Thursday 14th January
If I only have an hour to pack I can get all my gear togther in a frenzied rush of activity. I rarely forget anything and if I do it would not be anything vital.
If I have a whole day to get packed it takes me a whole day and invariably when I am about to close up a stuffed suitcase I realise that I have left out something pretty important.
Yesterday was one of those days that saw my lounge and bedroom strewn with kit and clothes that eventually all got rammed into flightcases and a suitcase.
After a bit of a thaw that had seen off quite a chunk of the snow and ice that had been around for the last few weeks the snow began to fall again.
I was not too unhappy at getting my kit into a taxi as the soft flakes of snow fell around me. I would soon be swapping the white chill of the Scottish winter for the red hot warmth of the New Zealand and Australian summer.
I was starting the first leg of a long trip to cover Prine William’s visit down under.
I would be part of the travelling circus that is the British press corps. All the royal carrespondants would be there from all the UK media outlets, nespapers, radio, internet and TV.
On these trips all the material that we record is done on a pool basis and available to all. These is of course the hope that you’ll be the one to get the image that everyone wants.
The TV pool will consist of GMTV, ITV News, The BBC and Sky.
The last few days has seen me getting things sorted out so that I will be able to exchange my pictures with all the other guys.
That has been slightly problematic because we are all on different formats both for recording and editing.
To facilitate swapping out material I have managed to source via ITN a Compact Flash recorder for my camera and a P2 card reader to cope with Sky’s material.
I will slso be using USB flash drives to give and receive material from the BBC.
It is all so boring yet stressful having to deal with all the diferent formats these days. Oh the happy memories when we were all using the same type of kit either Betacam SP or in the long ago Hi-Band U-Matic.
I will have half the day in London to see if all the disparate bits of kit that magpie like I have managed to amass.
In the GMTV IT department Tim one of the IT gurus and I go thtough the kit and after a bit of fiddling around we, or rather Tim manages to get all the formats to work.
I just hope that I can do the same under the pressure of transmission deadlines and heat of the southern sun.
The very nice girls at the BA check in for the flights to Auckland puts her head in her hands when she sees up rockup with the trollies piled high.
The Simon, the Channel 5 royal Corespondant and Toby the cameraman had just finished checking in at the next desk and were heading off to pay their £450 for excess baggage.
All our kit had been weighed and the excess costed. On our economy tickets the total came to exactly 10 times that of the Ch 5 boys.
We then started a discussion about various ways of reducing the £4500 bill.
We could reduce it a lot by upgrading to either World Traveller Plus or even better Club World. Then we could join Emma in the big comfortable seats and gourmet food.
My eyes lit up at the thought only to be dimmed very quickly when we were told that both those cabins were already full.
After a bit of very pleasant negociation and swapping of bags we managed to get the bill down to £1600.
Owen the producer and I had been given access to the BA lounge so that we could join Emma at least that in luxury.
Although, by the time the excess baggage had been sorted out I had time to walk to the lounge dump my camera, carry on bag and dash out to buy some memory cards that I would need.
The flight to Singapore was packed and uneventful, apart from the woman sitting next to me spilling a plastic cup of water over me. I was so glad she was not on the red wine. But, it was long, 13 hours.
We had an hour on the ground in Singapore before getting back on the aircraft for another nearly eight hours to Sydney.
My neighbour managed to keep me dry this time.
There were a couple of hours to kill in Sydney’s bright terminal 1 before the final leg to Auckland.
A large proportion of that time was spent with some nice people from Quantas at the transfer desk.
The New Zealand immigration rules are that to be allowed entry you must have proof of departure in the form of a valid flight or sea ticket.
Therein lay our problem. We would be flying back to Australia in a cuple of days on a Royal Airforce of New Zealand military flight and we did not have any tickets for it.
What we did have was an official letter from the New Zealand Immigration department that Owen dug out from the depths of his bag and a plethera of other bits of paper that detailed the job.
What it did not have were the vital words “need for return ticket waived”.
Once a manager had been called and came down to see us and a phone call made to the New Zealand Immigration department we were given our boarding cards.
Our new friends waved us on our way and we had enough time for a cup of proper coffee in the much welcome sunlight grining at us through the huge windows.
We arrived in Auckland three hours or so later feeling rather jaded.
There was only on hour for us to get a quick shower and change before we needed to be at a media briefing where we would be given the full details of the trip and allocate which orgainisation would do what.
This meeting went on for what seemed like days if not weeks because alimost all of us there had been on the road for nearly 36 hours and even those with the luxury of a buisiness seat on the flight were pretty knackered.
Consequently decisions that would have taken a few moments using brains not screaming out for rest took somewhat longer.
We eventauly got it mainly sorted and ajourned to grab a bit to eat and retire for what will be our only full nights sleep on the trip because the schedule is going to be so tight.
It was now Saturday night
Sunday 17th January.
Auckland on a slightly grey Sunday morning is like the proverbial ghost town. You can easily imagine the cliché of tumble weed blowing across the road.
Unable to sleep fully because of a bit of jet lag Toby, the Channel 5 cameraman went out for a little stroll on the deserted city streets.
As he walked like the last man on earth at 7am on a Sunday in the distance he could hear music. As he walked along a bit further the music grew louder and was interspersed with the sound of out of tune drunken singing.
The source was an Irish bar. At that time in the morning in an otherwise peaceful slumbering city the place was rammed full of drunken revellers singing and dancing.
Airports all over the world have a similar look and feel and so do Irish pubs.
The rest of us had tried to get as much sleep as we could because this would be the only night on the whole trip where that would be possible.
At half past one our mixed bag of journalists, photographers and cameramen boarded a coach to take us to the home of the All Blacks, Eden Park.
It is undergoing a major upgrade for the Rugby World Cup next year. William was going to have a bit of a look around, meet some of the All Black players and play with a group of kids drafted in for the occasion.
We had to hang around outside the entrance for a while. The local media immediately headed for any available shade. We mad Brits on the other hand stood around basking in the bright hot sunlight.
