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, 19 January 2011

Lost shots, Bungee and time to go home.

Wednesday 19th

Yesterday the weather had washed out our planned days filming on Waiheke island a half hour ferry ride from Auckland.

So many people told us how fantastic the scenery there is and how beautiful the vineyards are that we were very disappointed not to be going.

Tourism New Zealand did suggest a few wet weather options for us to film but none of them fitted in with the angle of the pieces that we were doing.

It was almost lunch time before it was clear that there would be nothing to shoot for the rest of the day.

A forced relaxing half day off was sounding good. The weather might have been grey and horrible but at least there was a chance for some leisurely shopping.

The easy chilled day that was on the cards ended up being trumped by a full house of stress.

The hire company that had provided the underwater camera kit needed it back.

All that I had to do was copy the files to a flash drive for Stuart to take back to London to edit with.

I fired up the mac took the SD card out of the camera stuck it in my card reader, prepared a destination folder and got ready to drag the files over.

I was rather surprised to find that the folder that I was expecting the files to be in was empty.

I put the card back into the camera and checked that the shots were there.

I was pleased to see the thumbnails pop up and I was able to play the shot with perfect sound and pictures.

So I plugged it directly into the mac. There was still nothing showing.

I went to play the clips again in the camera but, this time I did not see any reassuring thumbnails or indeed anything other than a warning which basically said that the SD card needed to be formatted.

I was baffled. I had just seen the clips playing fine a few moments earlier.

I called Michael from the hire company, hoping he would say that he had experienced this problem before and there was an easy problem.

He had not seen the problem before and had no straightforward remedy.

He came to the hotel to see if he could think of any sort of remedy.

A while later he left having been unable to help.

Then the stress started to build.

I had a look at various things on the internet about lost files.

There were so many different ideas about what could have caused the problem and as many solutions, most involving downloading costly software my head was in a spin.

I called a few numbers in Auckland that looked as if they might be able to help.

It took a few calls before I found a nice Asian chap called Vilas who sounded as if he could be of some use.

After all the mucking about and phone calls etc, it was almost 6 pm by the time I got the SD card to him.

I would find out in the morning if the files were gong to be recoverable.

The night’s sleep would not come easily, which was a shame because it would be our last before the lengthy flights home.

After dinner we did stay out a little while and have a last night fling in of all places an Irish bar in the Viaduct area by the quayside.

So, my mind was taken off the problem and there was less time in bed to worry.

The morning did bring good news on one front, the weather one.

There were breaks in the cloud and the sun was peaking through.

Today was the one that Dan was not looking forward to.

He was gong to be doing the Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungee jump, or Bungy as it is spelt in New Zealand.

A little tiredness allied with trepidation accompanied us on the way to the Bungee base.

Fraser, Nigel were going to have a go at the bungy as well as Dan.

I had no intention of being so stupid as to have my ankles tied together, throw myself off anything high and bounce around out of control over some patch of water.

We were met at the reception for the Bridge Climb and Bungee by a petite beautiful bubbly brown eyed girl.

Christine asked who would be doing the jump and who would be spectating.

I said that I would not be jumping as always said that I would never indulge in such madness.

I had assumed that both Pete and Stuart would be joining me as spectators.

When they both started to fill in the forms to do the jump I started to feel a bit left out.

I did not want all the others to be on a massive adrenaline induced high all talking for hours afterwards about how great it had been and sharing the experience. So, against my better judgement I asked Christine if I could change my mind.

She was very happy to let the red permanent marker “SP” that she had written on my hand be scored out and the number 76, my weight in kilos, added.

In some ways it was worth changing my mind just to be on the receiving end of her broad smile.

I wondered how many of the young guys she took up to jump of the bridge tried to get a date with her.

It was now time for me to make the call to see if the underwater video files had been recovered.

My day brightened even more when I was told that the files were there and it was an easy job to put them on a portable hard drive.

The only downside was that it would not be cheap.

Whilst I was dealing with the call the guys were being harnessed and helmeted up.

Dan gets his harness on.

It was a ten minute walk and climb from the office to the impressive pod under the bridge.

Our mood was subdued as we entered the pod.

Game face time for the Daybreak team.

The guys up there were relaxed with an air of supreme confidence. They gave us safety briefings and told us what we could and could not do.

We were given much more freedom, within the limits of safety, to move around and take photo's etc than any of their normal customers.

A shot that we thought would be good was Dan doing a piece to camera and the camera then falling away from him down to the water below.

Whilst we were in the office on the ground there we saw that very shot being done so we knew then that it was possible.

The shot needed whoever was doing the camera to go off the ledge backwards holding the camera steady.

Apart form the obvious, the main problem would be framing the shot because the little Gopro camera does not have a viewfinder.

Initially not having the least intention of doing the jump at all, let alone backwards I was not the man for this particular job.

Fraser, having done a few Bungee jumps previously including the one over the Nevis gorge, which at 134m is more than three times higher than the one on the bridge, stepped up to the mark and volunteered.

Fraser gets rigged with the Gopro.

