The Big Opening

Trip Start Jul 27, 2008
Trip End Aug 27, 2008

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, August 9, 2008

I was able to get out a few nights ago and see our family friend Shu Bai (Susan) Qin, who is visiting here from the states with her daughter Rose. I met them and ex-husband and friend Frank, and we went out for Peking Duck. It was delicious and before hand went to the Wangfujung Street which is famous for shopping malls but also the night market. Here you can find all sorts of street food from the palatable dumplings, noodles, BBQ beef and chicken, to the more scary scorpions, silk worms, snakes, and even "goat cock and balls" on a stick. Didn't have stomach for the latter but I did try the dumplings, which were delicious. Everywhere I ate had great food so far. There is a lot of variety in China itself, imagine all of the cuisines from the various 50 states and you get an idea what the variety is here in Beijing. It's also a quite sophisticated and modern city, in fact I'm still dying to see the old city areas.

Yesterday, Friday the 8th, will live for me forever as one of the great memories that I will have. We started our day late, around noon, and the director, Tapani, a Finnish TV director (DID I MENTION THAT THE WHOLE CAMERA CREW HERE IS FINNISH, FROM HELSINKI, AND SPEAKS FINNISH THE WHOLE TIME ON OUR HEADSETS?????!!!) gave us a good warm up and thanked us for our hard work so far. He gave us some statistics:
80 heads of state
205? nations competing
90,000+ spectators in the stadium
4 billion television viewers around the world.
So don't screw up!! He joked about having fun, don't squeeze the controls too hard, etc. This is a good manager.

Security was tight. We had new stickers for our ID's, 2 paper stickers on our arms, we were dressed in black to be invisible, We went through 2 checkpoints of security once we were let out of the buses from our hotel to the International Broadcast Center. My new routine now is getting espresso at the McDonalds cafe in this main area. We found that McD's had the best price and quality for coffee here on the compound. I ask for 3 shots of espresso on ice with milk and watch what happens. They have pre-set menus but try hard to accommodate me which is nice. For no reason at all, they charge the same price for a double espresso with water as a single shot so everyone asks for the "long" drink and hold the water, heh, heh.

Once we were in and suited up, we didn't really need to power up our camera was until 5:30. Once the preshow started, we shot until around 7:20 and then changed our batteries just to be sure we would get through the next 5 hours. Everything went stellar! The whole crew was amazed at the show as we had never rehearsed with the fireworks. If you saw the ceremonies, you would have seen the giant scroll that opens and closes. This was all LCD panels and LED lights. Genius. A compelling cross of the highest technology, theater, film, painting, and ancient symbolism. Maybe the best live performance I have seen, ever. Once the athletes come in, it was 2 ours of waiting around for the close. My shot was high and wide, the highest point of view other than the helicopters. Everything looked great for the CAMCAT crew (us) as well as what I call Team Scorpio. There 3 scorpio heads on the cable system; 2 of us inside as well as one 100' in the air traveling a few blocks back and forth viewing the stadium. There were 2 scorpios in the helicopters. There was one set up over the Great Wall showing some live picture time to time. There will be several on the backs of SUV's shooting the bike events. We will have coverage of sailing events 7 hours away in Tjingdao (like the beer Chin Dow- not spelled like that). There are other events and coverage but don't know all of it. Some 22 heads here, and about 15 working at any time - the others are back ups. So in essence we rule the Olympics. They better put that in the advertising in future!!

When it was all over and we saw the torch bearer, spacewalking, yes spacewalking on the wall toward the Torch, I got my camera out and just started snapping pictures as I could. It was truly a memorable finish. I hope you saw it.

On a personal note, as I have thought about my career and what I have done with my life and have had many doubts and questions about the next step even, I thought of this. If the average viewer saw only 10 seconds of footage from my camera, and there were roughly 4 billion viewers. I figured this out to be about 181 years of footage total. So now what?? We broke down the gear, and got back to the hotel and in bed by 4am. I woke at 7am and finished around noon. I'm in a daze and might nap but will probably go out for some food and sightseeing.
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