It's been years since I've had the chance to live switch a big event. After moving on from house directing Big Brother and Hell's Kitchen and into story department, I haven't laid my hands on a live switch board in almost a decade!
That changed this past weekend.
I received a call out of the blue from the DP who photographed my short film, Deceit. He was looking around for a live technical director for a live stream event. Their usual crew member caught Covid-19 while in Mexico and had to quarantine. The software,VMix, and hardware weren't completely foreign to me, but I was not quite prepared for live work. with them I knew that my skills as a live switcher could carry the day if there weren't any serious technical issues, but my lack of knowledge about the software package meant that if one did crop up, I'd be hard pressed to solve the problem without a lot of help.
Thankfully the original technical director was able to monitor the situation remotely and interface with the VMix platform if I needed a helping hand with a deep dive into a menu I couldn't know about.
In any case, I said yes to the gig and found myself at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, where the Oscars are currently held.
We were filming a talk given by the self styled "Global Peace Ambassador" Prem Rawat. His journey as a sort of guru began when he emigrated from India to the United States at a very young age at the height of the Counter Culture movement to preach his message. During that time there were a lot of spiritual leaders claiming to have THE path to peace, so it was interesting to see the spirit of that day still moving forward in today's world. I'm not a follower of these kinds of movements or leaders, but I do find them to be very interesting.
I've never actually been to the Dolby Theater as a patron, so it was a lot of fun to explore a space I'd seen on TV so many times up close and from the production side all at once.
Being a union stage, and one of the most famous, everything was in top condition. Nothing was out of place and the stage crew were extremely professional. I forgot how strict the union was about lunch. We weren't allowed to even look like were working during mealtime. While I understand the reasoning, those couple of hours would have helped familiarize myself with the software more quickly. Oh well.
Me doing a mic check for our speaker! I didn't know what to talk about when I was up there, so Dave - who was operating one of 5 cameras - yelled out for me to talk about crypto.
So, I talked about Hive for a bit. Don't know if you've heard of it. It's pretty cool. I like it. So that was kind of odd. I was sitting in a preacher's chair, preaching the word of Hive. I don't know if anyone was really knew what I was saying, but I could tell you for certain they could hear my voice. How it boomed in that theater!
My system was the powered by the laptop in the bottom left corner. VMix is a multi-cam streaming platform with a lot of power and flexibility. I was able to rout all cameras and run all the video packages through that little Stream Deck switching panel to the right of the laptop.
The director and stage director were to my right and Prem's crew were also very professional. They really cared about the product and I wanted to serve my role well.
The show went off without much of a hiccup. Well, there was one. During one of our packages I had my finger on the wrong switch and it took a few seconds to correct an errant switch during a package transition. After that terrible fumble, the rest of the show ent off without further incident.
It was great. Everyone was great.
I'd say it was even thrilling. Being part of a live event and switching camera and calling out "camera 3 is up" was fun! Helping the director find fun shots and working with a team in real time was a blast. I'm hoping to come back and do it again with them in a couple weeks at another stage.
If I do, you know I'll let you know.
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The Tear is my cosmic horror short film and cinematic universe.
WHO DIS IS
If you want to know who I am and what Distant Signal is, check this out. It's sort of a manifesto. The TL;DR is that I've won an award for producing, make a lot of reality TV, live in LA and think that artist and media incentives are misaligned and serve large corporations and not independent artists.
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In 2019 the goal is to produce the short horror film, Changelings, the world of that story and to build a community of filmmakers that are enthusiastic about filmmaking and crypto currency.