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The DC Day in the Life Challenge

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Fic: Research Request [Nov. 5th, 2007|09:10 pm]
The DC Day in the Life Challenge


[Current Mood |curiouscurious]

Title: Research Request
Author: wabbitseason
Words: 1198 words
Rating: G
Characters: Me, references to Batman, Superman and the Justice League
Continuity: Animated universe through "Divided We Fall"
Disclaimer: DC Comics owns.
Summary: One night a cataloger comes face to face with just another researcher. Sorta.
Author's Note: Not exactly what I intended to write, but, it's pretty close to my usual day.

I don't usually help with the research requests, but the video library is pretty short staffed tonight, so everyone has to do their part. You're lucky I was staying late to make up some hours. Otherwise you'd have to wait until the morning. Let me guess, short turn around time, your editor is breathing down your neck, all that jazz? Believe me, I've heard all the excuses before. Fortunately I've been paying attention to the researchers enough to know where they file certain tapes.

What do I usually do around here? No, it's okay, I do tend to fade into the woodwork. People tend to forget I'm hiding in the cubicle. No one's locked me in yet, but I do tend to work some weird hours.

Technically I'm a contractor, not real staff. The assignment could end at any moment. I could wind up shelving books or checking in serials at the downtown Gotham branch at any moment. Right now, I catalog video footage. See, everyone kept reusing the same old shots in their packages. They realized they had all this great b-roll footage lying around, if they just knew how to find it. So I'm cataloging it, one blessed tape at a time. Journalists go out in the field with their mini-dv cameras and come back with the raw footage. I then spend hours staring at a clam, recording what I see on those little tapes. The library then turns it into stock footage for use in its programming.

It sounds boring, but it can be a lot of fun. Some tapes are like little travelogues from places I'll never visit and introduce me to people I'd never get to meet ordinarily. Most of the people aren't famous, just subject experts or random bystanders. I watch all kinds of stories from the heartwarming human interest pieces to the gut wrenching investigative stuff. I never know where I'll go next. I think there's only one continent I haven't visited yet and I'm still hoping a team will get sent down to Antarctica.

But there's local stuff, too. I just moved here from Metropolis. I think I learned more about Gotham City from just looking through the old footage than I could from reading the papers. You see the places, yes, but you also hear the people and their words. You see Wayne Towers jutting out of the skyline, but you also see a slow pan of the East Side. You hear Commissioner Gordon, but you also hear from old Joe down the block. It's a good way to see the world without needing a passport or body armor.

So what kind of footage are you looking for?

We have a little of everything. I know most of my own collection pretty well. I don't know the general one nearly as well, since it's not really in my contract. I'm just good at picking stuff up. So just try and stump me.

Establishing shot of the US Capitol Building? Check.

Eiffel Tower? Oh, please, how about a harder one?

Long shot of the old Gotham power plant? I'd have to run a search, but I think we have it. That was the one the Joker tried to blow up once, right?

How did I know that? Oh, sorry, it's a force of habit. My memory is a little freaky that way. Sometimes it's memory, sometimes a random association of names and places; sometimes I just don't have an explanation for it. But it's useful in a job like this. When someone asks, I usually know what to suggest. And I might have a curiosity for superheroes, but don't tell my supervisor that. In Metropolis, no one would bat an eyelash, but Gotham is a little nervier. So what else?

Press conference with the Justice League after that whole Cadmus mess? One of our most popular packages. I don't know how many times that footage has been checked out, but I swear it moves as fast as the Flash. Why is it popular? Probably because it's one of the few places you can see the whole original seven Justice Leaguers together.

Footage of Superman flying by? The Metropolis bureau has fresh new footage of Superman they send down on one of the newsfeeds every evening. But it's always good to have alternatives. We're trying to get away from using the same editmasters. You wouldn't believe how many times you guys ask for the same things. Oh, sorry, I really should watch what I say. You guys do good work, y'know, but we'd just appreciate a little more lead time.

The Bat Signal? In all its eerie glory. I can see it from my office window when I work late. I've joked that if we ever need any new footage, all we need to do is point a camera out the window. But that requires getting a camera crew together. Some Gothamites tell me how reassuring it is to see it in the skies, but I've always found it unsettling. For some reason, the Bat Signal always reminds me of the old tornado sirens when I went to school down south. When you heard one going off, you knew you needed to get back to the dorm. Same theory, I guess. They wouldn't use it unless he's really needed.

No one usually bothers with the older stuff. The only time someone goes digging into the really old archival footage is for an anniversary... or if someone died. The hardest thing I ever cataloged was Superman's memorial service. I was still living in Metropolis then. That whole stretch was brutal. I lived in DC so I've seen my share of state funerals, but nothing like that. No one wanted to see that footage for a long time, even after he'd reappeared, safe and sound. I found a lot of happier footage to catalog for a few days.

That was how I found that treasure trove of older footage of Superman. I was cleaning up our records and looking through anything we had on him. The tapes had been labeled "unidentified flying man". Near as I can figure, the footage had been caught by one of our VJs just after Superman appeared on the scene, but before he'd been actually called Superman. Of course no one bothered to go back to update their files. Why should they? Like I said, they always have bunch of new shots to choose from, unlike the Gotham bureau, where good footage of the Bat is rather hard to come by. I've collated most of it on a subject tape, but it always seems to go missing.

That situation just pointed out the flaws in our system. How do you classify new superheroes anyway? We've never found a good set of keywords to describe them adequately. One cataloger will call them heroes and another will call them vigilantes. One person's cape is another person's cowl. There's no rhyme or reason. It's very frustrating.

I'm sorry for babbling on about my work. I don't usually get to explain it to strangers. I didn't catch which service you worked with, Mr. Malone, was it? Was there anything else you needed?

[User Picture]From: marag
2007-11-06 12:31 pm (UTC)
Bwah! I love the ending! Gee, I wonder why the Batman footage keeps disappearing. ::snerk::

I also love the next to last paragraph, because that's such a fabulous question about how your job would be different in the DCU. How *do* you categorize superheroes?

Very cool!
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