"WHERE IN THE WORLD?" IS ONE QUESTION
"HOW'D THEY DO THAT?" IS THE OTHER
I had a communications professor in college who once said, "There comes a point where modern technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Essentially it means that at some point you can't break down the science of things anymore. We know how television works for example. It's pictures and sound broken into waves and transmitted... received... yadda, yadda, yadda, they end up in your box. You know... magic.
The Where in the World is Matt Lauer series running again on the Today Show is a terrific example of the magic of television. How is it that Matt is on top of a mountain, inside a jet engine, or on the cliffs of Ireland and at the very same moment talking to me while I'm on my couch eating cereal? Answer: Magic.
It's Today Show magic. I want everyone to understand just how difficult is is to do what the Today Show is doing as well as it's doing it. I'm not even talking about Matt, and his abilities to carry-out the game plan. Really, I'm talking about the cameras, and the microphones, and the satellite uplinks and downlinks, and the crew responsible for making all of these live reports happen.
How about the other day in Ireland? Matt starts in a helicopter. Later on the guy's reporting live from a boat floating down a river. Then he's going from room to room in some other establishment. It would be impossible for me to fully explain here why this stuff is so tough.
Consider this, though. How often do you turn on the local news and see us have some sort of technical glitch? Maybe you can see the reporter but can't hear him/her. Maybe the opposite is true. Maybe said reporter can't hear the anchors. Sometimes live-shots just disappear.
These are the times when as the anchor I say something like, "Well, we're obviously having some technical difficulties..."
That's one camera and one microphone from one live location probably within a radius of 100 miles, and still it's a technical challenge for us to get everything right.
Now how about Where in the World? Cameras everywhere... in difficult places. Going from one camera to another. Doing live interviews. Showing video tape. Cutting to other live sources... and oh by the way, it's all on the other side of the planet!
This series is very special television, and my hat is off to everyone at Today Show who is involved in this effort. It's mammoth, and it comes off that way. I hope you have a chance to watch some of this series. It's worth it, just to see them pull it off.
Above is a link to the Today Show site. It's got great content on the series.