This is what my opening to the New Year looked like…
This is the ‘run-down’; a list of what’s going to happen in the next hour of programming. The above image is the midnight hour from the 31st December 2011 going into the 1st January 2012.
Breaking it down, it meant we’d be on-air without the fancy spinning identifying logo like we’d normally do at the Top Of The Hour. There were several channels ‘opting in’, which means for example that the Sky1 channel took the exact output from Sky News for a certain duration, eg from 2359 till 0002, etc. The presenter would talk up to a certain time before letting the other channels opt in, then we’d announce that Big Ben was about to strike midnight. At that point all studio mics are taken off the air and the natural sound of the bongs and the crowds are turned up…
And from there on in, the Director watches all the feeds of the fireworks from various camera feeds around the UK and tells the Vision Mixer to put a Live locator for each one and jumps between them. For about 15 minutes till the fireworks finish.
And for the next 6 hours that I worked, we played an entire section of each firework display from around the world over and over again!
The “Mills X” and “Matthews X” aren’t kisses, by the way! They mean a live cross to talk to a reporter. In this case Rhiannon Mills was down the Embankment in London and James Matthews was on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
New Year at Sky News was the longest day of my life. I started one shift at 1330 to Vision Mix the show till 1900. I then grabbed an hour or so of sleep before starting another shift at 2300 to Direct overnight, which then finished at 0600 on New Years Day. Not to be defeated I stayed to Vision Mix the Sunrise shift 0600 to 1000. Three shifts in 24hrs. It was a killer. And I must add that all of those shifts went without horrific mistakes or on-air problems. Yes, I was a bit delirious when I got to bed but I slept like a baby!
As crazy as double and treble shifts might sound, for someone who only a few months ago went freelance it was an opportunity not to be missed; several shifts at DOUBLE freelance pay. The back-breaker was the fact that three of these shifts were all within 24hrs.
Some may see this as greed, and I can relate to that if I was going out and just blowing the cash on junk. But I wasn’t. Being new to freelancing it was an opportunity to earn an amount of cash to set aside for when the freelance work doesn’t become available. This period of crazy work allowed me to build that protection into the ‘company’ and stop me from having money problems.
As much as a 3-week holiday from work sounded fun, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Big Brother village…
Pre-production for “Celebrity Big Brother 2012” started for the Directors on 12th December 2011. It was immediately obvious that the design crews and Task Team had been working hard since the previous series finished. The Big Brother house had a dramatic make-over.
Code words were being thrown around as to who the ‘celebrities’ would be who were going in, but as usual the Executive Producers were very good at keeping the secrets in (as they should). Who wants the surprises to be spoilt?
New cameras were installed, new wide-angle lenses were fitted and the ‘rail cam’ in the garden was given a better lens for coverage. The bedroom was redesigned, the garden was given a make-over, the kitchen was modified for better camera coverage. All in all it looked stunning on the gallery monitors. All we needed were some people in there to test it out…