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.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Koalas and Helicopters.

Monday 7th

My alarm jangled at 5:30 am to alert me that the sun would be coming up over the horizon shortly.

I stumbled sleepily over to the window and peered outside into the half light of the predawn.

The sky was getting bright but, there was a bank of cloud rising from the horizon to about three quarters of the way up the sky.

I was both pleased and disappointed, probably slightly more disappointed because I would not get a shot of stunning sunrise reflecting off the Bass Straight. However, I would get another hour in bed and possibly some more sleep.

However, I did get up a bit earlier than I needed to in order to have a bit of a walk. It was worth it when a kangaroo hopped past me and then stopped for a bit of a stare.

My first kangaroo this trip.

The first proper shoot of the day was at the Great Ocean Ecolodge.

When we arrived there after a two hour drive following the bus in our hire car we were met with our groups medical emergency.

One of the ladies in the group was not too well and needed to get to see a doctor.

Sam, from Tourism Victoria commandeered our car and whisked the lady off to the nearest medical centre where she was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis.

The doctor there gave her and injection but, recommended that she go for an ultrasound scan. Sam’s ambulance duties continued as she took the lady to get that done.

Whilst this little drama was unfolding the rest of our group was being treated to views around Lizzie and Sean’s impressive land.

Over in Sydney the crew there getting ready to do the live broadcasts from Fleet Steps in the Botanical Gardens were having a lot of technical dramas.

Avid and the Windows laptop was in top form on the problem front. Simon, the Director and Dean, the picture editor were in a fight to the deadline with the unpredictable foe.

Of course it was Simon’s personal mac and Final Cut that saved the day but, not before Nick had taken lots of calls to ask for his expert advice and help.

At the Ecolodge the group got their first sight at quite close quarters of wild Koalas, one female with a baby, called a joey, on her back.

The first wild Koala high up in a tree.

Getting the shot of the Koala..

Luke and Emma share the view.

There's another one.

Our viewers were enjoying it too.

Koala with baby.

The surprising highlight was seeing the endangered Tiger Qolls.

None of us had heard of them before. They are indigenous to that area of Australia. Their claim to fame is that these marsupial carnivores have the second most powerful bite on the planet beaten only by the Tazmian Devil.

They chew up bones as if they were soft liquorice strips.

One of the Tiger Qolls.

I got some lovely shots of the animals and the group in the beautiful surroundings of the lodge which neighbours the National Park.

On the walk with Lizzie and one of her dogs.

Luke Emma and Nick bringing up the rear trying to keep out of shot.

A Koala recovering in the rehab area. He was rescued after being hit by a car.

After a very tasty lunch provided by Lizzie and Sean’s chefs we were heading, this time onboard bus, on to the Twelve Apostles.

The plan was that the people in the group would go up in a series of helicopter rides to get a bird’s eye view of the Limestone rocks that make up the Twelve Apostles.

There is a fleet of bright red and bright yellow Robinson R 44 helicopters and a large Eurocopter that take off from beside the Twelve Apostles and buzz over them all day.

Initially there was some confusion about our booking, particularly with the special flight organised for me because that would require the door being taken off the chopper to allow me to get a clear shot out.

Once it was all sorted I joined some of our group on two flights in the eight seater Eurocopter.

It was a quick, slick operation getting hundreds of people up and around the huge sandy coloured rock pillars.

In no time at all we had small life jackets strapped on, been belteded in to smart new seats of the helicopter and were lifting off for the short jolly over the the sea.

Luke went up on one of the flights for his first ride in a helicopter.

I got some shots of the guys looking down on the water carved coast and a few point of view shots.

The amazing view of the coast and the pillars of limestone.

Back on the ground out on the viewing platforms Luke and I did some interviews with some of the guys about what they thought about their flight and what they had seen up until now.

Doing the post flight interviews.

Then it was time for my flight in one of the R 44s with the door off to get shots of the coast and do a low level pass to get a shot of our group on the viewing platform waving at the camera in the helicopter.

I was in the front beside Richard the pilot and Nick joined us in the back for his second ever ride in a helicopter.

The guys on the viewing platform seen from the helicopter.

The helicopter from the platform.

Another beautiful view from the air.

Shooting from the helicopter.

A shot of the helicopter with the door off.

The shots worked well thanks to Richard's flying skills. As ever we only had a limited time in the air. From take off to landing I had, appropriately for where we were, twelve minutes to get all the shots done.

Which was actually luck for me because I had made a mental note to change tapes before take off but, had forgotten to do so.

Not long after I started shooting the tape end warning light started to flash. Changing tapes would soak up some of the expensive time. Anyway when the door is off no loose articles are allowed in a helicopter. So I had not brought a spare.

To my relief there was more than enough tape to do the job.

Back on terra firma and in the bus we started the process of getting the material into the trusty mac and the safe and sound Final Cut software.

There were one or two little glitches initially when we tried to get the material in which we attributed to the motion of the bus possibly disturbing the FireWire cable connecting the camera to the mac.

Nick working on the mac on the coach.

Luke working on the Blackberry.

Fernado, our Argentinean driver who had been in Australia for more than thirty years but still spoke with such a strong Spanish accent he sounded as if he had just stepped off the boat from Buenos Aires parked the bus outside the hotel.

We all got our kit off. The guys wheeled their suitcases towards the reception. Nick went off to get a trolley for our boxes, bags and sundry bits of loose gear.

Luke waiting with the kit whilst Nick goes off in search of a trolley.

Fernando then went off to find a parking place for the bus.

We were at the wrong entrance to the hotel. The bus had gone. So there was a little bit of a walk around the block to get to the correct entrance to the correct hotel.

The guys wheel their bags to the correct entrance..

As soon as we finally got in and had done the check in procedure it was Nick’s turn to jump fully into work mode. He set up the mac in his room and got down to editing.

There was not a great deal to do to get the first piece of video tape ready for tomorrow’s programme because a large part of it had already been edited. It was just some shots of the helicopter action that needed to be added.

That was when for the first time in my experience Final Cut followed Avid and bushwhacked Nick.

The material that we had taken in on the coach to save time was all very out of sync. The pictures and the sound did not match.

At first it appeared that this annoying and mysterious problem would be easily fixed. It was simply a case of shifting the audio along to match the picture once Nick worked out how far out the sync was.

There was a huge error of almost eight seconds at the point Nick checked.

He moved the audio. The problem then got bigger because the sync was not uniformly out.

The only solution was to take in the material again. Which is what we did.

Everything then looked fine except that what was going to be a late night for Nick was now looking like being a very late night, possibly almost all night.

Luke and I left him to it and went to bed hoping things would be fine because we had to go with the group to the Flagstaff Maritime Museum, our bad weather contingency location to film at the sound and light show that they put on after dark.

Nick with the mac in his room.

The group carrying lanterns were taken through the now dark village by a guide who told them the story of a ship called the Loch Ard which sank off the coast in the last part of the nineteenth century and lead them to an auditorium which looked out over the lake.

The show was as spectacular as any I’ve seen in the theme parks of Florida. A superb video production was back projected on to a massive fan of water that acted as a huge screen.

We returned to the hotel to see how Nick was getting on.

Things appeared to be going on a little bit better. Luke joined him to help with the edit and I was for once able, albeit feeling a little bit guilty to go to bed.

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