March 13, 2009
Posted: 2052 GMT
It seems like Hala exists in a self-sufficient bubble when she’s on the set. But in fact, there’s a swarm of individuals running around her, making sure she has everything from her soda light– which during commercial brakes is all but sutured to her hand—to positioning the cameras for each respective shot.
First there’s Alice, who works the lighting board. Each different camera shot of Hala has its own dedicated lighting cue. For example, when she turns to the wall to talk to a correspondent, the lights must be turned on and the lights for the shot she is turning from must be brought down (in order to avoid shadows, over-lighting etc…). This is Alice’s job. She stands at the lighting board—which controls every one of the dozens of lights hanging from the ceiling—commanding and manipulating the sliding knobs.
Not all television studios have their lighting boards so saliently displayed in their studios. But luckily, CNN International’s is right in the middle of things, and we get to have Alice hanging about, spreading her warmth and materteral presence amongst the crew.
Secondly there’s Heather. She runs prompter, which is the machine that scrolls scripts into the camera screen, allowing Hala to look into the camera while reading words slowly scrolling in front of her. Heather also helps collate scripts between breaks—along with Alice—so that they’re in Hala’s hands by the time we’re on air. Alice is a dear and you should all get to know her and be her best friend.
Last but not least, there’s me–Zach. I am the floor director. My job is to give time cues and to make sure Hala knows which camera she will be on. Basically, I am the physical intermediary between Hala and the control room (where the director and producers sit.)
As they’re perched up there, hidden away in their cave– imperious and incorporeal voices command and direct me to carryout their tactile dirty-work. Also, along with Alice, I must move the cameras throughout the studio when specified shots are called for.
I carry out my duties with varying degrees of success, but I certainly can’t be blamed for lack of charm or for my willingness to sing harmony when Hala launches into a random song that hasn’t been heard since it charted at #3 in 1958 on American Bandstand.
So there you have it, the “floor crew.” Think of us in your prayers and have a good weekend.
International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.