: Ease In: David Braswell's Blog
Since my last reel posting, we've added A Sony F3, some nice support gear, and moved to Avid Symphony. The film camera handling and feel really expand the creative possibilities. Here's our current demo.
DaySpring Media Demo
It's not that I don't appreciate flatbed hauling professionals or the transportation industry in general. But a recent unsolicited email offering these services came from a company five states away! Isn't the "impulse buy" one of spam's bigger selling points? I suppose this strategy was part of their company's market diversity efforts.
I don't blame businesses for reaching out to potential new customers. This economy has adversely affected many of us. With the end goal of turning potential clients into profitable clients, I've rolled out a new initiative. Dubbed SpamBack(TM), implementation is elementary. With select spam messages (the "medical" stuff and 419 scams get a pass) I simply reply, thank the sender and give a brief overview of our company's services. I am aware of the good reasons not to reply to spam, but I am choosy about who gets a reply. It may never net any new business, but it takes some of the sting out of having to sort through unsolicited email. Now if I could just work out a similar plan for snail mail spam.
A couple of nights ago at precisely 7:30 PM, while you were reaching for that second slice of meatloaf (tskk, tskk), our county school system reached a milestone. The Board of Education's chairman gaveled the opening of February's meeting. I sat on my couch and watched on our Community Access station. It was our county's first publicly televised meeting. And it was the culmination of over a year of consulting and tech work we provided to the school system.
For this mostly corporate editor/shooter it's still thrilling to see my work travel the digital airwaves. While the technical part of the equation was fairly standard, the best part of the event was watching the production staff work, and the fact that they were local high school students. Here's some background.
In June 2005 the High School Reform Task Force, (a coalition of teachers, principals, and citizen stakeholders) began developing a plan to reform high schools with the goal of better preparing students for life after graduation. Academies were one idea that emerged from the group's discussions. Concentrating scholastic and hands-on resources around particular career interests, academies were not new. But they would represent a sea change in the education of over 12000 students. A change that would require students entering high school to formally declare a career path.
Despite public uncertainty, the board moved forward and schools offered their first academies during the 2007-2008 school year. Each of three schools offered one area of concentration that year. The number of academies increased to four per school the next year, and my company began consulting with the school system to help implement the video production portion of its Communication, Media and Emerging Technology Academy.
Consultation meant everything from Avid MC and Panasonic HVX200 training, to specifying studio equipment for recording and broadcasting Board of Education meetings. It also meant many hours of equipment installation, testing, and prepping the student crew. After a show stopping equipment failure during January's inaugural Board meeting recording, Tuesday evening's show represented a success on several fronts. Watching it reinforced a few key lessons we learned along the way.
1. Share the love:
Unless your specialty is systems integration (ours isn't), be prepared to discuss the design and buildout of necessary studio/editing gear with a competent vendor. Besides working within their
core competency, such dealers are often able to offer major discounts to education customers. But outsourcing certain parts of the job doesn't mean losing sight of equipment requirements and expected outcomes.
We felt from the start that a timely, student-driven multicam edit of an hour and a half long show would be impractical. So we had to have live CG capability for fonting board members. Despite specifying that requirement, one potential vendor insisted on pushing an edit only graphics solution. Once I determined he was wasting our time he grew petulant and mercifully cut the meeting short with some rude comments about "consultants". Although not perfect, the system we settled on does what it was advertised to do and meets our initial specifications.
2. Kids come first:
Before academies were started, there were certain factions who had been pushing the board to televise BOE meetings. The issue had become a political football being tossed between a school system saddled with a tightening budget and a handful of citizens who seemingly didn't understand the costs involved in producing a television show. When the idea of using student labor entered the equation, the situation became even more cloudy.
Board meetings start at 7:30 PM on a school night and the televised portion lasts about 90 minutes. That meant enough students to cover two cameras, CG, switching/TD, and audio would need to volunteer their time every month. That fact may not have registered with the single-minded citizens intent on exploiting the human resource potential of the new academy. Our
focus was providing the educational hands-on experience that is one hallmark of a successful academy. The result was a successful production by engaged students.
3. Have fun:
I wish the academy concept had taken hold when I was in middle school. But working with students has been enjoyable in ways I wouldn't have predicted when we began. Their visceral enjoyment makes up for some of the rough times I had in school. And giving kids a start in a career that has been so personally rewarding is priceless.