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.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Queen afloat then ashore with the flowers.

Thursday 20th

For understandable reasons I had not had the best night’s sleep in the world, haunted by dreams of crashing computers, sound disappearing into the ether and phone calls from bosses bollocking me, sacking me and as they were doing it inserting giant laptops filled to the brim with Avid applications into all my orifices.

Today the queen would be doing, well not very much really. She would visit a big flower show in Canberra, arriving there by boat.

The sun was out, it was getting warm as our little media pack piled onto a bus to take us the very short distance from our hotel to the park where Floriade was being held.

First thing to sort out was who would do what and where. Duncan from the BBC would go out on a boat that would travel beside the queen’s boat, Phil from Sky News would get the shot as she stepped off the boat and walked into the flower show, I would be on a little shingle beach doing pieces to camera with the three correspondents and of course Peter would be doing the pool that went around with the queen.

The little beach by the lake with the local live crews and us.

Naturally Tim, Nick, and Jonathan wanted to have the queen, or at least her boat in the back of their piece to camera.

There would not be that much opportunity to get that done because by the time the boat would be big enough in frame it would not be in shot for long.

Cameraman with a reflector as a hat and Tim with a hat as a hat.

Tim went first with the boat quite a way off. It worked but was not ideal.

Jonathan went next and his was slightly better with the boat disappearing behind his head. Usable but not great.

Nick’s first attempt was a disaster because I had to frame it so wide to keep the boat in it was horrible with the mic in shot in a very unbalanced shot.

I swung the camera round a bit more, Nick moved a little and off he went into his very short piece. It was good no obvious Queen but the boat was nicely framed.

The three of them went round again on take two.

Tim’s was better, nice framing with the boat but no queen.

Jonathan hit the jackpot. Just as he started the Queen stepped up on to the gangplank and slowly started walking along it.

Nick’s first one was better because by the time he got into position the Queen was already ashore.

That was it for me until the queen left.

Once she had gone Tim and I did a few vox pops with the people that had been waiting for a chance to see the Queen.

The first thing that I needed to do with Tim was a piece for the ITN very early news bulletin and a piece for ITV Daybreak.

All we were able to do because it was getting close to the transmission of both these programmes was to send them pieces to camera and some voice track.

Over night in the UK the Australian TV broadcasters and agencies would be sending material of the Royal Tour to the various British broadcasters. This would enable Daybreak to edit a piece with those pictures, leaving us able to get on with ingesting our material and editing for the ITN news programmes at lunch time and in the early evening. Chances were so high that News at Ten would not want a piece from us we did not even consider it.

I sent the material to Daybreak and we gave ourselves a few moments to get a bite to eat in the hotel restaurant.

I had just taken my first bite when the call came from the News Editor at Daybreak. The material that I had sent was unusable. It would need to be resent and I’d have to find out what the cause was and get it sorted.

I dashed back to my room and got on the phone to the Master Control Room at ITN to find out what was wrong with the piece.

It was with great relief that we worked out that the problem was with the machine that was receiving the material in London.

There was just about enough time to get it resent and still give a good editor the time to cut a reasonable piece.

One thing that I had noticed during the process of working out what the problem could be was that the drive on the laptop was getting full.

I needed an external hard drive.

I got a cab from the front of the hotel after asking the porter where the nearest computer store was.

He started to tell the taxi driver where it was and give him the exact address. The driver waved a dismissive hand saying he knew exactly where it was.

When we drove away and he said, “Is it IT training were going to?”, I realised things might not go too well.

When we got to the area the porter had mentioned the driver started asking people in the street where any computer shops were.

Probably talking to him in a manner much sterner than Alex Ferguson giving the guys a half time team talk when they’ve gone in six goals down against a non league side of pub darts players I asked why he had said he knew where it was?

I did have a little time in hand before another deadline closed in on me but, not a huge amount. We had to wait for what could be some good material with the Queen looking at the wild kangaroos in the grounds of Government House before we could start any editing.

However, there was a ticking clock in my head as I berated him. Just with that he pointed over at a small shop with a sign that read “Computer Repairs”.

They had exactly what I needed. It did not take me long to get back on the road and start getting all the material into the drive.

I thought that I had conquered most of the problems but, I was not, it would be fair to say, exactly looking forward to getting stuck into another edit.

At first when we started to think about the report we felt that because of the problems yesterday it would be best to do what I did for Daybreak and send the relevant material to London and get them to do the edit.

There was a bit more time to play with before things got too tight so I did end up doing the full edit for the Lunchtime News.

The good news was that it all arrived was transmitted and the Lunchtime News team were happy.

Then came the combination good and bad news.

The producers of the Early Evening News liked what they saw. They liked it so much that they wanted a piece, similar but not the same.

The good news was that we would get another piece on. The bad news was that we would have to stay up for another hour or so to get it done.

The good news about getting our pieces on the programmes was made much sweeter by two huge pieces of other news.

One was momentous on a world scale, the second huge on a personal scale.

In the Libyan city of Sirte Colonel Gadaffi had been found and there were pictures of him in a rather bloodied state. There were also, at that stage rumours that he had been killed.

All over the world I could imagine frantic newsrooms going into overdrive and thinking about pretty much nothing else.

The other news came when my phone pinged to announce the arrival of a text which said simply, “I Passed”.

I set my stress aside and gave myself a moment to be pleased that my son would now be able to give me lifts to the pub.

There one or two little problems with the editing process but yet again the saintly patience of Bob in London got me through them.

The people from the Australian government had very kindly provided us with a little goodie bag at yesterday’s media briefing which consisted of a couple of bottles of wine a very small box of chocolates and a USB memory stick filled with media information about the Australian Capital Territory.

When our final piece was at last in London and of an acceptable quality we relaxed and indulged in the hospitality.

When I collapsed into bed it was feeling a little better than yesterday, still not one hundred percent happy that I had beaten the beast of Avid but, at least I was well ahead on points after being on the mat looking at a knock out last night.

No comments:

Post a Comment