Monday, March 5, 2012

Camera Woman

Twice a year, all of the local congregations of my church meet together for a special meeting called stake conference. No, not steak conference, though that would be awesome. Because the groups meeting at the church for stake conference are so big, there is a video camera system set up to broadcast the speakers to the large group in the back of the auditorium. Usually someone experienced with how the camera works is in charge of the whole operation. Today, I was.

Here's how it happened. I walked into the building with my sister, Katherine, and we ran into our dad right away. He is usually one of the people in charge of the camera. Our conversation went something like this,

Dad: You're in charge of the camera today.
Me: haha
Dad: No, really, you're in charge of it.
Me: Wait, whaaaaa?

The end.

So he gave me a really quick lesson on how to use the camera. The camera itself was situated high up on a wall, and the remote I was given was to control that. Thank goodness most of it was already pre-programed. For example, if I wanted to focus on the chorister, I only had to press "3"; if I wanted to focus on the speaker, I had to press "1" and so on.

The problem came from people being different heights. That's when I'd have to do some actual adjusting of angles and other tricky things that I was not trained for. Turns out the "up" and "down" buttons as well as the "left" and "right" buttons on the remote are EXTREMELY sensitive. So in trying to adjust the camera to be focused right on Angelina Jolie for example (this is purely an example - she did not speak at my church meeting today. I can't emphasize that part enough), this is what would happen:

It would start like this:

Then in trying to fix it, something like this would happen:

At this point, my friend on one side of me (who was enjoying my agony) would be saying, "it's too far over! Move it to the right! The right!!!" And I'd start tapping on the remote, palms sweating, to try to make it better when something like this would show up on screeen:

Then this:

Then finally, something I could live with:

The problem was, I had the devil on one side of me (sorry, Rob) and a couple of angels on the other side of me. Rob would say, "it's too far over to the right, tap it to the left" and I'd look at Katherine and Brady for confirmation and see that they were both shaking their heads, telling me it would go too far if I tapped it again, and that the people watching the screen were going to throw up if I adjusted it too much. So I would leave it.

And just as I would start to relax and enjoy the conference, a new speaker would get up, this one five inches taller than the last, and it would begin again.

Later in the day, I laid down to take a little nap. As I drifted off, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently and about the experience overall:

Why didn't I pan the faces of the choir? Would people have enjoyed that? Did anyone appreciate my camera skills today? Should I have zoomed out more when that one guy was speaking? Could I maybe have two or three cameras set up next time for better angles? Should I go back to school to learn how to be a better camera woman? Is there an award ceremony of any sort for best camera skillz at a stake conference? Would I be nominated?

With all that in mind, if anyone took notes today at the meeting, could I borrow them? I know there were lots of speakers there today but I'm not sure I heard a word they said.


Katherine said...

This post makes me so happy!! Hee heee!! Those pictures are the best! I feel honored to have been a part of this, and to have been an "angel" instead of the alternative... Also, sorry for sort of forcing you into the job when Dad asked us... I was NOT about to be in charge of that nonsense. :D

I'd like to officially nominate you for a Stakey Award (hmm...sacrilegious?) for Best Camera Work When Asked At the Last Minute And With Much Opposition From Rob. You're a shoo-in to win!!

Claire said...

All I really have to say is this:


Also, I feel like at my stake conferences, they just broadcast something from an entirely different location with General Authorities involved? Or is that regional conference? Or...something....?

Never mind.

(You know what I probably would have done? Tried to angle the camera to find someone sleeping and left it on them till they woke up.)

violet50 said...

I'm sure that there SHOULD be some sort of award. That makes me wonder how much dad gets out of conference when he has to be in charge of so many things. Maybe I should make a copy of my notes for him, too. Funny.

Mark said...

In my stake the camera is mounted on a riser and a stand that shakes whenever the operator moves. From the back of the gym, it's like watching Blair Witch conference, but with less swearing.

I think during the congregational hymns, the camera should pan the chapel, and zoom in on little boys picking their nose.

Melissa C said...

That's awesome. Totally agree that you should pan the congregation during the hymns! Sorry it stressed you out, but I am sure it made it more exciting.

SAC said...

Hahahaha! That was freaking hilarious. It's a good thing I wasn't there sitting by you, cuz me laughing my head off wouldn't have helped matters at all. Though of course, I could have dragged out my life size cardboard cutout of Angelina Jolie and snuck it up on the stand, maybe hiding behind the piano, so you might have got a shot of her in there too(if I really had a cut out of her I'd have to do some type of bodily harm to myself).