The Art of the Live Shot
It’s one of the most seemingly simple events in television -- and one of the hardest to get right. It’s the event that you know is going to happen, but not quite when.
We had three such events today: we nailed two of them, and we get a “not quite” on the third.
The first was President Bush’s statement on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War. This one had a low degree of difficulty: we knew approximately when it would be (about 11:30 a.m. ET), and the White House usually gives a precise two-minute warning before the President speaks. The trick, then, is to not be in commercial when the president comes into view.
The two-minute warning usually gives you sufficient time to tell the anchors that the president is upcoming, and to get out of a commercial break early -- or not go into one -- to hit the event on time. We stare at an in-house feed so we can see exactly when he emerges.
Occasionally, the two-minute warning fails to appear, and while we’re in the middle of who-knows-what, we’ll see the president walk to the podium. In that case we have a standard procedure: we scream. That’s just our gentle way of letting the show on the air know they need to stop what they’re doing and go immediately to the president.
This isn’t our preferred methodology, and thankfully we didn’t have to use it today. But it usually works when we do.
Two Out Of Three
We knew that Airbus was having two simultaneous maiden voyages of its A380 superjumbo jet -- the world’s largest passenger plane. The two aircraft were scheduled to make simultaneous landings: one at New York’s JFK Airport, one at LAX in Los Angeles. We made plans to take one or both, depending.
Somewhere, somehow, the one landing at JFK snuck by us. It happened a good 15 minutes before we were expecting it, and whether the live shot simply wasn’t available or somehow slipped by us isn’t clear at this point. But we did the next best thing: we got a live shot of the jet on the tarmac at JFK, which conveyed the sheer size of the A380.
We did get some good karma a few minutes later, when the other A380 landed at LAX. This time, we had the shot BEFORE it landed, and we came out of commercial just in time to show the landing.
Like they say, two out of three ain’t bad. But we prefer to be perfect.