February 9th, 2005

Long road home

A day in the life

10:00 -- Get up and turn off alarm. Go back to bed and sleep until ...

12:45 -- Wake up, look at time on clock, roll over and go back to sleep.

13:00 -- Wake up, look at time on clock, roll over and go back to sleep.

13:37 -- Get up and start making breakfast. Feel very, very rested. Notice I have "2 missed calls" on my cell phone. Decide to eat breakfast and drink coffee before dealing with either of them.

14:35 -- Finish eating breakfast, drinking coffee, and just generally waking up. Messages are from my Mary Kay lady and my boss's assistant. We have a "Job Connection" to produce BEFORE the early evening shows.

15:15 -- Leave apartment to go start car.

15:20 -- Arrive at work, go inside, set bags down, take off coat. Make a phone call about reserving the conference room for a Mary Kay shindig next Thursday.

15:30 -- Talk to Joe about reserving the conference room. He gives me an OK. I call Cindy to tell her we got the green light.

15:30 - 15:45 -- Check work email, make notes in my calendar of upcoming meetings; realize that next week is going to be v-e-r-y busy. Various and sundry people poke their head in the door of Control C where I am doing this and ask me questions, and I give them answers.

15:50 -- Start to get set up for the live update which hits at 15:58.26.

15:59 -- Begin taping the update that hits around 16:56 or so. This takes a *LOT* longer than normal due to many different people making many different mistakes at many different times. First we had trouble with lower-third supers. Then Bill Steffen wasn't ready because I didn't tell him we were doing a re-cue. Then I blew out the skycam I was going to use when I routed VC34 into frame-sync 3, which I had been using for the skycam. Then more lower-third issues. *Finally*, we get the damn thing done. 52 takes later. Gotta love this business sometimes. What we go through to fill thirty seconds of time and space...

16:13 -- Begin our daily topical production, which consists of thirty- and ten-second promos for: Inside Edition and Access Hollywood, and two twenty-second promos for the Tony Danza show. This round of production goes smoothly and well, and we finish in less than five minutes.

16:18 -- I call up the rundown for the 5pm show to look at what live shots and animated maps we'll need. I also read some of the more interesting stories. The director, Tom (yes, the one who beat me on that one game of FreeCell) delivers a rundown for me to mark for the show.

16:27 -- Start to get the slightest bit nervous over whether or not we'll get this all-important Job Connection spot done. The audio op, Jason, and I haven't seen the guy who voices the spot, and time's a-wastin.

16:37 -- Finish marking my rundown. Jason and I both head out of the control room, I go looking for the voice announcer, he goes looking for the lady who requested the spot. On my way I spy the Deko operator and realize he needs to know about this production, so I call after him before he heads down the stairs and fill him in. Then I go to the audio booth. That's where I notice the sign says "vacant", and the Job Connection voicer request is still sitting in the bin. This is not good. It's twenty minutes before the start of an hour and a half worth of news shows and the guy who's supposed to voice the spot we're supposed to produce hasn't even been in yet!

16:42 -- The Deko op comes into Control C to inform me that he doesn't have two of the three logos we need for the spot, and since he doesn't usually build those graphics, he's not real sure where to find them. I inform him that the announcer hasn't even made an appearance to voice the spot and that the production is in jeopardy anyway. He says "Okay," and goes back to the Deko room.

16:50 -- The announcer walks into Control C with the minidisk in hand and says, "Here's the Job Connection spot..." and I have to tell him it's too late, we've run out of time to produce it. We both make kind of pained faces at each other, and then I reassure him that if he wasn't told of the urgency of this project not to worry about it. He seems slightly appeased by this information, but not completely convinced. I feel bad, because he's a real nice guy who had a serious run of bad luck last year, getting fired not once but twice. He's not a bad employee -- he works in radio, and anyone who knows anything about radio knows it's about the least stable job out there. He's got a fantastic voice, he's been in the business for years, but in 2004 and 2005 that doesn't matter if you work in radio. Although truthfully, it's been like that for over a decade that I know of, possibly longer.

17:00 -- At the touch of one button, I trigger an animation with music bed that opens an hour and a half worth of news shows. The Job Connection spot did not get produced. I spend less than two seconds wondering what's going to happen as a result of that.

17:30-ish -- Tom mentions that he was going to have me build a map-pull but forgot to ask me. So I lean over to the digital picture manipulator, and with a few swift keystrokes I have an effect built that flies the live shot -- Rachel Ruiz -- out of a red dot marking her location on one of our animated maps. It looks very cool. The AP crows with delight over it. To me it's no big deal, but apparently Tom, the AP and the producer liked it. So, I get to keep my job today!

