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.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Day from Hell in a place from Heaven!

Monday 9th November.

Feeling a little refreshed after a reasonable night’s sleep in an idyllic place we were ready to face an easy day of editing and shooting.

The Original Building at Samwari's Long Lee Manor. 

The Outside of Our Rooms and Shamwari.

My Very Comfortable Room.

The phrases “all there is to do is...” or “we just need to..” and words that indicate a simple job now send shivers down my spine and raise my blood pressure quicker than listening to Nick Griffin justify his existence.

We just needed to cut down the rushes I had shot so we could feed them back to GMTV in London tonight, have a look at the live location for tomorrow and shoot a couple of simple pieces to camera.

I set up my edit kit in Ian the producer’s room so that he would be able to do a little editing when I went off to do the shooting with Michelle, Jack, Simon and Emma.

The location of the shoot was a bit of a drive so I needed to be fairly quick getting Ian off and editing.

Well that wasn’t going to happen any time soon because as soon as I put a tape into the VT machine to play it into the computer it was just spat back out.

I tried many times but it wasn’t having it.

I took the top off to have a look but there was no obvious reason why a tape would not go in.

Time was ticking on.

The only other way to get the material into the Avid edit system was to use the camera, but I needed that for the shoot and we did not have time to do the shoot and then come back and edit.

Whilst I was trying to get the machine to work phone calls were being made to see if there was kit to be had.

The Non-working Edit set up on the Desk in Ian's Room.

The VT Machine in its Naked Glory!

We were in luck Shamwari itself has a little video production company based on the reserve.

The very helpful Lindle the producer came up with both a camera we could use and another VT machine.



The camera was great for the shoot but the Avid system would not recognise the VT machine.

Hey this is getting very long winded and boring but the sequence of annoying events centred round none of our Avid editing “state of the art” editing technology not doing what it was supposed to.

This time it was Ian the producer’s turn to want to smash a laptop to bits, bury it and dance all over its grave.

When he was having his frustrations our shoot was going to plan.

I shot some standby pieces to camera in case there were problems in the morning, did a few shots of a shy lioness called Shad we might not see during the live broadcasts and had a look at how we would shoot Emma feeding lionesses Sarnia and Marina.

We walked it through and saw how they would react to the meat laid out for them.

However, I needed to get back to see if I could salvage something because we had a stack of material to edit before the satellite feed to London.

Emma Crosby Confirms with Greig that Sarnia and Marina will not be Being Fed by Hand.

Sarnia and Marina Enjoying Their Nosh.

When I got back the only solution that might help was using my trust mac and Final Cut the Apple editing system.

Very quickly I was off and running. Ian and I cut down a lot of stuff but we did not have time to cut it all.

Feed time was upon us with only half the material partially edited.

Tom the satellite engineer had the cables ready for me to plug into the camera.

I had run from the room to the tuck clutching the camera an armful of tapes. 

We had a very quick discussion about SDI or analogue. Tom then replugged something in the truck.

I saw the camera picture pop up. Good sign.

I heard the audio. Good sign.

There was still a few moments to go before the feed. Good sign.

Feed time had arrived and London could see and hear us. Good sign.

My stress levels were starting to ease slightly.

They went stonking through the roof when I played the tape and saw a the picture come up with a frame bar across it.

We checked the picture from the camera again. It was OK but as soon as I switched to tape the frame bar appeared.

Like the proverbial scalded cat I ran back to get the other camera and VT machine.

The same happened when the tape played.

The expensive satellite feed time was ticking on.

Ian spoke to the bosses London to see about extending the amount of time on the satellite.

There were the usual mumbles and grumbles about cost and a desire to find out the cause of the fault to see if someone else could be made to pay.

We checked if the fault was with the tape by playing other tapes but the fault was being as persistent as an annoying child saying “but why” as often as Gordon Ramsay says a certian word that rhymes with a word that means good fortune.

Tom bypassed all his various electronic monitoring etc and plugged the camera straight into the satellite dish.

The picture and sound were fine according to the guys in London.

I played out the edited tape and the other tapes by spooling quickly through the stuff we did not need.

At last it had gone and we could tidy up the explosion of camera equipment that was littering the truck, my room and Ian’s room.

The meat that had been prepared for us was a little over cooked and dry but still for hungry guys perfectly edible.

The rest of the team not directly involved with the feed had gone to bed to prepare themselves for the early start tomorrow when the first live broadcast would be done.

When I got to bed it took a bit of time to wind down after the increasing tension of the day.

The warm oblivion of sleep was fading into me when I was suddenly awake.

I realised that in the heat of the war against the belligerent technology I had forgotten to send two vital shots to GMTV in London.

There was nothing that I could do. I would have to feed them on the test transmission in the morning.

It took a long time for sleep to come after that.

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