Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Anatomy of a Live Shot

I sometimes wonder if viewers even notice the LIVE bug in the corner of their TV screens. Even if they do, there’s no way a viewer on his couch can fathom the planning, anguish and occasional panic that goes into these remote broadcasts. Take Wednesday afternoon for example. Those who tuned in at 5:30 saw intrepid reporter Eric White strolling by a farmland fence - the perfect spot to introduce his scintillating report on increased fertilizer prices and what it means to you. What viewers didn’t see was the mad dash required to make that languid set-piece happen in the first place.

Fifteen minutes earlier, this quiet spot along Highway 62 became an instant broadcast studio when we pulled our lumbering live truck onto the shoulder and decided to make some television. Long enamored with the rolling farmland south of High Point, I knew the area would make the perfect pastoral backdrop for our report. Once safely off the road, I threw the switch to raise the mast. While it poked slowly upward, Eric and I scrambled like madmen - pulling cable, setting up equipment and trying not to step in the many piles of horse shit that pockmarked our temporary home. Motorists along Highway 62 must have gotten a chuckle at the two idiots running circles around the TV truck, one dressed in slacks and a tie, the other clad in a bad Hawaiian shirt. For us though, it’s just another day at the office.

By the time the mast had reached its full height of fifty-four feet, much of what needed to happen already had. The camera sat atop the tripod, a/v cables firmly attached and running back to the truck, where I stood flipping switches and punching buttons. A few yards away, Eric took his position in front of the camera and flashed his trademark thumbs-up. That Whitey’s a happy cat, and a real pro to boot. I, by nature, am no quite so chipper, but I find he brings me up more than I bring him down. Either way, I come out the winner, because who wants to be around a continual crab-ass in a job like this? Now back to our live shot…

Before I could grace the airwaves with Eric’s visage, I had to line up my shot. As I steered the transmitter dish atop the mast via an ancient toggle switch deep inside the truck, I tried the guess the direction of the station’s tower. I’ll spare you the science, mainly because it spared me. Let’s just say I’m one of those souls born without a sense of direction. I have a heightened sense of irony but it rarely comes in handy on live shots. Still I was fairly certain the tower and its receive dish lay just over those trees a mile or five away. No problem, a shot like that is the proverbial side of the barn that no one could miss. Or so I hoped.

In the end, it was less like hitting a barn in space and more like parking a golf cart by remote control while blind-folded and beaten my angry monkeys. That may be pouring it on a little thick, but when the only thing that stands in the way of you ending a very long day of labor, sweat and thought is this improbable ping-pong match...well for once words fail me. Let's just say its enough to make this aging slacker wish he hadn’t cheated on his Orienteering Merit Badge all those years ago. Now if you'll excuse me I have to check in for another day of misadventure...

7 comments:

HockeyPat said...

I have a heightened sense of irony but it rarely comes in handy on live shots.

LOL!
Me too, and it rarely comes in handy at my job as well.

Colonel Corn's Camera said...

Wow,Wow,Wow, your title really POPS now. Chris told me you guys were messing around with photoshop and the template. That's it. I'm going to the book store for a copy of "HTML for Dummies." I want a page as pretty as yours.

The Colonel

Marie said...

I love your 'shots behind the shot' running commentary. It helps me understand what you guys have to go through.

robot said...

Look up and Live

Weaver said...

You go with your HTML learnin' self!!!

Lenslinger said...

I couldn't have done it without you, Weave. After delving into your modifications, I got a bit carried away. Beats buying a copy of Photoshop, though...

Another Fed-up Photog said...

Don't you love the trucks where they thought it would be a good idea to place the antenna controller deep inside the van? WTF were they thinking?

Paul
KSWO-TV