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Old March 17th, 2003, 03:22 AM   #1
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Location: Newcastle, Tyne/Wear
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My first broadcast piece

Hi all

Saturday was a big day for me.

I've been a TV journalist for five years, but I've always been accompanied on jobs by a crew consisting of camera and sound operator. This time, I had to do it all myself with a PD150.

I followed a peace marcher for the day. I met up with her at her home before breakfast, then stayed with her throughout her jourey to the city and the march itself, shooting and talking to her along the way.

To avoid overshooting, I forced myself to take only two 32' DVCam tapes, and ended up with 50' of rushes. I was afraid I'd done the wrong thing; as a novice, I'm tempted to shoot anything and everything. But as Bill Angstrom pointed out here, it's good discipline and helps in the edit.

I cut the piece on Saturday afternoon/evening on Avid Xpress DV. I'd been given two minutes by my producer, and after numerous editorial passes of the timeline it came in at 2'11." For the top, I cut a sequence using CUs of the most vocal marchers, applied a mild grain filter, and stripped out most of the chroma to try and get a stylised film look. The sequence was slo-mo'd, and silent, but I used the opening verse of "Fiddle and the Drum" by Joni Mitchell.

Using a DVC is so very different from going out with a Beta crew. I was able to get right into the thick of things, and try and deliver a feeling to the viewer of what it was like to be there.

The finished piece was shown on the Politics Show on BBC1 on Sunday, and I don't mind admitting I was very proud!


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Old March 17th, 2003, 05:58 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
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That sounded really interesting. I'm afraid I missed it.

Is there any way that you could put it on the internet for others to see?

I like the technique about restricting yourself with the tapes. I always tend to over-shoot, I might try that technique.

All the best,

Ed Smith
Ed Smith
Hampshire, UK

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Old March 17th, 2003, 09:16 AM   #3
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I like that tape technique too. I was at a martial arts tournament all weekend (about 10 hours total) to shoot a 5 minute documentary piece, and took one 60 minute tape with me. There is 5 minutes left on the tape, and I have great footage. If I had taken 4 tapes, I'd have 4 hours of footage.
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Old March 17th, 2003, 09:49 AM   #4
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Hello Damian, and congratulations on your "first" broadcast piece. I can understand your pride in your accomplishment, but I wonder what the crew you work with was doing while you were working as a "one man band?" Were they sitting home wondering what's to become of their jobs when they hand out the cameras to all the reporters? Is the BBC offering your camera operator and sound tech the opportunity to do their own on-camera pieces, thereby eliminating a journalist? One man's cause for celebration is another's portent of unemplyment and living on the dole. I hope you will do everything you can to support those who have worked so hard for you and the BBC to insure their jobs and the welfare of their families.

Certainly change is inevitable, and will create some hardships, along with opportunities. Robotic cameras have eliminated studio jobs in news rooms. And with the use of the small format cameras, more journalists will be shooting their own pieces, in some cases against their wishes. Actually, it will become a requirement of employment as some companies will make the "one man band" their SOP as a means of lowering operating costs. In most markets, the two man crew has already been cut to a single operator/sound person as a cost reduction measure.

I am sure you are a very fine fellow, Damian, and I in no way want to rain on your parade, but just to give everyone a moment's pause to consider some of the ramifications of the onward rush of technology. Truth being, the vast majority won't give a damn about a few more folks out of work. People who work in broadcast news are used to bricks being hurled at them, literally and figuratively.

And hopefully, Damian, you have a bit more respect for the people who operate the cameras and record the sound day in and day out for a living.

If it was easy, they'd get a relative to do it.
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Old March 17th, 2003, 10:16 AM   #5
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Hello Wayne

I'd like to sincerely thank you for such an excellent post. You are obviously a very thoughtful and wise man, and I take my hat off to you, sir.

I can't speak for other organisations, but as far as my own is concerned, there's no question of single-person operating ever taking the place of "conventional" crewing arrangements. It's only suitable for certain subjects and stories, where there's a need for intimacy or close access (the peace march being a good example.)

No-one is being, or will be, forced to take up this new approach if they don't want to do it. The training is available to staff from across the board, not just journalists; I trained alongside VT editors, camera operators and other technical people as well as reporters.

This new approach is, as you say, driven by the availability of cheap new technology which can deliver broadcast quality. But it's not to be seen as a replacement; it's another tool in the box, to be used alongside traditional methods of making television, and not the emperor's new clothes. You could argue with a straight face that it represents a democratisation of television, enabling far more people to create original work which will see airtime, rather than the just the privileged few as has long been the case.

Having worked with award-winning crews for a long time, I already have great respect for what they do. But you're dead right - trying to do it for yourself makes you realise just how skilled they really are.

All the best

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