18:28 -- The commercial break that runs right before the start of NBC Nightly News begins, and I start to get set up to record four-second IDs and another news topical before leaving for dinner break. Already I know tonight will not be like any other night around WOOD TV-8.

18:34 -- Topical production finishes, and I can put my coat on and jet out the door!

18:45 -- Arrive at downtown library to start doing the eFile of my taxes which I should have done today, had I gotten up more than two hours before I had to be to work! I am a little hungry but there's an energy bar at the bottom of my backpack so I don't worry too much about it. We don't have a heck of a lot of production to do tonight, so I'm not worried.

19:45 -- Leave library to head back to work.

19:50 -- Start to get set up for the live weather update on WOTV. Sit back and watch the end of Access Hollywood. Notice they're interviewing Debbie Gibson. Old pop stars never die; they just keep getting interviewed, and more whorish.

19:59.30 -- Red light goes on and we are live with a weather update from the inimitable Bill Steffen for the next thirty seconds.

20:00 -- Weather update over, Control C is clear, and the question is put to me: "Which Big Ten IDs do I need?" This from Jason, who has to edit the audio sent to him via email. I ask him if he needs a minute to download and edit them. He says, "Yeah, if we could pause for a bit, then I'll have these done in no time." No problem. I communicate as much to the rest of the crew, and we sit back for a few minutes. However, as time passes, more issues come up and more questions get asked. Turns out this Big Ten stuff is quite a bit more involved than I first realized. I watch as my opportunity to eat some real food gets pushed back at least 45 minutes. I sigh heavily and go on about my work. We get to enjoy some laughs listening to Jason edit the announcer, who has some silly moments that, unfortunately, the viewers sitting at home will never hear, and it's too bad, because it's really funny. You can tell the announcer (different guy from earlier) has fun voicing these spots.

20:13 -- I make the executive decision to scrap two of the Big Ten IDs we're supposed to do because we don't have logos for them.

20:23 -- We finish the other two IDs, and turn our attention to Job Connection.

20:31 -- Job Connection in the can, now we turn our attention to a much more daunting problem: UPN Prime spots. There's an assload of them, with special instructions, no less. Slowly we get some of them produced, but I make another executive decision to postpone production of a handful of them because the special instructions are not clear, leaving me to make a decision I realized was not mine to make.

20:42 -- Once again, my opportunity to eat food gets pushed back, as one of the news promo producers graces us with his presence to make a special request: could we record Craig James at 9pm instead of 9:15pm tonight? I tell him that is no problem, but could he go talk to Craig and give him a heads up about it? Kurtis said, "Sure," and away he went. I continued with our production.

20:45 -- Just as we finish production the 11pm show producer pops into Control C and asks me if I can help him out tonight, which is his way of saying, "I have a project for you." He wants specialized video for the show open -- no big deal there at all. He also wants me to fly a live shot out of a map again. I tell him I can do it, he seems satisfied, says, "Thank you so much!" and leaves.

20:47 -- I get a phone call from the Nightside Executive Producer. She wants to know if I can blur out someone's face on a video we have in-house. I tell her I'll do what I can.

20:52 -- We record Craig James. The other promo producer, Craig, comes in to Control C just as we finished to repeat what Kurtis told me earlier. I inform him that Kurtis preceded him and that he filled us in on what was going on, but I asked him what happened to the sheet we get every night that has the list of times on it that tells when our news and weather updates air on both stations? Apparently, one of the master control ops was giving him a hard time ... I don't know the whole story quite frankly, and Craig seemed really bothered by it, so I didn't press him for details. He explains to me what the game plan is for update production tonight, after which he goes away and I communicate what he told me to the rest of the crew. Production has been pushed up tonight -- which means, once again, my dinner has been pushed back. Since I really don't want to have a rushed dinner, I decide to bide my time by looking at the 11pm rundown.

20:53 -- The photog with the video that needs blurring out talks to me over the intercom. I set up the effect and discover immediately that what they're requesting is impossible with the equipment I have to use. I make a quick exit to ask Kurtis if he can do it on the non-linear editing equipment he's using to produce the news updates. He says he knows it's possible to do, but he doesn't know how to do it. I thank him and leave, and know in my heart I'm going to have to tell the EP we can't do it, which makes me feel bad. But oh well. If I can't do it, I can't do it.

20:55 -- I make the official announcement that this blurring project "ain't happenin'", and call the EP with the news. It is a brief phone call.