At the appointed time Emma and I, along with a few photographers, including the world famous royal snapper Arthur Edwards, a couple of reporters and a cameraman from New Zealand TV were escorted to a room at the top of the stand opposite the new stand that is being built.
We then did some more waiting around. At least this time we were in air conditioned comfort.
We passed the time by getting our photographs taken with the Webb Ellis trophy.
We were told that Prince William was in the building so we took up our positions and waited for him to arrive.
I framed the the door and when the first of his close protection officers arrived I pressed record.
The Prince walked in looking very relaxed chatting to some young guys. I did not recognise either of them but I correctly, as I found out later, assumed that they were All Black rugby players.
I continued to film him meet the architects of the stadium. It was an easy stress free little bit of stuff that I thought would never make air.
We then went out on to the seated terrace where William could have a look over the pitch to the stand on the other side.
Once he had done that and had a quick look at the trophy he left.
Our next little event was over the other side in the building site.
It was a bit of a dash for us to get there before he did.
On the way a table was laid out with hard hats and hi viz jackets that we had to wear.
It was like a scene from some weird game show as we all grabbed the things and tried to put them on as we made our way at speed across the pitch.
As usual our dashing resulted in us getting there in plenty of time to wait again for him to reappear wearing the same health and safety kit as us.
I filmed him as he talked rugby and had a seat in the one seat that had been installed for his benefit.
Dumping our construction site garb we again did a bit of a high speed walk/trot down to the pitch to so a bit more waiting.
When Price William made his entrance on to the pitch he was wearing a rugby top with Wales in big letters on the back.
He chatted with kids and had a little game of catch with them.
I concentrated on doing a piece to camera with Emma starting on the prince and zooming out to reveal her as she spoke.
All the other crews were doing their thing.
On the way out he stopped to have a quick word with some of the New Zealand media. I was in the right place to get a shot of that little interview.
It was not very exciting he just said pretty much what you’d expect him to say about how wonderful New Zealand is and he loved being there.
He then did an equally brief prearranged chat with the BBC’s royal correspondent, Peter Hunt on behalf of the pool. As I was there I filmed that as well.
Job done, we got back on to the coach to take us to the Auckland Waterfront where we got aboard a fair sized boat to film the prince on the ocean waves in a racing yacht.
A small but enthusiastic crowd was there to see him off.
Most of the pack went on the main deck. I opted for the option of being slightly higher up on the higher deck. It was less crowded which was ideal for us as we wanted to do a bit of a piece to camera.
The shot for us all was William at the helm of the yacht. It was not long until we got our wish and the rattling of collective shutters filled the breeze.
Although the sea was pretty calm it is still not the easiest thing in the world to get the shots steady. A lot of the stills photographers who were using lenses the size of missile launchers said that in their viewfinders they saw the sea, a quick glimpse of the prince, a bit more sea, the prince, sea again, the prince, a flash of sky, the sail of the yacht and the prince once more.
However both the sills photographers and we TV types got our shots. The only annoying thing was that it might have been hot but the sky was not a bright clear blue.
My next mission was to be the pool camera for an informal drinks reception and BBQ taking place in the rather splendid gardens of the Governor General’s house.
Our small select band of a couple of photographers, a print reporter, Owen, Emma and I were ferried to the house in apart of Auckland that was very nice and would I’m sure be described somewhere using the cliché leafy.
We joined an equally select group of the New Zealand media who were already in position albeit a very relaxed position behind a mound of earth.
Under the mound of earth were hunks of meat wrapped in layers of canvas sitting in a shallow pit on top of very hot stones.
This is called a Hungy. It is the traditional Kiwi way of barbecuing . According to the people we spoke to it is a bit of an acquired taste.
The meat is very smokey and allegedly has a very earthy flavour.
We adopted the same relaxed position as the guys already there because as ever there would be a bit of a wait.
When William arrived he was also looking relaxed in a blue shirt with a maori pattern down one side.
There had been much speculation as to what the shirt would be like because it had been mentioned in the briefing notes that we had been provided with by Miguel the Clarence House press officer accompanying us on the tour.
He took us up to a point where we could get some shots of the Prince chatting to a hand picked bunch of New Zealand’s young worthies.
There was no one that meant anything to us, no famous names or faces.
I did a few shots of William working the gathering. He made sure that he spoke to each of the guests.
I had some pretty shots that showed the glamour and understated grandeur of the occasion.
I was particularly pleased with one shot that I got of a very attractive girl giggling and gazing at William as he chatted to her and her little group.
The phrase that sprang to mind to describe the way she was acting was “gagging for it”.
If William had said to her, “Let’s get a room,” she would have been one happy and accommodating lady. Well maybe not the lady bit, nudge nudge wink wink.
However nice I felt the shots were I was thinking that they were not spectacular compared to what we’d done earlier. The much hyped shirt was equally not as over the top as we’d expected.
I’d be surprised if they ever saw the broadcast screen. Like a lot of these shots they would languish in the depths of many libraries gathering cyber dust.
When the cooking time was over we were ushered back to the mound of earth and the prince followed in short order.
He watched as the earth was scraped away and the canvas hesian stuff was removed layer by layer.
Again it ws a nice image but not at all exciting. I tried to make it look as interesting as possible by shooting William through the smoke and steam that started to come off the mummified food.
William did his bit taking some of the chunks of pork, beef and lamb out of the steaming hot pit. He retreated through the trees to sit down and sample the food.
We retreated back to the bus gazing enviously over our shoulders and the succulent looking pieces of meat still being taken out of the pit.
Despite what some of the opinions about the muddy taste I would quite happily have kept my empty rumbling stomach happy by tasting a little of it.
Day one came to its long end after Owen and I had a bite to eat.
Emma went straight to bed.
The rest of the days would as long if not longer.
Monday 18th January
Yesterday’s long day was followed by and early start, too early for a proper breakfast. I had time to wolf down a small bottle of orange juice and an Anzac biscuit from my mini bar.
