Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where is our version?

I have recently found myself infatuated with a new series called “Rookies” on A&E. The show follows rookie cops in their first 12 weeks of patrol work and it is quite compelling. In fact, at times I feel the urge to defect over to the police side… yeah. It’s that good.

I found myself wondering why we don’t have a show like this on the fire side. The best firefighting shows I’ve seen are “The Bravest” and “The Battalion.” (Battalion promo is below.) Both are good, but neither is on par with the production quality and storytelling of “Rookies.”

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Why? The backbone of “Rookies” is the dynamic on-scene footage. In the fire services shows, the exterior shots can be a great aspect of the story, but I want to see more. I want to be along for the ride as they charge the line and engage in search or suppression. I want to see what the nozzle-man and officer see.

Unfortunately obtaining interior scene footage provides several challenges.

1) Personnel: Managing personnel on the fire ground is one of the most important and difficult challenges. Adding a camera man or a Steadicam to a team engaging in interior operations isn’t realistic.

2) Reaction shots: Stories are told through the actions and reactions of the characters. When wearing an SCBA, much of that aspect is lost.

3) Environment: IDLH atmospheres tend to be very dark with limited visibility. Capturing watchable video can be hit or miss.

4) Communications: Communicating wearing and SCBA isn’t easy, even with a voice amplification device.

So, how do we solve these problems? I think helmet cams can are part of the answer. But they do have several drawbacks.

What do you guys think? Is it possible to overcome these problems and make an entertaining fire show?

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  1. I don't know that helmet cams are the answer -- I've watched a lot of the ones posted on FlashoverTV, and very few of them give a good sense of what's going on. This one, Close Call with Helmet Cam is one of the better ones, but it's still very shaky and tough to watch.

    Helmet cams are probably really good for training, but I'm not sure they'll ever make for good drama.

  2. Adding footage that will be taken by a lawyer and putting it in the publics to speak does not make sense to me...yeah...they like any raw footage so they can argue we did not do the job the way the book we need to upmanship on the cop thing? Rescue 51 way back when Gage and Desotto were doing their thing on t.v. made good t.v. I had the chance to talk with Randolph Mantooth in Toronto in February. He gave an excellent presentation on the shows roots...and at the same time they were able to maintain the real thing from t.v. p.o.v. It vs them...they can have them...just my pov...we know what we do...I have two helmet cams for my own use...and they work so long as your not in the heat...also work on the forearm left side...


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