The studio is officially up and running at Ronald E. McNair High School. What a challenge. All of the gear was bought nearly
four three years ago and it took this long to get the class started and enough interested students to open the control room doors and let them get hands-on with the good stuff.
I like to break my students into teams of three…two would be better, but not enough gear for that. Anything more than three results in one team member not doing much. Each team has a cameraman, interviewer/producer/reporter, and camera assistant/editor. They rotate in these roles.
To run the studio we need three of these teams – this time in the Control Room, working the Floor Crew, and on the Anchor desk.
Control Room crew works under the Director (one of the advanced students). One student runs the Audio Board, one is the Switcher/Assistant Director and the third is the Producer. The latter marks up the daily bulletin so that the Anchors know which segment each is reading. We have two main anchors and a sports anchor. Floor Crew is divided into two cameramen and a Floor Manager.
Nine (sometimes ten) teens all learning to work together. The first day was horrible. Got the Floor Crew on board (how to turn on camera, work safely with tripod on dolly, dressing cable, getting shots). Anchors ditto – the hard part was explaining scripting to the Producer. Control Room crew just played with buttons and switches and we found some errors in cabling from gear into the switcher.
Day Two – the teams who were rotated into training this day had been watching (and getting in the way) the day before. We got all the way up to a partial read-through of the scripts.
Day Three – again, teams observing the past two days training were observant and we actually taped a run-through of the show. Totally amazing.
Nine teens in synch with split second timing – what an accomplishment! And better yet – they knew where the problems were and gave feedback for improvements. Frankly I tried to keep the roles as simple as possible…and their suggestions mirrored the actual duties of production crews.
Let me state publicly that I am proud and honored to work with such a team. Freshmen to seniors; special ed to honors – and they took the stress and made it work for them. Now if I can only teach them to use the mute button on the Comrex.