|Q.||Can you work tomorrow?|
|A.||Usually yes. This may be evidenced by the fact that I already am working tomorrow for company X. If however I am available, I would be more than happy to drop everything. After all I am a freelancer which means that part of my role is turning other people's panics into my gainful employment.|
|Q.||How can I get to work in TV like you do?|
|A.||If you knew television from the inside better, you might be less keen, but then I'm still doing it and it does pay the bills. If you are really keen to work in TV and nothing else will do then Click Here|
|Q.||Why do you always wear a belt as well as your braces?|
|A.||If you have dual redundancy with diverse paths then you are much less likely to get caught with your pants down.|
|Q.||Can you fix my VHS machine?|
|A.||Probably, but it will cost you! Remember that buying a new one may be cheaper in these days when you can pick one up in the supermarket with your weekly groceries. It's probably worth a quick look, especially if you think you may have done something silly like shoving something in the slot which isn't a tape, or it's blown a fuse or got some quick to diagnose fault. Otherwise they are getting to be rather throwaway items. The build quality has dropped quite markedly over recent years, and they just are not built to be repaired. Bit sad really.|
Maybe itís time you got a DVD? You can pick up the players for about the cost of a couple of discs and there is a choice of home recorders. They have a lot less moving parts than any VCR so they might last a bit longer.
|Q.||Can you get this important master tape out of my faulty office viewing machine without damaging it?|
|A.||Sometimes. Of course you have a safety copy of it haven't you?|
|Q.||How can I assess the likelihood of over-run in a multi-camera shoot?|
|A.||With the results of qualitative research carried out over a number of years, we can now bring you the newly developed Faffing Indicator Scale. This will enable you to score each production on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 4 or over indicates that you should do everything in your power to limit your involvement to none at all.|
|Q.||Why isn't our new fantastically expensive system which uses the latest cutting edge technology working?|
|A.||I expect it's so cutting edge that nobody has any experience of it, or knows how to use it properly yet, which is inconvenient because that will mask any inherent design faults or other technical problems you might need to fix. You could have helped yourself a bit by ensuring that a single main contractor was responsible for managing and delivering the whole project. This potentially saves you from being in the middle of a huge amount of squabbling and recrimination between suppliers.|
Itís not all bad though because it will all be an obsolete dinosaur in a few years anyway, so you will be able to do it all again.
Next time you will have the benefit of all you have learned on this project.
Alternatively if you canít wait that long, you could always instigate a testing programme to prove that the system is working properly. You know that it will pass because you are designing the tests.
For this to be really effective, you also need to receive a once-in-a-lifetime job offer which will force you to switch employers the second the system passes all itís tests. That way you will be able to claim all credit on your CV if the system eventually works, while avoiding all blame if it all gets abandoned in disgust, by those you leave behind to clear up the mess.
|Q.||I think I might be about to damage my career by saying the wrong thing, but I donít want to tell lies (or at least anything which might be proved wrong when the truth comes out). What should I do?|
|A.||The answer here is to use a well-chosen euphemism. This is not always easy, so in order to help you, a handy guide to euphemisms for use in the TV industry has been compiled to help you. Click here for the guide.|
|Q.||I've got a scart splitter on my satellite receiver box so that I can split the output into my VCR, TV and another TV in my bedroom. It seems to work, but the pictures are a bit dark. What should I do?|
|A.||Don't use a scart splitter. They are nasty. By connecting 2 TVs and a VCR to one video output you are probably triple terminating and causing the video level to drop very low causing your dark picture.|
|Q.||What is video termination? That's a Schwarzenegger film right?|
|A.||Er...no. It's a 75 ohm resistor, often in a BNC connector, but also switchable on some looping analogue video inputs. It should be at the end (and nowhere else) of every run of video cable to ensure correct impedance matching. It is especially important on long cable runs where any reflections in the cable will cause very nasty ghost images, but on shorter runs it helps keep video and chroma levels right.|
|Q.||What is a genlock?|
|A.||Genlock the name given to locking mode of a sync pulse generator where it takes it's reference from a composite video signal. It is needed whenever two video signals are to be combined into one in some way. If they are not in very close sync, there will be a disturbance in the transitions. I'm being very general here otherwise we'll be here all night! In some cases the term has been hijacked to describe computer video overlay cards, presumably because they need to genlock themselves and in some cases the computer's clock, to the live video signal onto which they are going to overlay graphics.|
Genlock has become virtually the only way of externally locking an SPG, however in years past when electronic circuits were more costly, other systems such as unipulse, natlock and mains lock were also used. (OOPS there's my age showing again...)
