Walkabout Director Technique for Live Surgery Video —
It has been well over a decade since the Arthroscopy Association of North America or AANA has unicast live surgery video into their annual meetings. This year however is the exception. Thanks to conferencing technology (and sometimes streaming), our remote peek into the operating room has become as fluid as a long summer water slide, which means we might well be witnessing a rebirth in surgical theater.
I partnered up with Bill LaCapra of Capro Media Services for this live surgical event. Bill and I have been working together on several live surgery videos for a few years now, namely in orthopaedics. Bill does a lot of meeting and presentation capture. Because Bill is also a veteran surgical videographer that knows how to throw the switch on a set of shots while my own attention is focused on getting a better camera angle or following surgical detail, I know he will make good decisions while I am preoccupied. There is nothing like working with experience when it comes to surgical videography.
Drs. Nikhil Verma, Brian Cole, and Shane Nho of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush
Up first on the schedule, Dr. Nikhil Verma inaugurated the meeting with an open Latarjet procedure, moderated by John Tokish, M.D., followed by two procedures conducted by Dr. Brian Cole, a superior capsular reconstruction, moderated by Joseph Burns, M.D., and the next morning with a subchondroplasty with a meniscal allograft transplantation, moderated by Kevin Bonner, M.D.. Then the last session was performed by Dr. Shane Nho, a hip arthroscopy with a labral repair and a femoroplasty, moderated by Bryan Kelly, M.D..
Each of these procedures were staged in the operating rooms at the Gold Coast Surgicenter, which is seeming like home to us the more we work there. This may be our sixth live surgical video event series we have shot at Gold Coast, and you couldn’t find a better group of people to work with. Working with the staff is like figure skating on fresh ice, unruffled and velvety smooth. It’s always good to see a place where the people that work there seem to really like each other. And helpful too!
Live Surgery from a Surgical Videographer’s POV
From a surgical videography standpoint live surgery video is one of those crafts that if you do a good job, the surgeon audience forgets the video team is even there, and we go invisible in their minds. What the audience sees and focuses on is the surgical procedure. When live surgical video doesn’t go so well, the audience is very aware that the cameramen are struggling, as they see it on the screen. Good live video doesn’t always get complimented, but when there is a lack of criticism about the technical aspects of video, that’s a praise barometer worth noting. After all the suspension of disbelief is central to learning through video.
Live surgical videography is unforgiving to videographers who don’t know what they are doing in the OR. We use a technique that is unique to the live broadcast world in that, as the director, instead of sitting behind the mixer panel calling the shots and instructing the cameramen where to set their cameras, I will actually man the camera or cameras myself, and with a multiscreen set for my and the surgeon’s view in the OR, I will call back the shots to the mixer board over a com device. You can read about the details of this technique in The Walkabout Director, as demonstrated at ISAKOS in Lyon, France.
What’s great about having Bill LaCapra with me on these live shoots, is that while I am busy setting a new camera angle or chasing the surgeon’s hand movement in close-up, Bill has a veteran sensibility to switch to the best shot and he is good at it. Videographers that know little about surgery will just stand there and think they are getting the shot. But how can you know what you don’t know? Experience, knowing the surgery, and knowing the anatomy is critical. Knowing sterile technique is essential as well. This coordinated movement in the live video OR is a dance, with the surgeon taking the lead. Hey, there is nothing wrong with a group dance, especially when we all know how to dance together!
Immediate Future of Live Surgery Video
All surgeons, Drs. Verma, Cole, and Nho are fabulous to work with and tremendous presenters of orthopaedic surgical arts. We will be working with this group again for the upcoming AOSSM meeting in July, and the Chicago Sports Medicine Symposium in early September. Did I say that Gold Coast Surgicenter feels like home now? I did indeed.
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