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, 28 October 2011

Sticky situation for the Duke and the Royal Tram

Wednesday 26th

We were not travelling in the royal party but along side them so commensurate with the level of the tour we were not exactly slumming it.

Melbourne’s Hyatt is as Estate Agents would say “well appointed”. It was a pity that none of us would really get the time to relax and enjoy the comfort to the full.

Posh bath I never had time to use.

Overnight I had left the laptop copying a stack of files from one disk to another.

When I got up a had a look at the computer it was not a good feeling that came over me.

At some point during the night, despite this being a pretty good hotel the rooms electrical master switch had gone off.

The laptop’s battery was totally flat and I did not know what state the copying of the files might be in depending on when the power was lost.

Today was the day that it was vital that the laptop worked on battery because the three of us would need to start getting our pictures into our machines as soon as possible after the events of the day finished.

I hoped that the two hours that I had in hand would be long enough to check that the laptop was not caused any distress by the loss of power and all the systems and files were intact. Also I hoped that there was enough time to get sufficient charge into the laptop battery to sustain the work it was needed to do.

As has become customary on this tour there was a little bit of confusion about which of the two buses assigned to us was going to which venue.

Tadek on the phone, he is a producer, as we wait for the buses to get sorted.

The BBC's Annie, Jonathan and Georgina looking at the schedule.

Weirdly Georgina and I ended up on the big bus with Peter and another couple of people and the rest of the pack were crammed on to the smaller bus.

BBC boarding the little bus.

When we arrived at the location, or I should say near it the first thing we wanted to do was to have a look at where we would be working.

Daniel conducts operations.

Our first and possibly only venue was at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria.

The Queen would meet Aboriginal women artists who had travelled a long way from way out on the Outback to get to Melbourne. Sadly for the journalists they had done it my modern modes of transport like planes, trains and cars. They had not traipsed across the desert on foot which would have made a much better story.

She would also be presented with various gifts, including a stick with an inscription on it.

We had a bit of difficulty getting through some of the check points.

The security people had been told to let no one passed. They were only doing what they were told. Daniel telling them that he gave authorisation for us to get through and he was from the Prime Minister’s Office did not change the situation.

However, it did not take long to get it sorted and we could get on with our tour.

P. W. "The Queen's Cameraman."

Federation Square in Melbourne.

Craig from Channel 7 with Georgina still happy despite his stress.

The red carpet under wraps until the Queen arrives.

More briefings.

Not sure if the hat goes with the suit but, it's needed in that sun.

Man with radiocam.

This was the only bit if the busy morning the Queen and Duke would have that we were planned to do.

There was a possibility that once the Queen had left us she would do a bit of a walkabout which could give us time to reposition to see what was billed as the main event, the Queen and Duke would get on a tram.

I wondered if she would live long enough to have the opportunity to ride one of Edinburgh’s trams.

The amount that they were costing must surly mean that they are fit for a Queen.

We checked the route to the tram and found that we should be OK.

Walking our route. Marnie, Georgina and Valentine. Daniel's on the phone.

Back at the Museum before the Queen’s arrival I did shots of the things she’s look at like the stick and some paintings.

Then all we had to do was wait.

It was not long before we got the signal that she was on her way.

In she came and we were off getting shots of yet more had shaking and short polite conversation.

As a lot of people had predicted it was the Duke that made the story.

When the Queen was presented with the stick, and it was just a thin twig about two feet long with white writing on it the Duke said “put it back on the nest.”

The artwork that they were looking at was in the shape of a large nest made up of lots of similar sticks with writing on them.

There was a bit of general laughter and some worthy from the museum pointed out that the stick the Queen had been given was of special significance.

During most of this I was holding a wide shot. After a little bit of laughter I did a crash zoom into the Duke’s face and held the shot for as long as I could before we had to move to the nest position, which was not very long at all.

I hoped that it was long enough to be able to edit with.

I found out later that Sky had used it and were pleased.

The large pile of sticks called Bunji's Nest.

The kid on the left waiting to present the stick.

There was then the meeting of the very shy Aboriginal people who sang a greeting as the Queen walked in.

I got a bit of that and then there was a book signing which I filmed then it was all over.

We did manage to get into a good position in the media pen near where the Queen would get onto the tram.

Although it did mean squeezing through a tightly packed crowd. Most were good humoured but of course there was the odd, “who do they think they are” comments.

Like Brisbane it was very hot and there were, like Brisbane people affected by the heat. An old lady succumbed a bit near our pen and it was the Palace’s Marnie and Georgina who were the first to help before the official first aiders came on the scene.

Big crowd like Brisbane.

The only way some will see her is on the big screen.

The Queen took quite a while to do her walkabout and clearly looked very happy getting loads and loads of flowers.

Police guard the Royal Tram.

