Even though I was around for that momentous switch from black and white, I can’t remember a time when TV wasn’t vibrant. And neither can many of my Sequel colleagues who worked on the small screen. Since turning on to colour, we’ve flashed through everything from BETA and VHS, remote control and delayed record to DVD, laser disc, Blu-Ray, high definition, 3-D, split screen, social and now streaming.
And that’s just for regular content.
The snowballing pace of change is enough to have your brain on the blink. Now, working in PR, the digital age means I am still producing content and my professional TV background is very handy. Here are just a few of the advancements during my time. (Keep in mind this is from a journo’s POV and any tech clarifications are welcome!)
I missed the reel-to-reel years but many of the cameramen I worked with loved to talk about those golden days.
Geoff Stock (our cover boy, above) is one of those.
He is now Sequel PR’s digital content producer and a cameraman I worked with in the days of Wide World of Sport.
Geoff started in the industry when everything was shot on 16mm film – news, current affairs, ads, you name it. After filming, he had to unload the film in a dark room (or black bag if you were on the road) and then it went to a chemical processing machine before being sent to the editing bench. It was cut by hand, essentially using sticky tape to patch the shots together. And that was just the vision. Interviews were recorded on a separate camera in 1-2 minutes. Journos had to know exactly what questions to ask.
This was my “Welcome to Television” (that’s me in the edit suite).
BVU was the start of videotape and the audio was recorded at the same time, on the same tape. It meant the cameraman and the sound recordist were linked. So too was a reporter. The units were heavy and you had to move like a three-legged race.
The tapes were expensive but nowhere near as costly as film. The savings were made because the tapes were reusable but recycling often meant blurring and vision drop-outs.
I recall this time mostly as being able to do a piece to camera using a lapel mic. Still attached to the tripod team but journalists could stand further away and we ran the cable down our clothing. But for my colleague it meant for the first time he could replay in a unit in the back of a car to review what he’d shot. And we could start the shotlisting process in the car.
Shotlisting, aka reviewing the recorded vision to note edit points, took almost as long as it did to record it. Rewind, stop, start, stop, rewind, start, repeat.
Editing was still linear, which was time consuming; spooling and rewinding, spooling and fast forwarding, rewinding, and recycling. But at least the sticky tape was gone!
This was the age of the all-in-one video camera. Tapes went into the camera, there was no external recorder. And the introduction of radio microphones meant we got creative. Reporters would stand as far as possible from the camera, and walk and talk (incredible, I know!).
We also did live crosses, which took almost an entire day to set up. Getting link trucks and satellites and power and line-of-sight to a broadcast tower. It was expensive and only done on the really big news stories, to get a jump on the competition or to promote that we were reporting from a different location.
With the advent of wide screen televisions came SX, XD, cards, discs and other versions for shooters and TV stations to stay on top of.
Shotlisting became a digital version of rewind, stop, start, stop, rewind, start, repeat but the big advance came for the editors. Non-linear editing! This meant digitised footage could be reordered quickly and easily.
Now there are drones and high quality cameras that allow bad shots to be fixed in editing. A black silhouette can be edited to be just as visual as the great sunlit background. I recently spoke to a cameraman who worked on a live sports broadcast and had to simultaneously operate four different cameras. He also did a three hour, three camera shoot for a news program. Can you imagine the shotlisting? Because that, incredibly, is still a process of rewind, stop, start, stop, rewind, start, repeat.
I had one of the first mobile phones for Channel 9 Queensland in the early 90’s. It was the size of a handbag, heavy and ugly, but I thought I was cool. It was added to my portable accessory assortment of police scanner and pager and people thought I was a taxi driver.
Now TV reporters can go live from their phones, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media and the costs are low. That’s why you see so many.
Everyone can edit vision on your phone and upload it to a network, and television news is often using video sent in by a passer-by. Soon live streaming from broadcast quality cameras will be the norm, so there won’t be any need for linking facilities and the quality will be amazing.
And apparently, there’s a whizz-bang camera already in Japan that shoots 360 degrees and you just need to film the scene once. There’s no need for close-ups or different angles.
It seems the only thing that hasn’t evolved is the simple, mind-numbing task of shotlisting. Surely, in the next 42 years, someone can invent the technology to do that? (Please.)
This week I waved off the last of my five daughters.
At the same time (actually, almost as fast as the jet she took to Japan), my husband emptied the girls’ rooms and packed everything off to teenage storage.
Clearly, his way of grieving the end of fulltime parenting was to remove all reminders of the kids. And I’m trying to be brave by talking up how proud we are of these confident, well-adjusted young women finding their own way in the world. But secretly, I wish I’d taught them to be just a little bit needy and insecure, instead of independent and strong!
Our five girls, aged 18 to 24, are now scattered from London to Melbourne, Sydney and Japan.
