Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Question of Weaponry

New Cam StewDo pardon the vexed expression, but a most dreaded development has wiped the smirk from my fuzzy mug. You guessed it: they're taking my heavy glass. No, a quartet of horsemen didn't show up on my porch and rip the fancycam from my cold, dead hands - but a certain Brit did lay a new rig on my desk the other day and left me with a raging case of D.L.S. That's Diminished Lens Syndrome for those of you without tripods in your trunk. The symptoms are predicatable enough... initial unease at the idea of shrinkage, a false hope that smaller will somehow be better, the cruel realization that you're about to hit the streets with a molded plastic pea-shooter. Why it's enough to make an aging lenslinger pursue a second career - you know, something impervious to change like chimney sweeping, carpentry or cosmetic sales... Who am I kidding? I'll be shooting ribbon cuttings 'til they drag me away to the Old Photog's Home, but apparently I won't be doing so with a full-sized Sony in tow... Sigh.

You'd think a cameraman in his forties would welcome a lighter load. Not. So. See, those anchor-like growths on our shoulders are actually sleek, powerful weapons with incredible range, perfected ergonomics and a steadying heft. But it's not the size that matters. It's performance. What used to be accomplished with a subliminal pinkie twitch now requires the exploration of a few computer menus; dense parameter settings that are difficult to delve into when you're walking all one-eyed in front of a shackled crackhead. Throw in the tiniest of viewfinders along with a lowered lack of light tolerance and you have just two reasons why my new bazooka leaves me feeling less than protected. I guess the only thing I can be thankful is that The Suits didn't decide to outfit with honest to God baked-potato cams - those fist-sized abominations that shouldn't be aimed at anything bigger than a kindergarten graduation. Oh well, at least the Edit Bays aren't changing...

Final Cut SchmoExcept...they are. Final Cut Pro - that most exquisite format agnostic edit suite - is popping up in darkened rooms throughout El Ocho. I've hard to ignore their presence for weeks, preferring the comparatively simple Grass Valley system over the candy-colored hell that is an FCP keyboard. Today, however, I jumped on board and what shoudl have taken an hour took three. Good thing I had the time. Most days I don't. And therein lies the crux of my concern, for while Final Cut Pro is strikingly superior, it ain't exactly built for speed. And in News, speed is paramount. After all, this ain't a boutique. I need to be able to blow into a bay with the smell of house fire on me and lay the whole tragic smack down in under a few minutes. Will I be able to make such a deadline on a Mac with attitude? Eventually, but not before a hundred frantic deadlines test my resistance to stress-induced cigarettes...

Now, don't me wrong. These days, new toys are a great problem to have and while I wouldn't have voted to change EVERYTHING at once, I know I can make potent television with just about any piece of equipment that works as advertised. So do me a favor: When I come back on here in six months and rave about the merits of all this new equipment, remind what a wiener I was at the very outset. Until then however, I reserve the right to be grumpy as Hell about it and document in triplicate how things were better when test patterns were hung out to dry. I am a photog, after all. I can wimp and simper in three different disciplines and still feel like a man - even when Weaver or Matt finds me openly weeping in a sequestered edit bay.

I just hope they won't post pictures...


turdpolisher said...

welcome to the club. you're gonna hate it . . . most of the time.

Rad said...

Yeah, I'm sending this to my supervisors... you nailed my thoughts about the baby rigs.

When Ruffin Poole (aid to Gov. Easley) was arrested by the feds, it was a BIG deal. We had tight steady video of him in cuffs, his face twisted in horror, metal braclets clasped in front.

The other stations had little handy-cams there, no glass, shooting so wide shakey you could tell who-was-who in the video.

The rig often matters.

Getawaymoments said...

I'm sorry.

I'm sure Mr. Hale is putting a smile on it, but we all know the arrival of the babycams is the end of TV photography in your shop.

again, my condolences.


Lenslinger said...

I don't know about THAT, LT. The new cameras aren't full-on baby-cams and under good conditions shoot pristine hi-def pictures. There's also a collection of shooters here that can and will find a way to adapt. A new era? Youbetcha. The end of TV photography at El Ocho? Not by a LONG shot.

Getawaymoments said...

I did not mean to be rude.
I'm sure the mighty 8 photogs will do what needs to get done.
I just think professional photographers should use professional tools. I use consumer gear everyday for stories if it helps me get great shots, but at the end of the day I have a real TV camera in my trunk.
I just worry that if a shop with a chief who is committed to great photography is loosing professional cameras we are all doomed. Setting manual iris, manual focus the ability to judge color temperature just by looking into a room .... all skills that
will die with babycams along with great local tv news.

I hope the cameras you got are good enough to let you do your


Lenslinger said...

"I hope the cameras you got are good enough to let you do your

That remains to be seen. I'm sure we'll be able to fill up the screen, but certain shots will vanish. Bda for the palette, yes - but primary colors will have to do I guess...

Amanda said...

If the newscast I dug up online that appears to date from when El Ocho was in the process of switching from newsfilm to ENG is any indication, WGHP's photography will survive.

(oh, beg Hale to buy those i-cuffs for y'all...I made my own ripoff...but they help with those dang tiny viewfinders and eyeglasses)

Jim said...

I cuffs are definitely a help. I can relate to the FCP experience. I once helped a government body set up a system to record meetings. THEY spec'd FCP. I told them, point blank, that, as far as I was concerned, apples were round things you put in pies, not computers. The supplier said no problem, they'd support and train.

They went bankrupt two days before the install was complete. I had to learn to run the darn thing WHILE recording a commission meeting.

Are they gonna get you a shoulder brace for the thing? A good one will help.

cyndy green said...

Smaller can be better...you will ease in and out of stories before they know you're there.

And yes, the short lens sucks. Maybe they'll come up with a doubler at some point.

Re: Final Cut. Just learn drag and drop...drag and drop. Figure out the rest later.