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A day in the life of a...Technical Operator

20 January 2014

Chris D’Mello

Technical Operator, SIS Ltd, Milton Keynes

SIS Betting brings the thrill and excitement of betting to life for bookmakers’ customers in Britain, Ireland and worldwide – in shops and online. SIS has been at the heart of the global bookmaking and broadcast industries for more than a quarter of a century, capturing live video and data and producing generic and bespoke programming. Whether they are on-course and in-stadium, managing and delivering data from its Infocentres, producing TV channels, or providing key support, SIS staff are fully engaged with their customers. The role of a technical operator at SIS is to work with a variety of broadcast equipment in a number of live and post-production environments. The technical operator is primarily responsible for providing audio and video control room support, working closely with all teams to deliver professional broadcast content from SIS operations centres at Milton Keynes or MediaCityUK, Salford.

How did you get involved in this role?

I fell into this line of work really. Before working in TV I was a musician, and after a few years of playing gigs up and down the country we decided to call it a day and go our separate ways. A friend of mine who was working as a technical operator at SIS referred me through the employee referral scheme and here I am.

What attracted you to the job?

I was originally interested in working in film; in fact I was just about to start a media course days before I started my previous job. I always had the intention of going back into film, but pretty much fell in love with working at SIS, learning about all the different equipment we use and working with different people with different requirements on a daily basis. I couldn't imagine doing anything else now.

What is a typical day like for you?

The great thing about working as a technical operator at SIS is that every day is different, there are nine different services we work on requiring different skills in each job. To name a few: VT operation, sound operation, vision mixing, graphic operation and non-linear editing, all of differing degrees and requirements, so you never get bored. Another thing about working in production is that every day new challenges arise, so really there is no typical day for a technical operator!

What is your favourite part of the job?

I am very interested in the technical side of the job, so how all the different equipment used in the galleries work, what can go wrong with it, diagnosing that problem and fixing it. There's so much to learn so it always provides a challenge, but I do enjoy very busy days as an operator, especially when things don't always go to plan. Another part I enjoy is the training side of the job, teaching new technical operators how things work and new techniques (that is to name a few things).

Which part of your job would you like to change?

The one thing I'd like to see change would be the training programmes. While we have a convenient way of more experienced technical operators training new starters, I'd like to have dedicated operators training new starters and have one person take someone from the beginning to the end of their training, although some of us did have the opportunity of being sent on an external training course, so perhaps it's a sign of things to come.

What is the career progression for someone in your role?

Well there are many ways you can go as a technical operator, immediate progress would be vision mixing and from there you could become a director or producer, another direction you could take would be technical supervision which oversees all technical sides of the facility, but really you could progress anywhere, from master control room operation which takes care of all feeds coming in and out of the building, or engineering, which can work on projects of building galleries and more hands on technical issues.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking a similar role?

As I fell into this role and never had any formal education in film/TV production, I'm a bit of an anomaly, but the way it worked for me was contacts, you never know who may end up helping you in the long run. But for those studying, it would really be as simple as getting the best degree you can, SIS are always happy to hire those just finishing their university course. I sometimes feel SIS is a bit of an academy, with so many people starting all the time, and I love to see new people grow and become experienced technical operators

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