"Something comes and something goes"

A normal day. Little do we know.

What you don’t see, you don’t know. It’s been a week since I left Rio and it’s time to look back with new eyes and state of mind. There is actually one evening that will never be forgotten. No, it was not the Opening Ceremony, nor the Closing one. Nor the invincible Bolt performance, although he did the best in giving an almost inhuman performance for us. Still the most exciting and unbearable situation took place in our truck, one Tuesday night. Just an ordinary evening session was to start, and boy, did we get an evening of one of a kind!

This is a very inside story, but I hope you won’t get bored. I’m sure You do know the feeling when everything has been checked like thousand times and there has been no discrepancies what so ever. Everything has worked brilliantly and smoothly. And suddenly something starts to go wrong. So very wrong.

Well, in our truck it was the monitor wall who decided to take the leading role. It started with the flickering disaster of two big screens with multiple cameras and little by little we noticed the flu spreading to other screens as well. Well, you don’t want anything unpleasant to happen in a tv-signal at the Olympics, when 3 billion viewers are watching it. Would you? Quite right, our geniuses tried to fix it, but there had to be some magic in the evening as no solution seemed to work. None what so ever.

It’s the fifth night with track and field and we have semi finals ahead, as well as women’s 1500m and men’s 110m hurdles finals. I’m looking at the watch and thinking how long can we continue with this flickering monitor wall, before it gets worse. It’s almost unbearable to the front desk in the truck as one monitor displaced or blinking enough could cause a nervous breakdown to any director.

A monitor wall, well that is the eyes of what is happening on the field. That is the most essential gadget to any director to decide what camera pictures he or she wants to put out for you to see and admire. The pictures from each camera in the right order is what gives you as a viewer the sense of everything happening out there. It is what you see, pics picked in the right order. Just a reminder, that if you can’t comprehend everything you see, it might not always be a matter of a monitor wall. There is also the huge impact of the talented or not- so-talented director involved. In this case though, it was the monitor wall. And I bet you didn’t notice a thing out of order. Or did you?

Our ordeal was still to come. There was two hours transmission ahead and we all prayed with hands and feet that the wall would come into her senses and start behaving like a lady, as it had done all the previous days. I’m sorry I’m referring the wall as a feminine gadget. It just slipped through my mind. I wonder why! Maybe because I felt it gave me a hot wave? Or maybe it was the adrenaline in my blood?

I could feel the tension rise in the truck. Still everybody was calm and behaved in the best manner. The engineer in charge and a couple of other gurus came to the truck and I didn’t dare to look into their faces. Perhaps because I had another hot wave coming or just simply because I was afraid of what I would see there. No-one would like anything as disastrous to happen, least of all the men in charge. Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown out the owner from the truck…

The director was calm as a famous rally driver and at one point he just said: “Something comes and something goes!” And then it happened. The one and only thing that shouldn’t happen. The wall went black. More waves, for God’s sake, stop this tsunami! My notes in the running order confirms that the black era only took place  some 40 seconds – but boy, did that feel like hours! Luckily we have two rows of pictures from hard held cameras back pretty soon while the others are out and back, one by one. At one point we lost the timing as well, sometimes the preview was gone, then the program output was black – we had it all! You name it! I can assure you I could feel how the people were running in and out from the truck, but NOBODY raised their voices or started shouting. The atmosphere in the truck was very controlled and calm. What a crew!

This was the ultimate Challenge #twelve. Douze point, to the crew. Not the monitor wall. It ain’t over till the fat lady monitor has sung! We still had to survive till the end of the transmission. This is what you call a true test of belief and professionalism. The director, who was directing in Olympics for the first time, surely never thought he would direct a medal ceremony almost like blindfolded. But Tuomas nailed it! Our directors here are top quality, absolutely the best! 

As we came closer to the final closing animation and five seconds black – the feeling in the truck was amazing. You could even experience the rare expression of a smile and a sigh from the Finnish crew. “I am impressed of your crew”, said our colleague from South Africa. Well, bloody well, so am I! Although I do guess the greatest sigh came from our technicians in charge. A blank monitor wall is nothing extraterrestrial; it can happen anywhere and has happened so many times before. But it’s certainly not what you want to happen in a megalomaniac event like this. 

So many thoughts have crossed my mind this past week. Some of us has gone to the next project almost immediately after landing home, some of us has got their lost suitcases back today and most of us have been doing all boring paper work – billing and so on. My one week vacation starts next week and I will certainly not stay in the city. My goal is to find a place with no traffic or sirens and I think I found it. It’s a small island outside Helsinki and there will definitely not be any trams or police cars. No roads or rails, you see.

While billing, I couldn’t help noticing the amount of the working hours we did. And to imagine that The Tuesday was just an ordinary day, which started at 6.30 in the morning with a small break during daytime and ended after midnight, that gives you even more perspective of how brilliant is the crew I worked with. I know the revenue will make the tax collector an elevated state of mind, but in the same time I feel the importance of having Working Hours Act and a Collective Agreement. Imagine working almost 300 hours in four weeks, it could easily be the normal quota if we hadn’t got any agreements. And although we are still alive after the Olympic ordeal, there have been people who have lost their lives in fighting these acts and agreements. So let’s never forget that!

We all agreed to the assignment and we all knew it would be tough. As a workaholic I just get the best kicks out of working my ass off – but then Thank God there are Olympics only every second year. I survived even this time, the working hours and the excitement following. Couldn’t feel more relaxed at the moment. The island is waiting for me, you know.

Thank you all for reading my blog! Great to have you along, you gave me a good dosage of writing therapy. Hopefully I will have a chance to work with interesting projects in future too. Meanwhile I try to continue writing of my escapades in the wonderful world of television. It’s a never ending story.

Bravi to my Finnish Mustard Team!

Finnish calmness during our daybreak. Our hard working director in action. Well earned.