23 September, 2010

On (the) telly

Yesterday I spent mostly trying to stay out of shot, and trying to keep my shadow out of shot, too.

My placement at the BBC has been organised by a presenter who doesn't do much science news, but who's been the contact for a while in organising the BBC placements. In previous years someone was attached directly to TV news and spent about 3 weeks trailing him which though interesting, wasn't massively productive - it just takes so long to learn how to do telly that you can't actually make anything in that time. But watching a couple of interviews in a day is not such a bad idea.

We were seeing two authors for a Meet the Author segment, one at lunchtime and one in the afternoon. Of course we got off to a bad start with traffic, though I have no real idea what London traffic "should" be like to drive in. The cameraman/producer wasn't really sure why I was there, though he seemed impressed and surprised that I would be writing stories that actually get on the website, and that were on non-psychology stories.

Filming was actually pretty efficient, which is really interesting to know - I can imagine it being really tempting to film hours and hours for a 5 minute segment, when really, doing it two or three times and then re-doing the bits you aren't sure about is more efficient - certainly, there will be less editing.

What I really had not realised was how much setup there can possibly be for a filming session. It's not like radio, where the most you have to do is get people to turn off the air conditioning and their mobile phones*. Apart from moving the furniture, the cameras are incredibly heavy, time-consuming to set up, and take up loads of space, and then there are the lights... and like the old-fashioned data projectors, you have to let them cool down before you leave the room. It's been a revelation.

I wasn't much use to the whole enterprise of course, though apparently they had a sound failure recently and the cameraman didn't have his headphones on, so I was In Charge of headphones. And I do have a reasonable memory for conversations, so recapped what exactly had been the questions asked so the interviewer could run them through again. Apparently I should have been given a "real" producer's job and then would have been taking notes on them - which would have been fine - if I get another chance to go out filming, I may see if I can be a bit more useful.

*which I have learned to my cost, though thankfully only on recordings made for note-taking purposes, when I discovered how much interference a phone can cause to a digital recording.

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