London 2012 (07.26.2012) – At the MMCR

A glimpse of Tower Bridge with one day to go before the games begin.

It’s one day until the Opening Ceremony and you can definitely sense that the games are upon us. It might be the fact that the sun has been out over the last several days or that the pace of activities has picked up. Whatever it is, the countdown to the Olympics is down to hours.

In some cases, competition has already begun. Yesterday, preliminary round matches were held in women’s football, er, soccer. While both the Americans and host nation, Team GB, came away with wins, everyone was talking about what happened at Hampden Park in Scotland last night.

As players were warming up before the North Korea-Columbia match, the individual North Korean players were being introduced next to an image of the flag of South Korea on the scoreboard. That’s a big no-no and the North Korean team refused to take the field for over an hour. Eventually, the team would come back and then beat Columbia in its opening match, 1-0. One can only assume that the intern who ran the scoreboard graphics got fired.

A Trip to the MMCR

As you know, I’ve mostly been logging press conferences over the last few days. Well today, I finally got to go to one. And unlike the last few that I’ve logged that featured officials from WADA and LOCOG, this one saw a guy named Michael Phelps. No introduction required.

Needless to say, there were plenty of members from the press at this press conference, being held at the MMCR. And while that sounds like a scary room at a hospital, it actually stands for Main Media Conference Room.

With so many press organizations covering the Olympics, NBC needed to mark its spot at the MMCR, and of course it has the best spot in the room (next to the World Feed cameras).

And even though NBC does have its own spot, it’s still a good idea to come very early, which we did. We had plenty of time to check our shot, make sure we had audio and that we were feeding back to the IOC smoothly.

For Michael Phelps, competing in his fourth Olympic Games, press conferences are nothing new. In fact, he looked like he was having fun as he came in and took video of the press with his phone, joking about how everyone else in the room was snapping photos and shooting video of him.

As Phelps answered the various questions from the world’s press, volunteers were making sure that photographers were where they were supposed to be (right in the middle of the room, down the aisle) and that non-photographers (who weren’t wearing beige vests) were not in that area.

One guy placed his video camera on the floor of our elevated platform, right underneath the OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) world feed cameras (aka, a place where you’re not supposed to be).

Speaking of the world feed cameras, there’s about three of them in the MMCR. Two of them are on the elevated platform that NBC is on, where one gets a wide shot and the other gets a one-shot of the subject that is talking. The third camera is on the stage itself and is mainly used to get shots of the reporter asking the question. It’s pretty rare that they’ll use the world feed cameras for a non-IOC press conference, which shows how important the Phelps presser is to the world’s press.

Phelps, through the lens of OBS.

The other swimmers…

Believe it or not, Phelps isn’t the only swimmer competing for the United States. After he had his own press conference (alongside his coach Bob Bowman), Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin showed up to take questions from the media. Not as many press members were interested and the world feed cameras weren’t used for this second session.

But NBC stayed, obviously. And Coughlin said it best when she was asked how she felt about Phelps having his own press conference.

“We’d all be sitting here day dreaming while every one asked Michael a question.”

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