Working behind the scenes
You are watching the Premiere league final and your favourite team is losing. Right at the last minute of the second half of the game, the most accomplished
football player on your team is about to score a goal and…Dammit!
The screen of your television goes black!
Ok, so you don't like football. But, you love the Oscars. Imagine this talented actress you have been admiring and fangirling over for years wins the academy award! She is about to give the most uplifting speech ever because like you, she is involved in loads of humanitarian work. You turn on the waterworks and… What it's happening? The screen goes black!
There are a million reasons why this could be happening. It could be the weather; it could be human error. In broadcasting, anything "live" has its challenges.
This is where a Playout Director/ Transmission Controller intervenes with a wealth of technical (and not so technical) knowledge to restore the live signal for the viewers at home.
Some would describe the job as a watching TV for a living. For me, it was never that simple.
I worked as a Playout director for all SKY channels. I was responsible for the secure output of all channels that run on a broadcast automation system (Harris), making last-minute changes on the most high-profile live events, checking issues and errors before getting on air (live) and talking to directors, producers and people from the master control room. This requires focus, concentration and above all… a multi-tasker with nerves of steel. This, of course, was as demanding as it was rewarding. Television never sleeps; and therefore, neither did the Playout directors (yes, I worked days and nights!).
After nine years at SKY, I became a Senior Transmission Controller, providing training to new employees. I took part in the migration of unit 4 to SKY studios, worked as a Project Manager for a few on-air events that needed time and preparation and did QA for programs and new software.
After this wonderful experience, I took a Sabbatical year off (I wonder why) to travel around the world. After this life-changing year, I went back to SKY for one additional year and then said goodbye to London and to my beloved Hackney.
The ‘Playout Director within you’ always remains. This technical, multitasking, teamwork state-of-mind is always with me, and I bring it with me during all my projects.