In these “Behind the Scenes” series of posts I’m going to shine the light on the people that make it possible for us to watch and enjoy rugby. In this first piece I got to chat with Eiddon Paul who will be one of the cameramen bringing us live coverage of the Rugby World Cup games.
Eiddon covers many sports including football, snooker and tennis in addition to rugby. So I asked him if like the players he needed “warm-up” games to get used to rugby or is it very similar working on different sports?
I am covering a warm up match before RWC 2015, Samoa v Barbarians at Olympic Stadium. I am a huge fan / supporter of Rugby so can get my head right to cover the game. I enjoy covering multi sports, so enjoy switching between sports but rugby is my number 1 sport, being born in Wales, it is out National Sport.
Next we moved on to game day and I asked Eiddon, what his schedule is like on match day? Does he just have to cover the game itself or also pre/post game interviews/studio work?
So my schedule on match day. I get to a ground about 4-5 hours before kick off, to help set-up all cameras. We work as one team and help each other out. There will be up to 20 cameras covering one match, so we like to help each other out. I will be on PoleCam, so I will be running up and down the pitch all game, with the assistant referee and make sure I am at every lineout. To get a high shot right behind the hooker, it is a great angle and a fantastic angle to see if the ball is thrown in straight. I am just covering the game itself, maybe will get crowd shots pre and post match and of the players coming off the pitch.
If I do the sums that’s 5 hrs before the game, a couple of hours for the game and another couple for breakdown. That comes to a 9hr day for just 80 mins of action?
Yes it is a long day. The riggers who drive the big trucks with the studio where director sits and with all camera equipment, cables etc. They arrive a day before to lay all cables for camera positions and that takes ages to set-up. On match day, it depends on whats needed post match, we can leave after derigging cameras, about 2 hours after games finished.
20 cameras seems like a lot to cover the game. Again doing the sums that’s only an average of 4 mins coverage per camera during a game. I didn’t realise it was such a big effort/investment per minute of game.
Yes for the big world cup games they have more cameras. For analysis etc and specialist cameras. On a normal Aviva Premiership rugby game, there are about 12 cameras. 4 on each corner (to get tries in corner), 2 pitchside cameras for lineouts and interviews, 2 cameras high up behind goals for kicks going over, 3 cameras side on to actually film game (what we see at home), 1 wide, close up and a slow mo, for special shots and a another commentator or roving reporter. Also cameras for presentation, normally 2. So about 12-14 cameras per game but in the world cup they’ll have a spider cam, rail cams, ref cam. Yes its a lot of work filming a game.
If I think about your role specifically, on the pole cam it’s the lineouts that you cover. Going back to the calculator, with only 16-18 lineouts a game and obviously half of those will be on the opposite side of the pitch. That means you run up and down for 80 minuets to get maybe 9x30second clips?
Yes Its a lot of work for not many shots but they are crucial at the time and can use for analysis.
The Refs and assistants talk about working as a team and looking for different things. How important is it for the different cameras to work as a team and do you concentrate on certain parts of the game?
Yes it is important to work as a team, not just with camera operators, but with the whole outside broadcast production team, from runners to directors in the truck. As I said I will be working on the touchline and as such will work with other camera operators who will get player subs etc. With assistant referees and medical team it can get crowded on the touchline so have to work with the other camera ops to not get into each others way.
How aware are you of the state of the game at the time? Do you have to watch it later to get a full picture of what happened?
I am fully aware of the state of the game, as It is my job to get to the lineouts. However it is a funny angle to watch the game and it is nice to watch the game back on tv to get a better angle of plays and runs. I am concentrating on my job so I cannot enjoy the game like a supporter.
Is there a seniority to the camera roles or is more that there are a few specialities?
Yes you have a camera supervisor who crews the cameras operators. But usually all operators are highly experienced and have done it for decades. Most cameras have large box lenses and need to be operated by a experienced operator as you need to follow a player into score a try and to get the right framing for when a try goes to tmo. You can’t have a shot out of focus or it will look poor. Slow mo is a specialist camera too as it uses a higher frame rate per second so looks clearer slowed down.
What are your favourite grounds either because of the structure/atmosphere/welcome by the club?
I like going to Harlequins Stoop. A very friendly welcome and crowd / fans are welcoming. The trucks are close to pitch so good to transport the cameras. Liberty stadium in Swansea is a nice place too. Always get a warm welcome there too and is a great set-up for cameras.
What’s been your favourite moment that you have been able to cover?
My favourite moment I have covered in sport broadcasting has been working on the Snooker World Championships in Sheffield. I was working in the Outside Broadcast truck when Neil Robertson got his 100th Century Breaks in a season. It was a special moment, it had never been done before and Neil was stuck on 99 breaks for a while and the emotional outpouring shown from Neil was huge and I do not think it will be repeated again. The 2nd best breaks in a season was 60, so that puts it in perspective a bit.
I’d like to thank Eiddon for his time, I was totally surprised by how much effort there is to produce just 1 minute of coverage. I hope it’s give you an insight into a part of the rugby world that I know I took for granted. Keep an eye out of future behind the scenes pieces and if you are one of those people that makes it possible for us to enjoy the game please get in touch either below or via email at ExpatDadSG@Gmail.com.