Saturday, December 13, 2014

Live High School Video Announcements

I've been working with our Communications and the Media class at our high school to produce live video announcements. We're only doing two a week right now, but we're working up to daily announcements. I love doing the announcements for so many reasons. Most importantly:
  • Anyone can find a place to use their talents.
  • Learning is happening on so many levels--technology, communication and collaboration skills especially. (Our studio was funded with career education funds.)
  • The announcements are a great way to highlight what's working in your school.
Ever since video equipment became cheap enough for home use in the late 1980's, I've been playing around with it. This studio was my first step into professional level equipment, though, so it took me a long time to get it set up. I'm not an expert, but if you have any questions about how we do our productions, I'll be glad to go into more detail. Here are some basics.

We write our script in Google Docs and share it with all involved. When lines are sometimes changing moments before going live, it's the only way to keep the whole crew on track.

We use High School Cube to share our production with the classrooms, and really to the whole world if anyone else cares to watch. It's amazingly easy to do a live stream there using just an iPad with a WiFi connection. We've used that method, but normally we work from our studio. It took a lot of time to get that process up and running. Now that we've got a routine, though, it's proven to be very reliable. And did I mention it's free?

To get our stream to High School Cube, we use Open Broadcast Software (also free!). I learned about the software on the High School Cube site, but there were not specific directions for setting it up. It took a lot of experimenting, watching tutorials and guessing, but it's been working well for us

Our studio itself is a relatively low budget setup. (I was impressed with it, but when I told one retailer what I had to work with, he said we were really on the low end!) We have:
  • Two HP computers with a lot of RAM.
  • Two Panasonic AG-HPX 170 video cameras
  • A Datavideo SE-2000 switcher
  • CG-350 character generator software from Datavideo
  • A couple Blackmagic video cards
  • Corel VideoStudio 7x Pro video editing software
  • Various mics, lights, cables, etc.
I'm actually not thrilled with the Datavideo switcher and character generator software. It does the job, but I had a hard time adjusting to both components and many times I feel they hold our creativity back. They were suggested to us based on our budget, so we do the best we can with them.

To show some of the work that goes on behind the scenes, I put together the following video to play on our announcements this past week. The narration was recorded on an iMac with GarageBand. The pictures and video were taken on my iPad and edited with iMovie on my iPad.

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