The All-American Video Crew

Callan00Motion pictures were my first love. However, like many romances, it ended badly.

I am thrilled by life as it occurs naturally before me, rather than a staged fabrication of what it should be.  My prerogative is to inform my audience of the truth artistically, and I hope that some day I am rewarded for it.

The All-American Army Bowl is host to the best high school football players, musicians, auxiliary, and cheerleaders. NewTek decided that there was a group of talented high school seniors missing from the All-American Games.  The NewTek All-American Army Bowl Video Competition was initiated to give teens the opportunity to see first hand what the world of broadcasting production is all about.

I had two teachers who encouraged me to enter the contest. The first to inform me of the competition was my TV Production teacher. It was not until I received an e-mail from my Advanced Television BroadcastingCallan01 facilitator that I decided to put together a video submission. There were three sequences that I chose to submit to the contest. My submission contained a show opening for our high school coaches show, a CafĂ© Day promotional, and a short news package.  I never dreamed that what I had shot and edited in class would take me to the next level in the broadcasting field and a trip in San Antonio (all expenses paid).

I had forgotten all about the contest after submitting my three-minute video and accepted defeat.  When I got the phone call from NewTek telling me I had won, I thought it was a cruel joke. I had never won much at the local science fair let alone a national competition. This victory has given me the confidence to be proud of my work and to never hesitate showing it.

There were four other winners of this competition; Clint Saylor, Tyler Smith, Jordan Tribble, and A.J. Strauss. I was the only female in the group, but I felt like one of the guys. We were all there because our goals and backgrounds are similar. It is rare for me to be inspired by my peers, but these guys influenced me to push myself to do better everyday. I was definitely working with the best of the best.

Callan03The first day of my San Antonio experience was TriCaster Bootcamp. TriCaster is a broadcasting system that involves LiveText (graphics and texts), 3Play (instant replay and speed control), and the essential TriCaster (camera switcher).  We also learned about how to set up Live Sets using a Green Screen with the matting technique on the TriCaster. Don Ballance, the TriCaster trainer, had planned a vigorous schedule to challenge our abilities of learning the system quickly and efficiently. The training was meant to last from 9:30 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. The guys and I finished around noon.  We were focused and enthusiastic about what we were learning which is why I believe we finished so early. 

Day two of this trip involved Head Shots. There were specific jobs that each of us had to rotate through to produce Head Shots to be shown before the All-American Army Bowl. There was an audio technician, camera operator, TriCaster operator, and editor. The guys and I worked together to explain to the coaches what to say, prepare their graphics, check their audio, and position the camera. We received complements through out the day on how professionally we conducted ourselves.

The third day involved the work of a lackey or, as Clint comically called it, slave work. Three of us had the opportunity to go to one of the local football fields to work with the production company filming The Ride from MTV2. Basically, the guys and I had to carry their batteries, tripods, and miscellaneous pieces of equipment for them. This job is known as a PA- Production Assistant. This is how many young aspiring videographers, cinematographers, directors, and producers get their start in the field. So naturally, we were thrilled to carry whatever these guys wanted us to carry.

The fourth day was the big game. The All-American Army Bowl was a bigger deal than I thought. Talented athletes from all over the country competing with each other, along with the best musicians andCallan02 cheerleaders tossed in the mix, provided an ambiance of excellence and inspiration. Seeing the NFL stars of the future in action was pretty exciting as well. The Army Bowl involved PA work primarily as well as a crash coarse in what a live production is all about.

The Eastbay football game was produced by the All-American Video Crew the day after the All-American Army Bowl. Middle school kids from around the country played this game. I worked LiveText, 3Play, and the TriCaster over the course of four games lasting two hours each.  It was challenging as well as invigorating. This production was a collaborative effort among the video crew, NewTek, and Aurora Imaging (the production company hired by MTV2 for The Ride). Each task I was assigned required a focus and undivided attention.

Working twelve-hour days, carrying cumbersome equipment, and running up and down a stadium was the best prize I have ever received. Not only have I gotten excellent resume material, I have made new contacts and friends as well. My hope is that some day Tyler, Clint, Jordan, A.J., and I will get together in the future to produce something great. This experience has prepared for the future more than any AP or honor class that I have taken in high school. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity that I earned and will take what I learned and put it into practice when making my mark in the production field in the future.


CallanHeadShotCallan Johns is a Senior at Hahnville High School and the Satellite Center. She is a Student Worker for the Public Information Department for St. Charles Parish Public Schools. Her job entails editing videos to be put on Cox Channel 8 (a local school system channel). She also does freelance video jobs in her parish involving school events such as football games, volleyball games, concerts, and ceremonies.

Callan has recently produced a documentary about the educational outreach vehicles at the Audubon Zoo. Over the summer she attended the University of Miami Summer Scholar Program and earned six hours of college credit for filmmaking.