First day in the office. I achieve my first task – getting through security!
But of course my BBC login hasn’t been activated, so while that’s being sorted out, I spend the first couple of hours catching up with former colleagues and renewing old friendships and.
Producing live events is a pretty specialist field of TV, and for a programme as big as the Royal Wedding, the BBC Events Department has called back all the old troops – experienced former staff the editor Nick Vaughan-Barratt knows he can rely on.
I’ve got two jobs over the next two weeks – the first is to edit together the pre-shot material that will be shown during the BBC’s 10 hours of broadcasting on the wedding day.
The second is to produce a 50 minute highlights programme for BBC Worldwide, which will be shown around the world, and has to be finished by Saturday evening.
For now, I start looking at the through the programme running orders and working out what VTs (short films) are needed. There’s a pretty long list – about four pages of A4, much of which is compilations of the stills which will show the work of the potential dress designer, Kate and William’s friends, Kate’s fashion …
I also talked the highlights programme with the production manager Sarah Daly.
She’d already sent me a 16 page document with lots of technical details about ‘delivery’ for BBC Worldwide. I have to confess I hadn’t understood a huge amount of it – and was relying on the fact that my editor would!
Cutting down the programme to 50 minutes of highlights isn’t as simple as it might seem.
Given that the service is an hour and a quarter, and the programme has to include a fair amount of the excitement beforehand and celebrations afterwards – including the traditional kiss on the balcony – I’ll have to chop out significant amounts of the action, which will mean some pretty difficult decisions.
By lunchtime I’m in the edit suite with Andy Barker, who I’ve worked with many times before, and we’re getting down to business.
We go through the list of VTs and making a start, although since still waiting for a lot of the footage and stills that we need to come in – and the programme running order isn’t yet finalised, we know what we have to do may well change.
Today, I’m really getting into the wedding spirit. Andy and I are cutting together a whole series of short ‘floats’ (some footage that the commentator will talk about) of previous royal weddings: dresses, favourite moments and balcony appearances.
Listening to some of the commentary for Diana and Charles’ wedding 30 years ago is incredibly poignant and it’s very interesting to contrast the body language of the different brides. Wonder what Kate will be like ???
We have a meeting in the afternoon about my highlights programme. I’m going to be editing at TV Centre, while the main BBC programmes on the wedding day will be broadcast from scanners (outside broadcast trucks) at Canada Gate, by Buckingham Palace.
That means it’s vital we have the correct feeds of material to make our programme and to deliver it in the correct format – basically so we can separate out the sound effects and the commentary so that the commentary can be translated into other languages.
We also have our first viewing with the exec producer Elaine Paterson and Nick Vaughan-Barratt, the editor of BBC Events, my former boss and the man responsible for the royal wedding broadcast.
He wants a couple of shots changed from the titles and questions the music on the film that’s been made about William and Kate’s love story: he’s over-ruled by Elaine, me and Victoria Simpson, who’s made the film. When I watched it, it nearly made me cry!!
Once that’s sorted, we get on with our edit. By mid afternoon, we’re done with past royal weddings and are onto William’s charity work.
But the Avid editing system just doesn’t like some of the stills we’ve got – mixing HD with hi-res results in the system crashing continually for two hours until we give up and head off for the weekend.
First day back after Easter and we start at 8.30am, knowing we’ve got a viewing at 9.30am Nick, Elaine and Ian Russell, who’s directing the whole event. They want to see the titles and some ‘heli-teli’ footage that was shot over the weekend.
He’s happy with the changes we’ve made to the titles, and selects a few fantastic images of Westminster Abbey and the route for us to use.
The running order has become much clearer now, so we’re really able to get on quickly now. However, it’s a tortuous process.
We’re putting together lots of series of stills – potential dress designers, Kate’s fashion, potential homes for the royal couple, rooms inside the Goring Hotel, state rooms at Buckingham Palace.
This involves extracting them individually from the BBC computer system on a memory stick then loading them individually into the Avid, then cropping each one and putting them on a timeline.
Almost all the footage and stills we need are now in, we work our way through our to-do list with great satisfaction. But there’s still a lot of technical finishing off and paperwork to complete before we can finish.
We have to put ‘clocks’ on each item, then put them into a ‘time-line’ in a particular order, then play them out onto tapes, producing what’s known as an ‘insert roll’. I need to know the duration and ‘in’ and ‘out’ words and shots of each piece so that I can complete individual VT forms plus a master ‘insert roll log’.
We’re editing on site tomorrow – at Canada Gate in Green Park, so we get our security passes. As passes go (and I do have a pretty big selection) they’re not the most pre-possessing but they’re certainly ones to keep.
Finally however, we’re done! Insert roll completed, paperwork done and I’m off home with my big bag of tapes.
First potential disaster: I’m about to leave home and my partner says ‘don’t you need this?’ It’s the bag of tapes that includes the insert roll – the only copy of the titles and every other piece of footage that’s going to be shown in tomorrow’s programme.
I meet my good friend Laura Vine on the tube – she’s the programme’s production assistant – a title which completely underplays the responsibility she’ll have tomorrow. She’ll be doing second by second timings throughout the BBC broadcast (which lasts about get 10 hours). Just thought of it makes me want to lie down with a cold flannel on my head!
Today, she and the rest of the production team will be rehearsing for the following day, while last minute editing takes place.
Being at Buckingham Palace is fantastic. I’ve worked on dozens of outside broadcasts and none is as big as this – even Live8. The whole of the world’s media has descended on this little piece of London and the atmosphere is electric.
Second potential disaster: my job today is to edit together a piece about the international media frenzy that’s descended on London to cover the wedding. Part of it has been shot the previous day and it emerges that it’s been shot in the wrong format.
This means that today’s filming will have to be done in the same format as it can’t be converted. However, given the nature of the piece – a fast paced music item, it’s not a calamity.
And it’s a fun piece. Lots of interviews with foreign broadcasters – including Jane Seymour, who’s working for an American network, plus music from Take That. We finish in reasonable time and Elaine comes to view.
She drops a bit of a bombshell: she wants ‘astons’ – name captions – for each interviewee. The piece hasn’t been designed for Astons since many of the interviews only last a second or two, so getting them to work will be a challenge. I head to the gallery to talk to the aston operator, who creates each one for me, then puts them onto a memory stick for me (what did we do before memory sticks?)
But this doesn’t work – the astons are blank when we come to put them onto the piece. So instead we have to put them while we play the piece live through the gallery – which means me knowing to the split second when each interviewee is coming up so I can ‘call’ them at the right time.
Fortunately we get it right first time – and we’re rewarded with a round of applause for the piece, which makes the drama worthwhile!
Part two of the diary coming tomorrow …