Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Monday Meme... No 2. Satellite Truck Sells Ice Cream Scandal.

There is nothing more delightful for a TV News Cameraman than to wind up the nearest satellite truck engineer. Mostly being of a cheerful, good hearted and of balanced mind, they can be found inhabiting the darkest reaches of large white vans with stuff sticking from the top.
Usually found fiddling with wires and soldering irons, they are also known to sell ice creams from the side door of their satellite truck as an extra means of income. Feel free to ask them for a choc ice at any time. 
So here is your Monday Meme, with a view to you printing it out and gaffer taping it to your nearest satellite truck. ( Preferably when they are not there, if you value your life ).

Go on... Ask for a choc ice. I dare you...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

We Promise Not To Snigger...

I have often said that my job enables me to meet all kinds of people, from the richest to the poorest and from the famous, powerful and influential to the unknown. I have however, neglected to inform you all of a small minority of people that inhabit the same spaces we all live in... The stupid.

TV News Cameramen discover that the man burned his own house to the ground, after a petrol storage and cigarette combination causes devastation.

They are amongst us. The man or woman sitting next to you may be one of them, and when they strike, it becomes the duty of a TV News Cameraman to film the aftermath for the news watching populace.

Following an online conversation i had with various lens wielding reprobates, i was given a list of news items that were actually filmed for the TV News. These examples are by no means isolated... Remember, these people inhabit the same streets as us. ( Thanks to Bob Palmer for the headlines ).

1. House destroyed by fire after resident attempts an 'indoor BBQ'

2. Hit and run driver identified by imprint of licence plate on victims chest.

3. After purchasing his fourth Mercedes, a school official is jailed for embezzlement.

4. Residents unhappy following Police order to evacuate submerged homes.

These were actual news stories remember, they have not been made up. It is amazing sometimes just how some people have made it through life as far as they have already. Isn't it obvious that lighting a BBQ... INDOORS... is going to leave a few scorch marks..? Apparently not.

Got an average job with an average wage..? AND 4 MERCEDES..? The boys in blue, and your workmates are going to be just a little suspicious of your disposable income streams. And following your capture, arrest and court appearance, one of us may just point a TV camera at you and tell the nation of your stupidity... We promise not to snigger.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

If any of you who have just read the above post have any more headlines like the ones above, please leave a comment, we would love to see them and share. Thanks.

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Monday Meme... No 1. TV News Cameraman Realises Horrible Truth.

OK boys and girls, a new thing to brighten up your Mondays. I will try and post a new one for you every Monday morning(ish) work permitting.
If you fancy making your own TV or Cameraman related Memes, i would be delighted to see them, with a view to posting them here. Make your Meme and send it to me at the following address:

ukcameraman (at) me (dot) com

Alternatively, send them to me on Twitter @ukcameraman

Here's the first one for you...

ukcameraman says...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Big Budget Business...

Now you may think that as a TV News cameraman, the only time i start to panic at the Chancellor of the Exchequer getting to his feet to announce just how deep in the shit we all are, is when he raises the price of strong booze, cigarettes and cheesy puffs... (We cannot go back to the 1970's boom and bust era of the great cheese puff shortages, resulting in a 3 day crisp week)

Now, although this is true, i also start to panic because as we are in the news business, and we have to explain the ins and outs of the budget speech to the general public as to just how we are being robbed blind. This, as we know, can be a difficult task, and very difficult to film.

Sausages, consumed by TV News Cameramen have increased, in real terms, by 98.4 percent, resulting in a fiscal drag of 49.2 percent on Bacon products...

Apparently, Public sector net debt will be 75.9% of GDP this year – then 79.2%, 82.6%, 85.1%, and 85.6% in the following years. The deficit is now expected to fall to 6.8% next year and 5.9% in 2014-15, and then to 5% (2015-16), 3.4% (2016-17) and 2.2% (2017-18)....

STAY AWAKE..!! This is for your own bloody good y'know. See how hard it is..? Try explaining that to Mrs Miggins as she shovels fish fingers down her kids at tea time.

Anyway, my task was to film the reaction to this fiscal information overload by attending a post budget breakfast meeting of top local businessmen and women. You will be glad to learn that i indulged in deep level research of the fiscal stimulus packages, that required me to eat a full English breakfast of bacon, sausage and eggs, with tea or coffee... and croissants with jam. Oh, and the toast.

