A while back, when I worked at a broadcast company with a live news show, something disastrous happened one night. The computer network went down…hard. Nothing in the studio was working. Computers, graphics, video players, heck even the scrolling of the prompters was out. The whole ship was dead in the water. It’s like in Star Trek: The Voyage Home when Scotty wired the whole ship like a Christmas tree…one shot from the Klingons and everything broke down. The only way to fix the news show problem was to…gasp…reboot the system. That could take up to a minute, an eternity in broadcast news.
That day, I had decided I’d watch how the show was put together by being a fly in the wall in the control room, where the director and all of the other production personnel sit. I felt so helpless. This was unfamiliar territory and there was nothing I could do. I think I was the most nervous person in the building that night
Then I saw it…A pattern I’d seen many times before when watching TV. The two anchors had just finished a story and they started chatting, casually about the last segment…like two friends watching the show, while in the background going down in flames. The anchors have an audio loop to the control room…they knew exactly what was happening. You wouldn’t know it from watching the show though. It was friendly banter from two friends.
Once the reboot was finished, they continued as if nothing had ever happened. I bet no one watching that night even knew anything had gonen wrong. I’ve never been more impressed. They knew exactly what to do. Now, whenever I watch TV and I see two anchors just casually chatting it up, I wonder what disaster is lurking behind the scenes.
I learned so much watching that live show that I’m remembering as I explore streaming. The newscasters, are amazing at delivering their lines. They use a prompter more than I thought they would, even when they connect with a remote newscaster. They often have the questions…as well as the answers already scripted. I used to think that the questions just happened naturally, but wasn’t the case at all.
Surprisingly enough, the only person who doesn’t use the prompter is the weather person. They have to memorize or improvise the most technical information in the show. Instead, they have dual monitors on each side of a HUGE green screen that they watch. I imaging that’s what being an actor in a Sci-Fi movie is like when they have to memorize a ton of techno-jargon.
The Control Room, where the director sits and runs the show is gotta be the most stressful job I’ve ever seen. There were pre-recorded segments that would sometimes be edited and arrive (on DV tapes at the time) microseconds before the announcers mentioned it. I literally saw the tape being inserted into the machine, someone frantically hitting play and they video playing live on the channel.
My little live incursion is nothing compared to that, but one of my projects for this next year is to continue to figure out how I can do more live first content.
This week, in Episode 07 of the toolbox, I talked about a new framework called Alpine.js, a minimalist, but impressive framework. with only 15 attributes, 6 properties and 2 methods to learn. 23 things to learn and most of them make perfect sense immediately. Check out the demo in the Toolbox.
I just released a new course that shows you what to watch out for if you’re moving from Bootstrap 4 to 5. I’d be terrified if I had a site that needed to be moved. It’s probably the least upgrade friendly update since version 2. In the course, I also show you just the new features in the platform as well, so it’s a great way to catch up.
I also did a course with my mates that we’re calling Tech Trends. This is a course with a variety of other authors talking about interesting and upcoming topics in the Tech Industry. My segment was on Code Spaces. We’ll be doing more of these in the future.
I’m going to take a break from the Toolbox next week. I need to focus on a course I’m trying to finish, which you see a piece of in the show.