I will never again offer input to a tech unless asked because I now know how it feels and it is infuriating. For those of you under 35 and don’t quite get the terminology I will be using, don’t worry you will still get the point of the story. Last week, a gentleman who produces a show for one of the channels run out of my office asked a favor. I’ve mentioned this guy a few months ago I believe. He’s an elderly man who has been doing his show forever, and I’ve known him for a good portion of my professional life. For the sake of the story I will call him “Moe”. Moe still refuses to upgrade to 21st century technology and for years my department has indulged him, probably too much. Recently he decided to “upgrade” to DVCPro format tape as it is increasingly difficult to find replacement parts for the 3/4 inch umatic and Beta formats he has been using for decades and he has just about cleaned us out of the junk we had in storage for those formats. DVCPro is a step up but it is still obsolete. If you’re not sure what videotape is, ask your parents or Google.
Anyways, last week Moe told me he was having issues with his editing decks and asked if we could take a look to see what the problem is. The decks work great, they just aren’t performing the edits. Unfortunately he won’t take the solution of scrapping the format altogether and getting with the times, we’ve tried until we’re blue in the face. So silly me being the sweetheart I am said sure, bring it in and I will have a look but I could not make any promises as we don’t have any manuals for the machines and any of the few remaining employees who have experience with videotape editing have not touched tape to tape editing since about 10 years at the most recent. Also, I am no engineer. Sure I’ve used tape to tape editors back in the analog days, but when a machine decides to go wonky and it’s not an obvious fix I’ve always called for one of the techs to come help. Video tech is the only position in television production that I have not held. I’ve been a production assistant, assistant director, director, producer, floor director, camera operator, on screen talent, graphics maker, set designer, lighting, editor, and even audio person but never the technician. That being said though, I have had the occasional stroke of luck getting something to work in emergencies when the tech was not readily available. I’m what I call a “monkey see, monkey do” learner and picked up a few minor tricks by watching techs do their thing which has come in handy on more than a couple productions.
Moe decides to drop in unannounced today with his machines. At first I thought he was just going to drop them off and I would get to it when I had the time. It’s not like I just sit around the station looking like a pretty piece of furniture even though sometimes I feel like it. Apparently Moe had other plans. I think he had the impression that it was going to be a quick check and repair because he started rambling on about getting it all hooked up. Tuesdays are my half days, so I really wanted to get other things done that I needed to get done. He kept insisting upon getting it checked out right then and there, so while trying to keep my cool I went about tracking down some old monitors and cables from the storage area and hoped they worked. I never did have time to track down a manual so I’m trying to connect things from memory. Back in the day, cables would have been labeled as to what connects to what but since we don’t use tape to tape we have no labeled cables. We get things hooked up finally, and while I’m trying to troubleshoot things he is next to me trying to tell me what’s what and I need to try this and that and asking me why something is not working properly still. He would not shut up and let me work on it. Since he is also a bit hard of hearing and I have to speak up a bit when talking to him and I was almost sure that someone from the office across the hall was going to come over and tell me I’m too loud. I really wanted to just grab Moe and ask him why ask me for help if he won’t let me check things over, but of course I must remain professional and polite. Looking at the time, and then remembering that his wife is still in the car (she has to drive him as he cannot anymore) after almost 2 hours, I finally told him to go and let me handle the dino machines and I will let him know what’s up when is pops in on Friday. I’m sure his wife gave him an ear full when he finally got to the car. I know I would have. I’ve always liked the guy, but sometimes he can be a real pain and I’d rather not deal with him. I’m sure we all know people like that.
After Moe left, I decided to shove the machines into a corner to work on tomorrow because I wasted enough time already. Dealing with that man soured my mood for the rest of the day. Got out of the office an hour later than I wanted to though I still managed to make it to the post office just before it closed, but my whole timing for the rest of the day I had all planned out was screwed up. Good thing I went to the bank before work.