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upgrading a high school

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drewmortensen
upgrading a high school
on Aug 15, 2007 at 8:32:50 pm

I recently took over a high school video production class. The class had been stagnant for about 10 years, producing nothing at all. We started last year by broadcasting the morning announcements via video. Then we began podcasting the announcements. Then we began showing programs/sports on the cable channel. Well, the school board is thrilled, and now I find myself in a bind with the lack of equipment to meet the growing expectations.

Our goal: To broadcast a good/high quality picture of both live mixed (studio and mobile) and pre-recorded programs.

What we have:
2 Panasonic MX50 S-Video Mixers
2 Sony TRV 900 video cameras
1 Canon XL1S video camera
5 Computers runing Adobe Production Studio
10+ CRT S-video 13inch monitors
30+ Students that love all aspects of video production and want to do an awesome job for the community.
Modulators and Demodulators
Oscilliscope
Waveform Modulator
Signal Generator
1 External SATA/USB 500GB HDD

What we don't have:
VDAs
VTR's
Firestores
Digital Video Mixers
Digital Monitors
Switchers
An inside connection with Grass Valley
The ability to move 600lbs of equipment on a daily basis.
Anything that is HD
LAN Storage

Disregarding budget (because we have none - as in, we are given no money), what is the best way to go? (The whole money thing didn't stop us from getting computers, cameras repaired, or thousands of feet of cabling.) Where do we start into the mess of becoming a full fledged station?


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Del Holford
Re: upgrading a high school
on Aug 16, 2007 at 1:13:41 pm

Hi
Your profile doesn't say much about you. In what city are you located? Does your community have a film and video society or an ITVA or SBE chapter? Is there a university or college nearby? Are there video resellers and corporate vendors in your area? How much film and video production goes on where you live?

All of the answers to these questions will indicate sources for donated or heavily reduced pricing for equipment. The answers also indicate if there are mentors available for you and your class, both on the engineering and production sides. These people can also help you with system layout and design if you show them respect and appreciation. Krispy Kremes and Dunkin' Donuts make planning sessions go well. :-)

It sounds like you are pretty creative. Use that creativity to get outside the box and come up with ideas that not only create video but create infrastructure to make that video something of which you can be proud.

Your Adobe Production Suite is a valuable tool for your students to create motion graphics, 2D graphics, edit segments and just have a ball. I'd use that heavily because you can output to the web or DVD or tape, which eliminates the need for some other equipment. For narrowcasting to the school you might look into grants from your state or the federal government to fund equipment for that purpose.

Don't worry about HD - you don't want to go there yet. It is a time and resource hog and your end users can't see it. You can teach 16x9 framing in SD and you will save on storage and equipment, as well as a time factor for production of about 3 - 4 times slower on HD. In a few more years developments in compression and production of HD video will make it much more accessible to educational facilities. Until then, keep an eye on its progress but leave it alone.

Others on this COW forum will join in as I certainly haven't got all the answers but I hope this little bit gets you thinking. Best of luck.


Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television


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drewmortensen
Re: upgrading a high school
on Aug 17, 2007 at 2:52:53 am

Del,
I have yet to explore the finer intricacies of my cow account, and will update my profile in time. For now, let me tell you that I am an English teacher by formal education. I have been editing video on my computer since about 99 (10th grade). My skills, in my opinion, are mediocre. I could probably pass the expert level tests of Premiere and Encore. My skills in photoshop are sufficient for most graphic design needs that I've encountered. I love using After Effects. I did asp.net programming a few years back, and that has helped with my understanding of AE Expressions. On the production side, I have very little experience. Look to the left of this posting, do you see all of those flickering adds? Well, I've clicked on them all, and understand about 10%. The only equipment that I've ever worked with is what the school already had when I took over, less the computers. I'm still learning what I can do with analog, but I think it may be time to move on.

>>Does your community have a film and video society or an ITVA or SBE chapter?
I don't know... What are ITVA and SBE?