A porter came and helped with the many boxes which we piled into a small yellow shuttle taxi.
The check in at the airport was quick, efficient and we did not get charged a huge amount for our excess baggage.
Then things took a slight turn for the worse in the form of fog.
The airport at Wellington was closed due to fog and low cloud.
No flights there were being allowed to take off until the weather looked as if it would get better.
Today was the big day in Prince William’s schedule. He would be performing the official opening of the controversial new Supreme Court building.
An indefinite delay in arriving was the last thing that was needed.
The silver lining, if fog can have one was that if our aircraft couldn’t get in then the neither could the prince’s and there was now time to get a proper breakfast.
We had just wiped the last croissant crumbs from our lips when the boarding announcement came.
When were boarding we heard that William’s flight had taken off on schedule and was well on its way to Wellington.
If that airport was still closed he would divert to a military base about an hours drive. That would still give us time to get there ahead of him and we needed to get there before he did because I would be doing the arrival pool shots.
These shots would potentially be the most interesting because he was to be give a Maori cape and be greeted by a Hakka, the rather scary Maori dance that involves a lot of aggression and sticking out of tongues.
We were comfortably sitting in our seats ready for the take off when the indistinct aircraft PA system crackled and the tinny voice of the captain told us that one of the radios on the flight deck was not working.
We would have to wait until and engineer came to see if he could diagnose the fault and then fix it.
Another indefinite delay began.
We sat immobile on the tarmac whilst William’s plane left a streak of white in the clear blue sky above the clouds as it powered to Wellington.
The photographers on the plane and we were going through scenarios of how all the bits of the days activities could be covered if we did not get there.
From a television point of view each of us cameramen on the tour had an individual role to play in the coverage. There were five of us and four things to cover.
Some of them were on the same RNZAF flight as William.
The BBC and the others were on other flights getting in on the morning.
The aircraft PA fizzed into life again. The captain gave us some good news the fault had been found and could be fixed. That would take around fifteen minutes.
He also said that the forecast for Wellington had improved and some flights that had been due to take off after us had already gone in the hope that they could land.
So that would be at least the BBC on their way.
Things were increasingly getting better when we started to taxi to the runway.
When we were on the approach to Wellington. We were almost on the ground before we saw it.
When the plane was taxing to the stand the captain’s Dalek like voice told us that the weather had been right on the limit of being able to land when we landed. He also said that we were one of only two aircraft that had managed to get on the Wellington runway that morning.
The other one, which had landed before us was of course Prince William’s.
Any other aircraft that had tried to get in from Auckland had been turned round.
So for us from being an hour and a half ahead of the game we were now ten to fifteen minutes behind.
At least that was better than the BBC. They were now languishing back in Auckland.
As soon as the kit came off the belt we threw it in a taxi and got to the Supreme Court as fast as we could.
Owen went off to the hotel with the kit we could not carry.
En-route our mild panic and stress had been assuaged a bit. A contingency plan had been made so that the crews that were supposed to go inside and get into position early could now get in a little later to allow them to get arrival shots.
So when we pitched up to do the shot that I was planning to do Mark for ITN was already in a good position. He would get the main shot of the Hakka and the traditional Maori welcome involving the rubbing of noses.
He would then hot foot it to the opening ceremony before Prince William and record the speech.
I then took up a position to get the caping ceremony.
Collectively we were sorted with all the angles pretty much covered.
I took up a position to get the caping ceremony.
Collectively we were sorted with all the angles pretty much covered.
The motorcade rolled up all flashing lights. Burly blokes with earpieces in their ears quickly got out. The prince got out and walked to the two traditionally dressed pair of women waiting to greet him.
He got to the women and exchanged Maori hellos which are actually a combination of a very light “Glasgow Kiss” and a touching of noses.
It happened right in front of me. I recorded it all. However, I could not see it. The women had moved to the perfect position for me to be able to see nothing but the back of their heads.
There was nothing that I could do to improve the shot because I was hemmed in by a phalanx of photographers.
The shot did improve a little bit when one of the women put the cape on to William.
The Hakka then started and William was ushered over to watch.
It was over to Mark now. It was all perfect for him from his position.
I was then able to move and got a couple of shots that might help with the edit.
The Prince, Mark and Arti the ITN producer went inside.
The rest of us hung around in the sun for a while before getting in position for the next bit.
Toby from Channel 5 would be on the street for the planned walkabout when William came out.
Ed from Sky and I got ready to do pieces to camera for the various corespondents and a presenter.
The BBC were still in Auckland. There was talk of Miguel the Clarence House Press Officer organising a charter aircraft to bring them in to the military airfield or one that could land in worse conditions that the big passenger ones.
When the prince came out and started walkabout we were ready and waiting. When he reached a certain point I did a piece to camera with Tim Ewart the ITN Royal Correspondent.
I also did one with Emma.
Once that was done Emma and I jumped down from the piece to camera position to do some vox pops with people that had William had spoken to.
We were not far behind him because it does not take long for the crowd to disperse once they have seen or spoken to the prince.
When we had done the vox pops and the prince was off to his next thing we walked the short distance to our hotel.
We were in need of some food. So in the restaurant I started to get the material that had been give to me by the other guys into my mac to allow me to do an edit.
After ramming some food in we went up to on of the rooms and finished the edit.
It was getting very close to the time we needed to be at our live location, a balcony of the Te Papa museum.
The backdrop was perfect, a bit of the cityscape, the marina and the hills.
Ben the satellite engineer had the dish all rigged, Richard and Paul the others in the crew were ready and waiting.
It was a bit of a flurry of activity when we first arrived because the traffic had been so busy it held us up a little.
Richard and Paul were great. So getting the VT machine rigged to feed the edited piece that we had done was done quickly and efficiently.
There was not long between the feed and the first live broadcast. There was a little problem with getting the programme sound from GMTV in London.
It was coming in on one of the museum’s phone line and at the moment the kit Ben had to access the line was not working properly.
Both he and Paul were working on it in a fairly relaxed and confident way.
