I love winter sports. Ok. Let me be clear - I love high school basketball.
Not the level of some but I really enjoy just watching basketball at the high school level. While it’s purity is in jeopardy as the shoe companies and collegiate programs continue to penetrate the sport, there is still a purity to the sport that is unmatched.
As a producer, I like the confined nature of the sport. I like the fact that 93 feet of indoor space is all I really need to worry about. If I want to put 15 cameras in the building, I only need 15 100 foot cables . . instead of worrying about cable run length, etc. If I want to run a couple of cameras, all I need is my SlingStudio set up and I don’t have to run any cables! I am really excited to get started with that set-up to be honest with you. I used it a lot during volleyball season and found out how easy it was to switch cameras and have really good instant replay.
As I build the new program though, I have become very frustrated with basketball (8 games in). My frustration is because our teams are REALLY good. This is a problem because none of my students want to film. They want to go watch the games. What does that mean for me? Flying solo. The technical side of that isn’t a problem. The logistical side is though. As I am writing this, I am waiting to hear back from 4 students that I have emailed asking if they will film a game tomorrow. I can’t because tomorrow is the party for my son’s 12th birthday. He was born on October 16th… We didn’t have it on his birthday because it was during the week. We didn’t have it the weekend after because of football and volleyball (He actually asked to do volleyball instead of a party - he’s my best graphics guy). So needless to say, I won’t be at the basketball game tomorrow. What will I do if I don’t get someone to shoot the game, I will talk with the coach and either get someone from the JV team who will be on the trip or there won’t be any film… I hate the last option more than you know.
As for other winter sports. A couple of weeks ago we hosted a wrestling meet with our middle school, JV, and varsity teams competing. I have never done a lot with wrestling. Not because I don’t like the sport but I have always had 6 basketball teams to manage. I had no expectations going into the broadcast. I knew very little about how a meet works or would work in a live stream. The broadcast will not go down in the annals of history as a record breaking broadcast but there were sights, sounds, and scores and for some that’s all that matters. As a matter of fact that broadcast was larger than all but 2 of our football broadcasts! As the program grows so will my workforce and my knowledge and broadcast quality for wrestling but for now we are treading water in order to get through.
One of the more interesting parts of my transition to the new school is the new courses I will be teaching. This semester, I dove into Introduction to Digital Media (IDM) which is the first course in the animation pathway. What a ride this has been. I tried to get all of the standards in this semester. There are 19 standards for this course. I tried to teach all of these standards. I really did but I found quickly that I was forcing the students from topic to topic without them building a real understanding. I stopped trying to get all of the standards covered. I focused on teaching the basics more than trying to teach it all. I don’t feel like this semester is a failure by any means but I do feel like the students didn’t get all that I wanted them to. Check out the video below to see the work of one of my students. I am so proud of this guy because he has worked extremely hard to understand everything there is in After Effects.
So I’ve made a new plan for next semester. This plan will spend more time digging a little deeper into the whole process opposed to trying to get them to the final goal as quickly as possible. Instead of jumping straight from storytelling, preproduction, etc into a product, we will stop down for a while and learn photoshop so the students will better understand layers and how they can interact with each other. We will spend some time working with cameras and photography so when we get to 3d cameras in After Effects or another compositor, the students will better understand the changes they make in the software in order to get what they need.
I am diving into another new course 2nd semester when I teach Principles and Concepts of Animation. I’ll be honest with you: This one is a little intimidating for me. It’s not that I don’t know the content or how to teach it, I am more worried about keeping up with the kids. I know they are going to jump on this and take off! I have to find ways to keep them engaged while they learn about the awesomeness and patience it takes to create quality animated product. Let’s just say, we are going to stop down regularly and watch new animated stuff and break it down. That’s the best way to get better. Watch what the pros do and try to go there!
Next month, we will be in the throws of basketball season and will hopefully have all of the new equipment in, installed, and going!
Have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you may or may not celebrate this season! Please take some time to spend with family and friends!
Tom White is the digital media instructor at Morgan County High School in Madison, GA. Currently teaching TV production and animation pathways, Tom's programs have received state and national honors including the 2016 NFHS Network School Broadcast Program Of The Year.
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.