Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hockey Confidential by Bob McKenzie

This had to be one of the craziest shoots I've done yet, at least with regards to timing. Talk about a test. We had what I figured was reasonable amount of time to get to the Mattamy Athletic Centre, set up a preconceived shot (I'd location scouted a couple of days before, and a rough layout was devised so we knew what we had to do), and shoot Bob McKenzie when he arrived at noon. But little did we know as we finished locking the camera into position, getting tethered to the laptop (now mounted on its own stand) and almost finished securing the light stand to a spot that wasn't wide enough to accommodate three spread legs that we would be told there was going to be a press conference right where we were set up so we would have to pack up and move.

What a scramble. We were shooting in the bleachers and not all sections were alike or would work in our layout. But we found a similar enough spot and humped all the gear over to the new spot, set up all over again, and were ready to go at 12:00 sharp! But where was Bob? Bob, it turned out, was stuck in traffic. No problem. The designer and I headed over to the other side of the rink to scout another possible spot for a second, alternative shot. 

Still no Bob. Apparently, according to the editor who went to greet him, he is now being stopped by fans. But eventually he arrives and we shoot and we get the shot!

We now have approximately half an hour to take whatever gear we will need to the other side of the rink for shot #2, but we can't get into the penalty box, where we will be shooting, until the players take their ten minute break, at which point we will have exactly ten minutes to get the gear in there, set up the camera (have to use a tripod because of the shutter speed), tether up, set up the light, shoot and get out. The buzzer goes and we leap into gear and as Bob is moving into the penalty box a player who recognizes him skates over to chat. I am briefly trapped behind him. But we get through and set up as fast as we possibly can. Someone yells "Zamboni!" and we spin the light (which we have on a boom out over the ice) out of the way so it doesn't get clipped. Almost as soon as we start shooting my assistant yells "shoot to card!" The capture software on the laptop has stalled. Thankfully I have an empty, formatted card in the camera just in case, so I yank the tether cable out of the camera and have shot maybe a dozen frames when the buzzer sounds and the players are at the gate. We have less than a minute to get out of their way. 

Not for the first time, once I get back to the studio to review the images, I find myself really liking one of the very last frames we shot, from the set-up that was 'just an alternative'. I know as I write this, of course, that they didn't go for that second shot for the cover, but I'm happy with the select. The book is out Oct. 2014. Read about it at

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