Monday, March 20, 2006

My Olympic Moment

It’s not that I’m lazy. I mean, I’ve been MEANING to write this, as my final thoughts. I’ve just been having trouble trying to figure out what my Olympic Moment was during the Torino Olympics. My father talks about every Olympics he’s been a part of having a good Olympic Moment and a bad one.

Figuring out the bad Olympic Moment is easy. After working for three weeks making sure that the show we produced was the best we could do with the equipment we were given, we had a very bad moment. The day of the second to last show started, just like the several before, just fine. We signed in with the BOC (Broadcast Operations Center, with the Hub that all of the feeds from the different venues hits, and then goes back to New York, and then distributed out to the World) and checked all of our equipment with them to make sure everything we had was in perfect working order, just like we had everyday we had a cross-country event.

After the show, everyone took a break and had lunch. When we came back, to voice over our show, to get it ready to send the BOC, we realized ALL of our footage had audio which was out of phase. Without getting terribly technical, out of phase audio is BAD, to the point of unusable. And, it’s not like we can have the event happen again, and re-record it. We fixed it as best we could and sent it out, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth. This is not how I wanted to end my Olympic Experience from an almost perfect venue.

Figuring out the good Olympic Moment is difficult. When I showed up to the Olympics (my first) I had no idea what to expect. I had very little information about I would be given to work with and what the workflow was going to be expected from our production team. After three years of working with New Century Productions (NCP) working on the World Series, US Open (Tennis), and several ESPN Sunday Night Baseball events, I felt pretty confident that I could handle the venue. But, I wasn’t positive.

When I got there, I was handed a set of drawings and shown where the equipment was. I started to go to work. After hooking up all the gear (Monitors, tape machine, switcher, etc) I felt pretty good. I knew everything could change once the production team showed up, but I didn’t realize they were going to change everything. In the end the joke around the compound was that our C-World Venue (A-World is like Hockey, Figure Skating, etc) was more like a “B-minus Venue”.

We made prime time twice, once scheduled and once due to another prime time venue getting cancelled due to weather. Our venue was featured as a segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (I’m not sure how many venues were featured on The Tonight Show, but I felt good we were used). They had showed one of our events where a cross-country skier tripped every competitor and therefore became dead last, but he finished with a Silver in the event. The joke was that when his trainer/coach gave him a new ski (as he had broken one) Frode Estil (the tripped skier) light a rocket attached to his boot. Funny stuff.

It was an amazing experience to ski in the Italian Alps, twice. Even though I got lost at one point, skiing from Italy to France and back, and almost died (Sorry, Lindsay). I got to work with an excellent crew, who were a joy to work with. None them ever got very grumpy (at least at me) and they asked instead of demanded.

My good Olympic Moment has to be the final dinner. The production team gave my father and our Broadcast Manager (Willeta Dement) a bottle of wine and a hoodie each. Then our producer, Rob Hyland, went around the room and congratulated each of us and said some kind words about us. And then my father stood up and congratulated everyone, and praised me. As my father stated we each got on each other’s nerves from time to time, but it’s always been a joy to work with. It’s sad (if you believe what he says, when he says he’s retired from doing the Olympics. We’ll see!) to think we won’t be able to work together on such a momentous event like the Olympics. Of course there will be many other projects he and I will work together: After all we both own the company.

So, to Dave Raynes, my father, I thank him for my Olympic Moment. To Lindsay and Eva Raynes, my wife and daughter, I thank them (again) for standing by me when I need the love and support that they give. It’s tough being gone for so long, but they help with their love and support to make it easier and worthwhile.

Thank you for all your kind words, Dear Reader, as so many have commented on our Blog.

Stay close, as the next adventure is in May, when I work on the Endeavor with Dr. Ballard our in the Mediterranean.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Final Thoughts-David

As we are now going thru the Tyrolean Alps, I have had a chance to reflect on my work on the Torino Winter Olympic Games of 2006. When I had decided to do one more Olympics after the Salt Lake fiasco, I went in with concerns as to how I would do. Working for the Olympic Committee as Host was something I did for the last three Olympics. Working for the “dark side” as NBC is sometimes called was going to be something I would need to contend with yet again. Dealing with the Producer who would want to make Gone with the Wind II with his segments to air was always a challenge. A lot of these freelance producers need to make a statement and need to prove they are worthy of more NBC feedings was always an annoying part of working for NBC. And I was back again to do that. Also, working with a new Engineering team that would or wouldn’t support me was also a challenge. Ya just never know which way the cat will jump.

In a word, I was awesome!

I was able to take control of the venue and work very closely with the Host on a lot of the broadcast issues. Setting up a good communications path and letting them know what I expected early on helped. The fact that I was known and liked by the Host production team certainly helped that they would be compliant to NBC’s demands. The “seen it, done it” attitude left little room for compromise when it came to my needs. I left very little room for acceptance of compromise and they knew it. Like a spoiled child, I always get my way. Dealing also with the NBC production team was also put to my favor. The producer, Rob Hyland, was looking to build the epic. After a little “prayer meeting”, he quickly realized that it was what it was, and that Brian and I were trying to give him everything we could but we just didn’t have anything left in our bag of tricks. His expectations did drop and he was able to adept well and do his job. Brian established his credentials quickly with setting up the control room better then designed. I was able to work with Rob to find out his workflow and what he ultimately needed to get his job done effectively. It worked well and we did develop a strong team.