The nearer we got to the time and there was still no resolution to the problem the more concerned I got that we might not make it.,
I started to get my kit ready just in case. We would work up to the wire in the land line option because that is usually the the most reliable and best quality option but, I would have mine standing by ready to go.
With a few minutes to go the chaps got it sorted. My kit could stand down. Although we did use part of it.
With the background of the hills and a bit of the city in shot Emma started her chat and we went round to show the marina and the main city.
We quickly recorded other short teases and did another few longer broadcasts throughout the morning.
We had some guests for these other broadcasts. Robert Jobson the Royal Correspondent for the News of the World is an old GMTV hand and gave us his views on William’s performance so far.
There were also three very excitable mothers with their three babies that Emma had spotted it the crowd outside the court that came along to be on British national telly.
The last broadcast was done in the dark. I placed Emma in front of the Wellington skyline. Emma looked good with the twinkling lights of the little high rise buildings behind.
It might not have been as spectacular as New York but it did have a certain charm.
All the broadcast went off without a hitch.
The best bit of the evening for us was the hospitality from the museum and that the boss had ordered in pizza for us to gorge during the breaks between broadcasts.
By the time we had derigged the kit and returned to the hotel it was 11pm. It would have been to late to get a decent meal and we needed to be up at around 5:30 next morning to get the royal flight to Sydney.
Not for the first time that night I was grateful for the pizzas!
Tuesday 19th January
My whole body was most unhappy about the alarm going off after only around 5 hours sleep.
I stumbled around my cluttered bedroom. It looked like a hurricane had whisked through it depositing clothes and sundry bits of electronic paraphernalia all over the place.
Why is it that when you’re in a hurry everything you need is at the bottom of a bag or suitcase?
I began taking various batteries off charge and packing the kit.
Once the kit was packed and I had all the bits I needed to shoot with the help of a shower I began to feel just slightly tired and not like some disembodied being wandering around in an alien world.
I felt for the other guys because the three of us were getting little enough sleep and the time difference was working in our favour.
When we were having our much reduced time asleep the other broadcasters were having to edit their pieces and then do their live broadcasts in the early hours if the morning to make the evening news programmes back home.
We took our kit to a rendesvue point at another hotel a five minute cab ride from ours.
All the crews, photographers and reporters kit and baggage was loaded on to a lorry to go to the military side of Sydney airport.
We waited for our coach to take us to William’s first engagement of the day, a hospital in Wellington where he would see some sick kids.
Whilst we waited our band of wandering journalists tucked in to a buffet breakfast.
All around I saw the signs of people having maximised their time in bed, sacrificing getting ready time in favour of sleep time.
There were a lot of damp heads as no time had been spent with a hairdryer. Of course that was mainly the guys.
The smell of recently applied deodorant and aftershave wafted through the air and some of the girls indicated their lack of preparation time by combining gobbling spoonfuls of cereal, gulping down caffeine rich coffee with applying eyeliner and lipstick.
It was a short journey to the Nga Puna Wai Ora hospital.
The main job on this one was going to be done by Nick the Sky cameraman. He would do the stuff inside as the prince met the kids and their families.
All that the rest of had to do was to get a shot of the prince arriving.
The waiting began again.
The prince’s car pulled up and we all got the shot of him being greeted by a little old man in a smart suit carrying what looked like a gnarled highly polished walking stick.
The old man welcomed William with what sounded like some witch doctor’s incantation.
I filmed that and the rest of the hand shaking before the prince disappeared in to the building amidst a hoard of other suits.
As soon as he had gone in we trooped back on to the coach for our journey to the RNZAF part of the airport.
We went through the normal security procedures that you go through at any airport, including a beautiful black curly retriever sniffer dog wandering amongst us.
Then we were given our boarding cards and those of us that had customs carnet were given them back duly completed by New Zealand Customs.
Upstairs In the small departure lounge we did a bit more waiting. The photographers filled the time by editing and sending their photographs to the various picture desks that would then distribute them to the thousands of media outlets that have have a voracious appetite for pictures of William.
The reporters for the news papers wrote copy and the producers and reporters for TV made phone calls to their news desks
When that little wait was finished we boarded the Royal Aircraft and did a bit more waiting for our colleagues in the pool and the prince with his entourage to arrive.
When the Royal Party did get there we settled down for take off and the three hour flight to Sydney in Australia.
As soon as the seat belt sign came off the things got busy
We telly chaps got copies of the material that Ed had shot so that we could use it in our pieces.
I was the pool camera for the next couple of bits of the trip.
The plane landed at Sydney airport after flying in over city giving us great views of the harbour with its iconic Opera House and the fantastic engineering marvel that is Sydney Harbour bridge.
The last several hundred feet of the approach were quite bumpy.
Just before we started coming in to land I saw the prince wander on to the flight deck.
We joked that maybe he was at the controls and trying to get the big beast to hover
As the plane taxied to its parking stand those of us in the pool gathered our kit together and headed to the back door of the plane.
The steps were drawn up to the door and as soon as it was opened were scurried down the steps to our welcoming party consisting of a host of officials from the Australian immigration department and Prime Ministers office.
In a blur of flying laminated plastic and ribbon our Australian media passes were put over our heads like a Hawaiian greeting on steroids.
I saw one official being given a pile of our passports that we had give to Miguel yesterday along with the customs carnet.
We’d get them back later.
A terraced podium had been set up for the local media to get a shot of the prince coming down the steps of the aircraft.
Ushered by one of the officials we ran behind that to our position.
I very quickly got the camera on the tripod, knocked off a hurried still shot of the media behind me and then a brief shot of the aircraft.
William then appeared at the top of the steps, walked down the steps and did the hand shake thing.
I shot most of that but when the prince got to the last person we had to run to a small bus that was in the motorcade to take us to Admiralty House where there was to be a little reception.
It is not everyday that you get to ride in a royal motorcade across one of the world’s most well known landmarks.
Unless William has no sense of excitement even he must have got a great buzz as the line of white cars and our little white bus passed over the bridge.
