Summer 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 63

28 CINEMONTAGE / Q3 2016 by Debra Kaufman portraits by Gregory Schwartz T he CBS-TV hit Big Brother, hosted by Julie Chen and now in its 18th season, has a winning formula: Viewers watch a diverse group of people living together in a house, as dozens of high-definition cameras record their every move, 24 hours a day. Each week, in a live event, the houseguests vote someone out of the house, until the last remaining houseguest wins the grand prize of $500,000. The live event, with Chen in the studio, is a complicated mix of house cameras, live-show cameras, monitors with logos, graphics and a live camera feed. The elimination vote leads immediately into a Head of Household competition, in which all the cameras move outdoors and set up, shaded properly, during a commercial break. "It's an incredible feat," says Christine Salomon, who has been the show's full-time technical director since Season 9 (she started with three episodes in Season 8). "The show is very technically complicated in general. There's so much going on; it's almost an engineer's nightmare." Salomon is only one of a handful of women technical directors (TDs) in the industry. During a summer break at SUNY Buffalo, she went to New York, hoping for an internship with NBC's Later with Bob Costas. Instead, she was offered a position with Diamond Vision, which handles all the screen entertainment between innings, at Yankee Stadium. "It was a paid internship, so I applied for it," she recalls. Her job was to come up with the facts that would be displayed on the screen. Then one day, when there was a rain delay, the crew went for a hot dog and the stadium's TD told her she could sit at the switcher. "I got a taste of it for five minutes," she says. And she liked it. Back at SUNY Buffalo, Salomon managed to get the contact information for Bill Lamb, ESPN's vice president of engineering. She sent a resume and asked for an informational interview. "He implied I could have a job — and I was ready to leave school and come work there," she reveals. "But he told me I had to finish school first." A month before graduation, Lamb called Salomon to tell her she had the job. That's where, she says, she learned to be a technical director over a span of six years. "ESPN trained me in all tech areas, including master control, commercial dubbing, studio camera and tape," she acknowledges. "In my spare time, I would ask for tasks to do on the switcher, like making the American flag, so I could learn wipes, background colors and so on. I did that enough and showed that I had an interest and aptitude." She also learned the switcher by ghost-TDing the show. "I didn't have all the sources, but would go through all the button presses by listening to the director of SportsCenter on headset in an empty control room," she explains. "Eventually, that led them to putting me on real training for the 2:30 a.m. SportsCenter flagship show." After working that time slot for a couple of years, Salomon got promoted to the 7:00 p.m. slot. Other things were changing. "Between 1990 and 1996, ESPN was growing and growing," she says. "We were in a little bubble in Connecticut and Technical Challenges TD Christine Salomon Feeds on Them Big Brother. Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS Opposite: Christine Salomon.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of CineMontage - Summer 2016