Each person takes his own path in life. Some become business leaders and politicians whilst others might pursue a career in the arts.
The role models around us coupled with the opportunities afforded to us at school will inform the career choices we make as young adults.
The challenge for schools today in delivering a first class education is to create a stimulating learning environment that keeps children focused while pushing them to exceed, both academically and as individuals. King Edward VI High School for Girls (KEHS), situated in impressive grounds in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, adjacent to King Edward’s School for Boys, is an institution that takes this very seriously, making little distinction between curricular and extra curricular activities.
As part of another story, we had the opportunity to speak with Michael Gilbert at KEHS about his program. As our first International profile, we welcome Michael and all his students to the SVN Family.
SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
Mike Gilbert is a physics teacher. Prior to joining the school Mike was a self employed graphic designer and visual artist. Having studied engineering at university, Mike spent several years building a freelance career but then decided to move back in to the sciences and so took a technician role in the physics depart at KEHS.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? Did you have equipment available? How do you fund the class now?
If you are lucky enough to have inherited a lot of old analog equipment as I was, you might be surprised to discover that professionals still opt for this gear in some scenarios. Internet TV stations might go for SD over HD to reduce upload bit rates or increase bandwidth. I sold several Beta SP cameras and VTRs to European producers, presumably avoiding complete system wide upgrades. Old lenses are convertible to fit the new generation of filmmakers using DSLRs. Break everything apart and stick it on eBay; disprove the dealers that say analog is hard to push.
The school now invests an annual budget into media technology. Pooling resources that used to be split between production budget, a school radio development and video installation helped. It may be that different departments are investing in cameras, audio recorders and other media related tech. One media budget holder can supply a whole school with hardware of a better standard.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program? Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? Where do you post programming?
KEHS is an academically focused school. There are very few openings for media within our curriculum. Presently we offer the use of the studio to all students for project work and fun orientated creativity during lunchtimes only. There are two functioning radio broadcasting teams averaging around six students each. We have an internal system based on Barix Instreamers and Exstreamers sending audio through our LAN in MP3 format.
Concerning video, we produce video blog episodes containing summations of everyone’s work, all ages, be it animated music videos, pop interviews or straight up comedy/madness. A good portion is filmed in studio on blue screen, some around school locations, all edited together in our post-production suite next to the live room. There are two teams averaging 5 students, but more production teams signing up this year.
SVN: What jobs do the kids do? Do the kids rotate through on-air talent and crew positions or are they “hired” for a specific task?
When there is a more complex shoot in the planning, teams will help each other out. When its school production time, I recruit specific teams entirely separately from the regular groups, allowing for students who cannot make the usual time slots to be involved. We generally have a team of 10-15 girls on different specifically allocated jobs.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
We author DVDs for sale to cast and audience as a main output. I am presently putting together an internet based music show produced by the girls but featuring local musicians to avoid any parental consent issues. The new.livestream.com servers can broadcast up to 720p if you have the upload capability, for relatively low costs. I would highly recommend the livestream broadcaster, piggy-backing the camera and streaming surprisingly good images over WIFI.
SVN: Mike, have any quick start tips?
Flip Ultra / GoPro Hero + iMovie * coca cola = hazardous music video