Live from Lanao, Day 5
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, MISAMIS ORIENTAL–After we successfully transmitted our story for TV Patrol World just as the headlines rolled last night, reporter Jeff Canoy tweeted:
It’s been a month since we field producers at ABS-CBN News switched to non-linear video editing. We’ve already hurdled a historic election coverage with our new touchscreen switchers and MacBook laptops.
I’m still trying to speed up my editing. My batting average for a 2-minute voiceover package, so far, is 30 minutes.
Not bad considering it would take an hour for me to finish it via tape.
Plus, we can now add elements we formerly relegated to the editors at base: video transitions, face blurs, stills, and close ups.
And so that’s how we raced against Patrol these past 4 days in Lanao. Jeff’s stories were always lined up in the first gap, and we would feed the piece minutes before or seconds into the show.
Even then, some things never fail to come up.
On the day of the special elections, Jeff and I decided to play our package live rather than feed it so it could land in the first five stories. We finished by 6:30 and quickly had the audio and video checked by the Patrol studio.
Everything was okay. “Stand by!” the coordinator in Manila shouted at us over the phone.
I dragged the cursor to rewind. We held our breaths. My finger was over the space bar, and we waited at least 5 minutes more.
When I heard “I-play mo na!” I did. The Lanao team, the studio, the Philippines, and the world were stunned to hear none of Jeff’s voice. And I was shocked to see nothing peak on my laptop’s audio meter.
Studio cut us and told us to play it again. It was fine! But when we played it live seconds later, our video went silent again.
We had to feed it and saw our top story air three anchors and three gaps later.
Frustrating that the only time the package lost audio was during Patrol. I finally traced the problem to a rather shallow reason–how I cued the start of the video.
My teammates just told me to charge it to experience. Jeff was fine with it. Things happen, he said. He was amused by how the Twitterverse reacted too rapidly to it.
To be safe last night, we again fed our final Lanao report to the studio.
Such is a common affair in broadcast news, whatever technology is in use. You deal with equipment that could fail any time, receive material that could take long to convert, follow stories that would unfold by deadline, get back edited write-ups too late.
There are always second chances in this business. Another lesson learned out of town.
Having a “bigatin” team for this second big assignment thankfully beats any on-air “sabit.”
We beat a different deadline last June 1 to reach our flight from Manila after a lost key and padlocks delayed my team’s departure from the station.
We’re now waiting for our plane back in Cagayan de Oro’s Lumbia airport two hours before it arrives. Definitely, it’s always better to be safe.