Now you can't say i don't try my hardest to bring you the news by sacrificing my normal healthy breakfast of porridge with salt and sea grass smoothie. I also had to sit next to an accountant... If that's not dedication to bringing you the news, i don't know what is.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.


Friday, 15 March 2013

The Immortal Cameramen...

Beware the Burwood Brothers... Simon and Luke. Any freelance cameraman in the South of England will know them and should fear their presence. They are everywhere. Turn up at any press conference, news gathering or media event and they are not there..? Fear not... One of them will be along in a minute, for they seem to work for every broadcaster there is.

Don't let the smiles fool you... Oh no... there's another one behind me isn't there..?

It's not very often that you find these two in the same room at the same time. When it does happen, things can get a little... Conspiratorial. You just get the feeling that you are being assessed for future assimilation into the Burwood broadcasting dynasty. You see, I think they are interchangeable... I also think they have an underground lair (Or possibly a garage) where they plug in to recharge, swap heads and to build new Burwood cameramen from the likes of me who are kidnapped, broken up and used for spare parts... They seem to be forever working.

I bumped into them yesterday, or they were following me, i don't know which... (I think they are after my right eye for spares) They circled my camera position, and my conspiracy theories kicked in. The knowing winks to each other, the whispering behind you followed by a quick glance in your direction, but maybe i am just paranoid.

When one of them speaks to you, you get a gut feeling that it is a distraction tactic, whilst the other is behind you, fiddling with your camera settings, loosening your tripod leg, stealing your cheese and pickle sandwiches... and measuring up your right leg.

Mostly, they are to be encountered one at a time. Then you can relax... you can keep an eye on one at a time. One Burwood Brother is a piece of cake, but the two of them together induces a fear that i cannot explain.

Has your sound switch mysteriously changed from Mic to line input..? Or has your white balance gone from warm orangey glow to harsh bright blue..? I can't prove anything, and i'm not saying anything for fear of being abducted on returning to my truck. But there's a niggling feeling that you just can't shake off.

In all honesty, they are the nicest, most approachable and helpful lens luggers i have encountered over the years, who will lend you a piece of kit if yours goes tits up, give you tips here and there... and will only give you one dig in the ribs in a press scrum instead of two... that sort of thing.

But beware, even though i jest about these two, there lurks an evil triplet in the form of Hong Dan... a Burwood Broadcast cameraman and soundman ninja, who will unexpectedly appear out of nowhere to give you the heebie jeebies. I think he is their bodyguard, who will initiate righteous vengeance and furious anger on anyone who disrespects the Brothers Burwood. I also think he is the genius who runs the Burwood cameraman spare parts department... Although i could be very wrong about all this.

But I fear for my very life...

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Barbie's Broadcast TV Meltdown.

So it would seem that everyone is getting in on the act. No sooner had i posted an article on the study of media and boy band hair, the following picture appeared online, courtesy of Maz Poynter...

Having graduated with a degree in Journalism (with distinction) Barbies life went into total and utter meltdown.

 In between poolside parties, trips to the shops and the tanning salon, Barbie has found the time to study journalism and how to work a TV Camera. I Know..! Who would have thought it could have been that simple..?

I for one was intrigued at how her fledgling TV journalistic career has gone thus far, so i rang the TV station she is currently working for. My un-named contact revealed that Barbie has not managed to cover London Fashion Week, The BAFTA's or any red carpet events as she imagined she would have been, seeing as she was Barbie and all. The Prima-Donna tantrums were famous and were something to behold.

Instead her News Editor and senior producers have sent her on various local news stories including, but not limited to, a dog theft in Surrey, a crack house murder in Portsmouth and a sewage overflow disaster in downtown Lewisham. Apparently Barbie has started smoking and drinking heavily. The Barbie all over tan has faded, bags have appeared under the eyes and her hair is a mess following her daily 15 hour shifts and sleeping in TV Live trucks on location. The sleeping pills apparently are not helping. On her wages, she can no longer afford to go shopping.

On one particular rain lashed evening, following a local court case, Barbie was robbed of her camera kit whilst trying to VJ the story on her own. She cannot look another hoodie in the face without bursting into tears.

To top it all, following Barbies rapid descent into the lowly paid, unglamourous shift system of local TV news, her boyfriend Ken, who was on the same journalism course, is on a six figure salary at Channel 4 News and is tipped to be the New York Correspondent. Barbie is in deep misery and the drinking has got worse. But she is happy for him, hoping he will take her with him to New York.

