The Video Productions program at Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio, began in the fall of 1998 with the purchase of two digital broadcast video cameras and one Avid Express nonlinear editing system.
Today, the program is two-fold, with three levels of a Career Tech based Video Production classes and a multi-year set of Broadcast Journalism courses. Both programs are multi-award winning and are rooted in exploring the fundamentals and advanced techniques of the television and film industries.
In Video Productions, students learn the industry standard techniques of camera operation, audio production and lighting for TV and film, as well as computer based non-linear editing on the industry's leading software, Avid Media Composer. During senior year, students apply advanced TV and film production techniques to produce a wide variety of programming genres including: a daily 7-minute broadcast newscast, a long-form documentary, short films, projects for clients, and various multi-camera live event programs that are broadcast to the North Canton community via the district’s educational television channel - NCtv.
Students in Broadcast Journalism start off with an introductory production class geared towards the creation of video news packages and progresses towards the creation of independently produced public affairs programs for television and podcasts for the web. Students can begin taking the News Production class starting their second year, which is dedicated to the daily production of a daily 7 minute newscast called NCtv NEWS.
The programs have garnered over a dozen student production awards by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Lower Great Lakes Chapter and their work has been shown on PBS.
One unique aspect to the program is the addition of a student service learning project called The Mobile Storyteller. This $285,000 locally and nationally grant-funded initiative allows students to travel and work from a 40 foot media lab designed and built from the ground up for Hoover High School students to use while on location. Part of the motivation to fund and build the bus was based on work Hoover students have done in partnership with School Video News at the yearly Ohio Educational Technology Conference.
What skills will students learn?
Video-Journalism at Hoover provides the ultimate “hands-on” experience. Students gain valuable time management and leadership skills while honing their creativity working on a variety of group and individual projects. What’s really unique is that students are constantly out in the public working with clients and producing news stories.
What equipment will they be trained to use?
Students learn and apply proper TV and film production techniques for handling and operating television cameras, microphones and lighting equipment, as well as all of the equipment related to producing television and film in our state-of-the-art editing/studio facility.
What kind of jobs may be available after I successfully complete the program?
Most students who complete the programs enroll in college programs related to this field. This Video Production program is a unique Career & Technical course offered at Hoover. Based on its rigorous, college-level curriculum and state-of-the-art facility, students leave the program with skills and experience that would prepare them for TV and film positions like: Camera Operator, Editor, Electronic Graphics Operator, Technical Director, Production Assistant, and Audio Engineer. The same is true of our students who take part in Broadcast Journalism.
Video Production Career Tech Program Total = 5 credits.
Sophomore Year - 1 credit
Junior Year – 1 credit
Senior Year – 3 credits
Broadcast Journalism and News Production - Can be repeated yearly.
With further education, what additional employment opportunities may be available?
Successful graduates are currently enrolled in post-secondary institutions like: Ohio University, Kent State University, Columbia University (of Chicago), Emerson College, University of Santa Fe Film School among many others. With a college degree and further experience, students interested in a career in the media have a wide range of career opportunities.
After twenty years of teaching, I now have a network of graduates all around the country working for major TV networks, news stations, film production companies, corporations, and local production houses.
Tom Wilson, Coordinator of Media and Video-Journalism programs, spent some time with us discussing how this outstanding program evolved.
SVN: Tom, tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
TW: I graduated college with a teaching degree in Social Studies. During college I worked freelance as an editor and videographer. After graduating from college I purchased the production company I was working, which I still own today. One of my clients was also my Alma mater, North Canton City Schools. In the fall of 1998 they hired me to start a video program at the High School…the rest is history. My work in the field still continues with freelance filming and editing, which I love to do, and then bring that experience back to the classroom.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
TW: The first round of funding came from the district and was enough to purchase several DV cameras, a Mackie Mixer, tripods, and one Avid Non-linear edit station. The Avid was about 70% of the entire budget, but it gave students the opportunity to produce using the best tools available. In the long run it really paid off because were able to go to local grant organizations and show what the students were doing to make a difference in their school and community. We had the curriculum in place, we just need the funds to expand with technology to give more students the opportunity.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
TW: For the first three months of teaching, I had nothing more than a classroom, overhead projector, and 13 students wondering why they took the class. That soon changed as equipment and a textbook started arriving in November.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
TW: With both the senior video productions and broadcast combined, there could potentially be 30 to 40 students working on the program at one time. While half the crew is in the studio preparing and shooting the show, the other half is in post-production creating stories that air during each broadcast. Studio positions rotate every two weeks so they get the full experience of working in a studio. News packages are shot after school hours and then edited during lab. It really is amazing to see a totally student run production like NCtv News.
They also produce several public affairs style shows that host themselves. These can change from year to year and have included formats such as sports, community, and even national news.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
Mobile Storyteller Website: http://www.nctvstorytellers.org
SVN: Tom, do you have any quick start tips!
TW: Be patient. Collaborate with other departments in your school. Get the attention of your administrators, and eventually your Superintendent. Focus on making an impact on your students first, then the school, the district, and eventually the community. Once you have their support you can seek funding from outside organizations such as local grant foundations. Over the past twenty years we have raised over 800,000 in grants plus equipment donations from around the country. No matter what, make sure that students come first in all situations.
Tom Wilson is the Coordinator of Media and Video-Journalism programs at Hoover High School in North Canton, Ohio. You can learn more about his teaching program and unique production vehicle called the Mobile Storyteller by selecting the links. - [email protected]