Much of my day is spent trying not to injure myself. Often, I fail. Such as today. My tripod has sliding legs, which fall out when untwisted. They're light, but not super light. Not super light enough to stop my finger from getting trapped in one, causing a cut which spewed an unreasonable amount of blood to flow from my hand. During a press conference. I am a VJ.
VJ stands for Video Journalist, which basically means you're a one man newsmaking machine. It's quite a common thing in the UK and is becoming more common in Australia- allowing networks to have an overseas presence without blowing the budget.
I had shot things before coming here, but certainly not entire stories. Editing, I'm all over that. I'm the Lance Armstrong of editing. Minus the drugs. And the lycra. Okay, scratch that, I'm the Cadel Evans of editing. Either winning, or thereabouts.
But shooting is a challenge. I don't say this as if it's a shock- I have enormous respect for the cameramen (they generally are men) I have worked with in my career so far. It's a job which requires technical wizardry and an artistic eye. I'm working on gaining both, without causing horror-movie-esque injuries to my extremities.
Let me give you an example. Today, Cricket Australia called a press conference in Bristol to announce the sacking of coach Mickey Arthur. It was scheduled at Midday, but it's best to be early, so at 7am I jumped on the train, with my camera bag and tripod in tow.
Once there, it was time to claim a position at the 'presser'. In the UK, crews seem to arrive at jobs ridiculously early- and there's always a guy from Sky doing live crosses while everyone sits around and plays Candy Crush Saga on their iPads.
"Yes, that's right Mark, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENING HERE but something could happen AT ANY MOMENT and we'll bring it all to you on Sky Sports News, channel 28328937."
The experienced camera guys put their camera on the sticks, whack a microphone on the table, and relax. Paranoid me, still feeling somewhat of a fraud at this game, takes a slightly more pedantic approach.
Mic on table. Is it too high? Okay, thats better. Wait, if someone sits next to him will I be able to hear him too? Okay, run the cable back to the camera. Cable's better than a radio mic, radio mics often suffer from interference. Plus I forgot to buy spare AA batteries at Sainsburys this morning.
Right, camera on, framing is okay. No, wait, a photographer has sat down in front of me and all I can see is his bald spot. Tripod higher, there we go, Mickey Arthur will look like a character from Honey I Shrunk the Kids but it will have to do. Time to white balance.
I try very hard not to break this.
"Hey you! Can you sit there and talk to 100 for audio and hold up a white piece of paper and try to look a bit like Mickey Arthur do you know what height he is?"
Okay, so white balance done, camera is in focus, or at least seems to be, almost impossible to tell on this tiny monitor. Oh crap, here they come.
James Sutherland and another Cricket Australia official wander into the room and start answering questions. Sutherland seems nervous. He prays for success under Darren Lehmann. I pray I have a spare battery because this one is dying.
Press conference done and I start the arduous process of getting vision back to Australia. Late News is on air in 50 minutes or so. Perfect. I connect the camera to my Macbook, and start to spool through the vision to find a few grabs. I choose them and start to export them to a Quicktime file.
Hang on, is that Mickey Arthur?
I yank the camera from the USB cable. It always says never to disconnect something from a computer without ejecting it first. Trust me, it's cool, the only thing that happens is you miss a shot of Mickey Arthur walking into a room.
Mickey talks, speaking honestly about his time in charge and his disappointment at being dropped. Part of me is relieved, it means I don't have to go up and down the streets of Bristol trying to find his hotel to get an interview. The other part of me realises Late News is now on in 30 minutes.
I record enough of Mickey and connect the computer back up. Spool, select, export.
Hang on, is that Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann? For Warnie's sake.
I run through the process again. Now I'm worried. This is a big story, one people will be tuning into the Late News to see. If they don't see it, they may flick to something else. Pressure does different things to different people. It makes me warm and hungry. Go figure.
Grabs are clipped up at a furious pace. I export in lower than usual quality, hoping the file will upload in time using the internet I'm stealing from the good people at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Watching an FTP transfer is like watching a kettle- and we all know a watched kettle never boils. I boil though. When looking at an FTP transfer.
Eventually, success. It uploads. Back in Sydney, the professional editors add it to the piece to camera I recorded earlier, before I was drenched in sweat and nervous and hungry and injured.
With the press conference over and the Late News story filed, I jumped in a cab. Still in a hectic, have-to-file-now mindset, I say to the cab driver- "I need to get to the Gloucester Cricket Club now!"
"Okay Sir, not a problem. But first I have to deliver my friend some mangoes from Pakistan."
And so we did.
I calmed down, knowing that this video journalist thing will get easier as time goes on. If I'm no good at it, I can always get a job selling mangoes.