I finally did a gig over in Vancouver! Barely a month before we’re due to leave. I’ve played the jam afternoons at the Yale blues club but this was a proper show.
Road trips cost about $1000 per week. That’s about ??600. You can do it a lot cheaper than that but you have to start thinking about camping/sleeping in the car/spending days doing nothing.
out to the Grand Canyon.
October has been quite a hectic month. As we landed back in Vancouver on Halloween, exhausted, I realised that, if everything turns out like you expect, then we would have no stories to tell and memories to remember.
Why can it be you???re always wrong in subjects we discuss?
And won???t admit that I am right unless I make a fuss,
And then your lapse of silence, and remaining taciturn,
Endorses what I???ve always thought,
You just don???t want to learn.
The Age of Chivalry by Win Sharman
Now years ago someone said,
The age of Chivalry was dead,
Since then it???s sometimes been exhumed,
But not for long as it was doomed,
Ever since a woman dared,
To air her views ???til she was heard.
We now have sex equality,
A dirty phrase if you???re a HE,
It started with the Women???s Lib,
And this is why the men all crib,
They do not want us in the pub,
And we???re not welcome in their club,
We???re loathed if we???re the boss at work,
Only they???re allowed to shirk,
We???re frowned at if we play their games,
They could be beaten by the dames,
We may prove better mountaineers,
Or not get stoned on seven beers,
Or we may score a hole-in-one,
Or drive the car and do a ton.
But there is one thing they???ll let us share,
Then chivalry they???ve lots to spare,
Need it even once be said?
They???ll welcome you to share their bed!
The final leg of the trip started in Jasper. After a trip to the glorious, postcard friendly Maligne Lake, the recent lack of showers – and running water in general – led to us taking a much needed trip to Miette Hot Springs on the edge of the park.
I left my last post having arrived in Calgary, or ‘Cowtown’ as it’s known. If there was ever any doubt that this is Canada’s cowboy country, you just have to look at the signs telling people where to walk to in the winter when it’s too cold to stay out on the streets.
Our recent trip to Telegraph Cove in Northern Vancouver Island has now been documented in video form…
So much has happened since my last blog post, it’s going to take a while to catch up. However, onward we go.
gears of the rental car. If I found it tricky to describe how beautiful the Kootenays are, then I stand no chance with the Rockies. Everything around you is stunning. Huge peaks tear towards the sky topped with snow, the wide valleys and rivers allow the mountains to stand back and display the vastness, water gushes down from glaciers, it takes all your effort to avoid crashing the car as you’re drawn to gawp at it all.
I’m writing this latest post whilst sitting outside the Vancouver Supreme Court, waiting for a jury to come to a decision. A past time of many news camera operators, court is THE most boring job. Luckily for me, there’s so much free wi-fi in Vancouver, I’ve not only been able to write this, but this morning I also watched a live stream of my beloved Hull City drag out a thoroughly dull 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest. 90 minutes well spent considering the situation.
For all you news camera geeks out there. Here’s my truck. Nissan Xterra Offroad. It’s a beast.
I’d always wondered how working in news over here would be compared to the BBC in the UK. The first thing you notice is how commercial the whole operation is. Viewers mean advertising revenues obviously, but the networks use the US model of tying advertising into news seamlessly. It’s sometimes difficult to know if you’re watching a news broadcast or an advert, as many advertisers cunningly use the news bulletin format as the basis for their commercials. Product placement and on air plugs are commonplace to the point of leading the agenda in some cases.
Another notable difference is the use of emergency services radio scanners. They are commonplace across all news networks here. Of course, news hacks in the UK would just call it ‘Ambulance chasing’ and they’d be right. However, as a colleague who frequently beats fire trucks to blazes told me, it makes for compelling visual story telling. Not only that, the viewers get to see the emergency services, on which they spend their taxes, doing their jobs and often doing them very well. When did you last see a policeman arrest someone on the news in Britain? Perhaps there would be more sympathy if we saw that side of the police than just the aftermath when something goes wrong?
The two networks I have had the fortune to work for couldn’t be more different. Global TV in British Columbia is broadcast from Burnaby (next to Vancouver) and gets in region of 1 million viewers. It’s the highest watched local news programme in Canada, akin to the BBC’s spotlight in the south west of England. CBC in Edmonton, however, is the polar opposite. The bulletins get between 5,000 and 10,000 viewers which is around 2% of the audience share. Bear in mind that the CBC is part funded by the taxpayer, you’d think that they would have the remit and resources to improve their share.
I have some theories as to why this is the case! If you don’t work in news feel free to skip this bit!
News in Canada is very much personality-led. The ‘anchors’ get their face everywhere and are used as much as the company logo to brand the station. Global TV seems to get the better anchors and, crucially, holds on to them. There’s nothing more off-putting for a viewer than to have a different face reading your news every few months, and this has been happening at CBC Edmonton.
Another theory is that the standards of production are higher at Global than CBC. The equipment at CBC is actually more expensive and higher spec (they were usin
g Betacam SX and Avid) than Global (Grassvalley, DVCAM), but the way that the stations use the kit differs wildly. For example, I was told on my first day at CBC Edmonton not to bother getting lights out for interviews indoors! Apparently, this is because there isn’t enough time. And the reason there isn’t enough time is because reporters routinely travel with cameraman, meaning that cameramen have to wait around for reporters to leave base to go to jobs, hence reducing setup time to zero. It is insane how inefficient this is, and more insane how easily solved it is.
In editing, the CBC use an Avid Unity server system which allows their reporters to view and prepare material from their desks. However, some take this process too far and NEVER go into the edit suite, not even to view a finished piece. This is mainly because they are required to ‘top and tail’ their report every day from the newsroom camera. Another pointless and inefficient use of a reporter’s time in my opinion.
Global aren’t without their faults. The editing standards are low (a cut on a move is standard practice and don’t talk to me about audio) and they are still hanging on to 4:3 broadcast, 10 years after the rest of the planet switched to widescreen TVs. However, the fact that they routinely review their standards and have a healthy desire to achieve quality has definitely helped them remain the leaders in local news over here.
One thing working over here has given me is a different view of how the working processes at the BBC compare, and it is mostly favourably. Journalism is better, story count is better, camerawork is better and editing is better. I suppose that this is why Auntie is held in such high regard on this side of the Atlantic.
As September rolls on and the bank balance edges up, our plans are being hatched for a trip through the Rocky Mountains and then back over to the UK another Cheeseman wedding (4 down, 2 to go). I imagine by November I’ll be back trying to earn the dollars again to keep our lavish world traveller lifestyle intact. Probably not for CBC if they read this mind you.