I started this series with the expectation that I would be able to poke fun at the idea of a sophomore slump.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, the idea is that rookies come in and rock the world then the following year they fall from grace due to their lack of performance or the “sophomore slump.” As I look back on the last month or so, I realize that I was, possibly still am, headed for a sophomore slump.

Keeping the long story short, I for sick toward the end of August and it lead to things I thought would never happen. The biggest thing that happened in September was the canceling of a broadcast. For the first time in 10 years, I had to cancel a football broadcast because I was sick. I was sick because I hadn’t taken care of myself. Saving the details and just moving to a chastising/motivating tone, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.Slump01

Reflecting on the last 6 weeks, I realized that I made a major mistake in how I was running my live productions this year. Last year was our first year and I knew we would be taking it kind of slow. But last year was great! We did a ton of shows… a ton of GREAT shows. Multiple cameras, great audio, the whole sha-bang. So this year, I came in with the same approach… BAD idea. I lost a couple of key members of my team and I forgot how hard it was to replace great people. I was trying to run a race we didn’t have the horses for. I was extremely frustrated with our shows. I’m talking “forget live streaming” kind of frustrated but I looked at my crew as we were loading out and realized that I have two freshmen who are in my program, two who aren’t, and a random kid we picked up on the side of the field… literally.

Our set up before I had my epiphany took three loads on a hand truck and about an hour to load in, another to set up, and the same when we went to strike after the game. I had to do pretty much everything except carry the equipment so I was usually tired and frustrated before the game started. Not a problem if I had an experienced crew that could do what needed to be done with little direction… BUT… I had my crew. I am not bashing them at all. They just don’t have the experience yet. Now my football set up requires each person to carry one or two things and only about 15 minutes to set up. We did our first broadcast with this plan last week and to be honest, by halftime I was bored. The simpler set up meant my guys could do what they knew how to do and I could just coach them. I admit that I cried a little on my way home when I was thinking about how much better a person I was for that game than I had been in the previous.

Why had I done the stupid hard set-up? Pride. I wanted to be the biggest and best and impress everyone who watched our shows. What did I do… made worse shows and set a much worse example on my students on how a show should be run. So I had to eat some humble pie and a side of crow but I explained to my students what the deal was and why I made the change.

Slump02In other news… Football is about half way through. Softball and Volleyball are in region tournaments and both have qualified for the state tournament so they live to play another week or so. What does that mean for me? Streaming in unfamiliar territory. Georgia pairs regions from opposite sides of the state for the state tournaments and at this point, it looks like we will be on the road for at least the 1st round. I used to worry about how I would make it happen but no longer. In the spring, I got my hands on a Teradek VidiuGo and haven’t looked back. We stream on the NFHS Network and with the VidiuGo, I am able to use their RTMP settings to stream literally anywhere I can get just a touch of cellular signal. I have created a pretty interesting set up as well. I am going to use my JVC sports production camera in order to have titles and scoreboards and pair it with my ipad to control the graphics then take the output to the VidiuGo and we will have a full broadcast with graphics with only a camera, ipad, and the VidiuGo! I’m pretty excited about that simplicity.

As I write this, it’s amazing what a difference a month makes in the world of live streaming and education. A month ago, I was completely stressed out, negative, and pushing myself far too hard. Now, I’m pretty stress free. Actually, as I write this, I am live streaming a chorus concert with one camera… last month, I would have tried to use 5. Thank the Lord for the ability to reflect and respond!

Next month, I’ll be transitioning from fall sports to winter sports and will have my first test of the central control room I am putting together!!


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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.


 

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