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...