|Q.||What is aspect ratio?|
|A.||It's the ratio of the height of a picture to it's width. The television industry is in a state of transition and confusion over this issue, which means that your chances of seeing your TV shows with the people the right shape are very slim! (or should that be short?) In the good old days you knew where you were. The TV aspect ratio was 4:3. That was it. You knew the shape of your TV picture. Now things are different. Now you have wide screen TVs. The idea is that you can watch wide screen films without cropping the edges of the picture. It all seems like a good idea, and most people agree that the wide screen (16:9) picture is nicer to look at than a 4:3 picture, but when you actually go out and buy a wide screen TV, it all starts to unravel. It is at this point that you discover that you will never again be really sure if the things on your telly are the shape they should be or not. My dog is pleased to demonstrate the issue with this animated GIF. Oh dear.|
|Q.||What is a GPI?|
|A.||GPI stands for "General Purpose Interface". The idea is that it can be used in an automated or semi automated environment to trigger a timed action in a piece of equipment which does not have any supported control interface. The original concept was that a GPI was a pair of relay contacts which would close at a defined time. I like relay contacts in this context. They are easy to test, easy to emulate, polarity insensitive and will interface with almost anything with minimal fuss. Unfortunately not everyone shares my view and GPIs in the real world are a mess of incompatible voltages, polarities, pulse durations and just about every possible variation of how to do it - even between different families of the same products from the same manufacturer! Still it's not all bad as it provides well paid work for people like me sorting it all out!|
|Q.||How much does it cost to make a video?|
|A.||About the same as to buy a vehicle. A vehicle can be anything from a second hand pair of roller blades to a modern jet fighter. In the same way, a video can be anything from you filming the kids on a cheap camcorder to a major high budget Hollywood blockbuster. How much do you want to spend?|
|Q.||What is freelancer panic?|
|A.||An irrational fear of days off! Strangely, in my experience, it never seems to coincide with lack of cash. As freelancers tend to get paid after the event, (sometimes a long time after) a lull in bookings is when you can hassle people for the money they should have paid you! It normally comes when you have been working yourself silly and are getting a few days badly needed rest. You know the feeling you get when your employer closes down and everyone is out of work? Well it's a bit like that only maybe not quite so bad. Oh dear, I've got no bookings after the end of next month, I'll never work again, my house will be repossessed and the children will all starve etc. etc. Something usually turns up before you do anything silly, but it keeps you on your toes!|
|Q.||What is the difference between Firewire and a firewall?|
|A.||What an odd question! I don't think this is frequently asked at all. A firewall (among other things) is a device to stop hackers, viruses and other nasties on the Internet from getting into your corporate network, while giving your workers access to the Internet. (I think I've got that right, although experience tells me that I may have it the wrong way round). Firewire on the other hand is a high speed data connection. It is most frequently used to link digital video decks and camcorders to computers. It allows digital video, audio and timecode in one direction and machine control in the other, all at the same time on one little 4 pin cable. Pretty cool eh? The only thing they have in common is that they both have "firew" in their name, and this does confuse some tech support engineers who are so clever that they don't need to read even the product descriptions in their own sales literature - hence the term "Firewall wiring.|