Saturday, August 30, 2003

Free at last Free at last

The other day was the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech. At the station (I work at a TV station for those not in the know), we did a story about it and ran it the day before and the anniversary day but it had NO SOUND on it.

In the TV biz we call it NAT SOUND, or Natural Sound, basically if you run some video and the anchor is talking over it we like to add the natural sound from the video under the anchor's voice, the video is called a VO (Voice Over) and the NAT sound adds a little to the story. For example, a rally for an issue with the chants heard underneath the anchor as we see the video, or the sound of a helicopter landing. Sometimes when the audio guy is good (and I am) and the anchor trusts him you can make the piece a little more dramatic by bringing up the nat sound on the tape and the anchor can (unscripted) pause for effect. Example, the demolition of a building, while the anchor is talking we bring up the countdown, she hears the subtle increase in nat and pauses at "2" and the audio guy brings up the "1...KA-BOOOOOOM" then the anchor continues with the story. Makes for better Television!!!!

Anyway, the other morning we run the MLK story and there he is at the podium, speaking and the anchor, trusting me, allows a little pause when we go to the tape for the "I Have A Dream", and we get nothing; no Martin, no crowds, not even crickets. Pissed, I let the producer know that the editors better get their shit together and put nat sound on these tapes. Well he informs me that the video was sent Silent because someone owns the copyright and we must pay for the audio (which my cheap station wont do).

Now I was very irritated by this. I can understand his family not wanting this speech and MLK's likeness to end up dancing with a Dirt Devil vacumn cleaner ala Fred Astair but this speech is an important 'document ' in our history, like Lincoln's Gettysburg Adress, FDR's Pearl Harbor Speech or Lou Gehrig's Farewell to Baseball Speech. These are all held in high value and deserve to be heard, uneditted and in their entirety AND by it's presenter if possible. For the copyright holder to require payment to re-broadcast such an important speech on an important date, to me is reprehensable.


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