Friday, September 7

HD Is A Miserable Bitch Mistress

I wear makeup. It is true. As part of my job as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune, I deliver a few on-air business reports each week for WFLA NewsChannel 8. And when I tape those reports, I have to wear makeup.

Now, I have to wear a lot more makeup.

One week ago, WFLA began broadcasting its news in high definition. This has meant a lot of changes at the station, starting with the makeup everyone wears. All of the WFLA anchors and reporters have been trained to apply their makeup with an airbrush.

Oh yes, that's right. An airbrush -- that contraption that people used in the 1970s to paint unicorns and kitties on t-shirts and the sides of vans. We've got airbrush machines in the dressing room now.

I don't use the airbrush yet because I haven't been trained to use it. Apparently, it's just a matter of time. Until then, I've been told to keep using the same makeup I used in the past, but to apply even more of it.

Because I have a little experience with HD and makeup, I felt a little sorry for John Madden when I saw him on Sunday Night Football (on Thursday night) last night. His makeup looked so botched. It looked like it was applied by blind spastic squirrels. It certainly didn't look professional.

My makeup might look just as bad as Madden's, but I don't have anyone applying it for me. WFLA got rid of its makeup person years ago. I don't get paid for appearing on TV. I hope my makeup doesn't appear amateurish, but if it does, give me a break. I'm an amateur.

Frankly, I don't mind the makeup. As long as I can take it off right after I'm done with the business reports, I'm happy. If I have to use an airbrush, I'll use an airbrush.

I'm finding it hard to adapt to the new high-definition graphics that WFLA adopted. Everything on the screen now spins or shines or rotates or pulsates or sparkles, and I'm finding it very distracting when I try to record the business reports.

When I see the on-screen news graphics, I can't help but think that if Liberace were still alive and in the corporate world, this is what his PowerPoint presentations would look like.

Here's why I'm distracted: when I'm recording a business report, I have two screens directly in front of me, mounted on the TV camera. I'm looking directly at the TelePrompTer, reading my script. Right below that screen is a monitor that displays a composite shot of me and the on-screen graphics -- basically, the same thing that the viewers will eventually see.

Last Friday, when I was taping my first business reports for the HD broadcasts, I kept fumbling my scripts. Those spinning graphics on the lower monitor kept drawing my attention away from the TelePrompTer. It was horribly disorienting, but I expect I'll get used to the new, moving graphics soon.

All in all, last Friday was not a good introduction to the world of HD. I kept fumbling my scripts. There were recording issues. We had to stop taping at one point so that tests could be done to prepare for the 5 o'clock broadcast. When all was done, the session had taken 45 minutes. It usually takes 10 minutes.

Because the process had taken so long, and I had worn so much makeup for so long, my skin was red and pimply by the time I took off the makeup. I went back to my desk in the Tribune newsroom, feeling defeated by the whole process, and proclaimed that HD was a miserable bitch mistress.

Today will be my second experience with HD. I hope it will go much more smoothly.

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