The TV Broadcast Class at Century High School has now been producing live morning news announcements for the student body for over 10 years.
The class is led by Mr. Mark Bush and is one of the very few schools in Orange County, CA that produces a live daily morning announcement show. Today, the class continues to be a favorite amongst students and faculty.
With the arrival of new technology year after year, Bush uses brands like Datavideo who continuously provide high quality and reliable equipment at an affordable price. To learn more about how Mark Bush started his TV Broadcast class and how he maximizes his students learning potential, read the questionnaire below.
•Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
I received my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Management Information Systems from Cal State Fullerton in 1988. So that’s sort of computers in the business world. When I graduated, I could program in three languages, FORTRAN, COBOL and Basic, all of which simply aren’t used any more. After spending a couple of unsatisfying years in the computer programming industry, I decided to become a teacher because that’s what I really liked to do – train people how to do things.
I completed my final semester of student teaching in the fall of 1990 at a two-year-old high school in Santa Ana, CA. At the time, it was a really high-tech high school with a mini mainframe computer accessible to teachers throughout the campus. In the spring semester, they asked me to teach a new course that had never been offered before. They called it “Mass Communications.” When I asked the teacher who had been preparing to teach the course for the curriculum, he handed me his old college communications textbook. So I started from scratch. I had a lab of Apple Macintosh Plus computers (9-inch B&W monitors), access to a couple of video cameras and VCRs and not much else. I had the students doing 2D animation using MacroMind Director Software. We edited video from one VCR to another. Then we discovered that we could use the 2D animations on the videos. Way cool! That led to our first of many years of Video (and eventually DVD) Yearbooks. We made video and DVD yearbooks from 1992 to 2008. That’s how we raised money to purchase new equipment and software.
Somewhere in those years, we started producing a weekly student news program that took on many names over the years: C-TV, The Century Files, The Focus, The Vibe and others I can’t remember. But in 2004, I was finally given a class specifically to create a daily, live morning news program that we called The Inside Scoop. Since 2004, my students have produced over 1700 live broadcasts (1714 as of this morning).
•How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
The early Mass Communications classes were funded by a special technology grant. Then the video and DVD yearbooks supplied about $3000 a year. Now, either I find a proponent in our district office (like our Asst. Superintendent of Building Services) who likes to fund a show-off a very public enterprise that is completely student-produced or I ask for funding out of our general school budget.
•Do you have equipment available?
I’ve had many generations of equipment available throughout the years from S-VHS and Hi-8 camcorders and VCRs to dedicated chroma-key units, a 12-input video mixer and a computerized audio mixer. I’ve witnessed the evolution of video and computer equipment over my 25 years of teaching. It’s been pretty phenomenal to watch.
•How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
I currently have 24 students in my TV broadcast class. I have 9th graders through first-time seniors. Because the class is a general elective, students can return and it’s wonderful when I have students coming back for multiple years. Instead of just one teacher imparting all the information, I have multiple teachers in the class. So it makes things much easier.
•Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
On Mondays (our early dismissal day), the TV Broadcast class is only 44 minutes. But the remaining days of the week, the class is 56 minutes. There are currently 24 students in the class. The class meets as a first period class and then the live broadcast is right at the beginning of second period. Those students who are on that day’s crew stay at the end of first period and the rest go to their second period class. After the crew is done with the live broadcast, they hustle off to their second period classes.
As far as projects are concerned, it’s the same each day. The students need to air a (hopefully) complete, coherent and yet entertaining school news program. On any given day, the broadcast may contain a “College Corner” report about local and far-flung colleges and universities, a report from last night’s sports competition with interviews and B-roll footage from the competition, advertisement for an upcoming drama production, an interview with a new faculty member, a weather update, a movie review, etc. We try to keep it fresh and non-repetitive for the most part. We’re currently focusing our attention on “special reports” that the students think up and cover on their own. I’m trying to get them to think about what’s going on on-campus and recognizing a “story” for The Scoop.
•How many kids do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
Each morning’s crew consists of 12 students. We have two anchors, a director, a technical director, an audio technician, a digital video crew member, a person to run the teleprompter, one student just in charge of our digital chroma-keyed backgrounds, a stage manager and three camera operators.