The flashing red and blue lights of the motor cycle outriders whizzing past and the flashing of the dark shadows of the girders of this magnificent structure on the bright white of the cars was an image I will cherish.
At Admiralty House, which is in prime position over looking the opera house the prince was whisked inside and we were taken by a very nice lady from the Prime Minister’s office to a place to do a little waiting.
This time the wait was short we were shown into a very grand room with an ornate desk with William sitting at it ready to sign something which he did when we arrived.
I filmed it and the photographers shot it. The volley of flashes going off was incredible.
A prerequisite to being a royal or famous is not to be a sufferer of epilepsy because the blinding strobe effect is bound to kick off an attack even in the mildest of cases.
William then walked to the other end of the room where he sat down in a large comfortable armchair to speak to more important types.
All that was going through my mind at that time was that the chair was against a huge window with sunlight blasting through it.
Then I ruefully though that I wanted a light on my camera as bright as the split second flash of the stills guys.
After a brief bit of shooting and more lightning effects we were taken out to the lawn that through a carefully managed gap in the trees there is a view of the Opera House.
The hot searing Australian sun was directly above us as we waited again.
The prince and his two hosts reappeared and stood in front of the beautiful building that is not often seen from this angle.
The lady from the Prime Minister’s office then took us to a tiny white courtyard covered by white material.
We were given soft drinks and water to rehydrate us as we did what we were getting good at, waiting.
The handful of photographers passed the time by looking at the shots that they had taken.
They bemoaned that even with their powerful flash guns the unflattering shadows from the sun high above could not be defeated.
William was to be guest of honour at a small lunch with a select few young successful Australians. There were business folk along with cricketers, rugby players, other sportsmen and women, and entertainers including the very beautiful Delta Goodrem.
Before the prince joined his guests on the lawn we were given the opportunity to get shots of the select bunch as they mingled and chatted.
We were not supposed to be doing any interviews but Delta was very keen to speak to us.
I positioned her so that the backdrop for the quick interview was the Opera House.
Emma asked her a few questions about meeting the prince.
When we were doing the interview I was not really aware of how unusable most, if not all of it was.
When we watched it back it was cringe worthy. The only part of the whole thing that made any real sense was the bit where she mentioned that she had just completed her new album.
When William appeared round the corner we stood back a bit from the group and did our thing trying to capture the atmosphere and perhaps a little bit of chat that we could use.
The sound was not going to happen because we were not allowed to get close enough to pick up any usable audio.
We’d have to rely on lip readers if we wanted to find out what he said.
When we had done what we could in the time allocated to us Emma and I went to the hotel to meet up with Owen.
We did a little edit of the material that we needed for the broadcast.
During the edit we had a small plate of ham sandwiches, some fruit and a coke each brought up from room service.
That snack alone almost broke the budget. Sometimes there I can find no justification for the price some places charge for the basics.
Sure the hotel was nice but it wasn’t a palace, but we had landed lucky in the room allocation. The three of us had managed to get suites each complete with big spa bath, not that I thought I’d get the chance to use it.
The edit was done and we were partially filled with expensive food when the time for us to get to the location for the live broadcasts was fast approaching.
Craig the satellite engineer had the truck all set up and ready to go. Luke the sound recordist had his kit ready and waiting.
It was nice to see Craig again. I had worked with him a couple of years ago when I did some broadcasts from Uluru in the centre of Australia with Ben Shepherd.
I was confident that there would be no insurmountable problems with Craig on the case.
We had a quick chat about how we were going to do things, what mics Luke would use and how we would get the programme sound.
That sorted I rigged up the vtr machine. Craig spoke to Doug at GMTV in London and we fed the edited material.
In terms of live broadcasts the day was not too busy we had only two main live broadcasts, a few little teases and short recorded pieces to send. That was the plan.
When the producer in the gallery in London saw the location and heard Emma’s first report she decided to give us an extra broadcast to do in to the eight o’clock news.
The location was fantastic, a bit of green outside the Park Hyatt hotel just under the bridge opposite the Opera House.
The broadcasts went well. In the short time we had I managed to show the area we were in, giving the viewers a flavour of the fantastic city that is Sydney.
Being the early morning back home it was late afternoon in Sydney which was a minor problem because the sun was starting to go down leaving us in deep shadow as it dipped behind the bridge and the hotel.
The Opera House was however still bathed in a rich golden glow.
For the earlier hits the light was beautiful if somewhat strong.
As well as Emma we had c couple of guests to interview. One was from the Australian Republican movement.
He was a strange tall taciturn policeman reluctant to divulge what type of police work he did.
He was not to bad on our broadcasts and we also did an interview on tape for ITN after our live bit.
The other guest was a beautiful raven haired local journalist called Renne.
In a very enthusiastic way she gave us the low down on what William might do with the tiny bit of free time he has here.
I did the last broadcast using only the Bridge in the background because by now our area was totally in the shade.
The original plan for tomorrow was to be on the other side of the bridge looking back over towards the Opera House.
However, when we looked over the whole of that area was in deep shadow much earlier than where we were.
I was al bit concerned the lighting tomorrow because we were going to be doing a piece with Ronan Keeting at ten past eight.
There was only one point at our current location that would still have the sun on it and no chance on the other side of the river.
Tomorrow there was going to be a bar set up on the grass where we were standing and when the locations were being st up we were told that it would not be possible to broadcast from there.
We did need to try and see if it would be possible.
Owen and our local contact Kate began the negotiation process between us, the people in charge of that part of the harbour area and the New Zealand wine company putting up the bar.
When the broadcasts were finished Emma went straight to her room to take advantage of the spa bath.
Owen and I went to a nearby pizza place and had a meal. It was after 9pm local time when we went in to the restaurant. That equated to 11pm New Zealand time.
It certainly seemed like a long time since 5am in New Zealand when I was groggily packing my kit in Wellington.
Wednesday 20th January
Today was a relative lay in. Local time I had to get up was again around 5am but I had managed to get to bed by 10:30 local time last night.