>>Is there a university or college nearby?
Lots of them, but the only ones with video programs are Drexel and Temple, and they are an hour or more away. I have to complete a masters degree in order to retain my PA teaching license, and have been contemplating Drexel's TV Production program, but I can't find anyone that has been through it to provide feedback. Still, an hour away and that is a tough sell with two little ones at home. But I digress...


>>Are there video resellers and corporate vendors in your area?
Not that I am aware of.... I could definitely do some more research in this area though.

>>How much film and video production goes on where you live?
Wedding videography is about all that happens here... Oh, and M. Night Shyamalan films in this county.

>>Mentors on the production and engineering sides
Yeah, I'm definitely in need of some mentors. Know of anyone around Philly that is looking for a mentee?

I appreciate your advice and the time you've taken to reply. Hopefully I can translate what I learn here into tangible results for the students and community.




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Del Holford
Re: upgrading a high school
on Aug 20, 2007 at 5:44:57 pm

Hi again

ITVA is the Industrial Television Association and is associated with the Media Communications Association International. I think the DC chapter encompasses Philly. SBE it the Society of Broadcast Engineers. The major network stations in Philly are guaranteed to have SBE members. You referenced Philadelphia so I guess you are somewhere in the area. I googled "post production" for Philly and found Shooters Post & Transfer and Cubist Post, both very strong creatively and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, which is a gold mine of info. The The Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Art Institute of Philadelphia are excellent resources. Knowing of Shooter's Post and Cubist, they have major suppliers so if you talk to their President/CEOs, you can get a lot of help and information. You may need to do this in person to establish who you are and to share your vision. Don't be afraid to tell them what you don't know because they probably will be more willing to help a teacher who is ignorant but sincere than one who appears to be faking it. The same is true for SBE engineers. They are looking for young talent and could be a big help. While you are interested in production, you also indicate a need for engineering support.

I love the english language - the recently released on DVD movie "Music and Lyrics" is a really well written one and I think writing is the greatest skill in Television and communication. I got my degree, many years ago, in Political Science. That didn't teach me how to run camera, direct, etc., but it gave me a good world view that relates to what television is all about: communication. The clearer you can communicate what you are trying to get across the better the piece will be. It is all about the story.

Keep at it. The COW is a great resource and Google will get you information on just about any topic.


Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television


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Charlie King
Re: upgrading a high school
on Aug 22, 2007 at 2:15:13 pm

Just as a point of reference, We have a high school here in Las Vegas that has had an excellent TV facility. Their equipment may not have been the best in some instances. The teacher that was there for many years, took a part time job as a cameraman at a local TV station during the summer, working summer vacation relief. This gave him the opportunity to keep up with the real world of Broadcast TV.
When I have hired people, I went to him for recommendations of his past students. I preferred them well above UNLV's TV graduates with degrees. In most instances their knowledge of Broadcast Television was far above the University Graduates.
He got his equipment from local TV stations, production houses, and even UNLV as they upgraded he got one generation down. really not bad for a high school.

Good luck with your classes and I hope you keep going.

Charlie

ProductionKing Video Services
Unmarked Door Productions
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada


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Melissa Sykes
Re: upgrading a high school
on Sep 21, 2011 at 10:53:13 pm

Hi Del-

I saw your post and that you were in Charlotte and I had to contact you. I'm currently teaching a Broadcasting class for the first time at a school right outside of Charlotte. I have no experience teaching a media class, and our “school news” program basically consists of students reading a blown up Microsoft Word file off a TV that we rigged up. We have 3 cameras that we use for stationary shots that have no batteries or Firewire capabilities. The video feeds then travel via wires to a downstairs storage area where I have 2 computers set up, an audio board, a graphics mixer that has broken buttons, and a video mixer with a pilot lever for camera transitions. We run the graphics through Powerpoint and then rig the shots and key out the green with the mixer to have graphics. Currently, we can play music from the other computer, but any accompanying video that we want to include flies somewhere far away and we can’t find it. We pre-tape the news using a VHS TV/VCR combo and then play back the VHS on a VCR that broadcasts to school televisions.