We do our live broadcasts on a daily basis unless there’s some sort of special bell schedule such as for school-wide testing, for example.
I try to get students to cover every school event including “away” games of our sports teams. On the “away” games, the reporter and camera person travel with the team to wherever they are going.
•Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical performances?
I’ve never sent students to report on school board meetings. I’m not that cruel. But all other school events, assemblies, sports, productions, etc. are all usually covered.
•What jobs do the kids do? Do the kids rotate through on-air talent and crew positions or are they “hired” for a specific task?
The students rotate through ALL positions with the exception of on-air talent. While I strongly encourage every student to try it at least once, I don’t require that students be an anchor on the broadcasts. However, each student must be a reporter in front of the camera at least once every 6-week grading period. But, of course, that’s not “live” and retakes are possible if needed. I’ve thought of auditioning and “hiring” students to be particular positions for an extended time like a semester, but I think they enjoy it much more if they get to do all the different positions. They don’t become “experts” on one particular position that way and I’d say that’s the only drawback with the rotation of positions.
•Do students audition for on-air positions?
Essentially, yes. But it’s an extended audition. I let anyone who wants to anchor our broadcasts to do so on a rotational basis throughout the first semester. But starting with second semester, I choose my best five pairs of anchors and each pair gets assigned to a particular day of the week. Then come April, I cut it down to our best four pairs of anchors because Fridays from April through the end of the school year are “Guest Anchor Fridays” when different teachers take over the anchor positions. They’re always fan favorites when students get to see their teachers on the screen making fools of themselves… I mean, doing something different than the everyday teacher thing.
•Do they write the content?
Yes. We have an Inside Scoop news email account that teachers, administrators, coaches, club advisors/presidents, student government, etc. send news stories that they’d like announced on air. The Inside Scoop anchors are supposed to take those emails and rewrite them in their own words. But you can imagine what happens with that occasionally. Sometimes they simply copy and paste the information into their script and it’s an exact repeat of what was announced the day before. Not the ideal. But that happens sometimes.
•How long does the show run?
We are allotted 15 minutes to air our program. Sometimes it’s as short as six or seven minutes and occasionally we’ve hit 20 minutes. It all depends on how much news there is to share. On a high school campus, there are definitely slow times and fast times.
•Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by NATAS or STN?
We haven’t submitted our programs to independent contests yet but we are looking to do so in the near future probably to Student Television Network.
•Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web site?
Our live broadcasts are seen only by computers in our district but the recorded broadcasts can be viewed by anyone who’d like to see them by going to www.theinsidescoop.tv or on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5P3O6Btv_XYbNnk9DH3h-Q).
•Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?
We post our programs to our school district’s video server and to YouTube. I had used SchoolTube in the past, but I had too many problems uploading to their site and switched to YouTube when our district finally unblocked it.
•Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
Below is a list of all the equipment that we have been using for a few years, but we are excited to start using the new equipment from the Datavideo Educator’s Production Bundle.
• Datavideo SE-2800 video mixer
• Behringer X32 Compact audio mixer
• OnTheAir CG software by Softron Media Services running on a Mac Pro
• Datavideo ITC-100 Intercom system
• Qty. 3 Panasonic AG-HMC80P studio cameras on dollies
• Qty. 3 Datavideo DVK-300HD chroma key units (1 for each camera – allows the use of different angled views of the digital set)
• ScriptQ4 prompting software by Lenox Softworks
• Qty. 5 Arri L7-T LED studio lights
• Qty. 4 Lowel PrimeLED 400 panel lights
• Qty. 2 ikan LED500 panel lights
• Qty. 3 Altman Lighting Spectra Series LED lights (not yet in use – waiting for studio remodel when our school receives modernization)
• Phillips Strand 200 Plus light control board
• Qty. 3 Panasonic AG-HMC80P video cameras for ENG purposes
• Qty. 2 Canon XA20 video cameras for ENG purposes
• Bogen tripods
• Sony and Azden wireless ENG microphones