Sunday, April 22, 2007

Surrounded by wires: J.J. Eynon (left) and Rodney Herbert.

I always marvel at the hundreds of wires involved in putting a live broadcast on the air. The cables come in many sizes and all colors. Some are plugged into machines whose exact function is a mystery to me. Some come out of cameras and television monitors. Others are secured to the floor with thick yellow tape. Anchors and guests tripping on cables on the way to the live shot position is something we all want to avoid.

At CNN’s French campaign headquarters, a Paris terrace with beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower, what you see on the air and what you would see if the camera turned a just a few degrees one way or the other – or tilted down to the floor - is an entirely different picture.

We share small tables, we eat chips and sandwiches at our laptop computers, we tape guest lists to the walls, phones ring and producers shout across the workspace. Then there are the dozens of boxes for the mountains of TV equipment we need to put any field show on the air.

I ask CNN engineer J.J. Eynon to describe two big black boxes hooked up to dozens of cables. I see him sitting in front of those boxes almost all day so I assume they’re important.

"What is that? That thing you’re sitting in front of?" I ask.

"What thing?"

"Those two big black boxes. Those things."

He enunciates clearly and separates each syllable.

"That is the flyaway," he replies. "The FLY-A-WAAAY."

Our satellite dish.

With the flyaway, we’re able to transmit video and sound via a satellite dish. Oops, I knew that.

J.J. adds that the dish is "one-point-nine meters and that’s quite big." I believe him.

We’ve left nothing to chance: We have two live cameras and a studio designed to accommodate an anchor position and two guests.

We will be live at 1800GMT for the results and all evening with important decision-makers and political analysts. Our Jim Bittermann and Robin Oakley will be live at campaign headquarters.

After the results, we will be going down to street level and broadcast live reaction to the vote.

The multi-colored wires and cables will be put to good use.

From Hala Gorani, CNN International Anchor/Correspondent
Hear from CNN reporters across the globe. "In the Field" is a unique blog that will let you share the thoughts and observations of CNN's award-winning international journalists from their far-flung bureaus or on assignment. Whether it's from conflict zone, a summit gathering, or the path least traveled, "In the Field" gives you a personal, front row seat to CNN's global newsgathering team.
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