While at least one of them was at home, I held firm to the view that a good parent’s job was to become obsolete. Now that I’m down to zero kids in the house (and a lot less furniture), I’m considering whether I set my parenting aspirations too high.
So, to maintain the parenting skills I honed and refined over many years, I’ve brought them (and a pot plant salvaged from my husband’s clean-out) to work.
Front page, back page, a souvenir poster and stories all over radio and television.
The Queensland Firebirds are dominating news and sports media after creating netball history with a double extra-time thriller over arch rivals the NSW Swifts to become the first team to win a back-to-back championship title in the final Trans Tasman League (ANZ Championship) in front of record 10 000 strong crowd in Brisbane.
The team celebrations and deserved adulations are still underway but what’s next for the sport?
Player movements, poaching, contract negotiations, offers of big money, endorsement deals and salary caps!
Previously netball has not attracted much out-of-competition coverage, but starting TODAY get ready for a whole new ball game, this off-season is going to be the most exciting and interesting ever.
The Aussies are going it alone for the 2017 season having signed a landmark broadcast five year deal with Channel Nine, (the network has even appointed a Head of Netball in former Australian player Keeley Devery) ditching the kiwis and welcoming three new teams backed by football clubs Collingwood, The Melbourne Storm and Greater Western Sydney to form a new-look domestic competition and embark on a new era in the sport.
The ban on contacting players to recruit for next season was supposed to end today, but delays with formalising the new look competition means no player contracts can be signed.
Team participation agreements and importantly the salary cap is still unclear.
This hold-up isn’t a great way to start a new chapter.
Players are in limbo. Where to go, what to sign for, how much and when?
The teams especially the three additions will be finding it tough to attract sponsors, that will want to know what players and coaches are on on the roster and what benefits that will mean to their brand.
Rest assured the three new teams have been having ‘chats’ to the current stars of the ANZ Championship and the established teams are informally working behind the scenes to secure their roster.
The current salary cap is $270 000 so previously in the off season players have had to return to their regular lives. A part time job and university in most cases or for some a full time role.
Except for a select few netball didn’t pay enough to make it a year round vocation.
That is set to change and the landscape of the sport will never be the same.
Little girls can now dream of playing netball for a living.
So what about the history making champions the Firebirds?
Coach Roselee Jencke is secured, but the first in the sights of recruiters will be the Firebirds’ bench players.
Loyalty will count for a lot but the lure of playing in the best competition in the country will be hard to resist.
Where previously money was a secondary consideration hefty pay increases and other lucrative enticements will now be huge factors in determining player movements.
Most of the current stars of the game do not have managers or agents, so negotiating contracts are going to be skills they need to learn or pay for pretty quickly.
Will Laura Geitz stay for another season?
For the opportunity to see what the future of netball looks like from the inside I think she’ll stay in the purple. It’s no secret she wants to start a family but when she does retire she will want to say goodbye to her extended family of fans and players from the court.
Will star shooter Romelda Aiken, who had to rise above more than her height to help win yesterday’s title, stay in Queensland?
This amazing athlete has grown in off-court confidence over the past few seasons and while she may be tempted to spread her wings to test herself away from the nest I think she will stay.
Will the Firebirds’ players like Kim Ravaillion and Gabi Simpson who hale from other states, especially NSW and Victoria where there will be two teams, be tempted to return home?
I think if the money is right they’ll stay here too.
All of these questions can just as easily be attached to any of the teams.
Will we see some Queenslanders returning from interstate teams for instance? Imagine Victorian born Sharni Layton playing for The Storm.
But all is still conjecture, unsure and unclear.
What we will see for certain is a new batch of star imports, especially from Jamaica and England. There’s no limits to imports.
New Zealand has put in place a rule that only players competing domestically will be considered for its national team the Silver Ferns so the kiwis will keep their best talent.
Clearly what all this means is there is going to be a lot to talk about.
So instead of netball disappearing from the sports pages until next season stay tuned for a whole lot more of the stories usually reserved for the male dominated footy codes.
Let the celebrations continue, but come on netball officials let’s get cracking!
I have caught a CLEFAIRY, an ODDISH, a GOLDEEN, a ZUBAT and a DODRIO, just to name four of the approximately 150 characters in my Pokedex and only after joining the latest craze a few days ago.
I now know how to lure Pokemon to a Pokestop, how to transfer them to the Professor in exchange for candy and when I catch eggs I can incubate them while walking until they are ready to hatch.
I have yet to do battle at a Gym, get a bag or storage upgrades, so clearly I am not an expert.
But what I do believe is parents need to keep up to date with the latest technology and this is one we can benefit from.
Of course there is a catch. And I don’t mean the Pokeballs.
It’s the middle of summer in Italy.
