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Horror Story?

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Stephen SmithHorror Story?
by on Apr 21, 2009 at 9:34:52 pm

What is your biggest video horror story? You know, we've all had those clients. Or we've flown to another state for a shoot and forgot some critical equipment.

Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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Mark SuszkoRe: Horror Story?
by on Apr 22, 2009 at 3:27:15 pm

I swear it didn't happen to me, but to guys I know (I don't do sports). They had contracted to shoot a high school basketball tournament finals for the local Tv station. The Big Game was to be mixed live to tape in the location van in the afternoon, and broadcast that night around eight.

All went well in the first half of the game, and to save tape, someone in the van stopped the recording during the halftime break. To keep the time code progressing (they were using free-run time-of-day for time code), someone in the van pressed the record button without pressing record + Play simultaneously. From a distance, this is indistinguishable from being in full record, as the counter is progressing the way you'd expect. On casual inspection.

Sure enough, in the heat of the moment, nobody re-checked the deck record settings as the second half started up.

I hear it was a marvelous game, one of those cinematic emotional teeter-totters where the score kept shifting rapidly, and it even went into overtime, plus was won with a fade-away, single-handed Hail-Mary 3-pointer at the buzzer, the home town crowd going completely wild.

And they didn't have a single frame of it.

The Producer quickly ran out into the arena to see if anybody had ANY footage on any format, no luck. The team, coaches, and crowds were already heading out to celebrations. No calling anybody back.

The ads had already been bought and paid for, the show was hard scheduled, there was no getting out of putting on a show that night. But they only had the first half of a show.

THAT, my friend is a "Kobiyashi Maru Test".

First thing they did was fess up, immediately. You can't start solving the problem until you tell everybody; time for recriminations and punishments later, right now they had to brainstorm. Four hours or less to airtime.

They wound up re-creating the second half using interviews and narrative descriptions by the play by play guy, just sitting there in a chair on the court, on camera, and describing the game of the decade we would never see. It sort of worked, the station was a laughingstock for a week or so. I don't know if any of those guys got hired to cover sports again, but they are all still working.

What can we learn from this? Familiarity and complacency will sneak up and bite you, if you ever leave them an opening. If people laugh at you for being over-prepared or having too many back-ups for a "simple job", just let them laugh. When stakes are high, the team should always double-check each other's work, and nobody should ever be insulted by this.

The alternative is much, much worse.

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Mike CohenRe: Horror Story?
by on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:14:36 am

We did a shoot today - not a horror story, just a relation to Mark's post above. We had a live to tape switch, also recorded live to hard drive. We also had ISO recordings from all three cameras, and an ISO with audio of the slides, also to hard drive. As a backup to the backup they also recorded an SVHS of the hard drive confirmation. Changing tapes for all 4 recordings meant coordinating things. Change the live to tape at any time, as long as the three cams were still rolling. Change the wide shot cam while the moderator is talking. Change the moderator cam after the WS was rolling and change the 3rd camera between panelists - it worked down to the second.

As for horror stories...see next post.

Mike Cohen

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Mike CohenRe: Horror Story?
by on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:20:47 am

I have flown cross country to find out a one-of-a-kind surgical case was postponed. I did get very familiar with Downtown Omaha however. I hung out with Warren Buffet playing darts and drinking the local brew. He's pretty cool. Even let me drive his Bentley.

Seriously, this has happened a few times. Sometimes patients just don't show up.

A tenacious client can make things difficult, but this just comes down to knowing your client.

My fave story is described in my article Surgical Video: The Cutting Edge. In a nutshell - I flew home from a conference, re-edited a video all night then going standby, returned to the convention in Chicago the next morning and with minutes to spare got the video "on the air" or so to speak. Nowadays with laptop editing, this will never happen again - as long as I have the hard drive that is!
Read the whole article here:

Mike Cohen

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Mark SuszkoRe: Horror Story?
by on Apr 27, 2009 at 6:14:18 pm

A buddy lost the tip of a finger by trying to move too fast and pick up a tripod with the camera still on top. Does that qualify?

Or are we looking more for something like, the freelance shooter I was producing with once turned on his camera 1k sungun by accident while resting his hand-held camera by his side, and set a client's wooden chair smoking, huge billowing clouds, with a huge burn mark in it.

Stuff like that?

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Stephen SmithRe: Horror Story?
by on Apr 27, 2009 at 6:34:23 pm

Mark, all three of those are great stories.

Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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Bill DavisRe: Horror Story?
by on Apr 27, 2009 at 6:50:39 pm

I'll play.

Flew to San Diego to videotape a presentation at a convention of high level psychologists. The keynote speaker was a very nice and very accomplished woman who was debuting some new cutting edge research.

Room set up looked good when I arrived. The wall behind her was exterior windows but some smart soul had ordered a full wall of black velour pipe and drape so backlighting wasn't going to be a problem. Then the folks brought in a set of really lovely light tan chinese folding screens across the stage that I just new was going to make a great neutral video background no matter what the speaker wore.

My client arrived and was delighted with the look of the stage. She went away to change into her speaking clothes and being a bit overweight, came back after choosing a slimming black silk suit with a juanty bright red scarf at the neck for a spot of color.

Of course, Murphy was waiting and less than a minute after I started rolling camera two stagehands came out and struck the Chinese screens.

Yep. Black silk suit against a black velvet drape.

The resulting video perfectly created the old Jay Leno "Beyondo" gag with a perfect floating head in a sea of nothing. Even her bright red scarf added the impression that the talking head had recently had a date with an executioner.


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John BaumchenRe: Horror Story?
by on May 4, 2009 at 10:30:46 pm

Here's an 'almost' disaster story.

Spent the entire night working on a project that the client was picking up at 7:30 am to take with them on a business trip that morning.

About 5:30 I'm set to export the time line and I get a 'the project is corrupted' error message on my screen. Shutdown, reboot, couldn't open the project file. A real sphincter moment.

I got out of my chair, on my knees on the floor curled up in a ball asking the powers of the universe 'why me'? 10 hours of work gone in a microsecond.

Fortunately I had 'auto save' on, found the backup file and ended up only losing 15 minutes of editing. It reinforced my mantra of auto save, backup. Auto save, backup..........

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