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Safety vs. Sexiness?

Let me preface this post by mentioning I have never singled anyone out for criticism via the internets or complained about anyone at KOMU. To do so would be unprofessional, rude, and immature. But my experience today left me so irked I have to put it in writing to gather others’ thoughts on it.

I picked up Matt Tarnawa’s 5/6/10 Live truck shift as I figured I could use some extra money, and I had nothing going on tonight. I arrived at the station and was told immediately we would be going live from Stadium Blvd. on TOP OF THE LIVE TRUCK to demonstrate the traffic for a story about possible expansion of the road. I thought it sounded like a cool idea and I was certain we could make it work visually. I went out to Stadium, parked in the lot next to the McDonalds, and began to set up. After tossing a few things on top of the truck, I realized we would have very little space to safely work with. I tried to set up the tripod, but that left roughly a FOOT for me to move from the front of the truck (closest to the mast) to the back of the truck, with the larger platform area where I intended on having the reporter stand. I took the tripod down and figured with the space we had, the safest thing to do would be to shoot off the shoulder.

Now, I was fully aware whenever I shoot off the shoulder, especially in hot weather like it was today, I get Parkinson’s-like symptoms and don’t hold the camera too steady. But that seemed like a fair trade-off. (While some might disagree) I’m not an idiot, and given the responsibility of getting the job done SAFELY, I would much rather have a semi-shaky shot for the 15-20 seconds before/after the PKG or Vo/sot than:

1) fall off the top of the truck because I lose my balance attempting to connect/disconnect/move cables because the tripod is in the way
2) see my reporter fall off the truck because she doesn’t have enough room to move around.
3) Lean back on the mast and cause it to drop down, losing the shot.
4) Assume other risks for the sake of A SMOOTH/SEXY live shot.

I’m sorry, but I’m not paid enough or insured enough to risk my health and safety (and that of the reporter) over something I consider quite silly.

Here’s a picture I snapped with my Blackberry prior to the hits. You can see I have the camera set down on top of the A/C unit. Behind the A/C, and in front of the mast is roughly 1.5-2 feet of space. IN NO WAY is that enough room for a tripod. Now, look to the edges, where the width of platform is about a foot. To have the tripod on the truck would require me to constantly maneuver around the top of the truck while walking on that foot-wide platform. Sound silly? You can see where I’m coming from now.

Now, with that written, the director of the 5 and 6 wanted me to call her after the 5 to discuss this. She INSISTED I use the tripod, saying (in a very condescending/rude/demeaning tone) “OH NO, DON’T SAY YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE, I’VE DONE IT BEFORE” to which I stated I did not feel comfortable using the tripod because I didn’t have enough room. To be fair, she said the shot needed more light, and I completely agreed after seeing how it looked, so I changed a few things for the 6 hit. I did not use the tripod for the 6 and I feel it came out a little better than the 5 knowing I really had to go steady.

I really have a problem with this kind of attitude from the director. I COMPLETELY understand the need for good-quality shots, don’t get me wrong. And there’s something to be said for suggesting I use the tripod, but then understanding my decision to go with what I considered the safest shot. But by assuming we’re invincible, capable of doing anything in small spaces, and otherwise demanding we take on more risks than normal is what leads to accidents – often injurious or fatal. If it makes me look bad for choosing the safe route, so be it. I’m sorry the shot was “too shaky”, but I’d rather that be the case than anyone even come close to getting hurt. If my KOMU “reputation” is harmed for it, so be it. I’ll take my health and safety 1st over putting myself into a dangerous situation.

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