I talked him through where I thought the ideal position for the camera would be and how to tilt it as he fell to keep Dan in shot.

Fraser now rigged with the little camera.

He was then all kitted up with the ankle straps and the little camera.

Dan stood on the edge beside Fraser and got ready to do what needed to be a one take only piece to camera.

He delivered the lines. On cue Fraser fell backwards.

The rest of us squirmed a little as he disappeared from view under the pod.

It looked as if it should have been good. We’d need to wait and see when the camera was linked to a computer.

Next it was a very nervous Dan to take to the plank.

When the guys got him ready and in position he needed to do a few pieces to camera before the actual jump.

I have to say that I do not think that I would have been able to sound as composed as he was or indeed have been able to speak coherently before my first ever bungy jump.

Dan near the edge.

Dan delivered the script then off he went.

It looked good on my camera. He also had the Gopro pointing back at himself.

So with the coverage from the cameras that the Bungee guys have it would look very nice indeed.

Dan up after his dunking.

Nigel and Stuart were next to go.

The both of them threw themselves off the platform elegantly and silently. Well maybe not elegantly but with an element of form.

Then it was my turn. I did not actually feel as nervous as I thought that I would.

My departure from the platform was equally elegant I think but, far from silent.

I enjoy a good war whoop and holler.

For something that I said I would never do I really enjoyed the experience.

After the initial split second leaving the platform and starting the short bit of free fall I began having fun.

The pull on the bungee was not as fierce as I expected and being winched back taking in the views was just great.

Although I would not have liked coming up feet first like Stuart. The fact that you can flip yourself up right on the way up makes all the difference.

I did feel that I would have liked to have another go.

Fraser after his bit of camerawork did have another go.

On that one his mode of departure was a bit more spectacular.

The guys up top showed him how to run along the platform and dive off.

Off he went. He was having such fun.

Fraser running and jumping.

There was only Pete left to go. Even though he had done several bungee jumps around New Zealand before he said that he still gets a bit sweaty palmed just before the jump.

We had all done it and as I expected were on a high. I was so glad that a bit of not wanting to be left out and being sucker for the smile of a beautiful woman made me change my mind.

There was still work to be done.

Buzzing we went to the Viaduct area again where, this time in very welcome sunshine we did some pieces to camera and I got some more shots around the area.

There was just time to have a quick spot of lunch.

The quickest food in the restaurant that we went into was a stone grill.

Quite literally a very hot stone is brought to you with some raw food that you cook yourself.

The food cooking on the hot stone.

It was very good.

Dan the chef.

Lunch had to be quick because on the way to the next and final bit of shooting I had to hand over our hard drive to Vilas for him to put on the recovered files.

Our last job was at the top of Mount Eden the extinct volcano with its grass coated crater large and very obvious.

From the top the views over the city are stunning.

The long extinct volcano crater on Mount Eden with Auckland CBD in the distance.

We did an interview with an ex-pat woman called Amy who works in the tourist industry. She had been suggested by Tourism New Zealand as a good person to talk to .

We were not the only crew using the location.

Sometimes you meet people in the strangest places.

Fraser had gone to university with Amy but, had not realised it was that Amy until they were reunited up the hill.

Her interview was just what we wanted. She was enthusiastic, chatty and looked good.

Starting the "walkie talkie" interview with Amy.

Whilst we were doing the work Pete went off to retrieve the hard drive.

Once Amy's interview was finished and I had done some general views of the city the job was done.

We thought that a team photo on the top of Eden with the city as a backdrop was a must.

Then Dan had this idea of us making NZ with our bodies rather than the usual standing in a row shot.

We really needed Pete to be in it because he was an integral and very important part of the team.

Trying the NZ but, we need Pete.

Sadly we had to bid him farewell. He needed to get to the airport to catch a flight home to Wellington.

So Amy stood, or more precisely, laid, in for him as we tried to sculpt an NZ with our athletic prowess.

Almost there but not quite.......

....the inevitable end. At least there were no lasting injuries.

It was a final wrap.

There was just time for an hour or so of shopping before a quick shower and change in time to go to the airport.

Nigel and I went to the airport first a little early to get the carnets dealt with.

Once we found Customs up on the mezzanine floor the officer was cool and efficient.

We got the kit checked in at the Premier check-in because Dan was going to get one of the big seats at the front again.

At least we did not have to stand in the long queue at economy and we were whisked through passport control and security.

In the quiet airport departure lounge there was time to eat and shop.

We were about to leave New Zealand with a desire to come back having had a fantastic time, doing and seeing some amazing things, meeting great people and sampling superb food.

It is a pity that trips like these end at home feeling so knackered because of an amalgamation of a very long flight, a wait, another long flight, lugging gear, another wait, another flight, lugging gear again, picking up a hire car and a huge time difference.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Martin, a fitting end to your time in New Zealand. I never disliked the travelling or the lugging of equipment but I did enjoy the work, unfortunately the retirement eventually comes to us all.
    OH! the only Hate part was the time difference.
    Good to see and read you ALL enjoyed it.