Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Job, Just in Case it Rains...part 5 of 7

In my previous post I shared a typical day for me at my job,  now I am showing what we do if it rains.  All of this is set up just in case it rains.  The graduation ceremony of this school has always been held outside.  It is an important tradition where each student looks forward to being able to "walk the lawn" on their last day. However, the weather does not always cooperate.  In anticipation of a possible storm, the school's big gymnasium is also set.  This is a massive job for us and for the school; few guests ever know about it.

One time years ago, a rainstorm caught everyone by surprise.  It is still remembered vividly by all those who attended.  I was there.  I remember it, vividly.  The storm was not forecasted but decided to show up anyway.  The sun was shining as the ceremony began, then the winds began to blow and before the diplomas could be awarded, the bottom fell out!  Hundreds of frantic people flew to the older (smaller) gymnasium in hopes of a dry seat.  There were not enough.  The graduates were the last ones to enter the lobby and I saw what appeared to be drowned rats evacuating a sinking ship, dripping hair, smeared makeup and drenched clothes.  The principal (ship's captain) entered and calmly called to the group, "Ladies, dignity, stand tall, walk with dignity" the music began.  They all obeyed and jerked to attention.  It was impressive.  They entered the auditorium with grace, our cameras were already set up and began rolling.  DVD sales were brisk that year!

So to be prepared for anything, this is the rain plan and how we have set up our equipment.  Camera 3 is behind the stage to get the students' faces as they enter the room in the procession line as it moves down the center aisle.  The camera is on wheels so it will roll to the side to get their faces as they receive their diplomas.

This shot is from behind the stage looking toward the back of the room.  WAY FAR IN THE BACK of the room are cameras 1 and 2.  Don't worry if you can't see them in the picture, neither can I.

Now you can see them better.  This is a closer shot of cameras 1 and 2.  

Jim is at the rack getting it ready.  Today this will be the auxiliary command center.

"Did I just skip an important step?"
Cables must be run to each camera, connecting them to the control rack.  Every cable across every door or walkway must be taped down. It is Dustin's face which can be seen under the table to the left. 

We were the only people in the building so we were a bit relaxed.

Well, maybe we were VERY relaxed.

Goofy poses for the camera are always allowed.  

Dustin and Doug being goofy. 
Tape is put over the plug to keep the power cord from mistakenly being disconnected.  All of our power runs through this one outlet.  We take no chances with our spigots.

Since all cameras are connected to the rack, it will send the video signal to the large screen in the front of the room.  The graduation ceremony will be shown on the large screen along with a live stream feed to the internet.

Howard offered to show me how the big screen worked.

Here I am taking a selfie of me taking a selfie.  It was my first.

Something is wrong with the screen!  I do not have that many wrinkles!  Dustin said the screen adds ten years to your face.  I thought it added ten pounds.  But what happens when you are using three cameras?  Does it add thirty years and thirty pounds?  He knows all about technical stuff so I am going to believe it does.

Back to work.  Dustin has a plastic trash bag stuck in his back pocket.  It will be used if the graduation is held outside and it starts raining during the ceremony.  Each one of us is assigned specific equipment and electrical sockets to quickly cover.  No detail is too small or too unimportant to be forgotten.  I suppose getting shocked would not be considered a small detail.

Howard checks the weather; it is fine.  Jim runs through one last check to be sure we are operational. Everything is powered up and ready, waiting...just in case, it rains. 

"We are choo-choochin' now"
Then we are finished and the phone calls begin.  It is time to move to the outside theatre to repeat everything we just did plus add an additional camera, number 4.  I will show that setup in the following post. 


It clouded up, the wind began to blow, but it blew over.  Whew!  We set up again, filmed the graduation, took everything down, packed it up in the truck and now we are back, late in the night to strike this theatre also.

All the cables will be rolled, tape removed, and everything repacked.

Rolling cables under the bleachers.
Dustin making a face at me.
Different equipment will be used for the next day's shows so everything is sorted and packed to be ready.

As the work continues, exhaustion begins to show in their faces.

And then the phone calls prepare for tomorrow.  Who gets coffee, who gets bagels?

All the equipment is once again loaded into the Jeep.

Since this load out is on level ground, wooden ramps are used to roll the heavy cases up into the jeep.

Blankets are used to cover up the billions of dollars of valuable state of the art equipment so no one will see it and want to steal it.

Lastly, the next morning's call times are verified for the different events, directions to the locations are confirmed, and farewells are exchanged as everyone stumbles to their car.  Tomorrow it begins again.  It will be the same, only different.

Finally, I got a free moment to eat my dinner.   It was a long, hard grueling day and my job is the easiest of anybody's.  I love my job, but only because I work for my brother.  If anyone would have told me years ago I would be doing this for 25+ years, I would never have believed them.


  1. So interesting to get a glimpse of your life and job, Jeannie! I'm really enjoying this series!

  2. Hey Jeannie,
    The school my kids and I graduated from always planned for indoor graduation just in case. Back then, we were all just snapping pictures.
    It's a great idea to have special times immortalized, however, that is a gruelling job! It's no wonder everyone looks exhausted. Each and every one of you earn your pay!

    1. People have no idea how much work goes on behind the scene. The videos are high quality like a show you see on television and it makes the performers look so professional.

      I am ashamed to say Jim pays me way more than I am worth...but I take my check and cash it anyway.

  3. As a layperson I do not understand anything about this branch of business. In Germany we say, these are "Bohemian villages" when a
    subject is unknown to us. I think that not only the knowledge is important, but also a great experience.
    And - I will not forget to say - you look so happy on that selfie !

    1. I looked SILLY in the picture! There was a second one I made where I looked better but decided to use the "REALLY HAPPY" one since I had put so many goofy pictures of the guys in, it would not be fair to them.

      I like the expression "Bohemian villages" and will probably use it on the family the next time the guys talk about things I do not understand.

  4. I'm pretty tired tonight after helping set up for a huge rummage sale the youth group is doing tomorrow and Saturday. They are earning money for a mission trip to Mexico and an adventure camp in July. So, I'm happy to help out. In fact, they are still going strong, but I came home. BUT, your job makes that seem easy:) We'll see how I feel on Saturday night! Do you have much longer in your busy season?

    1. No. This weekend ends it up until fall when Thanksgiving and then Christmas "events" begin but they are not as plentiful as the spring season. Jim's work has not slowed down any for him. He is now working on videoing (can't say their names without permission) BIG ball games and television shows. As for me, I am worn out.

  5. Being a little goofy now and then keeps the job from becoming monotonous. Thanks for sharing with SYC.