Tonight I sat in an edit suite in Broadcast Centre and watched the One Show being put together, live and on-the-fly. Writing up my notes on the way home, especially after a beer, I’m afraid I am liable to gush.
As I mentioned when I visited the studio last week, it’s a half-hour show, and the preparation beforehand is pretty intense. Tonight: Sir David Attenborough. In the edit suite in the minutes before the show does live there are regular update on how many minutes to go. As the news finishes the audio is turned up and the edit suite drops into a different gear.
The room is dominated by an impressive control desk facing 38 monitors. One shows the autocue (someone sat just behind me was editing the text on the fly when necessary); another shows graphics (“Viz”), which were overlaid onto the screen, needing to be counted in and out; two monitors showing 4-way split screens (including ‘The Rivals, showing what else is on air right now); another three monitors displaying three possible outside broadcast feeds (not used tonight); four monitors showing taped VT (VT = ‘videotape’, but of course they’re actually spooled from hard disks); five monitors showing the five different cameras in the studio (including a lovely swoopy wide-angle job) and, despite about ten being blank and unused this evening, many more.
The suite is pictured in the photo above (not taken by me. It appears in Ciaran’s recent post on the One Show Backstage blog.
Camera operators are referred to by both their name or their number. So I heard instructions like
- “Four, give me Hardeep”
- “Give me a three-shot, Richard”
and so on.
At one point, 5 minutes before the end of the show, during the pre-filmed VT segment about the Highland Clearances, the editor asked the guy sitting next to him something like “doesn’t McCain have Scottish blood?”. It was a question he couldn’t answer of the top of his head, so he dashed to a computer and brought back a whispered answer to the editor just in time for him to pass his tip on to one of the presenters. Seconds later, as the taped segment comes to an end and the studio is once again live, Adrian Chiles chips in to the conversation with Hardeep, “McCain is of Scots descent…”, to which Hardeep responds to a (IMHO) rather weak joke about oven chips, but never mind. The point is that it went from an idea in the editors head to conversational point in a presenter’s mouth on live TV in the space of a few seconds.
After the show was over, Sir David stuck around for a short interview for the website, based on questions submitted as comments on the blog. He talked about user generated content and spoke charmingly about dragons. A consummate professional, and a lovely man. The video is now online here).
Once again, I feel very glad to be working in television. Especially that weird and relatively small bit of television that handles how we engage people as participants (rather than just viewers) online. Ciaran, and the others behind the scenes at the One Show are carefully giving a very broad audience something more than just 30 minutes of live telly. They’ve providing an opportunity for a conversation.