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The online journal of Vermont filmmaker, Bill Simmon.

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WCAX: please stop making Vermonters look bad!

Posted on Jul 28, 2009 by billsimmon in annoying, fail, TV, vermont | 3 Comments

I just left a comment at Blurt that I think it deserves it’s own post.

Howard Dean is guest-hosting Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight and tomorrow night and I think this is a good occasion to call WCAX to the mat for making Vermonters look bad.

WCAX is Burlington’s CBS affiliate and it’s one of the few places in the north country where one can be uplinked via satellite to network television feeds. WCAX generously allows Vermonters like Governor Dean, Senators Leahy and Sanders and Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen to use its facility for satellite uplinks, even when those folks make appearances on competing networks (like MSNBC, who calls upon these particular people with some frequency).

The problem is that the image that is uplinked to networks from WCAX looks like a big steamy turd. There are a few reasons for the crappy image, but the biggest reason is so easily fixed! It’s the god-awful fake-books backdrop that is ubiquitous in satellite uplink images from Vermont. The backdrop is so laughably lame that it makes these smart, articulate Vermonters look kind of ridiculous. The images from other affiliates from around the country all look fine, usually sporting a skyline from the given city as a backdrop or sometimes it’s a working newsroom behind the guests, but anything is better than those stupid fake books!

The bad backdrop is made worse by the room the interviews are shot in. I’ve been there and it’s a conference room with a camera set-up stuffed into one end. The result is that the guest is only a foot or two in front of the horrid backdrop, which casts an obvious and harsh shadow, adding to the chintzy, cheap, Mickey Mouse look.

The image-quality itself is also worse than other affiliate images, which I suspect is the result of an older camera (perhaps using a composite video connection as opposed to analog component or SDI). Of all of the problems, this one is probably the hardest to fix (cameras and video engineering changes are expensive) but it’s also the least important. Fix the backdrop and the lighting and 90% of the bad image problem goes away.

So please WCAX, step up your game and lose the fake books. Shoot these interviews in your news room, make a new Burlington skyline backdrop, whatever, but please stop making Vermonters look foolish on national TV.

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  1. On July 28, 2009, Rob said:

    If the backdrop actually depicted a big steamy turd, it would at least be a memorable interview.

  2. On August 9, 2009, John said:

    Gov. Dean representing Vermont…
    No backdrop could possibly make Vermont look worse.

  3. On August 18, 2009, Dwayne said:

    Sounds to me like you 2 are not from vt. Real vermonters don’t care about fake back drops. They care about how the state is being run and taken care of.

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