Global Media

This year I’m in charge of the TV studio at LHS. Here’s a rundown of the changes I’m making to the production process.

First, I love the guy who used to run the studio, so this isn’t criticism – I want to give background on how the studio used to operate. I’ve made changes based on my personal preferences and needs, not out of spite for the old methods (which worked pretty well for him).

From the camera and mikes, they ran into a Mackie mixer and a Streamgenie computer. The Streamgenie served as the video mixer as well. Signals were mixed from live camera feed with a DVD player which held all transitions. Music was cued live. Everything was cued live. A student sat at the Streamgenie to cue titles and overlays, and the whole thing dumped to a DVD recorder’s HDD. The HDD would loop the final product all day until the next filming and blasted out to the closed-circuit system in the school.

I prefer having a little more room for error. I remember having a discussion with Jorge, the man in charge before; he said they do it all live to avoid having to do post-production. For my style, I felt that a little post would be better than having to get it perfect live, so here we go – this is what I’m thinking will work for me:

From camera and mikes to digital mixer and Panasonic DV bridge (that is made for this camera). FireWire to a MacBook running Quicktime for A/V capture. Camera operator and director leave room in the shots for stuff like titles and overlays, and silent time for editing in transitions. Total time after we get good should be about 20 minutes before post work.

Post work includes throwing the clips of each news segment into an iMovie project, then overlaying the titles and pictures for each story. Transitions will live in the media library after we make them in LiveType to be easily thrown into the timeline as needed. Music the same – added during post.

Movie gets exported, played back in QT and looped until next filming.

Post process should take about 20-30 minutes (just enough time to fit into a class)

We’re about 2 weeks until we go live. Here’s what we’re doing: Every day we are going to produce an announcements that will get thrown away and never seen. Today we burned a bulb out and had a delay, but the ideas is this week it will take 1.5-2 days to get a segment done, and next week it will be close to the ideal time. If we get our rhythm right, we can come out with higher-quality clips with fewer errors in the same amount of time. Let’s hope my idea works.

Also, it turns out most students have no idea we even have a studio. They must have thought the announcements were just done in a regular classroom.

To raise awareness, I drafted up a logo for the (now) combined Music/TV studio at our school. It’s going to go on a sign outside the studio as well as on T-Shirts,paraphernalia, etc.

(the school is on Drake road get it?)

Oh yeah, I also added a mobile reporting team…more on that development later.

First week back

Just some details about how I start out a new batch of students each semester.

The first week for brand new level I’ers is all about play. Why? Because most of these students, musicians or not, have no idea what to do with a piece of music software. Here’s how I got their toes in the water this time around.

Day 1: The demo
I show how GarageBand lets you write a song in 5 minutes or less. This is important to stress. “Real” musicians know that I’m talking about the loop library, and that doesn’t exactly count as writing a song but to most students this doesn’t matter. The sheer fact that they are clicking a button and hearing something brand new to them is novel, and an important hook to the class.

I show them how to drag loops into the arrangement, how to play/pause, and maybe how to plink on the keyboard.

Day 2: More buttons
Now we still work with loops, but I’m focusing little 7-10 minute segments on different controls. Solo/Mute for instance; I show them how it works, and then for 7-10 minutes they experiment with the behavior of these track controls. I do the same for volume/pan automation. Hear that engineers? I have them start automation on Day 2!

I also show them how to record their voice on the microphone and add effects. This is another hook. Remember, students can drop classes in the first week/week and a half so hooks are very important. P.S. they love “Helium Voice”.

Day 3: Conversation
I extend the voice recording to two tracks, and we do a mini project. I pan each track opposite L/R all the way. Then, I record myself having a conversation…with myself. One person is on track 1, the other is on track 2. Then, I tell them to apply effects so it sounds like two different people talking. Darth Vader talking to a mouse, for instance. Totally fun, totally non-threatening is the key. Haven’t talked about any music terms beyond volume and pan yet.

Day 3 was Friday for us, so I’ll keep you posted. This week is going to be about song forms, so we use those loops to make something reminiscent of the backgrounds to a pop song.