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.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Desert camp live broadcasts.

Wednesday 18th

It was very quiet when Nigel and I got in the Landcruiser that would take us to the camp, complete with bedouin tent, camels and falcon that had been set up for us in the desert.

The desert morning.

This morning’s live broadcasts only involved one camera so from a vision point of view it was an easy rig.

However, Nigel still needed all his sound toys so that each of the experts, Downsizers and presenters could have a personal mic.

The only thing that reduced his work load was that it was just simple talkback from Daybreak in London that was needed and not local director’s talkback as well.

The start of our little technical camp.

The presenters, experts and downsizers arriving.

John and Elise talk workouts as the camp grows.

Is there no escape from the iPod?

Sheltering from the heat in between broadcasts.

There was one hairy moment two minutes before the first of our three main broadcasts of the morning.

We had done the first short live shot and were all set up and ready to go.

Director Erron had given us a two minute standby when Richard with the satellite dish keyed over the talkback. “Your picture is flashing.”

I wiggled the camera cable to see if it was a connection fault.

“It’s still flashing.... Now its gone.”, he said.

I wiggled and pushed the cable again to see if the picture would come back.

Two things then happened at the same time.

Simon started to rush down the steep sand dune that we were on top of and Doug, the technical director spoke calmly over the talkback, “Dubai, we have lost your picture but still have your sound.”

I heard the PA count, “one minute to Dubai.”

Nigel had spoken to Doug and I heard his short response, “understood.”

“Thirty seconds to Dubai.”

At which point I could hear Simon’s panting breath as he came running as fast as he could through the soft sand.

He handed me a cable end and I shoved it into the camera.

A second or two later I could hear the guys in the studio begin to start to read the link into us.

Sarah and Mark started to talk right on cue and off we went.

Oh! That looks painful Mark.

John, the lone producer on the phone in the desert.

At the end of the morning’s live broadcasts, the rest of which had gone off without a technical problem there was some news that we greeted with mixed feelings.

As soon as we came off air the plan was that we would head off straight away to do some filming on a dhow, a traditional arab boat.

This had been cancelled because the weather was apparently too bad to sail.

We were mildly surprised given that there were only a few clouds scattered around the bright blue sky and the wind seemed little more than a gentle breeze.

On the one hand we were disappointed that a nice filming opportunity had been taken away from us.

On the other hand we were pleased because we would have time to eat the very nice traditional lunch that was going to be prepared for us.

There's no way to keep the sand out of your boots!

Some of the guys went straight back to the hotel but those of us that has to put the equipment away and a few others stayed and had a great meal which for once was not gobbled at breakneck speed and digested as we got back on with work.

Delicious traditional lunch in a tent in the desert.

John and Elise off for quick trek across the desert.

Tomorrow would be our the most technically demanding of the week.

There would be three cameras, nine radio mic’s, a mixture of programme sound, directors talkback and presenters keyed talkback, four locations and a limited amount of time to broadcast at least three guys who may or may not go down a steep and scary water slide.

So when we got back to the hotel we went straight to the water park, Aquaventure to help Nigel set up the sound equipment and the little vision mixer kit that Simon would use to cut the cameras. We were not be able to do it until the park was closed.

Time to rig the Leap of Faith.

The very efficient guys at the hotel had laid in a lot of the cables that were going to various points around the Leap of Faith and the beach area of Aquaventure.

When that was underway Simon and I had to break off to go and shoot a sequence of the Downsizers burning an object that they had brought with them that represented what they thought of themselves.

This burning was to signify that their old selves was now gone and that they were now new people with new strategies to deal with life.

It was a bit of a frustrating day because for various reasons there were lots of changes, most impracticable at best that Daybreak in London wanted to make to the way that tomorrow’s programme would be put together.

A bit before the sun started it’s very quick descent to below the horizon on the hotel’s slightly windy beach we set up for the little shoot.

Setting up on the beach in front of the "Atlantis the Palm Dubai".

Get the fire started..'s going now.

The evenings are still slightly chilly for Emma, Faith and Elise.

The light from the flickering flames dancing across the guys faces

as the light faded from the sky and the hotel’s lights came on looked very atmospheric.

After that Simon and I hot footed it back to a very dark and slightly eerie water park to check that the camera cables that the hotel guys had put in were working correctly.

The upper part of the Leap of Faith.

The rigging continues well after dark.

The hotel from the top of the Leap of Faith.

When that was done there was time to have a late dinner.

Maria the hotel PR lady had arranged for us to eat in another one of the hotel’s very good restaurants, called the shore.

Needless to say really it specialised in seafood. It was getting to the stage in the week when after getting a maximum of four to five hours sleep food somehow becomes a substitute for sleep.

This was quite a substitute, but nothing beats the real thing and none of us were going to get that tonight because as has become the pattern for the week I would have to be up early to shoot Mark and Elise waking up the Downsizers to take them on a bit of a dawn workout.

Lobster Thermidor. Very nice.

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