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.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Me Drunk? Never! and an evening afloat.

Thursday 10th

For the first time in what seemed like ages I had a full night’s sleep, disturbed by only a couple of mistimed test messages that pinged during the night.

Simon, Kate, Michelle and Sarah arrived after their early flight from Adelaide. Immediately Simon was at work getting the little pieces to camera he had shot at the airport in Adelaide ready to send to London.

Simon editing over breakfast.

Then we all nipped over the road to have a look at the location for the live broadcasts and meet Graham the satellite engineer along with Trevor the sound recordist.

The location was on a boardwalk around part of Fremantle harbour where a lot of the racing yachts would be assembling soon for the ISAF Sailing World Championships which will be held here from the 3rd to 18th of December.

Right beside this boardwalk is a famous Fremantle institution, the Little Creatures Brewery and it’s very good restaurant.

The Little Creatures Brewery tanks behind the bar.

As well as the main broadcasts we also had a few short pieces to do to tell viewers what would be coming up, called teases.

We wanted to do at least one of these teases in the brewery with it’s great view over the harbour and marina.

Kate had an idea that involved me. She would say that the brewery being so handy was great for the crew (ie me!). There would then be a shot of me glass or bottle in hand.

This little scenario became a quick two camera shoot. I did the main camera and at the point when Kate talked about the crew she would take a beer bottle from me there would be a cut to the camera that Simon would operate to see her doing it. She would then talk about things being out of focus and becoming. When the camera cut back to my shot it would be very out of focus and I would make the picture sharp on cue.

So at around twenty to seven I was about to appear, albeit briefly on screen as an inebriated camera operator.

We shot it and along with the stuff Simon had done we got ready to send them to London.

Simon getting the material ready to send from the truck.

The truck beside the brewery.

The gremlins then decided that they had been for too absent recently and came out to play.

The satellite was up and all was going well, for a few seconds that is.

Then Doug the technical director said that the pictures were not very good.

We could see the down link in the truck and the pictures looked fine.

There appeared to be a problem somewhere in London. Doug would chase that but, he was getting very busy because the Daybreak programme was about to go on air.

Graham called the earth station in Sydney to check it was all OK at their end.

It wasn’t.

There was a problem there too.

There was a lot of checking and rechecking of encoder numbers and symbol rates and frequencies along with, “can you see us now?” being asked repeatedly.

We were a bit baffled because we could see our signal on the trucks satellite receiver and it looked fine.

Then that seemed to disappear as well.

So now we, or rather Graham, Sydney and London were dealing with three separate problems.

More button pressing and phone calls were going on when eventually the picture seemed to be getting through.

Graham pressing buttons and checking numbers.

Simon, Chantal the producer and I were getting slightly twitchy because it was getting close to transmission time.

Things were looking good to go when the power in the truck died,

Graham switched to the generator bypassing the mains power that he was using and got things going again.

At last the short pieces got through to Daybreak and we could get on with doing the live broadcasts.

Michelle pins a poppy on Kate because it is almost Remembrance Day.

A rehearsal before doing it for real.

The first one went off without a hitch and so did the second one. The gremlins’ fun was over for the day.

Between broadcasts Michelle acts as photographer..

..with a camera or eleven!

On the second broadcast Kate did an interview with triple Olympic Gold Medalist yachtsman Ben Ainslie. He was very popular with the ladies in the production and tourism teams.

Ben and Kate. (I don't know what all the fuss is about. Just cos he's won gold medals and is a bit hunky)

It felt a bit like a nine to five normal hours job when the broadcasts were over and we had tidied up all the kit. This was because the time difference between us in Fremantle and the UK is eight hours.
Our broadcasting time finished at 4:30 pm.

Of course that was not the end of the working day, not by a long way.

After a little time to grab a bit to eat we would be all at sea.

I had some of the really good freshly caught and cooked fish and chips from one of the nearby fish restaurants before Michelle, Sarah and I joined some of the more adventurous competition winners onboard three yachts for an evening’s sail.

Really good fish and chips in paper.

One of the yachts we boarded from the Perth Royal Yacht Club.

The sun set sail.

Even at sea the work still goes on. Michelle and her Blackberry.

No such stress for the time being for Tourism Australia's Sarah.

The impressive Perth skyline at dusk form the water of the Swan River.

Even better as the darkness creeps in.

When we came back after the sail the material needed to be put into the computer so that Greg the editor could get on and do his job of editing.

In theory that should have been an easy job.

This time apart form one little computer crash it was.

A scary moment when the Blue Screen of Death popped up.

At least the computer restarted without another glitch.

Job done at around 9 pm. At least it was for me. Greg and Chantal still had to edit the material.

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