(From Feliciano Garcia, TODAY Tape Producer)
My name is Feliciano Garcia and I am the Tape Producer here at Today. I'm an early riser, arriving at work by 3:30 AM every morning. I work with a great team of talented editors, archivists, profile operators and ingest operators, to put the show together every morning..or rather before the morning arrives. I am responsible for the show opens, teases and video/digital footage you see everyday on the show. I begin by slurping up a few cups of coffee while we go over the writer's copy (a term for the scripts that the anchors read from) and teases prepared by the overnight researcher. Sometimes the teases are pretty close to ready for air, and other times they're not. Also, believe it or not, a lot news changes overnight and many of the stories we planned to run the evening before the show, change significantly by morning.
So I work with one editor who arrives at 2 AM, and 5 more who arrive at 4 AM. We average about 90 tapes a day. The tapes I produce range from 30-second voice-over clips to longer (3-5 minute) stories. I usually revise a few stories a day by updating the images or improving some of the pictures within piece. I mostly communicate with the senior producers and the set writer. We constantly keep in touch, informing each other of evolving stories, new footage, and changing copy. It can be tough, but I stay ahead of the game by monitoring the wire news services, national and international feeds, and keeping abreast of ongoing and developing stories.
One of the most challenging parts of the job is the 7:00 AM cold open . We usually choose three major news topics to begin the show. At around 6 AM the first version of the script is written. Each editor works on a different story. I screen, locate and provide the clips through a system called Avid media manager. I have several bins where editors know to pull material from. It can become quite a juggling act while switching between four edit rooms (via one tiny tv and a remote on my desk) and constantly revolving copy. I am always reading allowed on a Mccurdy machine while the editor and I watch the sequence they've put together...if the timing is not perfect, we revise the length of the shots or replace footage. A curious observer might think I'm auditioning for the anchor job, but I'm actually trying to imitate Matt's or Meredith's timing so that when they actually read the open for real, everything works out smoothly and makes sense. There are many revisions between 6:00 and 7:00 AM, yet we alwaysseem to make air (even if by the skin of our teeth). Like I said the open can be a challenge, but it is exciting...always different and something I'm proud to produce. Here's an example of the open from today, WATCH VIDEO
There are many other aspects of my job, but all revolve around making the show look good. When we make a mistake (and believe me they happen during a three-hour, fast-paced, live, behemoth of a show like this one) I fix them for the next time zone. Sorry Midwest and the rest of ya, but you're missing many of the small blunders we get to see hear in the East. For example, someone's title may have an error in it or a tape may roll late. When this happens it is my job to make sure an editor replaces the error. How? Well there are four separate Today Show feeds for each domestic time zone. We are able to edit every segment of the show before it hits the next time zone. If we show a picture of 'Ronald McDonald' forexample, and the graphic says 'Blinky the Clown', we have to make sure to replace the right graphic before Chicago and the rest of the Midwest calls in with clown I.D. confusion.
My shift technically ends when the show ends. On a normal day, when we don't update the show to accommodate breaking news or place more emphasis on stories in the West, I finish by 10:30. There are occasions, like during the London Train Bombings, when we are live until 1 PM EST.
Before I part, I want to share what I like most about this job...the opportunity to work independently and creatively. I'm the last set of eyes to look at a lot of the images you see every morning. I have endless hours of footage from around the world at my fingertips and the freedom to choose how they should be presented - live. There's a lot of pressure with this responsibility, but the payoff is enormous. Thanks for spending a little time in my world...I'll delve into other aspects of job including the shot selection, HD conversion, and battle over doughnuts in the kitchen in future blogs.