He is also shagging the new unpaid intern. The rotten bastard. Poor Poor Barbie.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I'm Only Human.

Being a TV News Cameraman, I am meant to tell stories through the medium of video, to be honest, fair, sometimes dispassionate and always non partisan in politics. Just tell the truth as best I can. To do this I deal with real people, flesh and bone.

24 Hour care...

 Many times I have invaded people's lives, gone into their homes and opened up their private lives to the news watching public. It takes a great deal of courage sometimes for them to open up in front of my camera and to tell it like it is.

Mostly, I take it in my stride. Stick a story to tape, make pleasantries and say your goodbyes at the end. Move on to the next story, forget the past.

Sometimes though, it sticks with you. A story too close to home maybe, the hurt and the anger of witnessing an injustice in someone else's lives. Strangers lives. Strangers who tell you of their disability, sickness, lives turned upside down when health fails them. Normal lives lost, 24 hour caring, missed sleep and hospital visits. The coping, the crying, the pills and the pain.

Although they are strangers, I know them. I know them only too well.

When the system kicks them, it kicks them in the teeth. Hard. A computerised, dispassionate and money saving system that categorises, lists, formulates and decides with very little human intervention.

They try to fight it, to be recognised and counted. The system slows them down. More paperwork, emails, letters, Proof. Prove to the system that you warrant it's help, it's money, it's generosity.

This time, after my reporter had left to file the story, I stayed a while. We talked. I gave whatever knowledge of the system I had from hard fought experience. I told her to not only to care for her husband, but to care for herself.

I've never done this on a story before... We hugged.

We said our goodbyes. There is a long fight ahead. I wish them well.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.

Friday, 1 March 2013

New TV Tech At BVE2013... Or... Whatty-What-What..?

Seeing as the Broadcast Video Expo (BVE2013) had rolled into town, it would seem logical that as a TV News Cameraman i should haul myself into our nations fine capital city to feast my eyes on the latest and shiniest of broadcasting gadgetry. Cutting edge, up to the minute and all digital. As the blurb might have said:

'The all new SonyCaniKon F-22ex-K... Real time, digital matrix iChip at 5 times Hi-Res optical performance with incorporated light to sharpness ratios, IPTV interpolation boards for superior streaming capabilities...'

Cutting edge cameras... Boxy and buttony.

 Crikey, that's a new one. Or how about...

'The link provides an HD-SDI feed, reverse composite video plus bi-directional RS874 and TD-X199 data for full control of the bidirectional linear control, audio and video signals into packet based IP protocols.' 

'4K Super fast X-RXChips with i-can superior digital interface (With Inter-lockable PXV-Ipr499 compatability) solid state storage solution (SSSS-iP5001 Workflow Systems) for the next broadcast generation...'

Err... Whatty-What-What..? Fuck me... that's me up to speed on the newest of technology in the broadcasting sector then. I began to wonder, whatever happened to a camera, a lens and a tape on a shelf..?

Ice blue LED's flickered on the newest of solid state cameras with no moving parts. Buttons flashed on shiny black boxes with Terra-Bytes of storage. A myriad of solutions tempted me to utilise this software or that hardware, with the promise of a faster, leaner and sharper digital workflow.

Super thin monitors as light as a feather, batteries with enough oomph to power an Apollo Mission, lights with controls to illuminate a small box or the Albert Hall, and microphones that can pick up a gnats fart at 30 paces. Impressive stuff.

Digital Matrix Storage Solutions... What could be simpler..?

I admit that as a News Cameraman, i felt a little lost. I updated a lot of kit last year to High Definition, which i expect to last me for around 8 to 10 years. From what i saw and from what i see in the industry from day to day, my kit may not last me another 8 to 10 weeks before becoming the equivalent of a box brownie. That's not to say that i didn't like what i saw. If money were no object, i would have spent a great deal, and my wife would have left me.

I quite fancied the humungous camera crane that was the size of a small house, or the brilliantly addictive heli-cams with eight rotors. So, with no money to spend i did what most TV News Cameramen the world over do best...

I interfaced and ingested a Hop infused liquid via a Hi-Res, solid state glass hardware solution system into my organic analog matrix with a view to doubling my 3D pixel count.**

**Warning: May cause audio and mainframe control chip problems.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter