Termination: A Point of View on POV
A Point of View on POV.
Text:/ Graeme Hague
Okay, some of you may not believe that Peoplekind (this is a politically correct publication, after all) ever landed on the moon, despite photographs last year from a NASA telescope showing the Apollo 17 moon buggy’s doughnuts still clearly visible on the surface. Also, you’re convinced Elvis is really alive at the ripe old age of 80 and that the FBI in partnership with the CIA assassinated John F Kennedy, because the American military decided the US government had one too many three-letter acronyms.
For those of you who do accept the moon landings, it should interest you that as far as AV, live television and remote camera control is concerned, one of the simplest, yet trickiest challenges NASA faced was broadcasting the take-off of the lunar modules at the end of the missions (well, the moon bit) without expecting one of the astronauts to press ‘Record’ on a tripod-mounted GoPro and scamper into his seat before the batteries ran out. Only the last three missions, Apollo 15, 16 and 17 were filmed leaving the moon using a remote controlled camera on the discarded moon rovers, operated from Earth — you don’t get more remote than that. Because of the signal delay between the moon and NASA, the operator pushed the ‘Pan Up’ button a full six seconds prior to the launch — using a stopwatch. The same guy did all three and only the last attempt worked, so if you see footage of a lunar module blasting off from the moon, guaranteed it’s Apollo 17. You gotta love old-school, seat-of-the-pants filming. Sorry, some of you may need to Google ‘stopwatch’.
Side-tracking slightly for a moment [and what do you call the story thus far?! – Ed.], a watershed moment in space exploration and landing on the moon was the realisation we needed a rocket to reach the lunar surface, but we only had to bring the astronauts back (not the entire rocket) resulting in the innovative shedding of rocket ‘stages’. But who was the guy that suggested broadcasting those stages being blown off? That iconic footage of the burning bits dropping back to Earth? Someone in the PR department for sure (“It’ll make great TV for the next 50 years!”) And who was the poor AV technician tasked with figuring out how to do it and bring back the camera in one piece? How exactly do you gaffa a camera to the side of a rocket? Did he get an Emmy? A BAFTA? A pay-rise?
Don’t forget the Box Brownie technology they were dealing with, even more making these seriously impressive AV achievements. Ones that we take for granted now.
ON LOCATION… LITERALLY
In the 21st century things are getting a bit silly when it comes to dreaming up innovative camera locations. That’s commercial applications I’m talking about, not just the myriad GoPro cowboys who think videoing their daily commute should garner the same haul of Oscar nominations as Ben Hur.
I reckon the Stump Cam in cricket ranks as the most pointless vision in sport. A better idea would be to paint the stumps a different colour and focus the camera on the adjacent stump – so viewers could watch the paint dry in real-time. Much more exciting. (Cricket lovers please send outraged comments directly to the editor, a bona fide cricket aficionado). Attaching cameras to the hats of almost any sportsperson or the umpires is just as annoying, if not a perfect trigger for motion sickness. You might as well put the camera in a blender. I say ‘almost’ because there are exceptions, usually extreme sports. Like people who jump out of planes with a carefully-folded bed sheet tied to their shoulders.
The challenge for AV entrepreneurs in 2015 is to place a camera somewhere unique, challenging and exciting, not just different. Maybe somewhere really, really dangerous such as the dashboard of any car driving in Russia – that qualifies. Forget dodging large trucks driven by vodka-crazed Cossacks, the meteorites are a bastard.
We probably need to set some rules, like: no drones. Drones are so last year. Besides, it’s getting so we have to swat drones down like flies buzzing around our heads while we go about our everyday business, because somebody in the US has actually received an FAA permit for their “let’s deliver stuff by drone” idea. Been there, done that – crashed on the White House lawn like the rest of ‘em (maybe next time Prez Obama will get his pizza delivered more conventionally). The place must look like a ceiling-fan wrecker’s yard.
No sports that include wheels, balls, pucks or shuttlecocks. It doesn’t leave much, but we did say put a camera somewhere unique, right? But all right, you can use gaffa.
You’ve got miniaturisation and wi-fi on your side. And battery technology that can last a gazillion hours. NASA only had a bunch of Hitler’s left-over V2 tech and a stopwatch for the Apollo program. Surely we can come up with something better than ho-hum, grainy footage of some blokes blasting off from the moon?