Saturday, April 17, 2010

Queen of All Media

We here at the Lenslinger Institute have enjoyed Peggy Phillip's web presence for years, so when she strolled up on on the convention floor Monday, Weaver fired up the looking glass. (Adam even wandered by and snapped a photo before stumbling off toward the Steadicam tent.) Why all the fuss? Peggy's a TV News blogging pioneer and a nice lady to boot. Plus, the newsroom she runs calls its staffers Multi-Media Journalists or MMJ''s. That's a rather unsavory sobriquet in most cameras circles, where many an old school photog wishes the world would begin spinning the other way. It ain't. So while we cling to this heartless orb, let's listen to the lady herself, as Peggy Phillips tells us what color the sky is in her world. Hit it, Weave...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jokers Eleven

Team Slinger Street TeamOkay, so we're not the Rat Pack - but the motley photogs who joined me in Vegas have a swagger all their own. It's a loping, cocksure stride forged in heavy glass and crippled sticks. You'll find sexier beasts wandering Sin City, but few pedestrians are quite so street as the battered souls who call themselves Team 'Slinger. We are TV stevedores and our every step is tempered my decades of deadline met. Alright, so mostly we're suburban Dads with questionable backs and creaky knees, but the vagaries of the chase have left us inured to this glittering desert scab, for a career spent bent over a lens won't put too many chips in your pocket, but it will lengthen that thousand yard stare - which comes in damn handy when fending off the absurdities of The Strip. Now let's meet the players:

Anyone who's read this blog more than twice knows I have a deep abiding dependence on one Chris Weaver. What they probably don't know is that we knew each other well before El Ocho or that our Mamas live about a mile apart. That would make us partners from the start - which is just how we approach our little Vegas jaunts. Whereas I'm full of lofty notions and ten dollar words, Weaver possesses the street level sense to get us to the airport on time. That kind of common sense comes in handy - whether you're trying to make a flight or convince a race car driver to take your camera for a ride. Here Weaver can be seen tweaking a JVC for maximum time space continuum sensitivity, solely because I told him it couldn't be done. A good man to have in a scrap -- or anywhere else...

Attention: Should I choke on poker chips or comp tickets, this is the one man who can continue Viewfinder BLUES. Rick Portier (Miss Jackson if you're nasty) may call himself Turdpolisher, but he's selling himself short. Shooter, writer, philosopher; this Louisiana lenslinger is all that and more. Honestly, I shouldn't like the guy so much - as he's a lot like me. But his caustic wit and expansive hand motions win me over every time, 'cause I'm just a sucker for folks deeper than they first appear. Lately, he's even been gracing local airwaves with his stubbly mug and no one's thrown themselves off any tall buildings yet. Oh - ask about his theories on how monkeys and midgets can save local news, but buy a round of cocktails first: it's a lengthy pitch.

Adam 1Far less familiar to readers is our next operative: a man known only as Adam K. I first met him ages ago - when he called himself 'NewsHawk', chased traffic accidents for a daily wage and regularly slept in his self-appointed news car. But don't let the lumbering facade fool you. There's not a lens he can't manipulate, an edit session he can't improve or a free buffet he cannot lessen. There's only one problem: He's a shadowy cat. Five minutes into the world's largest electronic media show and we all but lost him. That's just how he rolls, I guess, set at his own indecipherable speed, receiving phantom updates only he can hear. I just hope he's careful. A man that dangerous could end up dumped in the desert - or worse yet - babysitting a city council meeting...

But more on that later.

The King and I

Some seek out Elvis when they get to Vegas; I make a beeline for one Kevin Johnson. There I bask in the mellifluous baritone of the founder. We talk shop, hoist a few highballs, maybe close out with a song. Invariably, someone strikes up a lens and before you know it the whole damn thing is documented. So press the PLAY thingie above for more insider TV tech talk than you can probably stomach and know that no photogs were harmed in the making of this tape...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Slingover

The Slingover
There's still tons to come in Team 'Slinger's smotherage of NAB 2010, but tell me: you ever buried a friend in the desert? Legal-wise, I can't say that I have - though the above photo sure makes it look that way. What can I tell ya? Gather enough TV News shooters on the edge of Vegas and something untoward is bound to happen. What exactly did I'll keep to myself, but rest assured this incriminating shot will all be explained in an upcoming video. In the meantime, I have to unpack, decompress and hope a certain rock-pile doesn't get discovered before I can establish a proper alibi. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go Photoshop someone else's head onto my shoulders - lest the authorities round me up before dawn and the Greater Piedmont Googolplex is deprived of yet another frothy, feel-good feature piece. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

B-Roll Bash 2010

Sure, we talk about going to the National Association of Broadcaster's electronic media show for all the new technology, but the real reason we fly to Vegas every couple of years is the B-Roll Bash. Why? It's a good time. founder Kevin Johnson goes out of his way to put on a spread: free beer, finger food, complimentary vendor trinkets ... did I mention free beer? Still, it take more than hops and barley to drag me to this synthesized oasis. It takes people. And the people who attend the b-roll bash are kindred spirits. sure, there mostly TV news photographers who speak in light temperatures and body bags, but one can't choose who they naturally identify with, can one? Don't answer that; just know that for a guy who spends way too much time hunched over a keyboard alone, it's downright revelatory to meet who folks who actually read his drivel... There I go speaking in the third person again. Hell, if anyone should refer to themselves that way, it's a couple of gentlemen I had the pleasure of clinking glasses with last night.

