PEG Station Broadcasts with Broadcast Pix, Part 2

When a local PEG TV station takes it to the street with volunteer crew people they have to do quick training and make it easy. 9/19/2013 7:00 AM Eastern

PEG Station Broadcasts with Broadcast Pix, Part 2

Sep 19, 2013 11:00 AM, With Bennett Liles

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When a local PEG TV station takes it to the street with volunteer crew people they have to do quick training and make it easy. Executive Director Jeff Hansell from the Belmont Media Center in Massachusetts is going to tell us how he does it with Broadcast Pix integrated production tools, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Jeff Hansell from the Belmont Media Center, thanks for being back with us for part two on the SVC Podcast. We were talking in part one about how you handle all of your volunteer crew people in covering government meetings and the local sports stuff and that’s always a big draw for PEG stations. Now how do you handle training all of the crew? Do you rotate people among the various positions?

Jeff Hansell: Well, there are some people who are interested in particular jobs, so they tend to already migrate towards those. Some folks like to run camera and so they’ll volunteer for that anyway, and they have more experience. With some of the new volunteers that might be coming in, the parents of students attached to certain sports, we really try to make it fun and not intimidating for them. We basically just try to throw them onto a camera and show them how easy it is so that they get the immediate experience; so that they’re not watching somebody else do something, but they’re actually doing it themselves. And for most people it’s fun and they realize they can do it without too much training, so that’s one thing we do. Because we don’t always get the volunteers in time where we can train them, except at the event, but we have a growing core number of volunteers who simply like to work on multi-camera productions and they tend to come back time and time again for various programs, whether in studio or out in the field with our remote unit. Adam Dusenberry, again, our technical director, in conjunction with other staff members here, has started to produce some online tutorials. So what we’re now going to be doing, because everybody increasingly [wants to be trained on their own time], in front of their computer, so he’s produced a series of videos on using our remote unit. So it’s 11 different videos that you can watch and learn how to use. The idea is you watch them before you come in and then watch them while you’re working with it to solidify your expertise or your learning. So that’s a really great way, we think, will be to strengthen people’s training on the units. But there’s also, from time to time, full-blown studio classes where people get an experience of working with a crew and rotating to the different crew positions. [Timestamp: 3:03]

And you do the sports coverage, but do you tend to start people out on something that’s a little slower moving like government meetings?

If they want to. I mean we tend to sort of actually not do that. We see what people’s interest is because that’s really what holds them there. If we have a parent who’s really interested in hockey and all they really want to do is hockey, then we’ll train them to help run the equipment for hockey, you know, and that’s what they want to do. So you try to feed their interests and if they become interested in the technology and they want to learn more about the technology, then we can do more extensive training with them on other productions. But we just more or less figure it out by asking them questions and what they want to do. And as you said, people learn really quickly. Where it does take time to get really skilled is the actual switching and directing, and that is something we’re going to increase because you can show people how to turn on the equipment, how to use it, how to press buttons, how to look at the monitors, how to follow the game, but it does take time to teach people how to tell a story, you know, like what’s the story of the football game? What sort of shots do you need to use to follow that so that the people at home can follow along? One thing that makes it easier, I think, for people in that regard is if you watch a lot of sports, it’s almost like you have absorbed that and you know oh yeah, I want to get a shot of the huddle or I want to get a shot of the coach talking to the quarterback as they’re discussing the next play. So people already sort of have exposure to how you shoot sports because there’s so much of it on television as it is. [Timestamp: 4:38]

PEG Station Broadcasts with Broadcast Pix, Part 2

Sep 19, 2013 11:00 AM, With Bennett Liles

And that makes the audience more demanding too, for better production quality because they’re used to seeing that. How heavy are you on pre and post production? I would think that you want to come away from shooting the coverage with as close to a finished product as you can have.

