B e h i n d   T h e   S c e n e s

Since these outdoor locations are up to several hundred—and in the case of Antonio Nobre, seen high up in the Observation tower during program 3—one thousand feet away from the earth station, they must be connected back to the control room with long, coaxial cables. Since each show will use two new locations, this means that a few days before each show, all able-bodied crewmembers are drafted to “run cable”. This weekly ordeal involves hauling huge reels of TV cable over and under walkways, threading it through screens and door jambs, and using hundreds of little plastic tie-wraps to secure the cable every few feet along railings, pipes and ceilings.

Since it’s outdoors, it’s really something that has to be done during daylight, but unfortunately, daylight in the rainforest often means the work will either be blisteringly hot or impossible due to rain. Oh, and one thing we learned about the rainforest while running cable: mosquitoes don’t just appear at dusk, like you might usually expect in a typical North American area. No, rainforest mosquitoes work ALL day—we figure they work shifts, “hey, it’s twelve o’clock, time for the afternoon shift mosquitoes to start work!” Oh, and who knew they came in so many different sizes and colors???

Setting up each of the camera locations takes some preparation, and there are lots of things that need to work together to make it happen. First of all, it’s not just getting the picture back to the control room. Since this is live interaction, you also have to send audio out to the guest, so they can hear the questions and talk to the other people in the program. Also, the camera operator has to be able talk to the director in Mississippi, and the field producer here in Brazil, so you need to provide two-way intercom for that, separate, of course, from the guest’s earpiece audio and the guest’s microphone audio. Finally, to use a single cable to hold all this stuff, you need boxes at each end that will “multiplex”, or combine, the outgoing signals into the cable and then “demultiplex”, or separate out, the incoming signals at the same time.

Ann’s Journals Behind The Scenes    1     2     3     4