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

Live form the Twelve Apostles.

Tuesday 8th

The day did not get off to a great start, looking out my bedroom window I saw grey skies and a soaking wet car park.

Before breakfast I popped into Nick’s room to check of things were OK.

My whole belief system was shattered when he opened the door and showed me the edit of both the completed first piece, part of the second piece and the various short picture pieces that would run over Kate Garraway’s voice during this afternoon’s (local time) broadcasts.

He had solved the sync problem and got on with the edits which all looked good until it came to the point of sending them to London.

When Final Cut sent the edited material to the part of the computer that does the sending it decided that Nicks edit point were fine but the shots he had chosen were not.

Most, but not all the shots were replaced by shots form the rushes that bore no relationship to the ones that he had selected and viewed.

This was the second fault that neither Nick nor I had seen before. We both shook our heads in total disbelief and sadness.

There was only one thing to try again and that was try another reingest of the material and try a re-edit.

Once we had used my camera to do that Luke and I left him to see if he could rescue things and went with the team to go to the Tower Hill Reserve to experience some more wild life, have a go at throwing boomerangs and playing didgeridoos.

Another day another Koala.

There were more Koalas munching at leaves in the trees, lizards crawling around in the undergrowth, emus pecking at the daisies, snake neck turtles but, no kangaroos today.

A snake neck turtle.

The guys and an Emu.

The weather was now a little bit better. The grey sky was breaking up and the rain had stopped.

From my point of view these conditions are not fun to shoot in because when the sun bursts out from a cloud and then flits behind another one the exposure changes very dramatically.

My hand was constantly on the iris control.

The guys had great fun not getting their boomerangs to come back and some of the guys likewise had fun not being able to play the didgeridoo, although one of them, Nigel had a very good attempt.

It was only the men that were allowed to try playing them because women are not to touch a didgeridoo.

Luke and I left before the end to get back to the hotel and get the material to Nick so that the edits could hopefully get finished.

We were pleased to see that the editing problems had been solved and some of the material had already arrived at Daybreak in London.

In the reception of the hotel whilst we grabbed a good but, as ever, quick lunch we got the footage that I had just shot into the mac.

I drove us back along the Great Ocean Road to the live location at the Twelve Apostles.

In the back of the car Nick had to carry on with the edit to make sure that it would be ready to be sent to London during the satellite test at the live location.

Nick at work editing in the car.

We pulled into the Twelve Apostles car park at the same time as the Daybreak team from Sydney had arrived in a helicopter from Melbourne.

In order to get presenter Kate Garraway, Director Simon, Producer Michelle and Sarah from the London office of Tourism of Australia from yesterday’s live broadcasts in Sydney to today’s live location in time it was the only way to ensure that they would get here in time.

On the one and a half hour flight Simon had done some shots and pieces to camera with Kate.

These also needed to be edited and sent to London on the satellite during the test. They did it in the staff kitchen.

Nick and Simon busy editing.

Luke and Nick make some final adjustments to he edit..

Simon and Michelle do the same.

A few moments after we all arrived and said hello Ross turned up with the satellite truck and Lee the sound recordist pitched up.

Ross got the satellite dish up and we contacted Dave the Technical Director in Studio 7 at Television Centre in London. Nick and Simon had all the material ready to go just in time. Of course there were one or two minor technical problems to deal with before that happened.

The satellite truck in position with its big dish deployed.

Geek shot of the inside of the Astralinks 3 satellite truck.

Ross and Simon prepare to feed the material to London.

We were then able to turn our minds to the upcoming live broadcasts.

The good news on the weather front was that during the course of the day the clouds had disappeared and the sky was now a deep blue with the sun high and bright.

The slightly annoying thing for me was that I did not have a reflector with me big enough to cover the large group I would have to shoot because by the time we would be doing the broadcasts the sun would be lower and shining towards the camera.

The good news was that Tourism Victoria had organised a gazebo to shelter either from the rain or as a shade from the sun and it had big white walls that I could use as a huge reflector. Also Lee had brought a small but powerful light with him that would be a great help.

Luke and Sam bring brollies just in case but, don't think we'll need them.

Sheltering in the shade under the gazebo.

Tourism Victoria's Emma.

Lee the sound recordist.

We were all set up and ready to go for our first broadcast. Dave, the technical director was happy, telling us that the pictures looked good, all bright with great colours and Pete the studio director spoke to us and gave us a standby.

We would be on air in less than one minute.

Then we heard the words we hate to hear “We’ve lost Australia!”.

The weather might have been great where we were but it was quite the opposite across the country in Sydney.

A massive storm had wiped out the ability for the satellite earth station to receive our pictures and sound.

The signal was going from our truck up to the satellite and being beamed to the big dish in Sydney. From there it was travelling across the pacific ocean via a fibre optic cable to Los Angeles. From there it was switched to another fibre optic cable which took it across the USA to the east coast and then on across the Atlantic ocean to London.

We were still able to hear the Daybreak programme sound because it was coming to us courtesy of the mobile phone network which was, after the local receiver cable all the way.

Our time was only a few seconds away. The link into the piece of video tape showing the helicopter action and some lovely shots of Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road was read by the presenters in the Daybreak studio.

Dave was telling us that he was getting flashes of our picture as the storm passed over the Sydney dish but, they were far from steady.

The tape was around two minutes in duration. With about thirty seconds to go he told us over the talkback that the pictures and sound were back, all steady and looking good.

Very quickly we got the interviewees in position for what was going to be the second part of our broadcast.

In my left ear I could hear the PA counting out of the VT.


There was still frantic activity as people got settled down being guided by Simon and Kate.


A final swap of two that were standing the wrong was round for us.

“Cue Kate!”

Kate smiled at the camera and off we went as if we had been waiting all day to send our pictures into the lounges and kitchens of the waking British public.

Straight after Kate handed back to the studio we there was just enough time on the satellite to send a little piece that Simon had recorded.

It was then time to say good bye to Nick. He was off on the drive back along to Melbourne to catch a flight to Hamilton Island to edit some of the material for tomorrow’s programme.

He was advised that he should make the journey during the hours of daylight if possible because at around dusk and during the night it was not unusual for kangaroos to suddenly appear and jump into road in front of cars.

They make quite a dent in even a large car.

The rest of the morning’s broadcasting went off without a hitch and should have looked bright and colourful with lots of energy which we hoped would send viewers off to work, school or out to do the shopping with a bit of a lift.

Standing by to go live on the second live broadcast of the day.

Luke and Sam smile and relax now the stress of the broadcasts is over.

We got all the kit put away pretty quickly and once more boarded the coach for the drive back to Warrnambool and an Italian restaurant called Bojangles.

Sam called ahead with our orders so that when we arrived a little tired after the fairly long day and long drive we would not have to wait too long for our food.

There was so much that very few of us could finish it off

Kate and the others left to go the short distance to go to the hotel a little bit before the rest of us. They were keen to get to bed because they were leaving he hotel at 6:30 am to get a flight to Adelaide in time to do their thing for tomorrow’s programme.

We would not have to leave until 8:30 to drive back along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne.

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