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November 23, 2005

Since I used to work in television--my comments on CNN's "X"

I have a degree in Broadcasting, and have worked as studio crew, video editor, technical director, director and producer at various broadcast companies. What I have seen so far of CNN's infamous "X" mess (dare we call it X-gate?) looks more like an accident than intentional. The "X" appears to be a marker, letting the operation person (the guy who cues up the tape) know where to cue the tape to. Once when I was editing video for a company, the practice was to "lay black" for an entire tape. That would lay down the needed coding for editing the tape later, and would make sure the timing markers on the tape were consistent. I got tired of black and decided to lay lime-green instead (Hey, I was right out of college). My boss nicely pointed out that the reason black is chosen is that if the editing ever misses a spot, then there's a nice neutral color there rather than a shocking flash of ugly lime-green. The point being, even what's not supposed to air, might, so you have to be careful.

I've seen some people claiming a person would have had to have intentionally put that on the air. I can assure you that stuff like that can and does happen in spite of the best intentions of the technical people to keep it from happening. My guess is that while one technical person was cueing up the tape, another inadvertently put the key (the superimposing of the image on the tape) over the live shot. Now, I don't buy CNN's excuse that it was a "technical" problem, because to me it looks like someone simply screwed up. And while mistakes do happen, a place as big as CNN can darn well insist that they never happen, and would more than likely fire whoever screwed up (which may be why the technical people are telling the suits that a machine did it).

I also want to point out that in a single shot of someone speaking at a podium one would line the person up in the direct center of the screen. When placing an "X" on the cue portion of a tape, one would also put it in the middle, so the "X" being on Cheney's face is not really that "mysterious" as some have implied

As an aside, the lesson about being prepared on live broadcasts was driven home one day in college when, then governor Bill Clinton came to speak at our chapel then held a press conference in the school's television studio. All of the television students were allowed to stay in the control room while the head of the department directed out own cameras in covering it, to supply the video to any station that didn't have a camera present. Midway through the press conference the teacher, Mike Flynn (formerly of KOTV in Tulsa) told one of the cameras to get a shot of a certain reporter off to the side. The reporter was picking his nose. Mr. Flynn then put that camera on, and for about 5 minutes, while Bill Clinton droned on, we watched this reporter do a thorough nose cleaning.

Mr. Flynn turned to us, smiled and said, "Never, ever pick your nose at a press conference." 

I doubt any of the students there have forgotten that lesson. Now that Bill Clinton has become one of our more infamous presidents, video of him would be sought after, and that poor reporter's nasal hygiene has possibly been seen numerous times.

Coverage: The Political Teen, Michelle Malkin, WizBang, Don Surber

Posted by Danny Carlton at November 23, 2005 07:49 AM

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» More on CNN’s “X” from The Right Track
Danny Carlton at JackLewis.net has more on CNN’s infamous “X”. It seems that there might be a reasonable explanation after all. Read his post. TD ... [Read More]

Tracked on November 23, 2005 09:46 AM

» That CNN "X" from Mover Mike
JackLewis.net has a reasonable explanation for the CNN "X".

[Read More]

Tracked on November 23, 2005 10:18 AM

» More on "X-Gate"? from A Lady's Ruminations
Over at JackLewis.net, Danny Carlton has posted on the CNN X-Affair. You can read his perspective [Read More]

Tracked on November 23, 2005 06:04 PM


"What I have seen so far of CNN's infamous "X" mess (dare we call it X-gate?)"

Wow! I saw a post at Drudge the egghead, but didn't realize others make a fuss about it.

Aren't there more seriously problems right now than an X?

Posted by: Atlantic at November 23, 2005 08:16 AM

Which is why I haven't commented until today. But I thought with my background, and some of the inaccurate things that have been posted, I'd better toss in my opinion.

Posted by: Danny Carlton at November 23, 2005 08:43 AM

Just following up to make sure CNN wasn't doing any more of it's hate filled liberal routine. It will be a long time before can I trust an outfit that soft peddeled the crimes of a mass murderer to get access to news.

Posted by: tyree at November 23, 2005 11:13 AM

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