Two of my flatmates and I gave up sleeping in on a Sunday morning to attend television training for the Smoke TV club at the University of Westminster. At 10 a.m. on a dreary London morning, we all felt a little groggy and annoyed while participating in icebreakers for the first two hours, followed by another two hours of lecture on “Videocameras 101.” One coffee and a lunch break later, we finally got to the good stuff.
All eyes are were on me. The lights were all set up. I took a deep breath, hoping it’d calm my nerves. Removing my coat, I stretched a little bit. I looked at the camera to check if the teleprompter was working. With the microphone in hand, I stood on the marked spot. I was ready, I thought.
“Five, four, three, two, one,” the cameraman signaled me to start.
I said the words on the teleprompter, enunciating my consonants and slowing down my speech. Sliding through the sentences, I felt confident and excited to tell the news. When I said the last line, and it was all over, the other students clapped for my performance.
I hadn’t presented the news in years, not since high school, so I was very proud of myself. Other students tried their hand presenting the news, as well. We all were very nervous at first but enjoyed the experience in the end. I felt everybody’s excitement to present the news again later on in the semester.
Inside the Newsroom
We also had the chance to take on various behind-the-camera roles while producing a panel show. There were producers, directors, stage managers, production assistants, vision mixers, scriptwriters, runners, etc. I was a runner, basically someone who assists the entire crew with anything that needs doing. They’re known to go on coffee runs, but luckily I didn’t have to do that.
While the producers, directors, scriptwriters, and vision mixers were in the control room, I stayed in the studio with the camera operators, floor manager, auto-cue, and anchormen. My favorite part was communicating with the control room through a headset; I felt like a control center woman at NASA. The energy in the room was incredible once we got closer to air. Students were rushing in and out of the control room. Managers started directing cameras. And sound managers started doing last-minute sound checks.
We had a few glitches over the teleprompter. But other than that, we produced a great show—pretty incredible for a group of students that had never been in a newsroom before. After the show, we headed over to our final assignment of the day.
Lights, Camera, Action
Grabbing a camera kit and a tripod, a group of us shuffled to my flat to film. Our team had to create three short films that used certain themes, quotes, and objects. We selected what elements to include in our film by picking them out of a hat. Our objects were shoes. Our quotations included, “You’re a wizard, Harry,” and “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” And our themes were rodeo and horror. With these absurd combinations, so you can imagine how insane our shorts films were.
After setting up the tripod, the white balance, noise levels, and microphone, we started shooting. Our clips turned out to be very bad, but very funny—especially the clip when Harry throws a shoe at Hagrid after he says, “You’re a wizard, Harry.” This exercise helped us to get really creative and learn how to use the camera. Plus, we viewed each group’s clips afterwards, which made for some great laughs.
I hope to do some remote location reporting this year for Smoke TV. I also signed up to be a scriptwriter for the news. I’ll keep you posted on my broadcasts.
Photo by Rocky Barbanica