21:10 -- Craig the promo producer shuffles into Control C and makes the announcement, "Tom and Suzi are ready to record this..." I look up at the camera monitors. I look at camera 1, camera 2 and camera 3. I see the robotics operator, and the floor director, but I do not see Tom or Suzi. I tell the producer as much. He does not say anything for a beat or two, then says defensively, "Well, they should be in there, they were right behind me on the stairway." A few moments later Tom and Suzi appear and we move on.

21:20 -- We finish promo production and start recording Tom and Suzi's overnights.

21:30 -- We finish the overnights, get lottery and almanac and travel roll recorded. I begin work on the special video requested for the show open. I tell the Deko op I will need text from him, and then the tape op informs me he has video for the monitor. Not only that but he has three tapes, not two. Two of them are labeled "monitor video" and the third one is labeled "Doctor Accused breakout", which sounded like a squeezeback to me. I call the producer and explain the snafu we've run into; did I misunderstand what he wanted or did the editor misunderstand his request? The latter turns out to be true, we move on.

21:45 -- The show open video is in the can, next I have to call the producer back and find out if he needs a squeezeback. We go back and forth about it, he insists he sent the request up. In the middle of it all the Deko op realizes he did have a request for a squeezeback after all. We produce the squeezeback. I am really starting to get hungry now, although I can't help marvelling that I went as long as I did -- thank goodness for the energy bar with enough fiber to choke a horse!! But I want to have everything done so that when I sit down to eat I can be uninterrupted for at least 20 minutes, hopefully 30.

21:50 -- I start to make the map-pull effect. I finish making it and start to make a one-button-touch makro so I don't have to set up the effect manually during the show, because I know there won't be time. In the process of doing this I blow out another makro accidentally, curse myself for doing that -- more time before I can eat now, while I try to figure out how to bring it back -- successfully bring the blown-out makro back, but fail at trying to remember how to re-name it.

22:00 -- I am finally done with everything and can leave to go eat if I want, but I decide to just hang out for a bit, just in case someone comes along with something urgent for me to produce. I want to make sure the coast is clear so when I go eat I can disappear and not feel bad about it!

22:04 -- I am finally heading upstairs to sit down to eat! I get absorbed watching Law & Order, and as usual it's a good one. Okay, they're all good ones, but I know I won't get to see how this one ends, because after I finish eating I have to go back to the control room and mark my rundown, and give the makro I built a test-run, and check all the graphics we're using for the show: full-screens, over-the-shoulders, among other things.

22:37 -- I push open the door to the control room, all fed and dying to know how Law & Order is going to end, and ready to mark my run-down -- except I notice I don't have a run-down yet, which I note as being odd, I usually get a run-down before 22:30. Hm. I decide to settle in and catch as much of Law & Order as I can, so I plug in my headset and listen to off-air through the IFB station. A few minutes later, the robotics op appears and hands me a rundown. So much for Law & Order.

22:50 -- The director, Josh, enters the control room, and so does Jason. A few minutes after that the producer appears. Everyone seems to be in light spirits, and I say a little prayer that the makro I built for pulling the live shot out of the map works. Last week, for some reason the makro I built seemed to have an extra step built into it, and two nights in a row I was unable to execute the effect. It sucks when that happens, because everything happens so fast, and since it's live you can't exactly go back and "re-do" it ... it just doesn't work that way. The live shot looked okay; but not as kickass as it does when you pull it out of a map, especially an animated map.

23:33 -- The 11pm show ends, on Kalamazoo skycam no less! It's nice to have it back; it was out of commission for a couple weeks, along with a few other skycams of ours. We had slim pickins for weather shots, which kind of sucks considering we promote the hell out of the fact that we have so many of them to choose from, "more than any other West Michigan TV station". I am getting more kudos from the crew for the map-pull, too; it not only worked, but it looked really sweet! My boss, who was staying late to help out with the contest promotion on our other station, he even made a special trip to the control room after the show to give me a pat on the back. I could tell he was sincere, too, which was nice. I just acted like, eh, no big deal, but deep down I was positively glowing from all the praise. Getting a sincere compliment for live work from my boss is really saying something, because he is the nitpickingest person I've ever met. He is a stickler for perfection; so for him to come in and say, "That looked really good," means, even he couldn't find anything wrong with what you did! And with that I get ready to record the sports segment for the morning show.

23:38 -- Morning show sports segment in the can, finally, I am done, I am free to go home, but decide to sit down at the computer and document the day's activity for all posterity. Now that I'm done with this part of my day, I can go home and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow, although I'm thinking perhaps I will want to get up a bit earlier...
  • Current Music
    "If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again", Michael Nesmith