My principal said she’d give me money (about $3,000 – a HUGE sum!) to try and get some updated equipment so that we can develop new broadcasts that show the awesomeness of our school. Ideally, we’d like to be able to get the kids to want to go to school functions/games and videotape stuff because they know we will then show their footage on the news. While one half of the class is taping the news, I’d love to have the other class working on character education video projects or "club spotlights" that could be included in the news. I also want to give them the opportunity to learn the editing software so they are advancing their exposure to technology. The goal is to get to the point where the students can actually take cameras and do little skit tapings of the daily announcements, edit them into "mini packages," and then bring them all together into one broadcast to form the news – things like teacher announcements, what’s for lunch, football game footage, etc. The admin also wants us to be able to show our production via the internet and through the school television system.

I met with the tech facilitator for the county who told me about the Adobe School package and Adobe Premier Elements which is already on the "new" Dell computers this year (Dell Optiplex 780). No one in the school knows the program and the tech facilitator suggested we also purchase Visual Communicator as a teleprompting software that allows for other effects. I have 90 minutes and 25 kids in my class, but we’re hoping the program will grow.

We currently have two older flip cameras to tape video. I was thinking about getting one or two "nicer" cameras to keep in the school for in-school filming and using whatever money is left to get some flip cameras or something the kids can take with them to games and sign out overnight. I also wanted to get a microphone and maybe some tripods or lights. I will have to teach myself the software so I need cameras that are compatible but can still provide a wide range of levels. I am proficient with computers in "daily needs" programs/wiring and can self teach software, but I am not a specialist. I have a Mac, but haven't had the time to fool around with video editing.

This will probably be the only opportunity I have to get any technology for the class for awhile. I eventually want to have the Broadcasting 1 students focus solely on learning an editing software and then have Broadcasting 2 be in charge of the news once they are able to edit proficiently. It would also be great down the line to have Broadcasting 3 and 4 students progress to where they focus on creating community documentaries or public access videos. The caveat to all of this is that I am able to teach them how to do all this and have the proper equipment.

I’m seriously out of my league, but the kids actually are into the class because it’s hands-on right now and I want to make sure I do what’s best for them. I also really love teaching kids who are so into video, and I'd love to learn and build the Broadcasting program. Any suggestions on technology or a plan for what to purchase would be greatly appreciated! I'm running out of time and I'm afraid if I don't make a decision soon, the money will go towards something else. HELP!

Thanks for all your techieness!

Melissa Sykes
melissamiller88@hotmail.com


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LmanAlive
Re: upgrading a high school
on Dec 11, 2007 at 3:21:43 am

Drew, ran across your post, and saw you are in Philly. Was wondering how things panned out. I live in philly and have some experience working at schools. Never video production at schools, of course being on this forum I do have some video production experience though. Let me know if I can help out in anyway, sounds like a great time.
Joel


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Tyler Ries
Re: upgrading a high school
on Apr 24, 2008 at 9:56:04 am

I have just come from working in a High School environment, and know how much trouble it can be dealing with small budgets and old equipment. Just remember, that although the professional world is making their transition toward digital and HD production, you are not quite there. And, the basics of a video camera, production direction, and editing are what is relevant in a teaching environment.

My best approach to this is to be creative and use what you have, in conjunction with what people are willing to get rid of. E-Bay is littered with used equipment that is still in fantastic shape. I purchased a used Grass Valley 3400 DA for $20! All I had to do was replace the fuses and I had 8 Analog, Broadcast quality DA's! I know that this is not Digital or new, but your current setup is only Analog, and might be for some time. You might be surprised what replacing simple parts on old equipment can do to it. Also, using cheap security camera quad-split processors is a great way to make your own multi image screen. The quality might be low, but it is only really used for monitoring. Buy using 3 quad-splitters (feeding 2 into the other 1), and buying a larger LCD screen (consumer, less than $1500), you could have your very own multi-image screen with 8 reference monitors, and large preview and program. If you buy right, the monitor could have on-screen labels as well. If you are using Premiere, look into a cheap Analog to DV converter box, and using that as a video recorder through capture mode (and then burn strait to DVD). Just some things to think about when you need to get creative.

