missing live shots

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I did everything I could think of to get audio back to the station, but they were not recieving audio. I still don't know what the problem was, and I feel like ****. i'm still a very new shooter, but I don't want to be making novice mistakes. I wrote the chief, ep, and engineers and asked them for a training session in which someone purposeley throws things off, so i can try to troubleshoot many different possible problems. Our truck is constantly changing, because its not wired properly, and sometimes these changes are not articulated. Maybe I'm to blame, maybe not. I don't really care. I just want this not to happen. Any advice?


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Did you have audio in the truck? Maybe the problem was back at the station.

Did you change audio cable, including the spool from the truck to the camera? Don't forget the audio lines going into the transmitter can go bad, and you won't know.

Go back into that truck and set up your equipment to see if you still have that problem. Troubleshoot as much as you can, and if you still can't figure out what happened, grab your chief or an engineer and have them look over what you've set up.

Oh, were you using a wireless, and was the battery dead? Just thinking...


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Don't forget your fellow photogs. Just 'cause they don't have chief in front of their name doesn't mean they don't know what they are doing.

Try to physically follow a path of audio and video from beginning to end. At each point try to think of how you can determine audio exists; ie: at the camera, at the end of the reel, in the truck, etc... You can use an audio mixer or your camera to check for audio at each place. You can often access the final audio right at the transmitter before it leaves the truck (those wires that go in the front of the transmitter)

If you can show you have audio going into the transmitter (at the proper level) then all is out of your hands.

But returning to your first point I would suggest your fellow photogs might be better trainers (without the irritation of having your bosses hanging over you) than you think.

Good luck!

(Oh by the way, we all screw up at one time or another. I've pulled some bonehead moves recently that have bothered me quite a bit. Demonstrate the the ability to learn and you will be okay.)


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When you established, did they hear your tone and see your bars? If they heard the tone, then the problem was on your end. Check the reel. Maybe there's a bad connection somewhere.

Our truck is constantly changing, because its not wired properly, and sometimes these changes are not articulated.
If that's the case, make a plea to engineering to give everybody a quick refresher on the basic operation.

Oh, and it's not a bad idea to hardwire your mic on liveshots, either. Cuts down on the possible hassle of RF interference, and eliminates the need to worry if the battery is dying.


Active member
Most importantly, did you ever find out what the problem was? Situations like yours are also opportunities. Making mistakes or having problems (and surviving them) give you the chance to learn and know how to solve/prevent them in the future. Otherwise it was a wasted opportunity.


No matter what, just don't give up unless you are sure that you have tried everything. I had a problem the other day where I wasn't getting video. Tried everything from changing mult boxes to plugging the camera directly into the truck with BNC. Thought my camera out was shot, but then realized I hadn't changed my Mult cable. Dragged a new one out, and got video. You just never know what the problem can be until you try everything.

Lil' Photog

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Most trucks have an audio mixer that outputs into an audio meter/speakers and then directly to the trasmitter.

Were you getting levels on the mixer?

If not you either didn't have something routed right (your fault or the engineer's fault) or you didn't have your mic getting to the truck how you thought you were (bad cable, wrong jack, bad mic, etc.)

If you WERE getting levels on the meters, it's most likely an engineering issue.

That means the mixer wasn't sending it's output to the transmitter. Now unless you have some strange deal between the mixer and the xmitter, I don't know that would be your fault.

Case in point, you should have access to the transmitter inputs if you need them.

Unplug the XLR input and plug in a mic with an XLR you know is good. If you can switch the Xmitter from line to mix in, that would help you out a lot since the singal coming in will be low.

Even if you can't, you'll still be able to hhear it, it'll just be quiet as hell. It won't be useable, but it'll give you a better idea of the problem at hand. If that works and the staion can hear faint audio and your mixer was showing good levels, then you can tell engineering EXACTLY what the problem is "mixer is working, xmitter is sending audio, but the mixer isn't getting the audio to the xmitter."

Lil' Photog

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One other little note that I thought I should add...

When experiencing liveshot difficulties, or just difficulties in general - try not to "freak out."

We fight the clock everyday.

Somedays we are stuck in a fight that we can't win.

