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Subject: Handling materials on television

Handling materials on television

From: Ann Shaftel <tsondru>
Date: Tuesday, July 8, 2003
Yes, the way artifacts are handled on television is fundamentally
educational to the viewing public, and therefore should be done with
the very best professional technique.

I have appeared on TV numerous times: live interviews about Art
Conservation topics, special news features on objects I am working
on (with the reporter and camera crew with lights and microphones in
my modest lab.), and live-to-air, unedited televised phone-in shows.

I have also had a regular spot on a radio live-to-air phone in for
six years where listeners phone in with questions on Art
Conservation. On radio, I must go into exacting verbal descriptions
about handling techniques without using any jargon and without
boring my audience. Now, there's a challenge!

>From this experience, I'd like to mention the major technical
considerations when working in front of a camera or microphone. For
example, on one live-to-air TV show, there were three cameras, and a
floor director who indicated to the guest which camera is "hot" at
any given time. Then the guest must position the objects for the
alternating cameras, using the best Conservation- approved handling
techniques, while continuing to speak in a coherent manner, while
maintaining good eye contact with the host. This is not easy.

Over the years, I have critiqued the tapes of some of these
"appearances" with a critical eye towards just the topic under
discussion: that of Handling Materials on Television. One conclusion
is that if a Conservator is in front of a camera, it is important to
explain,  on camera, why she or he is handling the object is the
particular way, wearing gloves--or not--the positioning of your
hands, etc.

Unless the show is live-to-air, however, there is no guarantee that
your technical explanation of good handling techniques will not be
edited out later due to time/content considerations. It is easy to
criticize people on TV. I watch Antiques Road Show and am unhappy
about the way the appraisers handle objects.

In conclusion, keeping to the highest international Conservation
standards while handling materials on TV is the only goal to have.
Especially because the actual experience of doing a TV show is, in
itself, more than challenging.

Ann Shaftel MSc, MA
Fellow AIC and IIC, CAPC

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:11
                  Distributed: Tuesday, July 15, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-11-006
Received on Tuesday, 8 July, 2003

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