Our goal as faculty for the program is to introduce students to television/film production and to provide a forum where they can develop & showcase their creative talents.
There are 4 levels of courses offered at Ocean City High. Students begin by learning important concepts and theories prior to touching any equipment. Those enrolled in our most advanced level are eligible to receive 4 college credits for their work from Stockton University. Many discover an interest and turn that into a career path but even if they don't, they leave our program as smarter consumers of media and with skills that may prove useful in their future business and personal endeavors. This video, created by the students shows how the weekly show is put together.
In this video, the students are shooting on Panasonic cameras in the field with Sennheiser mic kits. They will additionally sometimes use specialized camera gear from DJI and GoPro to accompany their packages. That content is then edited on Adobe Premiere Pro and voice work is performed using Adobe Audition. Each NLE system is connected to the vocal booth and entire school audio network (performing arts center/television studio) via Dante, transmitting those signals over CAT5 so that students can capture multitrack sessions at their desktop. They can additionally share content with each other and access our video library internally thanks to our NAS (Promise Technology's VESS). Student editors have the ability to add music to their work thanks to our licensing agreement with Megatrax. The production switcher in our control room is a BroadcastPix Granite 5000+ model (utilizing 2 M/E with 6 keyers, 2 channels of clip playback, still store, and CG). Content is automatically sent to it via their BPNet cloud product. What the students do is fill out a customized form online that provides a drag and drop location to upload their video media. The form also contains upload utilities for behind the scenes photos and the image they want to have featured with the story in our web slider & social media streams. They enter the title, name of the reporter, upload their script or provide a description, and select the category it’s to be filed under before being able to submit it (local news, school news, sports, entertainment, etc.). During that process if it is just for the web they are done but if it's for TV they have an additional set of drop down menus that appear and that's where they enter all of their lower-thirds information and the time each graphic should hit on air within their piece. All of this gets downloaded and used by the producers in the script. Submitting that information gives our team everything we need when posting a story as well as preparing the package for air within the rundown. In the control room, graphics are downloaded in the order they are to appear with a single click. Those CGs are then imported into multiple channels of RapidCG where they are then ready for broadcast. Our master control switcher is a Blackmagic Design ATEM 4K 1 M/E unit. Audio is mixed using an Allen & Heath GLD console and the video wall is run off of a Mac Mini. The studio features Blackmagic Design’s 4K Studio Camera model with Canon HD ENG glass mounted on Vinten pedestals. Rundown Creator powers our show’s centralized studio operations (producing/directing, GFX, teleprompting) making collaboration easy since all show scripts and rundowns can be accessed virtually anywhere a computer or mobile device has internet availability.
Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
My name is Steve Trauger--the broadcast engineer tasked with overseeing the studio’s technical operations and training. I’m a 2004 graduate of York College of PA where I majored in mass communication and minored in advertising. I went on to pursue a master of arts degree in broadcast design and motion graphics from the Savannah College of Art and Design and have owned and operated my own production company for over 15 years. My clients have included television networks, local broadcast affiliates, and corporations. This gives me the unique ability to bring industry expertise to our media classes. I’ve always enjoyed networking and sharing my knowledge within the industry through training and consultation, so when Ocean City, NJ built a new high school with the goal of creating a television track it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time in my life. They wanted someone to handle the technical operations so I applied to be their studio engineer and the rest is history.
How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
Television/media production is one of Ocean City High School’s choice academies in the New Jersey Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. We have support from our board of education, the sending districts, and community.
How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
We have over 100 students presently enrolled across four different levels of courses that are taught by two teachers. The introductory level is a full semester and the rest are yearlong electives. Students enrolled in our most advanced level are eligible to receive four credits from Stockton University.
Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
Classes run 55 minutes on a rotating schedule and meet 3 out of 4 days in the rotation. This obviously presents a challenge for our broadcast deadlines but the students have risen to the challenge. Individual class sizes vary but usually feature less than 25 students in any given class period.
How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
Our newscast is produced on a weekly basis. It takes a group of 9-15 students positioned across our control room and studio to execute. There is no time allotment built into the school-wide schedule to allow for viewing the weekly program. Therefore, teachers show it throughout the day at their discretion each time a new episode is published. The broadcast additionally airs twice a week at 7PM on local access channels.
Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
Students will occasionally provide coverage for select events but due to the nature of our course curriculum, field units are often checked out and in use by teams gathering content for class-related assignments or broadcast packages.
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?
Students learn the basics of every position through studio rotations but assume specific duties that they are comfortable with for the actual show. This enables them to fully understand how their role fits within the scheme of the entire program but allows them to develop and grow their skills so that each newscast becomes stronger.
Do students audition for on-air positions?
Students at OCHS do not typically audition prior to becoming on air talent. We like to give everyone an equal opportunity to the experience—after all, it is their show, so if a student expresses a desire to anchor all they have to do is let the producer know. The producer will then assign them to a future newscast.
Do they write the content?
Our segment producers will write the web content for their broadcast packages. Producers will script the broadcast lead-ins and tosses. Our instructor will then proof it with them and the anchors will make any additional changes as necessary on the day of the show.
How long does the show run?
Shows typically average 15-20 minutes.
Do you submit programming to independent contests such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?
Our program participates in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences student television production awards and has won 4 pillars from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of NATAS. We have additionally been featured by SchoolTube and received special congressional recognition for our contributions to our community.
Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
Our show airs on two local access channels and on our website via YouTube at http://www.oc-tv.org. You can also follow our program on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @ocnjtv.
Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
We utilize hardware and software from the following manufacturers: Adobe, Allen & Heath, Apple, Audinate, Blackmagic Design, BroadcastPix, Canon, Panasonic, Promise Technology, Sennheiser, Shure, Sony, and Vinten to name a few.
Have any quick start tips!
It may be tempting to allow students to immediately jump on equipment in order to keep their interest level high but they should first understand the three phases of production and various studio/film production concepts. Before our students are allowed to work in the field they must demonstrate their competence by effectively telling a story--develop a plan (script), film appropriately framed/exposed shots, grab good sound, and understand how to successfully transfer and edit their content. The time spent developing these skills gives the students the confidence to make decisions in the field when issues arise and no instructor is present. In the studio, if you want the public to take your work seriously, the students should dress appropriately. This is an easy element to implement within your program that immediately elevates your on air image.