I had fallen asleep with the pen in my hand as I had tried to write my daily diary.
Even with all the periods of waiting it had not been possible to do my blog on a daily basis as I would like to do.
I was able to write bits of it but I was going to have to wait until the end of the trip to get it written and uploaded.
Outside our hotel were a hoard of Australian press with all their kit being loaded aboard a coach.
After all our kit and the ladies personal bags had been screened by a police sniffer dog we were also herded on to another coach.
We were off to an army rifle range where the prince would conduct some live firing with two weapons.
Mark from ITN would be the pool camera for this one. He would be in a little pen at the side of the range.
The rest of us would be in a much bigger area where we would try and get the shots of him arriving, talking to the soldiers and another angle on the shooting.
There was a small part of the large area that we were put in to that would allow coverage of all the events.
Within that small area there was an even smaller area that would give the best shot of the position on the firing range where we were told the prince would be.
I was pleased that I had managed to get myself in to that slot and with the tripod at its full height and standing on a sturdy cool box that I had borrowed from the Australian Army I was ready for action.
The Australian TV stations did live broadcasts and recorded pieces to camera.
Well used to the harsh light coming straight down they were well equipped with reflectors, lights and sheets of diffuser on stands to soften the light.
It was very flattering to their presenters when it was all rigged.
I noted the set up with interest and wished that I had the kit they had and people that knew what they were doing with reflectors.
The sign that William’s convoy was approaching was the sound of helicopters.
If it wasn’t a police helicopter that was following it, it would be an Australian TV helicopter from either Channel 7 or Channel 9.
He arrived and did more handshaking.
He chatted to some of the soldiers and then disappeared from our view.
He was however in full view of the small bunch in the pool area when he went in through a door with "men" in large letters beside it.
Shortly afterwards we found out that quite understandably he was not to happy about being filmed and photographed going in and out of the toilet.
When he next came into my view he was being lead over to his firing position.
Inwardly I smiled I would have a great clean shot that would edit nicely with the shots mark would get.
Then I realised that he was not at the position that we’d been told he would go to.
I needed to move a couple of feet to my left to clean up the shot and remove the white guy line that was cutting across the bottom right of my frame.
There was now no way that I could move in inch because there were now photographers and other cameramen pressed in all around me.
My smugness left fast like an angry wife slamming the door.
The shot was still usable and there was nothing I could do but get on with it as the prince, under the instruction of one of the Aussie soldiers first fired single shots from an automatic rifle and then short and long bursts from a light machine gun.
He looked as if he was doing ok. Later on we were told that he had scored well enough to pass the paratrooper marksman test.
The last thing he wanted to do was get a big group shot with all the soldiers.
An area had been set aside near where we were.
When the soldiers were gathering and the prince was out of sight we moved to the yellow tape like runners ready for the off.
The Australian offiials started to lift the tape and asked us to walk slowly to the next bit of tape which would be the place for the photograph.
We started walking gently but, with only room for a couple of bodies in the central prime position it turned in to a scramble.
There was a minr bit of jostling but not much before William came over and joined the group.
I managed to get failrly central and whilst the camera rolled I sneaked a still.
Emma, Owen and I then had to get onboard the little white bus again and go off before the prince to a marine survey ship that he was going to have a look around.
I would be the pool camera on this visit. The rest of the pack would head off to the Botanic Gardens.
When we got to the ship a couple of scientists gave us a briefing about what the prince would see and do.
The only shot that might be of interest to us would be if the he picked up any of the fish samples that had been found in the deep ocean.
Our practised art of waiting came in handy again.
The other TV crews that were there were all Aussie and they would be in four fixed areas. As the only UK cameraman there I would do a bit of shooting with the prince and then dash to the next location and wait for him to turn up.
In the laboratory I did get the shot of him holding up the angler fish and a fangtooth, a small black fish with scary looking teeth.
I would however once again be very surprised if any of the shots were seen by anyone other than the people logging them into the various libraries.
We got back into our little white bus again this time to be part of the convoy going to the Botanic Gardens.
Quite a crowd had gathered to see and welcome the prince.
I managed to get a some shots of them as we were hurriedly shepherded down to the next location.
It was another lunch engagement where William would make a short speech.
When we arrived the guys had all the coverage of the speech and the event all sorted. There was not really anything for me to do, but to try and not feel left out I did some GVs of the guests and William once more doing his meeting the people thing.
This engagement was on the opposite side of the harbour to Admiral’s house and round the corner a bit.
The backdrop was again spectacular with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge looking great against the bright blue sky and brilliant sunlight.
Once the speeches were finished I needed to get a copy of that from Ed who had been in the best spot.
Sitting under the shade of some large trees on seats at the back of Sydney’s open air cinema the assembled media corps began to edit photographs, file reports and in my case dub material.
I had just fired up the mac, plugged in my external drive and was ready for Ed to give me the pictures.
Like me he was firing up his machine to convert his P2 material in to a file for me.
Then the Australian officials came and moved us on because we were not allowed to stay there the seats had only been available until the end of the speeches.
Ed and I accompanied by a few others muttered under our breaths and went to where we were asked, no told to go.
It was a fairly large tent that we had passed on the way down. There was going to be food provided there for us.
When we got there the tent, even although it was an airy white it was like an oven inside and there was no sign of any food.
Ed and I went to the shade of a big tree next to the tent and set up.
This time they waited until Ed had actually started the dub before they told us that this area was also now out of bounds.
Simultaneously a huge box appeared filled with ham and cheese salad baguettes.
Ed finished the dub, gave me the hard drive and we both grabbed a sandwich.
We all headed along the banks of the harbour for a very quick photo opportunity of the start of some private time for William.
There had been lots of speculation all week about what this private time would be because we had not been told what it was he was going to be up to.
Top of the wish list was surfing. The thought of William in surf shorts was giving the female contingent wobbly knees. The photographers were hoping for a repeat of the kissing incident involving his dad on Bondi beach in the 1970s.
