| Imagine being a typical guy, the kind that hates to shave and would never dream of wearing anything that even remotely resembles makeup. That was me, before being contacted by The Discovery Channel to act as a subject matter expert on the topic of steam power plants and electrocutions, part of a series they’ll be airing in the near future to be called Curious and Unusual Deaths. Little did I know when agreeing to appear on the program that I was also agreeing to venture into an area of human experience most males would like left to the females, that of donning facial makeup.
Upon my arrival in Toronto to meet up with the producers I was treated like a celebrity. A chauffer had been sent to greet me at the airport, and I was driven to a fancy downtown hotel. The next morning I was driven to the video studio and spent some time in the makeup chair to get gussied up. My imperfections muffled, I was invited to take a seat in front of a green screen, and for those of you who don’t know what the function of this marvel of photography is, let me briefly explain. The green screen enables the editors to digitally impose any kind of background behind me at a later time of their choosing, anything from the Grand Canyon to footage of World War II. As of this time I have no idea what images will be shown in back of me as I speak. It’ll be interesting to see where I end up!
Once the cameras and lights were adjusted in the studio, there was a clack from the director’s clapper board, accompanied by a shout of “roll ‘em!” And we were off shooting, just like in Hollywood. Two video cameras shot me simultaneously, one placed directly in front and one to my left. One of the show’s producers sat next to the front-positioned video camera during shooting. She needed to be within earshot, because she soon proceeded to ask me pointed questions about the science behind each incident being investigated. It was up to me to ad-lib the responses, bearing in mind that the subject matter was technical and had to be conveyed to an audience of average technical background in a manner in which they could understand it. Every now and then we’d take a break from filming so the crew could tend to the video equipment. It seems that adjustments had to be continually made to both cameras and lighting. Videotapes had to be changed, and the makeup artist would use these as opportunities to tweak my makeup.
All in all it was an enjoyable experience. Everyone acted professionally and was easy to work with, and the producers expressed their satisfaction with the part I had played. I was told that I explained the technical subject matter in a way that anyone could understand, and I thanked them. But after all, as I shared with them, that’s my job! It was nice to hear that I was doing it well.
Next time we’ll get into how GFCI outlets help to prevent you from getting electrocuted and from becoming a potential subject on Curious and Unusual Deaths.