Last weekend was the biggest game of the year.
It’s so big nobody can say it’s name lest they get sued. This game was watched by over 111 million people in 2017. 111 million viewers really is Super! Closer to home for me was a game that garned over 28 million (and broke my heart). The 2018 College Football Championship game on ESPN used over 125 cameras and 9 trucks to make the multicast happen. What do these things have in common, everyone person on each of those crews had to learn video production from somewhere - It may as well be you!
The details about this year’s Superbowl are staggering. NewscastStudio.com recently released the details about the equipment and staffing for the Superbowl in Minneapolis. First off, the Superbowl is a money making venture to beat the band. $5 million for a 30 second spot during the 5 hours broadcast. The production plan for the game is to use over 100 cameras, not including the TWO skycams, over 130 microphones placed throughout the venue, all of which is connected with over 5 miles of cable. Pulling all of this together for the over 6 hours of pregame shows takes 14 mobile units and over 500 employees. NBC alone will produce 10 shows prior to the Superbowl.
Each element of the production for the Superbowl and College Football National Championship game needed something that you can help provide… someone with passion and knowledge to create the watermark example of what professional sports broadcasts look and sound like. These pros don’t have to be athletes or even sports fans. These pros just have to find their niche in the world of video production. Your best producer may be the future director for the pregame show or the site producer for a remote shot from the other side of the country to show the home fans’ reactions and celebrations.
We all face the same obstacles when it comes to filling our desks. Often parents and counselors think our programs are simply electives that can be used to fill a spot on a schedule and not the start of a career. As the world of “Move on When Ready,” Advanced Placement,” and “let’s get these students into college as fast as possible” philosophies continue to grow, we are going to have to fight harder to get students into our seats. The key to this is relevance. I don’t read a lot of inspirational books but I have learned that the mantra of “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is true but for teachers the mantra is a little different - Students don’t care about what you think they should know until they know it matters to them. I have been reading the book iY by Tim Elmore and it had really shaped how I teach.
So how can we take what is often referred to as “just an elective” and make it something that matters to our students, their parents, administrations, and the community? It’s simple. Show that what the students do in your classroom matters. That is why I lean so much on sports productions. I already have a built in audience and a topic people care about. I just have to put the students in the position to show off what they know. This also allows me to make it relevant to my students before we start. The students know what sports productions look like long before they come to my class but they don’t know how these things go from ideas and plans to productions.
As you prepare for recruiting season, think about how you present your content to the stakeholders. Here are the things that I plan to focus on while I am selling my program to students and parents over the next couple of weeks:
Immediate Gratification - Unlike a math or chemistry class, where the ultimate result of
the lesson has to wait weeks or sometimes months, video production techniques are immediate. If a student comes to you and asks “how can I make this shot look better?” You can immediately show them how to change the focus or add light or simply take one step forward to better frame the shot.
Not an Easy Class - I tell this to the students and the parents in order to set the expectation that my class will not be a place for an easy grade and the work will not be worksheets or from a book. Not that those things are bad but I try to distance myself from the “traditional” class expectations. This excites most parents because they don’t want their kid to waste time (those that don’t like this… I don’t want) and it excites most students because they are tired of the “sit and get classes.” Make sure to set the expectations as early as possible.
You will be surprised by the bell every day. - This is one of the biggest compliments I ever receive is when a student says “Oh man. That’s our bell to leave??” That means they are 100% engaged in the task. They have bought in to the point they forget about the clock and that makes all of our lives better.
I will ruin your life. - This on the surface is contradictory to our goal of getting more students in the classroom but it is one of the biggest things that I get to hook students. I tell them during recruiting that I will ruin their lives because they will never watch sports the same. They will never watch anything the same for that matter. The parents don’t realize the impact of this statement until the student comes home and shares what they learn with them - and it ruins their life!
Time takes training. - I express to all of my students that there is nothing more important in video production than hitting a timetable. We work from day one to get students in the habit of hitting deadlines as effectively as possible. This transcends the classroom for so many reasons and is a big deal with a lot of parents.
This is real work. - I try to put my students in position to do work that really matters and will not die in my gradebook. For example, instead of just letting the students create commercials about whatever they want during the beginning of the 2nd semester. I have them work with different programs and classes in the schools to create recruiting commercials for those programs. While I do like the kids that want to “just do this class,” I only allow a couple of students that option. The others have to talk with another adult and work with them like they are the client.
It’s all about putting the students in a place where they can function once they walk out of our doors and into the world but we have to find ways to get them in the doors. I make sure to show them what students produce opposed to telling them.
With enough work and a handful of luck, you could be generating the next generation of producers who manage to get 111 million people to watch their work or that can create a product so rich that a company is willing to pay $5million for people to see it! Enjoy the game that shall go unnamed!
Next month, IT'S BASEBALL SEASON!
Tom White is a video production teacher at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers. GA. Tom is also the director of the Sports Broadcast Institute, which is One of Five Georgia Governor’s Innovation in Education award winning programs and the NFHS Network Best Overall Program. The Sports Broadcast Institute works to produce live broadcasts, newscasts, sports documentaries and more for the Three schools, Rockdale Co, Salem, and Heritage High schools, that the career academy serves. Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.