Sadly all he wanted to do was take a speed boat out around the harbour so that he could have a good look at it and have a speed thrill at the same time.
We were all lined up along the designated area on the shore.
The big black semi-inflatable boat came towards us not going very fast at all. It drove past, again quite slowly.
William was on one of the passenger seats nearest to us. A few of the other seats were taken up with his close protection officers and some other chaps.
Once he passed us the driver of the boat increased the power and off they went into the distance.
We all looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. Not one cameraman or photographer claimed to have a decent shot.
If he had been at the wheel then it would have been a much better image.
The ubiquitous Channel 7 chopper was in the air also getting shots. We got GMTV in London to get those shots and combine with the ones that I had it might make some reasonable pictures.
We were going on the line of William being a bit of an action man/James Bond type.
The time had come once again for us to go and do a quick edit before going to our live location which was going to be the same as yesterday.
There had been a lot of toing and froing about whether or not the authorities would let us be there.
Eventually they said yes.
Once again Craig and Luke were ready and waiting for us.
There was not really much for us to do. There were only two short broadcasts with Emma and then the down the line with Ronan Keeting.
The good news was that the timing for that had been brought forward. So the problems with the sun going down would not be so bad.
The good news for Ronan was that his hotel was the one we were right in front of.
Emma did her first broadcast perfectly.
We waited for Ronan to pop out.
He strolled over the grass from the hotel looking very relaxed wearing shades and carrying a bottle of water.
He was accompanied by a big minder, his manager and a hairdresser.
Owen gave him a briefing about what Andrew Castle would be talking to him about and Luke wired him up.
Before we did the actual down the line interview there was a quick live shot.
I gave Ronan a position to stand in. The sun started to go down a little bit so I got him to move a little more into the sun.
Around the grass area there are little square concrete blocks. He was standing on one of those.
After the live shot I repositioned him well into the warm golden glow of the setting sun.
The shadow was just above his feet when Andrew started to speak to him. The interview was timed to last four minutes.
That should be plenty of time I thought.
I watched as the line of the shadow climbed up Ronan’s legs faster than an Aussie downing a pint of chilled xxxx after a day in the outback with no shade rounding up sheep on a skateboard.
I was starting to see the light on his face starting to fade. The Opera House was still bright and glowing.
Slowly I opened the iris of the lens to correct the exposure on his face.
I also zoomed in slowly to reduce the background which was now getting a bright burnt out white rather that a warm golden hue.
Simon the Director told me that there was some tape coming up and Ronan would be out of shot. The only thing that would fix the situation was for him to step back into the sunlight.
There were two problems with that. He was still chatting and I did not want to break his flow by signalling him to move back. Also if he had stepped back he would have gone off the little platform.
It was only a few inches high but it would have been enough to cause him to stumble if he wasn’t looking.
We would just have to live with it.
I had never seen the sun go sown so quickly and the time pass so slowly.
Well the second part of the interview won’t be going on my show reel.
Ronan in Front of the Opera House Before the Sun Went Down.
We got some pictures taken with him and he invited us to his concert.
It would have been nice to go but we were due to catch a flight to Melbourne at 6am tomorrow. Unfortunately sleep was more of a priority.
Luke on the other hand was very pleased because his wife is a bit of a fan.
The three of us opted for a room service meal and bed because of yet another early rise.
I did manage to get ten minutes in my spa bath whilst I waited for the food to arrive.
I was pleased. I got into bed by 10pm but, I had to be up at 3am to go through the packing routine again.
I once more crashed out pen in hand and only one line of my diary written.
Thursday 21st January
It was becoming automatic. I could do it in my sleep. In fact I think that I did do it in my sleep this morning.
When only the mad and chronic insomniacs are awake I took batteries off charge, checked and packed my kit.
I was to discover later that I had not checked things thoroughly enough.
Yet another stacked taxi got us to Sydney airport’s domestic terminal as things were starting to come to life.
All our kit was weighed and tagged. Owen was then presented with the bill for the excess baggage.
I think I will float an airline company that only carries excess baggage. Judging by what I have been charged recently I would be able to rival Richard Branson’s earnings in weeks.
It’s funny how the check-in staff always apologise for the amount they charge but, it appears that the days of cheap or no excess has long gone.
So it was breakfast at another airport.
When we arrived in Melbourne our new friend Daniel from the Australian Prime Minister’s office greeted us with a broad smile and directed us to yet another small bus.
We then did what were getting really good at, waiting.
The others Sky, ITN and the BBC were on the flight that arrive half and hour after ours.
Toby and Simon from Channel 5 had flown yesterday evening because they were doing the first pool of the day at the temporary home of people caught up in last year’s bush fires.
When they did turn up we had some fun cramming as much gear and people into a small bus.
All their gear had to go into the bus along with all of us.
Thankfully our kit had gone in a separate taxi to the hotel where Owen and Emma would be spending their last night.
Given the lack of sleep that we had all endured I was amazed at how good humoured we all were about being piled into this bus and then having to then lug the gear off when we met a larger coach on the way to the location.
In fact we took a team photograph of us all and all the kit piled up outside the small bus whilst we, you guessed it, waited for the bigger coach to arrive.
The Team Picture Amidst All The Gear.
There was a short stop on the way to the community devastated by the bush fires so that we could get some general shots of the damage done to the trees by the fires.
We were surprised to see that even on trees that were still like very tall sticks of knobbly charcoal leaves were beginning to regrow.
The new foliage that had taken hold made a lot of the trees look like giant green furry pipe cleaners.
Our collective spirits were high when we arrived at the the temporary village that replaced some of the houses devastated by the rampaging flames of last year’s fires.
The atmosphere at Flowerdale was like that of a summer fete. The sun was hot, the sky was bright blue and the grass green.
The kids were playing cricket with some famous cricketers that had come to give them a master class and perhaps play with the prince.
The smell of the BBQ that William would help cook. Well he’d have a bit of a photo opportunity at one of the BBQs.