First is Les Rose: the CBS News legend known for lensing Steve Hartman's brilliant 'Everybody Has A Story' pieces. Beyond that, Les is also known for his work with the Poynter Institute and university work. He is, in my line of work, a rock star. Not only that, he's a heck of a nice guy. Both times that I've met him, he's made a point to say he reads my stuff; an admission that quite honestly makes my head spin. If the Les Roses of the world can stomach the contents of my lowly blog, I must be doing something right. It's that quiet knowledge that will help keep me sane the next time I'm trapped at a ribbon cutting, or stuffed in the front seat of a police car with a viewfinder in my face.

Secondly is Al Tompkins. If you work in TV News, you most probably know who he is. If you work in TV News and don't know who he is, you are a fool. A senior guru at The Poynter Institute, his "Al's Morning Meeting" is read by more than 20,000 people a day - most of whom aren't nearly as clever as him. There's a reason his book, "Aim For The Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters," which is used by more than 70 universities as their main broadcast writing textbook. It's unadulterated wisdom: the kind of thing every young TV journalist should commit to memory. I did - a long time ago.

Both Al and Les were generous with their time last night. It's probably no secret I'm frustrated with where my writing is and isn't taking me and together both of these legendary figures plied me with praise, sound advice and the ocasional chicken wing. Thanks, gentlemen. If I fail to achieve my literary goals, it won't be your fault. Sure, I'd sacrifice a limb for a peek at your collective Rolodex - but by granting me a moment or ten of your time, I can leave Vegas with both arms and legs - provided I stay out of the casinos.

Monday, April 12, 2010

NAB in 3-D!

I have seen the future of television news and it is 3-D! Okay, so I can't think of a single reason why you'd want to watch your local newscaster in three dimensions, but if the National Association of Broadcaster's Show is any indication, you soon won't have much a choice. Every other booth here at the world's largest electronic media show requires those doofy glasses...3-D cameras, 3-D sets, I'm pretty sure I even saw a 3-D weather hotie hurling frontal systems and shout-outs from on high... It's all alarmingly easy to mare fun of - until you don the oversized specs - and then I have to admit: it's pretty freakin' cool. It's the kindof thing you have to see to appreciate and no amount of my purple prose can do it justice. But enough about gratuitous gimmicks; let's talk about the show...

The Las Vegas Convention Center is currently packed to the rafters with satellite trucks, high-end editing suites and enough snotty Europeans to fill a thousand Diehard villain casting calls. Throw in an army of plaid-shirted engineers, several dozen silent spokesmodels and smarmy sales weasels of every stripe for a clearer picture of the mob Team 'Slinger has been fighting for oxygen inside this cavernous space. Much of the technology I've seen is beyond my grasp, but I can tell you this: if ever you wanted to buy a gleaming fleet of sat vans, add to your collection of levitating monopods or just feast your eyes on endless Jumbotrons bristling with masturbatory graphics, then Vegas is the place for you this week. Now let's meet the stars!

More than every before, my ad-hoc coverage of the annual NAB Show is a team effort. Chris Weaver, Adam Krolfifer and Rick Portier are roaming the floor with me: shooting video, snapping photos and haranguing rival camera crews. This despite the fact we're all suffering from three hours sleep, residual whiskey and altered time zone hallucinations! Whatsmore, we've already ran into several featured players. founder Kevin Johnson stopped by to play tee-vee with us, resulting in some goofy videos that I'll probably regret when I fully sober up. Amanda Emily has also joined our troop, providing additional camera coverage and technical support - provided we promised never to point a lens her way. News Director Peggy Phillips even consented to an interview and made us all feel better about being photogs. i even received a personal phone call from El Ocho ex-pat Council Bradshaw, who promised to rendezvous with us once he left his private jet. And the best part: we're just getting started!

I just a couple of hours we'll travel to the Harley-Davidson Cafe for the B-roll Bash for shop talk, fellowship and more hair of the dog that bit us. It's a hangover in the making! So while I go shave my eyelids in preparation for tonight's festivities, peruse these photos, watch this video and know that much, much more is on the way...

Alas, it will only be in 2-D. Sorry - budgetary constraints, don't ya know...