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.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

An easy day?

Saturday 14th

The gestation period of the eggs could not have been much longer than the time it took for them to arrive poached at our table.

It was not a problem because Gary and I had time for a leisurely breakfast before we had to get to the facilities house to get some shots that they had of Ireland.

Earlier on the morning before I was even dressed, showered or had cleaned my teeth the first salvo in the war of attrition between me and the Avid laptop had been fired.

The feeling was like that of the Captain of a ship being hit without warning by a torpedo from an unseen u-boat. Except I wasn’t in charge of anything, no one was going to get killed, I wasn’t at sea and I don’t have a beard.

I had put the DVD of last night’s “Late Late Show” in the laptop just to check that it would play. I would worry about how I was going to rip the material off for editing later.

I could not really believe that none of the DVD players on the machine would play the disc.

The machine knew the disc was there but would just not do anything with it.

Perhaps the folk at Another Avenue might be able to help with that too.

They could.

Was that a twinge of envy I felt as Mark showed us the shots that he had on a large screen and manipulated them using Final Cut Pro?

There might not have been many of them and each one may have been a bit short in duration but, they were nice and in sparkling high definition.

Sadly they had to be down converted to DV Cam, the standard definition that I was using to edit with.

Gary and Mark going through the shots.

Mark also managed to rip the DVD and give us the couple of clips we needed from it which was just the opening titles and a little bit from Jeffrey Archer when he talked about the Queen’s visit.

It had been a great morning’s work, sitting drinking coffee and watching someone else doing the actual work. The afternoon was going to prove to be the start of a much harder period.

The material was all in the Avid, including some ideal music that Mark had come up with, even better, it was rights free.

I could start the editing process.

Gary and I spent a while getting the various sound bites that we wanted to use isolated and in the order they were needed in the piece.

Grainne arrived in the late afternoon to record the voice over.

The piece was starting with haunting music over a time lapse shot of low mist clearing from the Mountains of Mourne and Grainne voice coming in with a piece of Gaelic poetry.

It was going to look and sound good, really capturing the magical atmosphere of this great country. I might not have filmed the lovely shots but I was looking forward to editing with them.

I had put the music, Grainne’s voice and a few shots down. I hit one of the keys on the keyboard to allow me to adjust the levels of the sound.


I hit the key again. “Ping!”

I checked that I was hitting the correct key. I was. I checked that all the settings were as they should be. They were.

I retried the key. “Ping!”

Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping!

What was I doing wrong?

Was Avid up to some trick.

Gary could see that things were not quite as they should have been. He asked if everything was OK.

I told him that it appeared that I had forgotten how to perform a simple task.

For the next hour I trawled through Avid’s help section and dredged my silted up memory for a solution.

The only thing that I came across was reference to a button that I had never seen before and could not see anywhere on the screen.

I was well and truly stumped.

Against all my macho male instincts I was going to have to call for help.

I was very pleased that Daybreak’s Avid maestro Nick was actually in the office on a Saturday evening doing an upgrade to the main Avid system and I had not had to bother him at home

I told him what I was trying to do and what I had done.

He asked a few questions about what was where in the screen and then said that he had not seen that before. “What version of Avid was I using?”

I told him.

“Ah that’s a new version. I’ll call you back.”

A few moments later after a quick consultation with other Avid experts he was back on the phone with the simple solution.

I got back on with the edit. The night was dragging on. By two am with the piece almost finished and overcoming another few problems it was time to call a halt and get some sleep.

In the morning it would all be much easier and quicker on a fresh day.

Sunday 15th

Sure enough after a reasonable night’s sleep I finished off the edit and it sent off over the internet to Daybreak.

The only problem was that because of the Avid upgrade going on the people in London would not be able to see the finished article until the late afternoon at the earliest.

The good news for me was that I had a few free hours and at the RDS close to our hotel there was the Tutankhamun Exhibition.

It may well be a replica but it is still pretty impressive.

Even the stuff in the shop is good.

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