Portofino (not to be confused with Positano) is a small, yet super popular Riviera town in the north of the country, overlooking the Mediterranean.
The little harbour is lined with pastel painted buildings, fishing boats and expensive villas.
Walking along the waterfront, every eatery was crammed with wine-sipping tourists, the stores were chock-full of white linen, souvenirs and shoppers, while just offshore sleek, beautiful luxury cruisers and yachts were anchored.
Unable to get a table in the tourist drop zone and asking for a recommendation from a white linen shop saleswoman we, (six friends from Brisbane) wandered towards the end of the dock where local fishermen moor their boats and among the ropes and seagulls found the best restaurant and ate the most memorable meal of our travelling lives.
It was right on the water and we were the only ones there!
I lay there.
Not moving, my eyes flickered closed and soon my breath became longer and louder.
Suddenly I was on a beach. It looked like the clean, pretty, pebbly beach where I had once sunbaked in summertime Italy.
Then my mind moved again.
I was making a shopping list and ticking off all the items I needed to make a Haloumi Salad.
I heard softly spoken words, almost a whisper.
So say those who have done more than one; trekking the Simpson Desert is a bit like childbirth.
As soon as it is over you start to forget the pain, focus only on the result and soon start considering another one.
That may be the case for those who hike and go home.
In my case it’s been a long labour.
I have been seeing, reviewing, living and re-living the entire eight days for the past three weeks and soon I will deliver a documentary on it.
Tomorrow we leave for the desert- The Simpson Desert.
The desert in the middle of Australia (sometimes described as the middle of nowhere).
The one where we will have no showers, no toilets, no televisions, no mobile reception, no fresh food, no bed, no maintained roads and no chilled sauvignon blanc for eight days.
It is only Australia’s fourth largest desert, so clearly not that big even though it has an area of 176,500 km2, but it does have the world’s largest sand dune. Luckily for the 13 trekkers, three trek leaders, and me as part of a three-person production crew, we only have to walk 250km of it and hopefully not up the Everest of dunes.
We are doing it for Youngcare; the remarkable charity preventing or exiting young people with high care needs from having to live in aged care.
Well the 13 trekkers and their leaders are doing it for Youngcare, raising an enormous amount of money for the charity.
My crew and I are doing it for Channel 9, but there’s no question everyone who is heading to the desert has become invested in Youngcare’s mission and we will all be experiencing and sharing the same delights of the desert.
The desert where we will have no showers, no toilets, no televisions, no mobile reception, no fresh food, no bed, no maintained roads and no chilled beer for eight days.
What the Simpson Desert does boast though, is an oversupply of wildlife.
There are apparently 200 bird species- okay that’s fine.
34 native animals- kangaroos, bilbys and camels-okay we can handle that, bilbys are cute and as far as I know don’t attack hikers.
But this is the animal stat I am not so keen on.
125 reptile species- REPTILES PEOPLE!
I know I am not the only trekker going that hates snakes, but seriously they don’t rate in the top seven animals of the Australian desert.
In preparedness I have done some research, which now makes the idea of no showers, no toilets, no televisions, no mobile reception, no fresh food, no bed, no maintained roads and no chilled sauvignon blanc or beer seem welcoming.
There’s not just snakes, and we have been warned about scorpions, flies and rats.
But who the hell has heard of Perentie?
Or a thorny devil?
Or a bearded dragon?
Well a parentie is a two meter monitor lizard, that looks prehistoric and is described as amongst the top predators in the desert.
The thorny devil looks like a scorpion on legs and steroids.
According to the Outback Australia travel guide, “despite its dangerous appearance it is one of the least aggressive reptiles,” which naturally appeases me little.
And the bearded dragon is apparently a popular pet lizard, which looks like the frilled kind (which frightens me every time I go for a run around Southbank), but without the frill.
And that’s just 3 of the 125 species!!
Enough to scare the shit out of you.
Maybe that’s where no showers becomes more problematic than no chilled wine or a lack of bedding?
Good luck to all the trekkers and us- the Channel 9 crew-walking every step with you.
The documentary “8 days in the Desert” will be aired on Channel 9 on May 28, 2016.
There’s a Channel Nine television news presenter, a mid-morning FM radio announcer, a former NBL basketball star turned surgeon, construction executives, a developer, finance professionals, a 15 year old rower, some mums and dads and an odd CEO or two.
Just a few of the ‘talent’ turned hard-core trekkers that will be tackling a 250km hike through the Simpson Desert to raise money for the charity Youngcare and that I will be following both on camera and on foot for a one hour documentary for Channel Nine.
8 Days in the Desert will be the culmination of some very tough training and even tougher fundraising as the trekkers take on the sand and dust, freezing to blisteringly hot temperatures, no showers, food rations, rough sleeping, and the rugged harshness of the geographical centre of Australia.