In this final installment, Rob Z will take us through a typical newscast at Amherst Tech TV.
Over the last two issues, Mr. Z talked about the Visual Communicator software and initial construction of the studio and how they effectively used inexpensive lighting. If you click on the links to the right of the articles, you can see how Rob Z uses Visual Communicator for the video component of the presentation.
Our Tech TV crew arrives between 8 to 8:10am, and then they select the jobs they will be performing. Each day of the week has a different group of students, however any Tech TV member may fill as needed. Job selection is based on their experience level, as those with more experience are able to choose the more technically involved positions such as producer, computer, and director.
By 8:15am all jobs are finalized. Our computer operator begins preparing the show using Adobe’s Visual Communicator. They open a read-only template I’ve created, and then make a copy to use. The template gives us the same starting point each morning to create our show from. Since our announcements come from a daily bulletin typed up the day before, we simply copy and paste the announcements right into the teleprompter area. Then we adjust the tray spacing and add any pre-recorded video segments for that day. Any last minute announcements submitted that morning are read unscripted during our Late Breaking news segment. This method gives us flexibility, as we never have ALL of the announcements ahead of time each morning.
By 8:30am, our two student newscasters arrive, and our director prepares them for the show, while our Mic technician equips them with the required microphones.
By 8:40am, we begin rehearsing the show. If needed, the computer operator can pause and resume the teleprompter in Visual Communicator to adjust for different reading abilities. As our newscasters are reading through their script, our audio technician is adjusting their levels in the control room.
At 8:50am we stop rehearsing, and make sure all TV crew students are in position. Homeroom begins, and students are watching channel 6 waiting for our broadcast to begin. Prior to our show, they are seeing a countdown until we go live. We play music at this time, so our teachers can adjust their TV volume accordingly.
At 8:52am the show goes live. Our producer gives the cue and switches to the computer running our Visual Communicator show. As the show progresses, we move from scripted announcements and then to our late breaking announcements read by students sent down minutes prior to the broadcast. They enter the TV studio from my classroom, speak at the podium, and then exit through the other door. This allows for a great traffic flow through the studio area. At the end of this segment, we transition to a pre-recorded segment called our Caring Message of the Day. These are classroom projects my 8th graders create in my video production curriculum.
Check out more of Rob Z’s presentations and great student videos from Amherst TechTV at www.SchoolTube.com. Rob Zdrojewski has been introducing students to structural engineering, robotics, and communication technologies at Amherst Middle School since 2001. With a specialty in digital video and TV production, he built the nationally recognized Amherst Tech TV program based on Adobe® Visual Communicator® software. The program's website, AmherstTechTV.org, serves as a model for other schools, and Zdrojewski both advises and trains fellow educators in TV production.