Archive for October 19th, 2007

October 19, 2007

The eyes of the beholder

It was a long and tiring day today but one of the most satisfying ones I have had in a while. We finally made the transition to a virtual news set and the difference for the newscasts was amazing. The entire staff was grinning from ear to ear as they left work this evening at the end of our 7:30 newscast.

I was the news producer today in addition to doing the usual interview thing. For some reason we were overflowing with news today ( 17 local stories) which was confusing enough and I spent much of the day running up and down stairs to Tony’s office, the control room to look at the set being fine tuned and checking on the progress of the editors. As the news started it was one of those adrenaline moments as I wondered if my lead story was going to make it on time as I heard the switcher shouting “it’s comiing in, it’s coming,it’s coming, it’s here!”…time left to go? One second. This happens a lot with late stories and it is always agony standing there and complete ecstasy when the clip makes it in time. The few times when it does not usually results in my going slightly ballistic.  Then our set came up in all its virtual glory and I felt I was in that Disney movie with the bluebird on my shoulder.

For the few that don’t know,a virtual set, as the name implies , is completely created in computer software . The news anchor sits in an all green ( in our case) studio with specially set-up lighting and  chroma key ( or colour-separation overlay as it is called in Britain) is used to superimpose whatever computer generated image of a studio we want. The effect can be seen in the picture at the top of this page. As you can see by keying out the green we are able to put Melissa in a virtual set complete with a CGI desk, with a CGI glass of water on it complete with a reflection of the images from the virtual screen in the virtual water. I think of it as a video version of Photoshop™ combined with a really advanced playstation™. Best of all, despite a few hiccups more related to too many stories and some switching glitches our newscast suddenly looks better than any other in Trinidad. The excitement and sheer joy of the staff was palpable. None of this would have happened had Tony not pulled out all the stops, spent a lot of money, completely rebuilt our existing news studio, and literally sweated moving stuff around along with the ieTV and Video Associates staff. We may be a small family-style company but to my mind that is precisely what makes us better. We have something the other stations lack – loyalty and a sense of belonging to a small unit of people that can make things happen.

The world is full of opinion and there is currently a blog that looks at Trinidad media and makes criticisms and commendations about various stations. The blogger seems to be happy hiding behind the veil of anonymity but has no problem making very personal remarks about individuals in our local media houses. I have no problem with expressing opinions as I am doing so myself right now but I do not do so from behind a digital screen. That smacks of cowardice. I have not personally been the victim of any criticism or praise but my station has been mentioned many times…some complimentary and some critical. The most recent mention asked why we have the same reporter’s voices all the time ( though omitting at least two of our reporters on the invisible bloggers list). Ummmm …we are a smaller station with fewer but higher quality reporters who are capable of doing more than one or two stories a day. Also, as part of being a smaller station we often send out a cameraman alone and a reporter looks over the video and writes and voices the story when the video comes back.Why people insist on judging a smaller and more nimble station by the standards of a larger one I will never know. The fact is, and it is supported by ample evidence from the movers and shakers who watch us, we put on a good newscast that has more local stories than any of our competitors…without exception. The local cable system went down this week for an hour impinging on the first few minutes of our news and we were deluged with phone calls. People have many choices in this country and many of them choose our news over the others to the point they will call us to complain rather than just switching. I fielded several calls myself and at least 3 viewers said they would rather watch static on Channel 1 than switch. Happily we came back on a few minutes later.

In other news, I am still waiting for the Mondeo to come back….it has been buffed and polished…but 4 days on it has not been re-tinted and there is still the minor problem of the side mirrors. One retracts as intended and the other goes in an opposing direction which was not the case before I sent her for the body job. The bush mechanic/ body person I paid seems a bit challenged on the matter…thankfully I still have the company vehicle with its manual transmission…I still feel like a lesbian…note to self…Vern invest in some Birkenstocks™.