The Live Shot Around the Corner

The Live Shot Around the Corner

One of the best things about living at the RAF is its proximity to public transportation. The Metro is right up the street to help you get around the city and Union Station is about a 10-15 minute walk the other way for longer trips on Amtrak, commuter rail and bus.


The interior of a MARC commuter train car I rode in on my way back to D.C.

from home after my Thanksgiving Break.


When the producers at CBS This Morning decided to do a story on new USDOT regulations requiring seatbelts on busses, they chose to do the live shot to front the piece from the station’s parking garage that houses DC’s main bus terminal. Since it was an easy walk for me to get there, I decided to tag along even though it meant getting up early.


Having a reporter live from the field is always a team effort. Even at local news stations that use one-man-band reporters (reporters who do everything in the field themselves), you still need someone in the studio making sure the shot looks good and the video is carried smoothly on the satellite feed. But that doesn’t really fly on national television. With millions of people watching, you need a full team in the field to really limit the possibility that something might go wrong. In addition to Chip Reid, our correspondent, we had a satellite truck technician (sat tech), audio technician, a photographer (cameraman), field producer and me.


Our truck operator inside a CBS News live truck.


And for a live shot as complicated as this one it was necessary. We had called Greyhound the day before and reserved a coach bus with seatbelts as well as one of Union Station’s bus gates. The satellite truck sat about 50 feet away from the bus in its own parking spot. Cable was strung from the truck over to the audio technician who stood at the entrance to the bus. The audio technician has a little stand with a small mixer to make adjustments to the sound coming from the correspondent’s microphone. He also sets up a small box on a stand for the reporter that houses a device called an IFB. This is what goes into a reporter or anchor’s ear so they can hear the show and communicate with the producers.


The live truck in a bus gate at Union Station.


If you’ve even been on a coach bus, you know the space inside is a little tight. When you have a camera, tripod and lighting equipment, it’s even tighter. The crew used the first few rows of seats in the bus for that gear. A light panel (a giant square of white LED lights) went on a stand in the very first row. The camera and tripod took up the whole area adjacent to the driver’s seat. This left the whole aisle from the first row back open for Chip to do his stand up. The best ones require a background or objects to make the story being told come alive. It was easy to do on the bus, with some coordination because Chip could walk towards the camera and buckle himself into one of the seats.


Camera and lighting equipment set up inside the bus.


Overall, it was a success and a good learning experience. Check it out for yourself:





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