When she arrived at the tram I got the shot ot her going on but, not before she had accepted yet more flowers from a couple of little girls who had run over to her.

The two little girls before they mad their dash for the Queen, with a bit of help, obviously.

When the tram pulled away i had a nice close up of the Queen waving out of the window.

Ever wondered where all the flowers that the Queen gets go?

Well first they get put in a fleet of cars.

Then I don' t know where they get taken but there were lot and lots to be dealt with.

Channel 9 broadcasting live from the media pen that we had to squeeze into.

That was our shooting work finished. It had certainly been worth the effort to get to the tram for the departure shot.

Now the real work started along with a bit more bus confusion.

As soon as I got on our big bus I started to ingest my material.

We needed to get to where the rest of the guys were so that we could get together and copy each other’s material.

The next few moments were a bit of a blur and I am still not sure which bus was going where and why the bus that was supposed to be going to Government House did not go to Government House.

All I know is that our very empty big bus took us almost to Government House where we walked up to the very crammed little bus that should have been going right up to Government House but now wasn’t, I think.

Anyway, Phil, Duncan and I were together squished up on the bus and able to had each other our cards.

For once I was ahead of the game. My card was already ingested into my machine before we started the multiple ingestion and swaps.

Our three machines chuntered away gobbling up the footage.

By the time we got to the hotel Duncan was all but finished getting all the material in. Phil had a short time to go. I still had almost two cards still to get into my machine even though I had started a whole card ahead.

Clutching the laptop and hard drive I went up to my room with Tim and Georgina to continue the process

Phil went off with Jonathan and Tadek to start their editing and Duncan along with Nick and Annie did the same.

In my room the laptop carried on slowly chewing up the material and swallowing it up into the hard drive.

Our plan was not to do a full edit but to send enough material back to both Daybreak and ITN to allow them time to make a better edit than I could make given the time deadline for the Daybreak material.

The deadline this time was not the transmission time of the programme but the departure time of our flight to Perth in Western Australia.

I got busy clipping up as much of the best material that I had which was; Phil’s footage from the hospital where the Queen had met some little kids including now separate conjoined twins, Duncan’s shots of the tram, the Queen getting off and Tim’s piece to camera, Peter’s shots of the Queen and the Duke on the tram from inside the tram and my stuff of the stick incident and the tram departure.

Tim was getting the information that he needed for his script and then recorded it on his iPhone to e-mail to Daybreak and ITN.

To give the editors in London a head start I sent the material in chunks. First the tram and piece to camera, then the hospital, then the museum and finally a quick shot of the royal motorcade that was following the tram.

It all went over to London pretty quickly but, it almost goes without saying that there were on or two little pauses in the proceedings when the Avid decided to be a bit petulant and had a bit of a grey moment or two.

Exporting the material prior to encoding it or sending to ITN in London.

The exporting continues.

Of course it always comes to this at some point in the edit.

Avid I love you as much as a hemorrhoid and Marmite sandwich.

All the material that was need was now in London and the editors had plenty of time to play with it.

Georgina had organised a porter to get my boxes down to the bus that was now due to depart for the airport.

Tim and Georgina were not coming with me to Perth, at least not today.

In the original plan they were not coming at all. I would be working solo on the Royal pool but with ITN’s Westminster team at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

However, because David Cameron was having a bit of political bother at home over Europe he had changed his travel plans for CHOGM.

This meant that it was possible that Tim and Georgina would come to Perth for at least one day.

So, I checked out and said a potential final good-bye to them in case they did not have to do the journey across Australia.

Loading up another bus.

Duncan was still busy with his edit when the bus was ready to go.

Phil was also still working on the Sky News piece on the bus to the airport.

Hotel take away.. Tadek has to eat on the go on the bus.

Sky still working in the check in queue...

....and whilst actually checking in.

The BBC's Duncan and Nick check in.

It would not be over until electronic devices must be switched off before take off.

Next stop Perth, a four hour flight away that would find us there just an hour after we left because of change in time zones.

It would not however knock any time off how tired we felt.

The flight was mercifully not too unpleasant and after another ride in a big white bus we arrived at our much anticipated hotel in Perth.

At least most of us did. The BBC were for some reason, cost, they were in a cheaper hotel down the road.

The hotels up until now had all been of a very good standard with last night’s topping the league. Given that the hotel were were travelling to was by far the most expensive of the trip and as we understood it was the hotel for the Prime MInister and his party we were salivating at the prospect of, maybe not bathing in asses milk and being tended by beautiful hand maidens but, certainly a good bit of opulent luxury.

The first sign that this was not the case was that there was no sign of liveried porters descending on the bus as it pulled up to help get our boxes and cases to the rooms.

We unloaded the kit and filled the trollies that one of us had dragged out while the rest pulled the bags of the bus.

The self service trolley.

To be fair once we had loaded things up a rather harassed looking lad came over to help and apologised for not being there to start with.

