Ray Waines - My Years With The CBCWednesday, March 20, 2013
My Years with the CBC- Going Back in Time
Guest Blog by Ray Waines
Two years later, I was sending live pictures from my television camera at a Vancouver Grey Cup game, to the rest of Canada! The year was 1960 which began my long and incredible career with the CBC. Having just started with CBUT in May, to work with the CFL Football crew in November’s Grey Cup game was indeed a remarkable fast start for me behind the camera.
As I enjoyed playing football at high school, it wasn’t long before I had the chance to work the play camera. This was fun, it was me against the quarterback, or didn’t you ever notice that he is also trying to deek out the Cameraman? But that didn’t happen until half way through my career and that was on a college game! I would go on to enjoy covering the BC Lions and the CFL for over 40 years
But it was really the television productions that started at our Vancouver studios, that helped shape the kind of programming Canadians would enjoy over the next 25 years. I was glad to be a part of that, beginning in 1960, I remember the first Cariboo Country series that started in Studio 41, (1960), with Chief Dan George, Ted Stidder and other actors who took on the low key roles that Canadian viewers learned to love. The Cariboo was a unique place and in 1964, the producers got the budget to shoot it on location up in the Chilcotin.
Then it was Reach for the Top with Terry Garner, (1961), and I remember the very first show and how it got off to a great start. The next year the CBC network had other cities join in with this very popular show for viewers at home. We even heard that parents had fun competing against their kids and now over 50 years later, it’s still a very popular show.
The first musical series that I got to work on was Some of Those Days and talk about pressure! With a live orchestra in Studio 41, the boom mikes on the singers were always crowding my headroom and behind them was a very short syc, so it was all too easy to shoot lights, a big no no! This network show was well produced and directed by Neil Sutherland. It was a hit across the country.
You can see why I enjoyed working at CBC. The challenges were always there to perform, as we had some creative producers to work with. They expected perfection with camerawork on their dramas or musicals, which was fine with me. There are just 2 or 3 more shows that I would like to mention briefly.
Let’s Go started in Studio 41 and later the Network called it Music Hop, as 4 other centres joined in across Canada. Finally we had a musical series that the teenagers could enjoy and some of the talented performers went on to be big names in the industry, as their songs became popular hits. Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks, American Woman by Burton Cummings and many more.
Beachcombers! This show was full of adventure right from the start! With great stories and two leading actors in Bruno and Relic, who seemed to have a never ending feud. This series is still seen and enjoyed in many countries. CBC had another winner from the west coast.
One last show to go and this one was my favorite, the Irish Rovers which was produced and directed by Ken Gibson. Everyone loved to get their feet stomping to Irish music and making the small Leprechauns come to life, was a challenge as we were pioneers with the use of chroma key. I had fun learning how to make them fly or perform magic tricks. The kids loved to see them every Sunday night. Our three trips to the UK were incredible, with the last one in the beautiful scenery of Northern Ireland.
Thinking back now, I feel that CBC Vancouver turned out better shows than did CBC Toronto. I was always glad that I never went back east to work in Toronto. There were so many great shows I would have missed working on.
|Ray Waines & a vintage Marconi Mark II TV camera|
Then there were all the Grey Cups and the Olympics, Montreal, Los Angeles, Calgary. Then New Zealand for the Commonwealth games. CBC Vancouver was just the right size for a cameramen as I could work the studios and the sporting events. I worked the play camera for Hockey Night in Canada on the Vancouver Canucks games and that was a challenge, right from the Canucks's first NHL game in 1970. And for a contrast I even covered darts across Canada, traveling 50,000 miles in 5 years to cover the best dart players in the world!
Around 1980, I started working closely with the architects who were building the BC Stadium.
This gave me a chance to make sure that the television cameras had good locations. And I continued consulting in new arenas across Canada, after I left CBC in 1991.
As a freelance cameraman, I was fortunate to get enough work to keep me busy. I was only 53 years old. So I worked for other networks for 19 years, but after that I said to myself why am I still working behind the camera? I was having the best of both worlds though, enjoying retirement and saying yes to those who still called me not knowing that I was in my 70s, or maybe they just didn’t care!
Throughout those 50 years, the best ones were with CBC and I hope that in my life time, I will see important changes in the present CBC. It may take another government, one that really cares about what CBC’s mandate should be. And it will take good leadership with fresh ideas to gain again the respect from Canadians that was always there, when I look back to those good years at CBC!
And another CBC cameraman Michael Varga
Crew pictures at the CBC