an assignment and an exploding volcano, this would be one to remember. You can check out the photos on my flickr site.

Of course anyone who uplinks knows you need to keep your skills fresh. It is not something that you can do without using skills acquired on a semi regular basis. In my case, almost three years would pass before I would find myself searching the "Clark Belt" looking for F1.

With the advent of digital encoders, and decoders since my initial time on the Truck, getting fimilar with the equipment all over again would be good for me. I do love to learn new things and spending a week assigned to training was time well spent indeed.
Now hopefully, it won't take another four years for me to get some time on the SNG beat.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Slump

As I sit and put thoughts to words, I find myself in quite the slump. As a photog, you want to contribute everyday to the greater good of the show. It involves giving your best for your 2 minutes of story that ends up on the cast. I feel the same when I am on a week of Air Operations as well. And herein lies the problem.

My last several rotations have dealt with bad weather, maintenance and the lack of a flight reporter. These three factors have to say the least limited both flight time and air time.

Now I do know that these things happen, yes and they do come to an end. I am sure that this slump will to come to pass. But as a particularly impatient kinda person, it cannot end quick enough for me.

It might be the time of year and that coupled with the fact we only have so many flight hours in the contract and that we had an exceptional March, a slow down was in the cards.

Add to the mix, the reassignment of our flight reporter to ground duties this very morning, and I find myself wondering what the hell I'm doin' sittin here listening to the blair of the scanners that have yielded nothing in the past several flight rotations. Oh the humanity,,,,,

Yes sir, a slump indeed.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Off Season

There are two seasons in Murman's world. They are not heralded by a change in temperature or the color of leaves, but rather the sound of metal on ice and wood striking rubber. Yes there are two seasons in my world: The Hockey season and the Off season.
The Hockey season usually begins during those first days of any given October. The Off season, well it is a much more difficult season to predict. Last year it came early, not because of any "global warming" or "green house gasses" but because the playoff winds were not favorable to Vancouver's Canucks.

It looked like the off season would come late this year, we had all hoped it would be maybe sometime in June. But as fate would have it, a sudden high pressure wind from Southern California brought migrating birds north. Ducks to be precise and just like that the season changed. The off season began with the flash of red light from behind the Vancouver goal, in Overtime period #2 from a shot that should have been stopped, but wasn't,,,,,

Yep the ride is over. No Stanley Cup, no parade.

But is was fun while it lasted. Lets hope that the "Off Season" comes late next year.

And finally to borrow a picture and statement from another blog:


Just kidding, rock on.