Just remember, sparking the interest in students is half the battle. Use what you can and keep on the School Board for some funding now and then. Also, don't forget about grants!


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Melissa Sykes
Re: upgrading a high school
on Sep 21, 2011 at 11:27:38 pm

I saw your post and I'm in the same boat as you. I'm currently teaching a Broadcasting class for the first time at a school right outside of Charlotte. I have no experience teaching a media class, and our “school news” program basically consists of students reading a blown up Microsoft Word file off a TV that we rigged up. We have 3 cameras that we use for stationary shots that have no batteries or Firewire capabilities. The video feeds then travel via wires to a downstairs storage area where I have 2 computers set up, an audio board, a graphics mixer that has broken buttons, and a video mixer with a pilot lever for camera transitions. We run the graphics through Powerpoint and then rig the shots and key out the green with the mixer to have graphics. Currently, we can play music from the other computer, but any accompanying video that we want to include flies somewhere far away and we can’t find it. We pre-tape the news using a VHS TV/VCR combo and then play back the VHS on a VCR that broadcasts to school televisions.

My principal said she’d give me money (about $3,000 – a HUGE sum!) to try and get some updated equipment so that we can develop new broadcasts that show the awesomeness of our school. Ideally, we’d like to be able to get the kids to want to go to school functions/games and videotape stuff because they know we will then show their footage on the news. While one half of the class is taping the news, I’d love to have the other class working on character education video projects or "club spotlights" that could be included in the news. I also want to give them the opportunity to learn the editing software so they are advancing their exposure to technology. The goal is to get to the point where the students can actually take cameras and do little skit tapings of the daily announcements, edit them into "mini packages," and then bring them all together into one broadcast to form the news – things like teacher announcements, what’s for lunch, football game footage, etc. The admin also wants us to be able to show our production via the internet and through the school television system.

I met with the tech facilitator for the county who told me about the Adobe School package and Adobe Premier Elements which is already on the "new" Dell computers this year (Dell Optiplex 780). No one in the school knows the program and the tech facilitator suggested we also purchase Visual Communicator as a teleprompting software that allows for other effects. I have 90 minutes and 25 kids in my class, but we’re hoping the program will grow.

We currently have two older flip cameras to tape video. I was thinking about getting one or two "nicer" cameras to keep in the school for in-school filming and using whatever money is left to get some flip cameras or something the kids can take with them to games and sign out overnight. I also wanted to get a microphone and maybe some tripods or lights. I will have to teach myself the software so I need cameras that are compatible but can still provide a wide range of levels. I am proficient with computers in "daily needs" programs/wiring and can self teach software, but I am not a specialist. I have a Mac, but haven't had the time to fool around with video editing.

This will probably be the only opportunity I have to get any technology for the class for awhile. I eventually want to have the Broadcasting 1 students focus solely on learning an editing software and then have Broadcasting 2 be in charge of the news once they are able to edit proficiently. It would also be great down the line to have Broadcasting 3 and 4 students progress to where they focus on creating community documentaries or public access videos. The caveat to all of this is that I am able to teach them how to do all this and have the proper equipment.

I’m seriously out of my league, but the kids actually are into the class because it’s hands-on right now and I want to make sure I do what’s best for them. I also really love teaching kids who are so into video, and I'd love to learn and build the Broadcasting program. Any suggestions on technology or a plan for what to purchase would be greatly appreciated! I'm running out of time and I'm afraid if I don't make a decision soon, the money will go towards something else. HELP!

Thanks!

Melissa Sykes


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