Monday, August 25, 2008

Piece of-- Hey, What's the Opposite of Cake?

It's not that I'm out of ideas. Oh, man, far from it.

My muse (or what I like to call, the voices in my head) have definitely not settled down. No, they're screaming writing ideas at me constantly. With so much less "newsie" action and adventure landing in front of me, after four years it's kind of difficult to judge how much of the daily routine the news junkies reading this thing still want to hear.

By the way, since I'm just kind of rambling tonight, I'm going to throw in a few random shots of Reporter Sharon Tay. Pretend it's sweeps. I was way too busy on the night that I worked with her to actually snap a few new pictures.

You might have noticed, I've been back in the field more in the past several weeks than I have for most of this year and you can bet, I'm pretty happy about that.

It's not like I haven't had any excitement. On a recent night when I was actually working with Sharon Tay, I needed to establish a microwave link to the station.

Piece of cake.

That's how we go live. That's what we do every day. The only slight little problem, we were in an area that's notorious for being a difficult hit by microwave.

Off the 101 Freeway in the City of Agoura Hills, we were working on a story that brought some closure to the family of a couple who had been killed by a hit and run driver 16 years ago.

We drove out, shot the interview and then I started looking for a likely spot to park the microwave truck for the liveshot. No rush, no worries, plenty of time to get the job done.

Just another day at the office.

Rats, I couldn't hit from the first location. We didn't have the elevation to clear the hills surrounding us. They don't call it Agoura Hills for nothing. No worries. I dropped the mast, hopped in and drove to a "better" spot.

Microwave signals used in TV news are line of sight. We have to be able to "see" the reciever that typically sits on top of a tower on a mountain peak and we have several around Southern California.

I whistle while I work. It takes more than a little time to raise and lower the mast and after you factor in the drive, well, I had chewed up a good chunk of my "plenty of time" very quickly and now the phone was ringing.

Folks at the station were getting nervous.

Keep in mind, it's night. I can't see the past the hills, but that doesn't mean I don't have a clear shot. I drive a few miles to a likely spot, but I'm quickly frustrated by the lack of available street parking.

Gee, this isn't going well.

I pop the mast as quickly as the compressors let me and dial into our technical operations center. It takes a few minutes to make the attempt, but son of a-- well, let's just say, they still don't see me.

I'm rushing now and I usually work pretty fast, but it's normally at my own pace. Now I'm crashing and I have to hustle if i want to make slot.

Pack it in and drive. The margin for error is over and I've still got to get a signal set up, camera and lights, and we have to edit the packag. The only way to insure we can hit is to drive even further and set up in a location that I've gone live from before.

My hands are a little sweaty as I spin the dish. We're in a shopping center parking lot. I don't want to jinx it by sayng, the third time's a charm, but we manage to link in. Most nights, that's the simplest part of the evening.

I throw a tripod and the live bag out in front of the truck and cable everything up. Did I mention lights? Yeah, not when we're crashing. The light on the camera is going to have do it for this liveshot.

We cut a quick piece. The station has to drop some video in that was shot at the scene of the accident by another photographer and--

We're floated. They bump us to later in the show.

The package is finally ready and they take us for a live hit. We feed back tags for the later show and take a deep breath.

It wasn't the end of the world and I'm not sure if the people at home could tell the difference in the story, but I know what it feels like to try your best and win. This wasn't a win.

The best I can say is that we got the story on TV.

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1 comment:

turdpolisher said...

sometimes that's all you can hope for. get 'em tomorrow.