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, 13 June 2012

It should have been so easy!

Wednesday 13th June

Rav had a late night checking out the locations for the morning.  He encountered quite few problems, logistical, technical and bureaucratic. The logistical and technical ones were impossible to solve. The bureaucratic ones were only solvable one way. That way was with cash.

In the end we had agreement to use the area above the fan’s park in the centre of the city as the live location for the camera and permission to park the satellite truck on the pavement across the road.

We left the hotel nice and early to get in position and set up to do the technically simple broadcasts.

The view from our location
Keith's truck from our camera position

My camera in the foreground
This morning’s broadcasts should have been the easiest since we started Daybreak’s Euro 2012 coverage. It ended up being the most stressful.

The first problem was that the satellite dish gave Keith the same problem as yesterday. Our nice early arrival meant that he had plenty of time to sort it out.

The gremlins must have been unhappy with him getting things working so quickly because they decided to screw up the talkback, just to give him something to do.

I prepared an alternative option so that we were in a go mode for the beginning of the programme.

The next annoying little thing was that when I was rigging my tripod I noticed that it had received a whack at some point on the journey from Donetsk to Kiev resulting in the brake for the tilt action not working.

I would not be able to leave the camera on the tripod without standing beside it for fear of it tipping either backwards or forwards.

Not a major problem but a pain in the arse.

The damage to the tripod
Next on the list of hiccups was another technical one. Tiffany and could sometimes not hear James the Director when he called on the programme talkback. I was able to hear him on the gallery talkback, which was a bit of  help because I could relay any messages to Tiffany.

It ended being just another minor problem because he did not speak to us very often.

Unknown to us as we were rigging was another bigger problem looming on the horizon.

Rav had been doing battle, aided by Arthur our local Kiev fixer and translator, with the police.

The road that we were overlooking was about to be closed at some point to allow the Ukrainian president’s car to pass by on his way to the office.

What this meant for us was that we could not have the camera where we were and the satellite truck could not have any equipment visible.

The police wanted us to move immediately which would have jeopardised the morning’s broadcasts.

Rav pulled out all of his negotiating expertise and managed to get them to allow us to stay for a while longer and get the bulk of the broadcasts done.

Just as a safety net Tiffany recorded a broadcast that could be played out if we ended up not being able to go live.

The gremlins then hopped to London to screw that up for us too. When the technical guys in the recording area went to check that the piece we had sent had recorded was OK they found that it was not. Somewhere between it being recorded onto the Daybreak server system and being played back the sound track had gained some tone, which made it unusable.

It was not possible to record a second take.

At the time Rav had agreed we came away from our location, Keith stacked all his kit in the truck but left the satellite transmitting so that we could get back and be ready to do the next planned live as quickly as possible.

Police getting into position
We were sat waiting in a yet to open café below the location, the waitress fussing around us as she cleaned and set the tables up for the day.

The time was getting very close to the time of the news bulletin. There had been no sign of any posh cars with flashing lights going past.

Arthur asked the police if they had any update on when the cars would pass. He was told no and it was not a guarantee that he would pass this way. Other roads had been closed to give the cars options on the route that they could use.

We then made the decision to risk annoying the police and go back to a position not quite where we were to do the final broadcast.

It was gremlin playtime again. Everything was set up to work perfectly, but Keith could not see any picture or hear any sound coming from my camera.

We heard Lucy the newsreader back in London starting to talk about he problems last night between the Russian and Polish fans. It was clear from what she was saying in the script that they would not come to us and I could hear no mention of us over gallery talkback.

We checked again that all the right buttons had been pressed, the correct connectors were in the correct holes and all the lights that should have been on were on. It was a bit of a mystery as to why the truck was not receiving anything.

There was no time to test everything again we had to de-rig and move.

The president eventually did go past
Feeling more than a bit jaded from the hassle and stress of the morning we headed back to the hotel.

Rav went off to make some phone calls to sort out what we might be doing tomorrow. Tiffany went into the hotel’s restaurant to grab some breakfast before it was cleared away.

We ate the tinned fruit, drank the tepid tea and talked about the morning whist being serenaded by a sound track of U2 songs which were given the same treatment the Spanish Inquisition gave their victims, a slow painful tortuous death.

In the afternoon we went out on the hunt for fans and locations for tomorrow and Friday morning.

There were of course the phone calls from London to deal with now that the WAGs were on their way out to Krakow.

It was than that we really know that the hotel we had stayed in during our time there was a good one. It is the one that Colleen Rooney with Wayne's son Kai and a few of the other WAGs will be staying in.

The city had been taken over by Euro 2012.

Biggest of the many stages in the Fan Zone..
..biggest of he big screens..
..they were all over the place..
.. like satellite tucks, our little ITN one beside a big Italian RAI one in Independence Square
A bit more blending perhaps?
A little something for the boys
In the midst of all the madness some get a chance to be alone
The day was rounded off nicely when Arthur took us to a restaurant where we enjoyed some Borscht soup and wild boar.

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