If you are leaving the station 15 minutes before the start of your show to do a liveshot for the topstory 20 minutes away in normal driving time, there's no reason to be driving like a bat out of hell and running around the truck like a chicken with your head cut-off.

My personal adivice to everyone is that if you feel the pressure boil over and you know you are about to get screwed, take a step back, a deep breath, and look at the situation.

Whether it's traveling logistics or technical issues with an editor or live truck... there's no reason to lose your calm.

I've seen people who could barely connect a BNC cable to their camera because they were trying too hard and going too fast.

No one will be mad at you if you make a call and say something is or isn't going to happen.

The producer will much rather have you tell them 5 minutes before your hit that you might not have the shot then hearing it as the anchors are tossing to you.

Don't let Father Time mess with your head.

<live shot in the crapper>

If you get even the slightest hint that you may miss or float your shot, tell the producer- RIGHT NOW.

No matter what happens after this, two outcomes are possible:

1. The shot dies or floats and while there may be a little heat, it's nothing compared to a missed slot. At least the producer has some warning. You might get limited credit for the warning. maybe.

2. You manage to get the shot on the air Ok and you are a hero! Do not fake this to get the credit or you might get a reputation as a photog who panics for no good reason.

But at least call the desk if everything isn't going absolutely perfect. This isn't a case of CYA but giving the producer time to deal with the situation.


Active member
Hey Videohead,

You got a lot of great, dead-on advice on this thread. Let me add something as well: As you progress in this field you will learn that REAL training doesn't really exist. Anywhere. You may encounter some brief instruction on any given TV related material but it just isn't there. No, it isn't right but that's the status-quo.

Rely on yourself to stay sharp and up-to-date. Lean on your fellow photogs and engineers for info and procedures. THEY are your best ally.

And good luck to you.


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Another emergency option. Most live truck transmitters have the audio and video connections on the front of the transmitter in the truck. In a pinch, directly plug your audio and/or video line into the transmitter, and switch the input from line to mic. By bypassing the truck this way, you will can usually get audio and video in a pinch. If you still are not getting audio or video, you most likely have a bad cable.

Another piece of advice, when you have some down time, go out to the truck, fire it up and play with it. Set up a shot, plug up a camera and mic and see what the truck will do. Then think of what can go wrong and figure out workarounds. This self-directed training will stay with you a lot longer and you will be better able to think on your feet and troubleshoot in a pinch than just having someone show or tell you what to do.

Don't beat yourself up, you have a desire to learn from the experience and keep it from happening again. That goes a long way in developing a good rep as a photographer.


I went my first 3 months without missing a shot, and now I've only hit one of my last four and that last one wasn't even on time. Every time its a different problem, so while I'm learning to troubleshoot its extremeley frustrating to have 2 trucks that never work. I was sent out the door yesterday at 4 to shoot a vo/sot, edit it, feed it back, and go live at 5. It wasn't breaking news. It was about holiday travel at the airport. I did everything as efficiently and calmly as I could and could not get video on my monitor. I remembered that I could go straight into the transmitter and was able to jimmy rig my shot after finding a cable that actually worked. I have calmed down now, but at the time I was a chicken running around with my head cut off. I shot the vo at the airport, sprinted back to the truck to start raising the mast, sprinted back to find the reporter who was getting the interview, then sprinted back to try and fix one of the many problems with our trucks. Every time I use the truck something new is broken, changed, or missing. The chief engineer came out to make sure it wasn't operator error (since I'm new), and between my 5 and 6:30 live shot he determined almost all of the trucks cables to the mixer were bad. Originally I was worried people were thinking that I was not doing my job properly, but I've had it reaffirmed that I am doing everything I can be doing. Now I'm just pissed that I'm being placed in ridiculous time constraints for no reason with trucks that have masts disconnected from the transmitter, all bad cables, and engineers that don't know how to recieve live shots on the other end. I am speaking up to management, but its a learning process in itself to figure out who to speak up to. I'm trying to fix the problems rather than place blame, and though I'm learning how the truck is wired, I'm not a trained engineer, and was not hired as one. I'm actually starting to get paranoid that they're purposeley messing with the truck to see if I can fix it. Good Practice I guess, but it would be nice if our trucks worked at least once a week. Ok, I'm done venting, and I'm glad I don't have a live shot today.

