Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Follow the Red Tape Track!

Thursday 9th July

When Darren the Head of Cameras at GMTV arrived for a fairly straight forward programme his stress levels were suddenly pushed up.

Simon the Director briefed him on the measuring tape that was still being stuck to the walls, doors and floors all around the the studio and outside.

Mr Motivator and Deanne would run the length of the tape which would be some way to indicate the massive success of the Bikini Diet.

In order to cover the mad run-around we would need to use three cameras. Two would come out of the studio and one would be specially cabled in.

Carl on of the off duty cameramen was called in to operate one of the cameras. I would operate the other.

I went in to the studio around 5am, and hour before transmission.

Darren, Tony and John three out of the four studio cameramen were taking the Merlin crane to bits to allow that camera to be used hand held.

Darren starts getting the camera rigged.

Yiljan manages a smile after hours of sticking tape.

Deanne smiles because she's got Simon doing her hair.

Jack sticks on the inches graphic.

"Can he do my hair too?"

Christina and Sharon stand in for lighting.

Simon goes to the gallery in time for transmission.

Richard the fourth member of the camera crew was fiddling with a small mini camera that will be used to show a close up  of the dial on the scales when the girls do their weigh in.

As well as doing the fifth studio camera on the run-around I will be operating the camera in the studio itself.

Although I spent a few years working in studios since I joined the GMTV operation more than sixteen years ago this will be the first time I have worked in the little studio in the South Bank building.

By five minutes to six Darren’s stress levels were still heightened. He was still busy getting the camera back together.

Graham and Lorraine from the sound department were having their share of stress. 

The radio mics that work inside the studio would probably not work outside.

They had to workout an easy way of making sure that Mr Motivator and Deanne will be heard throughout the run.

Graham tested the studio radio mics and after making a few adjustments he got them to work over the course. 

However, he knew that there were no guarantees and if there were going to be problems they would appear when we went on air.

So as a back up on the two cameras from the studio it would be possible to attach a mic to each of them.

The GMTV titles rolled and Darren finished the last adjustments to his camera. He could breathe slightly easier.

Tony, John and Darren rig big and Richard rigs small.

Graham and Lorraine test mics on the camera.

Nigel the happy Soundman.

Darren and John are you not supposed to be looking at Emma and Andrew?

My camera was not going to be needed for another hour.

I spent the time saying hello to some of the many friends I have in the GMTV building that I hardly ever see unless they come out on some sort of outside broadcast.

The best bit of catch up news was when Sharon the Floor Manager waved the third finger of her left hand in my face. I was dazzled by the diamond shining in my eyes.


I also had to rig some cables and walk the route with Deanne and Mr Motivator so that they knew what to expect and where to go. It would have been pretty hard to miss the massive red tape they had to follow.

There is always a bit of a buzz around the studios. Today it was caused mainly by what we were up to dashing about with cameras and cables where there are not normally cameras and cables.

The famous guests who pop in to sit on the red sofa almost went unnoticed as we carried on.

Michael Parkinson held the studio door open for me as I went in to pick up my camera in a welcome gesture of politeness.

A few of the cast of the new Harry Potter movie were in for a chat. I saw them briefly go into the studio.

Mr Motivator was a bit disappointed when he realised that they had come and gone. He had wanted to get a photograph taken with them.

The time came for me to do my stuff in the studio. It was nice and easy. all I had to do was a couple of tease shots of the girls. Mr Motivator and Deanne in the opposite end of the studio from the sofa.

That meant that the other cameras would not have to move.

The bulk of what I was needed for was in the Lorraine Kelly section of the programme.

Then things got busier and fun.

There were three weigh-in bits to do.

My role was simple I held a nice low angle wide shot, showing lots of lights. This shot was used when Mr Motivator brought the girls in to be weighed and during the little chat afterwards.

Then during the final commercial break of the morning Darren had to get his camera ready to run after Mr Motivator as he dashed out of the studio.

Carl was waiting outside with his camera at the ready to pick him up.

I went out into the corridor near make up and stood by to take over from Carl.

I would run backwards a little bit with Mr M until he came to a corner where Deanne would take over and I would scurry behind her down to the end where all the dressing rooms are.

Then I would nip backwards into a doorway to let Deanne pass and then follow her almost to the studio where Carl would pan her on to Darren.

We just had enough time to quickly go through the route without cameras so that we knew what was supposed to happen.

Nigel fresh from sorting out Deanne’s microphone pack would look after my cable.

We had planned the point where I would back into the doorway and change direction from backwards to forwards.

Mr M was on his feet nimbly getting out of the studio following the  thick red band.

Carl did his bit. I ran backwards. Simon cut to my camera. Mr M got to the corner.

Deanne picked up and started to run. I took off behind her. We got to the end where there was a sign showing the umber of inches.

This time I went first leading Deanne. 

I was getting ready to nip into the doorway. I could see out the corner of my eye that as planned Nigel was in there with the cable.

“Stay in front!” came the exited command from the gallery.

So I kept on going backwards giving Nigel an apologetic as I went past him and he dropped the cable.

Deanne and I got to the point where Carl was going to take over. I was somewhat relieved that I had not managed to fall over or clatter into anything.

The shot of the morning had to go to Darren

As Deanne came hurtling through the studio door his camera was at the perfect height and position to have the frame filled with Deanne’s bikini clad chest for a fleeting trice the instant Simon cut to it.

It wasn’t planned but it certainly kept the boys upstairs happy for the rest of the morning as those special few frames were replayed more than once or twice.

A whole of work by a whole lot of people had gone into that piece of live TV that lasted barely a minute.

It had by all accounts looked fun and manic as we intended so it was all worth it.

When we came off air I went for breakfast to wind down.

Then after collecting some equipment from Raj the Production Manager I got in my car and began the long trip north to Edinburgh.

No comments:

Post a Comment