It’s the big day at last!
I arrive at TV Centre at 7.30 – and disaster, the edit suite is locked! A few technical hiccups follow – we can’t hear talkback (the proceedings in the scanner), and the monitors don’t get up and running until after the programme’s on air, but it’s all soon sorted and we settle down to watch the programme.
While the editor Rob Platt records the programme and picks out good shots, I’m logging – taking down a second by second record of the proceedings. This is vital when we come to edit so I can pin point exactly when particular events happened, when Huw Edwards gave particularly good lines of commentary and when there were good shots.
As soon as the programme finishes we get to work. We’ve estimated that in a 50 minute programme, we’ll show about 30 minutes of the service, allowing for around seven minutes of build up, including William, the Royal family and Kate leaving for the Abbey, and 13 minutes of their return to Buckingham Palace and that all-important kiss on the balcony.
We start at the beginning but soon realise that it makes more sense to edit the service first and then do the start and finish of the programme afterwards, after the evening highlights programme has gone out, so we can see what the producer of that chose to include and exclude.
At the start it seems like we’ve got a mountain to climb. It’s important to keep to the spirit of the service but it’s impossible for us to show everything – it takes Kate over five minutes to walk up the aisle – a big chunk when you’ve only got about 30 minutes for the whole service. We reduce this to about one and a half.
By the end of the day, the service is at about 40 minutes – with apologies to the Bishop of London whose sermon we’ve had to edit quite hard, and the Dean of Westminster and Archbishop of Canterbury, who’s prayers didn’t make the cut.
We head home early evening, but works not done – I sit and time the different sections of the highlights programme (the build up, the service, the return to BP and the end montage) to see how it compares to our version and what we can use tomorrow. Thank goodness for the stop watch on my iphone!
I then have a quick chat with the evening highlights editor since he’s providing us with a ‘clean’ version of that programme – with the sound effects and commentary separated, making editing easier.
Our last day.
Our target is to get the programme finished by early afternoon so that we can get it ‘signed’ off by the executive producer, then get on with sorting out the ‘deliverables’ for the programme.
There seems to be an extremely long list of these and I know from experience that they could take hours:
We have to
- create different BBC Worldwide titles
- provide 10 stills for use during the marketing of the programme with write captions for each one
- produce ‘clean-effects’ footage at the end of the main programme for each place where a caption has appeared in the main programme
- produce a DVD copy for a transcription service
- upload the programme onto at least two different FTP sites (effectively drop boxes)
- ‘lay off’ the whole programme from the computer onto at least three different tape formats
Not to mention all the various bits of paperwork.
But the most important thing is to get the programme cut to length. We’re allowed a very valuable two minutes over the set running time of 50 minutes. That might not sound a lot, but in two minutes we could cover the titles, the whole of the balcony scene and the flypast.
My first job is to sit down and work out timings. The evening highlights programme included a lovely ‘end music montage’ of fantastic shots from the day, which includes lots of atmosphere and events of the day which we don’t have time to include in the main programme, so I’m keen to use this.
It lasts 3.57 (three minutes 57 seconds) which gives me about 48 minutes left. Allowing about 32 minutes for the service, we have 16 minutes for the build up, the happy couple’s journey back to the Palace and the all important kiss.
So we allow six minutes at the beginning and 10 minutes for the end, and get cutting.
We finish off the service – far more ruthlessly than yesterday so it’s the the correct length – then get on with cutting the end of the programme. Last night’s highlights are pretty similar in structure to ours, so we are more or less able to use the same version of their balcony scene, with a few cuts.
Then we go back to the start of the programme. The first challenge here is that we have tell the story of Prince William, the Queen and Duke and Edinburgh, the bride’s family, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and of course the bride’s, journey to the Abbey in just a couple of minutes.
And we have to use the existing commentary by Huw Edwards – designed to describe the action over about an hour, not in the truncated way we need.
Nevertheless we’re finished on target, and I call our executive producer, Phil Dolling, who’s job it is to ‘sign-off’ the programme. That means he gives the ultimate approval to what we’ve done and therefore takes ultimate responsibility.
There had been a suggestion the previous week that Clarence House would want to sign it off, but fortunately they had agreed to trust the BBC to honour the spirit of the occasion.
We all settle down to watch, and bar a few little tweaks, he’s happy with our work.
So by about 3pm, we’re able to get on with the deliverables – and are hoping that we might then finish at about 6pm.
Not surprisingly, not everything ran smoothly.
For example: when we tried to play out our new version of the titles they were corrupted; sorting that took two hours. When I try to upload the programme onto the transcription service’s FTP site, we realise we don’t have its address or password and the out of hours emergency line closes at 5pm (even though they knew we wouldn’t be finished until 7pm).
However all was eventually sorted. We have the right number of tapes in the right format and I’ve arranged for a bike to pick them up from home to get them to where they need to go.
I finally get home at about 9.30pm, the bike comes at 10pm, and my Royal Wedding duties are over.
It’s been great to be involved in such a momentous occasion, and lovely to have my own programme to produce. I’m so glad that my Rough House duties mean I’m still able to dip in and out of TV – and that when I do, it’s always to work on great programmes!