Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 12th 2015 Contents B24
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 12, 2015
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As happy, tired fans streamed out
of the Hasely Crawford Stadium after
the organised frenzy that was Machel
Monday, the stage crew began to dis-
mantle the set.
But for another technical crew, the
party was far from done. A team of tel-
evision production experts were putting
together a 90-minute made-for-TV
version of the concert, scheduled to be
screened on CNC3 last night.
This production, made on behalf of
Montano s company Xtatik Ltd, was a
collaboration between the local com-
pany Beach House---best known for
staging all-inclusive Carnival fetes---
and an international organisation, Gear-
house Broadcast, which supplies spe-
cialist television equipment.
Onstage, Machel put on a high-ener-
gy show with celebrity guests who
included Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Shaggy
and Angela Hunte. Meanwhile, the con-
trol room below the stands was as busy
as the stage itself. There the assistant
producer and director, Curtis Popplewell
of Beach House, was directing 12 cam-
eras, including one on a 30-foot jib,
and another, remote-controlled one
mounted on the stage, facing outwards.
Popplewell had creative control of
the TV package, and was also selecting
live footage to be screened simultane-
ously on four big screens in the stadium.
As if that wasn t enough, thanks to 35
years experience in television, he could
add breezily: "I ll start editing the
footage for TV while the show is still
Sitting next to him in the control
room was the man who set it up---Peter
Steed, the producer and director. He s
a freelancer, but works with Gearhouse
and knows its state-of-the-art-equip-
ment---"None of it," he pointed out
earlier on Monday, "is more than three
or four months old. There s nothing
like it here."
The final product would be up to a
technical standard that local TV viewers
can t fully appreciate, since local stations
don t broadcast high-definition footage.
But the world-class quality means the
edited Machel Monday show could be
packaged as a DVD or sold to overseas
In over 25 years, Steed has directed
live coverage of sporting and entertain-
ment events that include the US Tennis
Open. He won an Emmy award for his
coverage of the 2004 Athens Olympics,
one of five Olympics he s worked on
for NBC. He s visited T&T many times,
and covered the Commonwealth Heads
of Government conference and the
Summit of the Americas, both in 2009.
Steed hasn t lost his Australian accent
despite living in the US for over 20
years. Gearhouse has bases in London,
Los Angeles, Sydney and Johannesburg,
but Gearhouse USA covers all events
in this hemisphere. And Steed s Aussie
background means that unlike his
American counterparts, he s at home
covering cricket in the Caribbean.
That was how come Beach House
and Gearhouse got together. To cover
West Indies cricket, Gearhouse flies in
a "flight pack" of HD television equip-
ment, including up to 14 cameras (not
a big number for them: "A major golf
tournament may need 35-40 cameras,"
Steed says casually, "and the Olympics
are on a different scale.").
The cost of flying 14 cameras back
to Trinidad for one entertainment event,
even Machel Monday, is prohibitive.
But the two companies talked in January
while Gearhouse was covering the Nagi-
co Super50 series for the West Indies
Cricket Board. The equipment was here
already---so it made economic sense to
keep it here.
Steed hadn t worked on Machel
Monday before. But the Beach
House/Gearhouse technical staff had
rehearsed with Montano and his musi-
cians in the stadium on Sunday, getting
there at 2 pm and leaving the famously
meticulous Montano still practising at
There were 35 technical staff in all:
with Beach House director Walt
Lovelace as technical co-ordinator, two
overseas engineers and one local one
manned the equipment, working with
local technicians to ensure a transfer
On Monday the team headed for the
stadium at 5 pm to set up for that
night s show. But the job didn t end
when Montano sang his last line: their
deadline to deliver the final TV package
to CNC3 was 1pm on Tuesday. So Pop-
plewell would be working through the
The pressure didn t end there: the
same crew returns to the stadium for
the International Soca Monarch finals
on Fantastic Friday. They ll have learned
from the Machel Monday experience,
but the Soca Monarch show is a whole
different ball game. It s much longer,
there are many more artistes, and no
rehearsals, but lots of props and special
effects---so the technical team doesn t
know what to expect---and it s broadcast
live on CNC3 and streamed online.
Steed and Popplewell weren t fazed.
"I have faith in the people working
around me," said Steed. "Sometimes it
gets a little bit crazy, but the stress is
part of the fun. It s like a swan: people
see it swimming, but they don t see
the legs paddling underneath---the may-
hem in the control room."
The real difference that this collab-
oration will make is bigger than the
technical quality of these two shows.
Gearhouse is now considering keeping
a flight pack in the Caribbean, says
Steed, so that it can easily be trans-
ported, say, to Jamaica for a music fes-
tival or Barbados for a cricket match.
That means more overseas stations
will be interested in big local events, if
an HD uplink is now available.
"It becomes an attractive product,"
Steed explained. "No one would con-
sider standard-definition (TV) accept-
The more laconic Popplewell agrees
this is the way local TV coverage needs
to go, putting it simply: "There s no
Beaming live at Carnival time
Beach House and Gearhouse in big broadcast deal
Producers don't know what to expect from the performers at the Soca Monarch.
So when artistes like Mr Killa---whose act comprised of a lot of props and people at
last year's show---they must think quickly. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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