Well we do, I would say, more preproduction than postproduction. We do try to make it so that when the sports event is over it’s ready to go on the air. That was really the idea that we can turn it around quicker and not make people wait, because they’ve just been at the game. Their interest is a limited time period and you want to try to get it up and get it on the air as soon as you can. So we try to teach people to sort of skip over their mistakes. I mean if you watch a 2-hour football game, you’re gonna see mistakes, but you probably won’t remember them over the course of 2 hours. So we try to train them to work with that and then that helps them work past their mistakes much more quickly and sort of make corrections without feeling like “I gotta edit that 1-second shot out.” So we do a lot of that. In studio there tends to be a little more postproduction because of the nature of some of the shows, but in sports—in the field—we tend to look at it like it’s one take. [Timestamp: 5:50]

And since you get volunteers who may be interested in one particular aspect of the TV production process, you probably get some sound techies in there who want to specialize in that part of it.

That’s right.

How are you equipped for sound? You have mics, mixers, recording and playback stuff?

Mm-hmm. We actually designed a little announcer’s setup so that it’s fairly decent. Again, easy to set up and use. That’s the main thing. For the sports stuff, that’s how we do that, but with some of the other productions, for example at the senior center here, we’ve designed and we’re about to install a new sound system for them, but specifically part of it is built around our coverage of larger community meetings in there. And that’s something that’s taken us some time to figure out, you know, what exactly do we need in that room and how can we best put it together to use with our remote systems? We just actually finished that, waiting for all the equipment to come in, and then we’ll install it in that room. And that’s always a big consideration as far as I’m concerned, that the audio has to be just as good as the video, if not better. So we’re always working on improving that aspect of it. [Timestamp: 7:02]

And the broadcast integrated production stuff is the perfect thing for getting people’s feet wet on the TV production tech jobs, you can automate so much of it.

That’s right.

I’ll bet you have some interesting things happen mixing volunteers with some of the especially creative program formats.

Yeah we don’t do it, but there’s a woman here that produces an arts program. And I think because of the way she came in on it and we talked to her about it, she realizes that accidents can actually turn out to be a really good thing in her program. So she’s willing to experiment with it and just to push the envelope a little bit and see what it can do, and willing to take the mistakes as part of the program. And that’s one thing, as advanced as the equipment is, I mean to make a distinction, you’re right. When people watch sports they expect a lot more, plus you want to have a really good graphics package built and prepared so that when people are watching the program then they can keep track of what’s going on, they know what they’re seeing, it’s not just a single camera coverage. On the other hand, with some of the other programs, you try to show people that by now people are so media savvy and media cognizant, that you don’t have to always present this façade of well, there’s no fourth wall there, that you’re watching something for television and don’t acknowledge anything that’s going on. We’re showing people it’s fine to shout at the director and say, “Hey, do you have that shot ready of such-and-such? Okay, let’s show that.” Because if you see what I mean, it isn’t like it was in the 1890’s where you’re watching a film of a train go down the track and people might think that the train’s actually coming at them through the screen. People understand that there’s lots of stuff going on in the studio and any attention you can call to it actually makes the program more entertaining. It challenges you a little bit more in the technology because you swing the camera around into a position maybe you didn’t do before or maybe it allows you to use some graphics that you might not have thought of using. [Timestamp: 9:06]

How do you handle tech support there in the studio? Do you the installation yourself and kind of maintain everything or do you contract with somebody?

Our technical director does most of the day-to-day support, but we have a service contract with most of our vendors, and The Camera Company has been great at backing up their installations. Although they’re not an engineering company by trade, I think what has made them our preferred vendor, I guess, is that they’ve been proactive about supporting the installation and solving problems. So that’s been a real plus. [Timestamp: 9:40]

And of course, the basic move is to select quality gear that doesn’t break down much and need fixing.

Right. Yes.

Well, what’s coming up next? Have you got some programs in the works or anything coming up at the Belmont Media Center?

Well, there are some plans right now for a music program. We have a fairly nice studio that we’ve added to and enhanced and so we’re hoping to have local bands come in on a regular basis. We actually have started a weekly or semi-weekly news program in conjunction with the local newspaper and we’re about to move them into Studio A. So we actually have a new producer on that program to expand the news coverage, so we think that’s gonna be a really popular show because we’re gonna be presenting more news and more local coverage. [Timestamp: 10:28]

Alright, sort of getting the people there in Belmont involved and connected with their community and a pretty easy way to do it. Jeff Hansell from the Belmont Media Center. Doing the things that PEG stations do. Spinning a lot of plates and keeping them all in the air.

That’s a good way to look at it, yeah.

Appreciate your being here.

Thank you.

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