The cigarette burns and strange stains on the carpet of the slightly dingy yet fairly spacious reception was another sign that this was no home of unadulterated luxury despite the exorbitant rate we were being charged.

Although tired I had one little job to do, a nice easy one. send over the short shot that Peter had done of the Queen and Duke coming down the steps of the aircraft on their earlier arrival in Perth.

I got the card, quickly ingested the material and exported it to the sending software. This all took about ten minutes.

All I needed to do now was send the short shot to London.

I reckoned it the whole job should be done and dusted in a few more minutes and then I could get to bed at about 1 am my time 10 pm local. So, I’d get a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s events.

When I did get to bed I was looking forward to a lot less sleep than I had anticipated.

I connected the internet cable to the laptop, no WiFi at this inn.

I opened the browser and followed the instructions to the point that I was asked for a location code.

I punched in my room number and pressed enter.

The window flashed and then remained the same.

I called reception to ask if my room number was the right code.

“You don’t need a code in the room because there is no wireless in the rooms.”, said the receptionist.

“It is asking me for a code.”

“It should not be doing that because there is no wireless in the rooms.”

“Well it is.”

“it should not be doing that because there is no wireless in the rooms, only in the lobby.”

“Well it is and I quite urgently need to get onto the internet to send my pictures of the queen arriving in Perth so that they came be seen on TV and I am being asked to enter a code. Could you possible give me a code?”

“That should not be happening because there is no wireless in the room. You only need a code for wireless.”

“I can assure you that I am using a cable and I am being asked for a code. Would it be possible for you to give me one please?”

“It should not be doing that because there is no wireless in the rooms you should be logged straight on to the internet and it is billed to your room”

“I have tried several times and I keep getting the same window asking for a location code.”

“It should not be doing that. I will speak to the concierge.” The phone then went dead.

I waited for a few moments for a call back. Nothing happened.

I rang reception again.

“I have spoken to the concierge. He his on his way up.” came the same pleasant but emotionless answer.

When the knock came to my door and I opened it the same harassed boy that had helped with the luggage came in, had a look at the computer and tried to log on to the internet.

The window asking for the code popped up as I expected.

“Hmm, it should not be doing that.” he said.

“I know.”

He picked up the phone and pressed one of the buttons. “It’s asking for a location code. It should not be doing that should it?.”

He put the phone down saying, “Sorry, it should not be doing that I am not sure what to do.”

He left.

I called reception again.

This time after I asked for help there was a brief sound of clicking and whirring.

Suddenly a booming Aussie voice bellowed out, “Good evening! My name’s Craig from Movie Link can I take your room number and your name?”

I told him.

“How can I help you tonight Martin?”

I told him.

“Now that shouldn’t happen because that hotel only has wireless on the lobby. You should be using a cable in the room.”

I told Graig that i was.

“Can I get you to close down your browser and open it up again please Martin?”

I did and the jolly Aussie asked. Up popped the Movie Link Window. Craig asked me to go through the log in process. Up popped a the window asking for the location access code.

“That shouldn’t happen because your on a cable and not wireless. I think that we need to try some troubleshooting here.”

Craig asked me to try a few things like loading Google and closing the browser again.

The same window kept popping up.

“We seem to have exhausted my troubleshooting guide. I will have to refer this to my technical desk but, they do not come in until 8 am.”

“Could you give me a location access code then?” I asked.

“I’m sorry I so not have any access codes. Those are held by the the reception at your hotel.”

“OK thanks for your help.”

I put the phone down, immediately picking it up again and rang reception.

“I wonder if you could give me a location access code for the internet please?”

“I am sorry the codes are only for wireless internet and we do not have wireless in the room, only in the lobby.”

“Yes I know that but, I would like a code please if that is possible. Craig, the man from Movie Link said that he could not give me any code. I would have to get it from you.”

“He did? But, there is no wireless in the rooms only in the lobby.”

“I know. Could I please have a code?”

“There will be a charge.”


She gave me a code and I tapped it in and hit enter.

Nothing, up came the same window again.

I picked the laptop up and went to the deserted lobby. I fired up the wireless and found the hotel network.

I got to the same window as I had upstairs asking for a location access code. I keyed in the one I’d been given.

Success up popped the internet with the Google home page shining out at me.

It should not be doing that...

.....but it is!

I selected the sending software and clicked on transmit.

It is going but, ever so slowly.

Just over half way with still at least 9 minutes to go.

My minute or so of material that would have taken around a minute or less to send from all the other hotels we’d been in on the trip took over half an hour to get to London.

It was well after 2 am by my body clock when I eventually got to bed.

I then discovered that the reference to the Prime Minister’s hotel was not because Mr Cameron and his party would be staying there but it was the one that the Number 10 press office had organised for the press travelling with the PM to CHOGM.

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