Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Cable Guy

Pulling CableGod knows it ain't sexy, but 'pullin' cable' is an integral part of the live TV news experience. See, our fancy-cams cannot go live by osmosis alone. They must be tethered to a nearby truck by a hefty audio/video cable. It's simple enough science, but it continues to baffle Hollywood's finest filmmakers. Just ask any photog and they'll reel off several key movie scenes in which the heroic news crew transmits live(!) from the prison cell/protest/ocean floor without the benefit of the aforementioned cord. Man, that really chaps our ass! Seems those cinematographers would grasp the whole concept of plugging things in, but apparently not. That's a drag, as wrestling with the spaghetti is as much a part of the photog life as and scanner traffic and lunch in the car. In fact if they ever held a TV news Olympics, one of the main competitions would have to involve man-hauling 500 feet of undulating cordage up a fire escape while a hysterical producer screamed for a shot in your earpiece. Call it the fifty yard cable run. I call it Tuesday.

The Big KnotBut what a Tuesday. By the break of dawn, Joe McCloskey and I had yanked every bit of cable out of the sat truck, hooked it to the back of my camera and waded into the crush of delusional singer-songwriters. That sufficed for awhile, with Shannon Smith going live every few minutes with yet another warbling homegirl. About that time, the American Idol producers decided it was just too damn hot to pull off their jib shot of the glittery masses. 'Everyone Inside!', they bellowed and before Joe and I could properly curse, every damn one of our warm props had fled into the bowels of the Georgia Dome. Only crickets and crumpled water bottles remained - not the kind of backdrop my bosses wanted to see behind their willowy morning reporter. So we did what any sweaty crew would do: we gathered up our gear and followed the crowd inside - but not before pulling, wrapping and tugging all 500 feet of live truck ligature up, across and into the house that Michael Vick used to play in.

Cable BlazeNinety minutes later I emerged, ears wringing, shoulder screaming - but happy the morning news was finally over. That's when I spotted him. Bent at the waist and muttering under his breath, the young WAGA employee jerked repeatedly at what had to be the ugliest cable knot I'd ever seen. With a lump in my gut I offered to help, but the young truck operator only stared back with hollow eyes, like a returning soldier clutching one dangling, severed arm. 'How the hell did that much cable become so entangled?', I wondered to myself. I've seen plates of noodles with less twists and turns. But all I could do was watch in mock horror as the dude searched for an end to the madness. He didn't find it. Instead he called over his colleague - a most stylin' photog by the name of 'Blaze' (really!). Together they stood over the grisly snarl and spoke in pops and clicks. Not knowing what to do, I grabbed my camera and took a few snapshots. However extreme, their corded conundrum was a fine example of the many off-screen intricacies faced by the average photog. The viewer never sees it and nor should they have to. But that doesn't stop us poor saps from unraveling mundanity long after the director has punched to black. Hell, as far as I know, those two guys are still out there...


Johnny D in Miami said...

I'm loving your updates from the Idol Trail!

Keep them coming! You make a cable snarl even seem interesting!

Great pics too!

Jay said...

I have a solution to your cable mess;) My website will show you the end to your nightmarish, unnecessary,
sometimes uncontrollable entanglement
Here is the link:
Any feeback is most appreciated:)
FYI: I can make them any color you want. They have (FR) in the material for fire prevention. Thanks...

My Email: