Friday, 9 November 2012

Election 2012 - WINOL Visits the US Embassy

It's been a couple of days since I travelled to the US Embassy with a team of 3 other WINOL team members and I thought it would be beneficial to summarise our time at the event.

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty Phillips spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

We arrived in the morning at around 10am and dropped our camera equipment off in the media room. We were told that all filming was to take place in this room, which would also be where the guests spent the majority of the night keeping up to date with the latest developments via mounted television screens.

It was useful to scope out the room before we returned later, as it gave myself and the team an idea of where we were going to position our camera, how we were going to gather shots and where to upload from. A quick Internet speed test revealed that the download and upload speeds were extremely good, which put my mind at ease as I knew I could edit and upload content quickly throughout the night.

Above: The lobby area from which singer Russell Watson later sung Star Spangled Banner
We returned to the Embassy after a day preparing in London, at around 9pm. Our first priority was to find a means of syncing our computers with the media room Internet, which we managed within a couple of minutes. We were one of the first teams into the media room on the night, which gave us more than enough space to position our camera equipment exactly where we wanted it.

A number of journalists and film crews then began to enter the media room. Myself and Kirsty set our computers onto Twitter so we could post any information to the WINOL twitter feed as it came in. The whole team was tweeting throughout the night. We made sure to follow the tweets of a number of American political analysts and journalists to help our own work.

Our Twitter profiles can be accessed below:

Kirsty Phillips - http://twitter.com/kirsty_123

Within less than 15 minutes, we were producing video content for WINOL's 2012 American Election Special. Lee produced his first piece to camera of the night, briefly explaining to viewers our set-up and our plans for the remainder of the evening. It was edited and uploaded to my YouTube channel within 5 minutes. 


The team continued to tweet from inside the Embassy. As I formatted the camera cards so we could use them to upload, the rest of the team moved around the media room gathering GV's.

Our first interview of the night was with Charlie Wolf, political commentator and former Communications Director of Republicans Abroad UK.

He said:

"I think [the polls] are oversampling Democrats. They're basing it on the last election in 2008 and the debate in 2008 was a very different, one-of-a-kind election. You're not going to get the same turnout."

"I feel very comfortable with Governor Romney. I reckon he's going to do very well. I think he's going to win. I feel very hopeful and I feel very confident."

Our full interview with Charlie Wolf can be found below:


We had been told that opera singer Russell Watson would be performing in the main lobby during the night. Whilst Lee and Kirsty were gathering footage from downstairs, myself and Sam made our way to the lobby. Up until that moment, myself and the team had spent the night in the media room, so trying to find an ideal spot in the lobby for the camera proved difficult. 

We knew that the shot of Russell singing was an important one and would make for some interesting footage. We managed to squeeze our way through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the performance, but it wasn't ideal. Sam did well to position the camera and zoom onto Russell's performance.

Interestingly, as soon as we'd uploaded the Russell Watson footage, it began to gather views. Many people were interested in seeing the performance, and we were one of the first teams to get that footage onto YouTube. Even now, when you search for 'Russell Watson Star Spangled Banner' on YouTube, our video is the only result to appear. The video currently has around 300 unique views.


Our next interview was with Rob Carolina, Chair of Democrats Abroad UK.

"As a Democrat, I'm very confident about what the result's going to be tonight".

"From what we've seen, we have every confidence that President Obama is going to win tonight and the reason for that is nothing to do with the popular vote. It's all to do with the electoral vote".

Rob also covered Hurricane Sandy and its effects on the 2012 American election. For our full interview with Rob Carolina, visit the link below:


Our third interview of the night was with British journalist and political commentator, Andrew Marr. After doing OK filming our previous interviews, I'm personally a little disappointed with how I framed this one. Although the media room was, at this point, completely packed, I should have done better positioning the camera.

The lighting, sadly, was as good as I could get it. The lights at this point were dimmed slightly so that people could read the new results that were displayed on the projector screen, and the yellow walls in the room weren't helping matters either. Nevertheless, we got some good quotes from our interviewee and it was nice to get a British perspective on the event. Hopefully, when I edit the piece with Lee this coming week, we can fix the lighting levels in Final Cut.

Our full interview with Andrew Marr can be seen below:


Once I'd taken the interview from the camera and uploaded it to my YouTube channel, we had a break and filmed some GV's. I used my experience filming the recent Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Debate to focus on recording peoples reactions to the news coming into the Embassy. These GV's also complimented our next VT well, which was a 'news just in' piece.


Our next interview was with British Liberal Democrat, Sir Menzies Campbell. As with the previous interviews, we made sure to tweet pictures of the interview process to give a behind-the-scenes feel to what we were up to at the Embassy. Kirsty did a great job on the night of taking pictures of our interviewees.

Campbell said:

"It comes down to [Ohio]. It's a huge opportunity for people who live in Ohio, but a huge responsibility as well".

"As it stands, the results suggest it really is too close to call".

Our full interview with Sir Menzies Campbell can be viewed below:


Following our interview with Sir Menzies Campbell, we returned to our desk at the center of the media room and edited a collection of clips. I uploaded the content to my YouTube channel and ensured that Tammy, who would be using our footage in Winchester the following morning, had the correct links to the best material.

The remainder of our time at the US Embassy was spent filming live reaction VT's to news coming in. I was determined to get the cheering and clapping sound of the crowd as new results came in, but was juggling a number of jobs on the computer. Thankfully, Sam managed to get some nice shots of the crowd reaction which would be ideal for the WINOL election broadcast.


After a final piece to camera from Lee, we ended our video coverage of the event. Once this final clip was uploaded, myself and the team focused our attention on tweeting the latest developments.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the US Embassy. I feel that the whole team performed incredibly well under such pressure and everybody played a vital role in ensuring WINOL had content to use for the broadcast the morning after. Although not all of our footage was used, we'll be editing together a longer package of our time in London to put onto the WINOL website.

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