Getting permission to offer a broadcasting course 9 years ago wasn’t easy for Corner Canyon High School (CCHS).
With budget constraints forcing schools to optimize their spending strategies, the district superintendent at the time saw no value in creating a course devoted to production, opting for the core curriculums and other, more common electives for all of the K-12 schools in the district.
But luckily for teacher Daron Connelly, the principal of CCHS did see the value, and found room in the budget that allowed him to begin offering two courses: TV Broadcasting and Video Production. This gave the school an opportunity to try new things like morning announcement shows, live sportscasting & broadcasting, and post-production editing.
“In TV Broadcasting, my students learn all of the essentials of creating live TV content,” said Daron Connelly, who is also Athletic Director at the school. “Video tech is a huge passion of mine, and my hope is to pass off these passions and skills onto the students. To produce something that each student can be proud of.”
But broadcasting class isn’t as simple as dishing out textbooks and writing lectures on a chalkboard (do schools still use those?). Broadcasting requires hands-on learning and a ton of high-end production equipment, all of which cost more than an arm and a leg.
“As educators, I’m always thinking about what we can afford. On one hand, I have to keep costs low. On the other, the class needs to be educational enough to stay relevant and retain funding. So what’s the best way to spend the money?”
Since broadcasting is predominantly hands-on, one excellent way to give students the experience of live broadcasting is through publishing the high school’s sports games. This would not only give exposure to the school’s athletic department, but also give Mr. Connelly’s students an opportunity to learn live broadcasting. In the beginning though, this wasn’t an easy task.
“In the first 2 years of the course, we did everything hardwired. At our school’s home games, we hauled a huge Tricaster from our production studio all the way to the stadium or field every time, ran 100 ft. of RCA cables and exhausted ourselves. By the 3rd game of the season, the students lost interest in broadcasting because of how redundant it was.”
Streaming for Students
Not wanting to reuse the same curriculum year after year, Mr. Connelly decided to incorporate wireless live streaming into the sports games. He needed a solution that could stream directly from the field through WiFi and offer professional switching as wel, all at a price that’s feasible for a school. For this, he chose Teradek’s Live:Air Action app.
Connelly’s class broadcasts at all major home games and some away games as well, including men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, football, etc. For these projects, they produce multi-cam live streams by using Live:Air Action, an iPad-based switcher app which offers a professional suite of production tools like graphics, scoreboards, transitions, and most importantly live switching. Here’s the setup:
● Netgear Nighthawk X6 WiFi router that covers the broadcasting station.
● Sony AX2000 camcorder with Teradek VidiU Pro encoder as secondary camera source.
● iPod Touch 6 using Live:Air Remote app as secondary camera source.
● iPad Pro with Live:Air Action app as primary camera source.
● Plantronics Rig 400 audio headset for sportscasting.
You might be wondering: if the setup is completely wireless, how do they get the feeds to the switcher app? That’s the beauty of Live:Air Action. By connecting every device to the same WiFi network as the the iPad Pro, Live:Air Action will automatically receive the live feeds and populate on the app’s control surface.
VidiU Pro on AX2000 sending a feed to Live:Air Action.
The Sony AX2000 is mounted to a tripod and positioned on one side, while the iPod Touch 6 is mounted to a monopod and positioned on the other. Once all 3 cameras (Sony, iPod & iPad rear cameras) are populated on Live:Air Action’s control surface, Connelly adds custom graphics created and imported from the iPad, a scoreboard, and throws in pre-recorded footage all within the app.
Audio is brought in using a Plantronics Rig 400 headset via the 3.5mm headphone jack, which gets mixed into the live stream as well. When the game starts, the feed is live streamed directly from the iPad to the city’s local news station KSL.com, which offers CCHS free use of its live stream platform.
Affordable and Reliable
Having the ability to publish professional live streams from an iPad is crucial for CCHS. With a slim budget and need for high-tech broadcasting solutions for the class, Connelly had to keep spending low while offering the right tools to educate his students. By using Live:Air Action with low-cost remote cameras like the AX2000 or iPod Touch 6, Connelly is able to deliver professional multi-cam coverage of their games. These broadcasts can reach thousands of views in a night.
“The low cost of the app means I don’t have to spend money to get another tricaster to teach my kids the concept of switching and graphics. It also means I don’t need to invest in overly-expensive cameras and live streaming tech because we could do it all through the app.”
Live streaming can have tremendous value for schools of all levels. Connelly’s TV Broadcasting course teaches students the different aspects of live production, giving them hands-on experience in quick decision-making, teamwork, and of course learning how to use one of the fastest-growing forms of modern multimedia.
Furthermore, it also benefits the school by helping to engage with the high school community. Family and friends who aren’t able to attend special events (sports games, graduation, etc.) can watch them from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. This means mom & dad at work can tune in to watch their kids play ball, or grandpa in Florida can watch his grandkid’s commencement ceremony. If there was ever an easy way to appease students’ parents, this is the way to do it!
“Whenever I need a new broadcasting solution, I always check Teradek before anybody else. I’ve been a Teradek user since the old Cube days, and their streaming tech is second to none. With them, we could keep our costs low and still accomplish everything we need for our class. That’s the most important to me.”