As I arrived at the Golf Club of Estrella in Goodyear, Arizona, I was full of excitement because I knew that today would be an eventful day with Crew West. MLB baseball player Tim Raines was being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, so our job today was to shoot a live interview of Tim Raines for the MLB Network. I had the opportunity to understand the full particulars of this process from experienced professionals; Andy Patterson (camera), Doug Podkowsky (audio) and Mike Tomas (satellite truck). Over the course of my journalism career thus far, I’ve witnessed numerous interviews occur on camera. However, I’ve never seen what it takes to make a satellite live shot happen. The team today had an incredible work ethic to create an admirable setting with prime lighting. The camera was positioned accordingly to get the shot that was needed. As the time for the live interview got closer, we did our audio and lip-sync checks on the producer line (PL) and the IFB (interruptible foldback) line to ensure that our audio and video signals would run smoothly. Once all the checks were completed we waited for our guest to arrive. Before we knew it, Tim Raines walked in with his agent and family members. I put on my headset to listen to the producer line, and I watched the process of a live interview happen while I was “behind the scenes.” This was an experience that I will never forget.
-written by ASU intern Delaney Wood
While covering wildfires in the west and south sections of Arizona, ENG crews battle thick smoke and an extreme lack of sleep. I found it amazing that the firefighters could work so hard with less sleep then we had. Our ENG crews working for NBC, ABC, and CBS would get up at 1:00am so they could be on site by 2:00am and live at 4:00am. Yeah, 4:00am Arizona time for a 7:00am morning show hit EST. The Wallow Fire was in the northeast part of Arizona and the Monument was in the south. The Las Conchas Fire is the fire we are currently working near Los Alamos, NM.
The press is allowed in the evacuated town of Los Alamos with a proper press ID. That’s a little tricky with my sat truck operator (from Peak Uplink) who didn’t have an NBC Network ID. We had to talk his way in or no Today Show live hit. After some scrutiny the officer relented as most police were very accommodating to the press. Also very accommodating were the residents and shop owners. One restaurant turned out hundreds of meals to the firefighters. They had a welcome sign to firefighters and the press to come in and get free food. My audio tech, Matt Radlauer, and I went in to get something and ended up helping load a hundred or more meals into trucks for the fire crews. The restaurant folks looked tired after that, so we didn’t bother them and headed to a pizza joint by our hotel.
As the summer continues, Crew West ENG crews prepare for the MLB All Star game that will be held in downtown Phoenix July of 2011. We look forward to a busy July providing services for all of the major networks including ESPN, MLB, and Fox.
-Jim Farrell, President
Being an audio technician, the most vital trait or characteristic to have is knowing your field mixer bag inside and out. Field audio techinicians are thrown into different situations every day from breaking news of the Tucson shooting to news of the day for ESPN. So, knowing your mixer bag is imperative while out in the field as things spring up or audio gremlins appear. After a year of true work, I completely disassembled my bag and made the most of the space within the bag, but stocked it with the gear I figured out I needed the most in the field. A great way to look at what audio technicians need in their mixer bag is to go through past call sheets or invoices and recall the shoot. Remember what situation you entered into with that shoot and what challenges were present. If you start string together common challenges and/or difficulties from past shoot and one piece of equipment fixed those problems, its a good bet to have that item within your bag. Finally, no matter how hectic a shoot can be, do not let your bag get out of order. A free moment always presents itself and take that moment to put your mixer bag back in order. There is no excuse to give your producer or camera as to why you cant find something within your mixer bag. Its your bag, take ownership and make it yours.
- Crew West Audio Tech Doug Klausen