Anaheim – take two…

While Lenslinger and his ilk get to take in the NAB; as a high school teacher I get STN and JEA. The latter was the past few days. My district cut all out of town conferences, so I zipped down Friday night and did my workshops yesterday. VJs: the New Paradigm and Lighting Basics.

Traditional print journalism teachers are revving up for the rapid changes in the industry they are teaching to. Writing they have down – the same with still photography. What makes them hesitate are the skills needed for video and the web. My job was to explain the reasons for the changes and then introduce the individual skills necessary to enter the field. Reassuring them it wasn’t all that difficult and technology was only one of the hurdles.

How to make this work? Make your students’ passion for technology and the web work for you – acknowledge they have certain skills, which they need to learn how to channel into the classroom. Stop writing inverted pyramid and LISTEN to and LOOK at your video to choose your strongest audio or video to lead with.

And finally – there is no longer a template to follow. At this point there may be some sensible guidelines – but there is no completely right or wrong way to present multimedia. The model(s) are still being explored and one of their students might well be the one who creates the template for the new frontier.

I only talked for about fifteen minutes and spent the rest of the time answering questions from what kind of camera; what kind of mike; to (this from students) how can we set up a video program at our school.

The lighting workshop came next…for the first time done without PowerPoint. Students got to set up lights for me while I explained basics of light (what you “see” is a reflection of light; Kelvin temperatures; types of stand lights). A wonderful young woman named Chelsey Wilton (please correct me if I misspelled your name) volunteered to take the “hot” seat and be my lighting model.

She sat through single light tricks (how to use one light to get both a front and back light) up through formal three point lighting. Again…all through this…the questions. What kind of on-camera lights are affordable and work. How can we do a good job lighting the principal if it takes time to set up and he says do the interview – don’t bother with the lights. Where do you buy your gear?

Questions are good – questions are the best way of getting answers (duh) – and no one was too shy to ask. Or get nailed by me. If I see a question in somebody’s eyes, I get it out of them.

The down side was I promised time to get hands-on and unfortunately time just disappeared and we had to break. This is one workshop that could go on for several hours.

Carol Knopes, education director of RTNDF, says that light and sound are the two weakest point in high school journalism and she can’t emphasize enough that they are critical for professional looking work. Oh – and on her behalf – you pros out there with a free weekend here or there and a yearning for an appreciative crowd. Send her an email and volunteer. She’s all over the place with workshops and helping both college and high school programs and she needs authentic (read professional) speakers who can relate to young people. Trust me – it’s a high that can take a week to come down from.

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