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...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Live Truck Stress Edit

In this, the latest in a series of unflattering photographs, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger shaves minutes off his life while furiously editing in the back of a TV news live truck. Note the tense finger position, the slack jawed anguish, the overly-hairy forearms...Wait a minute! How’d my DAD get in this picture?

No, on second thought it IS me - looking quite a bit older than I did when I started in this silly business. But maybe that’s because of all the stress-laden edit sessions I’ve endured over the years. In the film industry, editors gather around their computers and suffer over every frame. When they’re in doubt they call in the director and his coterie of latte-swilling assistants to discuss at length the proposed cuts and how they may affect the overall picture.

Not so in TV news. Quite regularly, we photog/editor/stevedores have less than an hour to pound out our product. While we all pride ourselves on our editing acumen, finely tweaked sequences and seat-of-the-pants pacing often takes a backseat to making deadline. That’s not to say we don’t care about our work ; our dedication to our craft is downright pathological at times. But when you’re racing the clock on your third minute-fifteen report of the day, intensive editorial procedures can quickly devolve into meatball surgery.

Especially in a live truck. Through the wonders of modern technology, we can park a rolling edit suite just about anywhere, from the icy overpass to the sweltering train wreck to the heated city council meeting. All this gadgetry allows the modern news crew to turn a finished piece LIVE(!) from the scene, but not before a photog squeezes into the back and gives birth to his masterpiece of the moment. It ain’t always an easy delivery. Countless are the times I’ve shrieked in fury while slicing and dicing in one of these rolling billboards. Be it finicky equipment, arctic air/sweltering heat, or a well-meaning den mother with sixteen curious nine year olds who ‘just wants to watch the TV people work’ -- there are perils to Live Truck Editing just not found back at the studio.

But alas, TV stations continue to purchase Live Trucks and outfit them with the latest in laptop editing. That’s all well and good, but as someone who regularly holds up in one of these top-heavy monstrosities, I gotta say - it ain’t the only way to fly. I’d much prefer putting my piece together back at the shop, where the air conditioning works, the snack machine is a few steps away, and a flock of fellow photogs is around to offer advice, question my techniques and let fly the occasional spitball. Still, TV news is greatly enamored with live shots and I know I have plenty in my future. As always I’ll give the next impromptu field report my finest effort, but I do reserve the right to gripe and moan once in awhile.

Oh, before I leave you - there is one scenario worse than editing in a remotely perched live truck: doing it in a moving one. While we try to avoid it, there are time when deadlines and distance force us shooters to chop tape while the reporter drives to the next location, It may not sound so bad, but until you’ve reeled through images on a small monitor just inches from your face while hurtling backwards at sixty miles an hour, you haven’t lived. It’s enough to make a seasoned jet pilot toss his cookies - or a veteran TV goob bitch about it on his blog. I'm not sure which one is worse...

10 comments:

Fecund Stench said...

I've always preferred virtual vomit to the real thing.

Rob said...

If it's cathartic enough, bitch on, bitch on! The everday joe t.v. viewer wouldn't know an OK edit job from one done on the back of your rolling, mobile studio. (I suspect)...myself included!
BUT, knowing it's not all done in the tricked out edit suite back at the station opens my eyes, if just a bit.

Smitty said...

Come on, Stew.

We all love working out of live trucks. It's OK to admit it. Seriously. There are some days it's better working out in the field versus back at the news base. But you're right. They are few and far between.. With the convenience of A/C.. Tasty beverages.. Yummy snacks.. And toilet paper.

Bitch on, brother. Great post!

ewink said...

This is my favorite post to date.

It's cool how you turn such a mundane task like editing into something exciting. lol...

Josh Newton (Anton Saur) said...

Almost made me miss working in Live 1....almost.

Weaver said...

I remember the time I made a chatty mouth reporter of mine ride in the back and look at tape while I drove us to our next location. That afternoon she spewed her guts all over the newsroom. Turned out to be food poisoning from lunch however. She was out for a couple of days.

Chicago Dog said...

Rather than repeat EWink's praise, I'll say, "Rather than repeat..." and leave it at that.

This is one of the few chances I've had to read through your blog, and what an entry to come back to! It's uplifting, to say the least, to see another group of shooters enjoying this line of work and not treating it as "just another job."

I've edited at sixty miles an hour backwards before, feverishly slappin' tapes into machines and poundin' buttons on decks.

Unfortunately, most of the roads within a mile of our station are built with bricks.

I credit my "learning to juggle as a teenage grocery store produce clerk" days for my deft ability to handle the tapes in the last few minutes of drive-time.

Rad said...

What are the legalities and safety concerns of editing in a moving Live Van? Most vans are set up so the seatbelt does not work with the seat facing the rear. What would OSHA have to say about this? Has anyone looked into that? Think about all the wrecks you’ve covered in your career, what would be the outcome of the driver hit, or some else hit you, while you are unbelted in the rear seat? Just a something to think about.

jon said...

While searching for new portable air conditioner info for my house I stumbled onto your blog. I totally agree!

Paul

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