By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
TV technical people are the unsung heroes of coverage–“first in and last out.” I heard that tag not from anyone in the industry, but from a teacher I met in one of our early-morning features.
While confined to Metro Manila, the many live points of one TV station covering the biggest event of 6 years have to share the same limited reserved space with other stations and other media.
A big deference, of course, to broadcast–them with their OB (outside broadcast) vans, satellites, microwave dishes, scaffolds, lights, cameras, cables, computers, PAs, and staff.
And for an event scheduled for 10 a.m., our live teams were in place at the Quirino Grandstand, Malacañan Palace, Times Street, and Quezon Memorial Circle as early as midnight of June 30–President Benigno Aquino III’s inaugural day.
This inauguration marks my first entry to the presidential palace. Our team spent the previous day waiting to park, getting permits, and then drawing lots with reps from Channels 4, 5, and 7 for setup space.
You don’t easily set up in Malacañan. You go through layers of coordination with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM). A third of that is done from the office, a third via phone, and a third on-site.
Only one live camera per network reporter is allowed inside the Malacañan driveway. All the stations’ vans need to hook up to RTVM, the sole team with cameras inside.
Anyone who watched the President’s historic walk up the Palace staircase live saw the same shot, regardless of the channel.
Hookups are the game at Malacañan and the Grandstand, site of the action. To improvise, the networks deftly switch in their own shots to the pooled video: a cutaway of VIPs here, random crowd shots there, and a better angle, if any.
RTVM gave the main inaugural sits, and ABS-CBN provided the only aerial footage of the presidential convoy subscribed by other channels. TV5 switched in live ground video of the convoy shot from their crew cab.
All those hours, I was stuck inside our ENG van at the Malacañan New Executive Building, watching it all on multiple screens.
My MacBook Pro recorded our transmissions from the RTVM feed. Three Internet windows displayed the online telecasts of ANC, TV5, and GMA 7. The van’s monitor played Channel 2. And #inaugural tweets filled the rest of my desktop.
You couldn’t leave history for one bit.
Once the newly-sworn in President returned, Malacañan buzzed with activity until 7 p.m.: the arrival honors, the first cabinet meeting, the first presscon, and the first vin d’honneur.
We were feeding our cameramen’s video during lulls. I was editing them by 6 p.m. for the live reports of Willard Cheng and Ron Gagalac on the renewed TV Patrol.
We were still feeding video after the newscast, and capped off feeding our reporters’ voiceovers for Bandila. Only then did our 21-hour duty end.
And so the polo barong required at the Palace grounds which I, along with the group, was forced to buy at SM the night before, was never worn.
Oh well, a Twitter friend consoled me, there’s President Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address on July 26.