Inside view of Oval Office photo op

Chicago Tribune / the Swamp
Thursday, December 14, 2006

When the president meets with visiting dignitaries in the Oval Office, usually there's a photo op at which news video is shot, then edited down to a smoothly crafted finished product.

The final video typically shows what photojournalists call a head-on shot of the two officials, with an occasional cutaway shot to show one or another leader's reaction.

But the raw unedited video is actually fun to look at too, especially from the secondary camera that records the cutaway shots because the viewer gets more of a sense of what was actually happening in the Oval.

 

That was the case last Tuesday when Iraqi Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim visted President Bush.

Al-Hakim read a statement that seemed lengthy by normal photo-op standards, made even longer by the necessity of translation.

The cutaway camera footage, which has a reality show feel, shows Bush who at times appears restless but works hard to appear focused on al-Hakim and the translator.

You also get to see Vice President Cheney standing statue still near the president's desk.

There also the press horde that's literally herded into the Oval Office by White House aides and out again after the photo op.

The video is about as close as someone can get to what it's like to be in the room without actually being in the room.

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