Talking about China in Pakistan.
PRAGUE, Czech Republic- At 12:30 today I was cooking gnocchi, preparing lunch for my two daughters and I. A notification came in through my phone — a Twitter message from a BBC World News producer asking if I’d be available to go on air at 14:00 to talk about the attack on the Chinese embassy in Karachi. I go on this show every once in a while to talk about China related issues. I know the drill: race to set up cameras, lights, computer equipment, do a pre-interview with the producer, do video and sound checks with the technicians, quickly brief myself on the topic, do the interview, break down all the gear and re-charge batteries. When it’s over and done it will take up a good part of a work shift — two hours or so.
I look at my kids. They are peacefully eating their skyr and waiting for their gnocchi. I look over the apartment and take inventory of what I’d need to move around and rearrange. I go over what I need to complete today for my other work.
Am I going to do it? Am I going to disrupt my kids’ lunch, pack them in the bedroom, and tell them not to make a peep until I return and some unspecified time in the future? I’m I going to blow up my next session of work for this?
Of course I am …
But the main reason reason is the fact that I enjoy it. I’m not sure how much these appearances really benefit my career. I don’t have a university or employer who’s going to oogle over me and give me promotions or raises for elevating the profiles of their establishments. Hardly nobody is going to see me on TV, go and find my book, and buy it. The only Twitter reactions that I really receive are from morons saying things like, “Dude, you totally use Just for Men in your beard! Hahaha!”
This is just fun for me. A writer going on TV to talk about what they write about is the equivalent of a band playing a gig. You spend so much time sitting all alone in a room and even when you are around people nobody that you know in real life really wants to hear you talk about what you do. So when those opportunities come up I start feeling ridiculously sentimental: these people want to hear what I have to say, that’s something special — appreciate it.
I did the interview. I played it conservatively. I could have went off on the first question and started talking about how this attack are probably actually going to make China and Pakistani relations even stronger because it raised the profile of their common enemy and will more likely than not justify the increased presence of security forces in the region in question and give those forces more of a carte blanc to use more forceful measures to subdue resistance. But I held back a little.
I have to stop doing that.
The interview was broadcast live so I didn’t get a chance to actually see it. I used to have a friend in the film division of BBC who I would send me the footage whenever I went on their programs, but he took another job a while back, so I no longer have any way to get it now. I keep all of these interviews, etc, together in a collection for future use or for posterity.
This is my current interview set up. The Blackmagic cinema camera feeds into a video capture card which allows me to run the signal through Skype on my laptop. I opted to use a shotgun mic over a lav as the cord wasn’t long enough. The audio came out well but, ideally, I would use a lav with a longer cord or a wireless lav for something like this. I use the natural light coming in through a window and an led light as my key. The light in the back is my back light. Positioned this way they form a “light sandwich” and create some contrast.
I experiment with different lighting set ups all the time. I originally set these lights up with a different framing, so the key light was a little more in front of my and the back light was a little more behind, but the tech guy at BBC wanted me centered so it altered the angle of how the lights hit my face and head, but there was no time to change them and it still came out alright.
Better than using the laptop camera and mic …
Watch the BBC segment below:
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