<dead shot>

At one station I worked at we had a constant problem with our live shots. Time after time they would die. Day after day we were sent out to do shots that wouldn't happen. I, like the rest of the photogs, were getting quite upset being blamed time and gain for the dead shots as well as the time wasted on attempting them. Turns out the producers weren't including the failed live shots' problems in their daily reports like they were supposed to (no chief then) for the news director in turn the engineers were never told to look at it. The engineers put fixing it off or looked at it all half-a$$ed and chalked it up to operator error every time. Turns out the roof had several holes in it and almost all the components were soaked when it rained, and eventually they needed to replace the transmitter itself, but they never fixed the holes.....After that I no longer felt it was necessary to got to great lengths to pull off a gratitious live shot especially when the station didnt take keeping the truck running and operating properly.

The moral is: I learned to personally report problems to the highest authority and then it was not my problem. If they didnt fix it, I wasnt about to rewire the truck to do a dog lick shot or worry about not getting the shot off.

<One Alarm>

Don't sweat it dude. we've all been bitten. You obviously have your head on straight. You are trying to improve and fix whatever happened. I'll bore you with mys simple method. When the bugs come bitin' take it to the basics. Stick the stick mike in the side of the truck. If you get audio, its in the cables somewhere. Then add each element in. the multi-cable with no wireless, extension cables etc. and work your way out. If you go in this systematic approach each time there is a problem, you'll soon be known as King Troubleshooter. P.S. Add my advice to all the other good stuff from the rest of the gang. Rock On!


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Hate to say it, but expect this more and more across all markets. With budget cutbacks,more equipment will get broken and take longer to fix. KEEP it SIMPLE. And if you're really worried you're getting an unjustly bad reputation, keep a log of what's caused each missed shot, etc, etc.
good luck.


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Did a liveshot recently and noticed that my dish was swaying in the wind. Not the mast but the dish. It was incredibly loose and the breeze was moving it in a clockwise fashion about 10 degrees and then back. Never told me if it changed my signal, so it must have been OK. But, all I thought of was that dish falling off when I was raising it, and then it possibly coming off when it was lowering. It stayed but I was nowhere near the truck when it was coming down. Kept others away also.


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TWO TRUCKS THAT NEVER WORK??? That sounds like my old station we always had no trucks able to roll because the trucks were built in the back yard of the chief photographer. When it comes to equipment failing take solice in the fact that if the station isn't willing to pay out the cash and get equipment that is reliable. Then it is THERE fault not yours. It happens I have been in a chopper that the transmitter blew right before I went on the air for CNN. We work in a highly technical field with a lot of equipment that are reliant on one another. When one part of that chain breaks down it can effect everything else. Don't stress about it. You will photog another day and shoot a live shot another day.


Thanks. The past 2 weeks have been draining and all of these posts have been very helpful. One other thing I've learned is not to write memos. The engineers were very upset about a memo I wrote which listed all of the various problems the 2 trucks had in the course of the week. I apologized to them today, and they said they were pissed, but it made them actually request from management time to completeley rewire one truck. Do you have to piss people off in order to cause action? How do you all deal with the engineers in these situations?


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Originally posted by <Videohead>:
Thanks. The past 2 weeks have been draining and all of these posts have been very helpful. One other thing I've learned is not to write memos. The engineers were very upset about a memo I wrote which listed all of the various problems the 2 trucks had in the course of the week. I apologized to them today, and they said they were pissed, but it made them actually request from management time to completeley rewire one truck. Do you have to piss people off in order to cause action? How do you all deal with the engineers in these situations?
The engineers should not be pissed at you for bringing all those things to their attention. They should be performing monthly inspections of those trucks since those are a big part of the newscast. Hell our engineers tell us that if we don't tell them something's wrong they can't fix it. It sucks you don't have engineers like that. Good luck and keep your chin up. By reporting those things you are trying to prevent the trucks from screwing you or another photog while you are at a big breaking story.
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