Looking back on this experience gave me final closure to my Olympic experience. What happened in Salt Lake was very tough to deal with and walk away from. I had always enjoyed my Olympic experiences up to this point. With the fiasco in Salt Lake, I had walked away saying I would never do this again. With Torino, I came back to do just one more. The experience for me was fantastic and now, I can truthfully say, “that’s it”. Staying too long at the party is not my style. Going out with a strong finish is. I was in the Italian Alps for 6 weeks with the best of technical crew, a strong production crew, and working with my son. That was the best experience that I don’t believe anything can top.

Time to turn over to another Raynes the legacy of doing Olympics. Brian did a fantastic job with what he was given to work with. He did command the respect of the Production team early and was able to support their needs. He also got along well with the technical crew and responded to any technical issues. I thought we made a good team together and worked well even though I drove him crazy, as he did me, sometimes. We have both agreed this will be the final time we do work together on long term projects away from home. The company, Little Bay, did suffer due to one of us not being there. We did no marketing, we couldn’t take care of the finances, and we couldn’t deal with the phone issues that always seem to arise. Both of us being on the same job, out of country, does not help a company grow. So it has been agreed that one of us will always stay home to take care of the business. Too bad because I like working with my son as I think he likes working with me. Beijing Olympics is all his!

So, loyal readers, this ends another chapter of David and Brian’s excellent adventures. So endeth this from my point of view...Ciao.

Brian, your turn.

Friday, March 03, 2006

3/3 Hello from Switzerland

We started train hopping two days ago. From Turin to Milan to Brig, switzerland...liked it there. Nice small town. Today we got off train in Lusanne - in the rain.. walked long way to see Lake Geneve which which was worth it. Got back on train after lunch and went to Geneve. Walked in rain to lake again. We are spending night here. Having a rail pass is so easy. Unless a certain train specifies you make a reservation, you just hop on any train that pass covers any time you want...... gotta go!

take care, Rosemary & David

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

3/1: Photos Rome Day 2 #1 Pompeii

Wasn't Rome Day 1 exhausting?!!....and I didn't even include other things we did and saw. It was an incredible way to start off the trip. So, on day 2, I took an optional tour to Pompeii. Here we go.

For those of you who don't remember (I didn't) Pompeii was a town that was covered in ash from a volcanic eruption. It was later dug out. I don't know which order photos will show up in the actual blog - 1 is of a theatre (you can see bleacher type seats). 1 shows 1 of the many streets. 1 is a painting on a wall of one of the homes (like our wallpaper). 1 you can tell is the outside wall of a place - the paint is red with white lettering on was advertising something like a maid service by day -- at night, the maids offered other service - it was the "red light district"! In another photo you can a man (our guide for Pompeii) by 2 glass cases - they hold 2 bodies they uncovered. Those glass cases are inside a lobby type room of the Bath House. When we left the guide said we would see lots of pornographic photos on postcards that the vendors would be selling - apparently there was lots of those photos in the homes and businesses but any remaining were removed.

3/1: Photos Rome Day 1 #3 Basilica & Treveli Fountain

Two are of St. John's Basilica (the pictures on top are made from mosaics) and 3rd is of me throwing a coin into the Treveli Fountain. We were told to hold coin in right hand and throw it over left shoulder. Make one wish to come back to Rome and throw a 2nd coin to make a secret wish. This fountain was in the movie "Roman Holiday"

3/1: Photos Rome Day 1 #2 Colosseum & Hard Rock Cafe

Ah, as I look at my first post from today, I'm reminded that how things look when I'm creating an entry is not often how they end up looking when they are posted - I'll keep that in mind.
1 & 2 are inside the Colosseum. Incredible. I couldn't believe I was actually there. 3rd shows view we saw as entering colosseum. 4th is of the Hard Cafe I had lunch at. I always scope out Hard Rock Cafe's to get that City's special t-shirt. Alot of restaurants that have outdoor cafes have them in a glass dome, which looks really nice. I ate in the H.R's. outdoor cafe for lunch. Went back the next night as the "scooter ladies" wanted a shirt like the one I got as it has a caricature of a woman on a scooter - we had dinner inside the main restaurant..was very loud but fun.

March 1 - Photos: Rome Day 1 #1

I had a 1 gig memory card and took 741 photos - the card says I can take another 400! I am going to pick a few so you can see some things I saw and experienced. After trying this, I've learned I can only put 4-5 photos to each post so this will take awhile..I may not do all I wanted to.

Left: VaticanCity

2 Right: inside. Most things that look like paintings are really made of mosaics - incredible!

This is one of the smallest cars I saw = a SMART car. It's about the length of a motor scooter. I was told that SWATCH and Mercedes created this years ago. When it didn't sell, SWATCH backed out. Mercedes made a big campaign and it's been selling like crazy since. It is not "street legal" for the US - something to do with it's lights. It is going to be sold in the US at some point. Two ladies on the tour sell scooters in Idaho and have written to the company hoping to get the franchaise in their area to sell SMART cars instead of a local Mercedes dealership getting it. The blue panels you see can be taken off and exchanged for other colored panels. They say it did very well in the crash tests. Right now is $16,000 US. We found toy models of these cars so many of us bought them.