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.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Equipment Nightmare in the Snow

Tuesday 30th March

Short sleep was right.

At a bit before 3 am I was roused from a restless sleep with a call from Jonathan to ask if there was any snow around my area.

Part of the reason my sleep being restless was the whistling wind helping the heavy rain lash the bedroom window.

So almost without looking out I knew the answer to the question.

Although there was no snow in our immediate vicinity to report the newsdesk still wanted us to go the the roof of STV as planned and be on standby because there were reports of snow from other parts of Scotland.

At least I would get another hour under the cosy covers.

By 6 am and the GMTV titles rolling I had the camera set up on the roof.

The talkback was all working and it was all systems go.

The camera was all wrapped up with it’s rain cover.

The Covered Camera Pointing to the Castle.

The rain was relentless.

There had been snow further north but not enough to warrant Jonathan doing a live report.

However, I could not pack the camera away because I was needed for some shots into Clare Nazir’s weather broadcasts.

The Castle Looking Grey and Bleak as the Light Comes up.

It was an easy job, or at least it should have been, just a simple zoom out from Edinburgh Castle to include a nice big wide shot showing the horrible grey skies, but the fiercely gusting wind made it a more difficult task.

Trying to do a smooth move from a fairly tight close up with the angry wind shaking the camera in a temper tantrum was not easy.

I am not sure if I managed to hold the camera steady enough to make the move without irritating jerks.

Whether I did or not my efforts were worthwhile as Clare gave me a quick name check as the cameraman braving the hideous weather in Edinburgh.

Hope it did look OK. Not good to get bad work name checked.

After the last weather broadcast Dave the technical director gave me a clear so I gratefully brought the gear in from the rain.

In the afternoon it became clear that the promised snow was indeed on its way, with a vengeance.

Jonathan and I was assigned to do a report on it.

Edinburgh itself was escaping the white menace but out in the rural areas it was a different story.

Without any major weather related incidents to report on how could we convey the severity of this late assault by the British climate only four days into British Summer Time.

I suggested that at lambing time this weather would most certainly not be welcome.

Then I remembered that not too far from Edinburgh there is a farm that does trekking on Icelandic horses.

So we headed out of Edinburgh on the Biggar road that was fast disappearing under a thick layer of slippy white snow.

We pulled into the farm and were greeted initially with a hint of suspicion by Gill the owner of the beautiful little horses and a variety of other animals.

Once she had checked our IDs and was happy that we were who we said we were my technical nightmare began.

We got out the car in a full blown blizzard, just opening the door resulted in snow swirling around inside the car.

The Farm. The only still I managed to get. I ended up too busy with other things to take more.

I connected a microphone to the camera and noticed that something was not working properly.

Fortunately there was a dry room that Gill let us into where I could have a look and see what the problem was.

I checked mics, cables and the sound inputs for the camera.

There appeared to be a faults on on three. The only usable audio I could get was from the top mic on the camera, rather ironically the one that is the most exposed to the elements given that I thought that the cascade of faults were due to the weather.

There was no other solution I would just have to use the top mic even for the interview that we would do with Gill.

Outside the snow was now literally being blown horizontally.

The first shot I got was Pauline, leading a couple of the horses out of the storm into a barn because there was a real danger of them suffering from hypothermia with fatal consequences.

I did another few shots around the exterior of the farm and an interview with Gill with the camera a bit closer than I would have liked to enable the top mic to pick up the sound of her voice that had to fight against the howl of the wind.

The lambs on the farm had already been brought into another part of the large barn so I got some shots of the cute little things frolicking as they were fed.

We had the basis for quite a good report, good atmospheric pictures and a story of how the sudden late bad weather could be a killer.

We did need a little bit more to tell the full story so we headed for a bit more civilisation.

When we got to Biggar the weather there was not too bad and there were no people around.

We turned towards Edinburgh.

Tracking shots to illustrate the state of the roads would be a good idea.

Jonathan got in the driving seat and I brought the camera into the front of the car ready for when the roads got bad again as we headed back.

Less than a mile out of Biggar the road was under there somewhere.

I switched the camera on.

Any flashing red light is never a good sign. When it is accompanied by a caption in the viewfinder saying “Humid” it is going to be a frustrating time.

I was not too worried because at the rate we were travelling it would take around an hour to get to Edinburgh and there was still enough light left.

However, I did crank the heating in the car up and direct all the hot air to one vent.

I took the tape out of the camera and blasted the air into the tape mechanism to dry out any dampness that was in there.

About half an hour should do it. Oh yes.

It took more than an hour to get the humid light off and the camera running again.

By that time the light had all but gone and we had passed a little mini pile up caused by the weather.

Luckily I have a little camera just for little frustrating problems like this.

So I did manage to get shots of the bad roads, a piece to camera in the care with Jonathan and shots of the cars that had skidded into each other.

At a Tesco supermarket in a town called Penicuik outside Edinburgh I managed to get the big camera operating again along with a microphone.

So we were able to do some vox pops with worn out shoppers asking what they thought of the weather.

This included a guy who had just slipped in the slushy snow in the car park, fallen and dropped all his shopping.

His little vox pop was very good given that he thought that he had broken his arm. He did look a bit white right enough.

With all this in the can I dropped Jonathan at his hotel where he would have the pleasure of being up until 1 am editing and sending the report.

No comments:

Post a Comment