American Morning

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March 27th, 2009
09:46 AM ET

Meet AM: Doug Maines – Vista Spyder Operator

Doug Maines sits at the controls before a busy show.

Doug Maines sits at the controls before a busy show.

Each Friday in “Meet AM,” we’ll introduce you to the people who get American Morning to air.

Today, we’d like you to meet Doug Maines. Doug’s official title is studio operator, but most days you will find him in control of the Vista Spyder. This means Doug is the guy who makes all that video, graphics, and live events show up in that impressive projection wall on set. He’s been with CNN since 2001, and has been a permanent fixture at AM for about two years.

How did you end up working on the Vista wall?
When CNN first got the Vista Spyder, I was originally the back-up person to operate it for the show. After the first rehearsal show, the primary guy quit. Here I am two years later, still going strong.

Describe your average day.
My work day starts at 4 AM. I come in, power up, and test my equipment as quickly as I can, so I can spend the remaining time before the show working with the wall producer to build wall treatments. During the show when I am not running the treatments, and when the wall is not on camera, I build more wall treatments, or modify existing ones so they match the ever-changing scripts.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Last second changes. The program that I use to control the wall is based on a timeline. So when something changes it takes a moment to make the changes to that timeline. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when the show is waiting on you, it is an eternity. So after getting burned a few times, I’ve learned some shortcuts and workarounds to speed things up a little. I am constantly listening to the director for changes, listening to the wall producer for changes, watching the rundown for changes, and looking at the graphics folder for new things, just to try to stay ahead.

For a show that changes as much as American Morning and that is three hours long (on a normal day), having a good wall producer is key. The wall producer that I have now, Chris, is very organized, good at what he does, and he’s fast. Having him there working with me makes what I do so much easier.

Doug’s playland, the Vista Spyder, or as we call it, the wall.

Doug’s playland, the Vista Spyder, or as we call it, the wall.

What do you like most about working at AM?
The people. I work with the probably the nicest bunch of guys anywhere. They not only care about getting the job done, but also look out for one another. During the hours that we come in, there are more issues that we have to deal with than people working on a 9 to 5 job. There are more drunk drivers on the road, in the winter the roads are not necessarily plowed, and most people drive in and from a pretty good distance. So as much as we all complain about one another if someone is late or is out sick, someone on the crew will be in touch with them to make sure everything is okay.

What do you do outside of work?
I have a daughter, who is a year-and-a-half old. She keeps me on my toes and takes up most of my time.

What do you do for fun?
I like to fish. I am pretty new to it and not very good, but I get out every time I have a free minute. I have been out once this year...see the previous question for the reason.

From Aparnaa Seshadri, CNN


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