The backdrop to this cluster of temporary buildings was a hill that was so perfectly triangular it looked like a kids drawing.
The residents had allowed their little community hall to be used as a mini media centre.
They also provided the best catering on the trip thus far. There was perfect coleslaw, sausages and burgers for us all.
This time the waiting was not so bad. We worked out who would do what and the guys that had been at the earlier event where the prince met a couple who had their house burnt down.
He also did a bit of a walkabout meeting some of the locals.
There were two fixed points to be covered. They were for the prince’s arrival and when he played cricket.
Any mingling and chatting to people would be done by a roving camera. That would be me.
We were all in our allotted positions a little while before the prince arrived.
My first shot of him would be in a building with lots of windows. Wayne the cameraman for ABC and I chatted about how bad the shots would look.
Either the prince would be a silhouette or the background would be a white burnt out mass.
When it came to it the only really bad bit was when William came through the door. thankfully he positioned himself in the best possible place for the shots.
Wayne and I did our stuff. It wasn’t very interesting and he was probably thinking the same as me, that I’d be very surprised if any of these shots were used.
The prince then moved round to the BBQ area that was being covered by Mark.
I did some other shots that might cut in with the ones he was getting.
My next bet was to be in a little while.
The prince was going to have a quick chat with some of the locals, get a bite to eat and then talk to the locals some more.
Things almost got out of hand but Miguel and Daniel managed to get it sorted.
We were the only cameras supposed to be out of the fixed point areas. The first bit of the mini walkabout was not to be filmed and neither was the meal.
However a couple of the snappers and Australian TV cameramen just went in and started filming. I could not let them do it I had to join in because if they got something good that went on air and I did not have it questions would be asked.
Thankfully using a combination of tact diplomacy and a strong arm, Miguel and Daniel helped by a couple of policemen restored order before it got out of hand.
Miguel is on the Case.
Wayne, the snappers in the pool and I waited to be invited across to get some shots of the prince interacting with the people.
It was very hectic he was being mildly mobbed. Lots of people were getting their photograph taken with him and he was happy to oblige.
He then walked over to talk to the Aussie cricketers.
During all the other shots I had been concentrating on framing the shot and containing the action.
The stuff in the room had been so boring I had not even glanced at the sound meters on the bottom of the frame.
Now as he chatted to the guys I noticed that the sound levels were not moving.
That was when my lack of gear checking hit me like Mike Tyson punch landing in slow motion and that horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach arrived.
After yesterdays live broadcasts when Luke had sent the sound via the camera to the satellite truck I had not checked if the input had been changed back to the microphone on the camera.
It hadn’t. I quickly opened the flap on the side of the camera and flicked the four switches.
The meters started to move and I could hear something coming from the little speaker near my ear.
I prayed that I had not missed anything of note. I didn’t think I had but if anything appeared on Australian telly that was of interest to our bunch I would most assuredly not be flavour of the month.
At least I had it fixed for him playing a very short bit of cricket with the kids. That was also being covered by Ed at the fixed point.
Following our usual pattern we had to leave to proceedings to go to our live location.
Ed had set up his msc for Toby to put his pictures on to a hard drive for me to take away.
I gave Ed my Flash Card with this mornings footage on it. I told him that a lot of it was mute.
One of the little buses took us straight to Federation Square where we would do our broadcasts.
On the way I edited the material that we needed. By the time we arrived at the truck it was almost ready to send to London.
I was feeding from the camera this time. There was a brief worry when the pictures I was playing could not be seen.
Neil the satellite engineer was the epitome of the laid back Aussie did a couple of repatching of cables so that we could feed analogue rather than SDI.
The problem was sorted and the pictures got safely to GMTV in London at the right time.
Darren the sound recordist got Emma wired up.
The truck only had two wireless receivers for the programme sound. I dashed to Emma and Owen’s hotel to pick up my little talkback kit.
There were three hits for us to do and a couple of short things to pre record.
The square was pretty busy with folk, mainly young people watching the Australian Open Tennis on the big screen.
There was no time to rehearse the first broadcast which was with a guest. We just had to go for it.
I did a 360 degree walk round the square showing the square, the people in it and the tennis on the big screen.
The sun was out quite strongly on our last broadcast. Emma was going to mention it. I wanted to pan round a little to introduce a nice flare down the lens.
I had one little problem that from my position there was one little flare that I could not seem to get rid of and even when the camera was not pointing in the direction of the sun it was still there.
It must have ben reflecting off something and bouncing in to the lens.
Darren earned his fee simply by spotting the flare on the lens and holding up a card to mask it out.
When that broadcast was over I needed to get my kit packed up and get to the airport as I was catching a flight back to London.
After getting up at 3am I had a long flight in cattle class to look forward to. It would be an eight hour flight to Hong Kong, two hours hanging around there with not a lot to so because when I get there nothing will be open until it is time for me to get on my thirteen hour flight to Heathrow.
When I got to the check in I tried to work any little charm that I have on the nice check in lady in the hope that the massive amount that I knew I would have to pay in excess baggage would be reduced a little bit.
That didn’t happen but, when I asked how busy the flight was she told me that the sector to Hong Kong was pretty full but the long leg to London might be a bit quieter towards the back of the plane.
When she said it she gave me a conspiratorial wink.
Sure enough the plane was pretty busy out of Melbourne but not full.
As soon as the seat belt signs flicked off after take off I went down to the toilets t the back of the plane.
I scanned the middle rows.
European, european, european and oriental, then four rows full of oriental looking folk.
I noted the row numbers. They looked the most likely to be getting off in Hong Kong and not getting back on again.
Here was where I was going to to head to when we reboarded.
My only concern were the four fairly young guys in the row behind the four I had targeted.
If they had the some idea I would have to stake my claim quickly.
When it came to it and I got on again in Hong Kong these guys did not and I managed to get my four seat row all to myself.
As a result the flight was great. I had a perfectly comfortable several hours sleep.
I got off in the UK not feeling as bad as I expected.
What a week!