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NNPS-TV speaks to Woodside media class

NNPS-TV producers in classroom NNPS-TV Station Manager Jim Anklam and Producer Nik Long talk to Woodside communications students about video production.
Photos by Reginald Crudup

NNPS-TV Station Manager Jim Anklam and Producer Nik Long recently spent some time talking to students in a 9th-grade Video and Media Production class. The pair went to Woodside High School November 20 to share their expertise with the students.

The visit was arranged by Katie SheehanSmith, who is the Program Administrator of the Center for the Arts & Communication at Woodside. She reached out to NNPS-TV to have them visit the classroom as guest speakers. Communications teacher Reginald Crudup worked with NNPS-TV to schedule the visit and let them know what type of instruction would benefit the students.

It was decided that the focus would be a demonstration of different types of cameras and how the TV production team uses them for different needs. Crudup also wanted them to explain audio techniques with different types of microphones.

The team was happy to show off their various cameras and describe the different shots that can be captured using them. They started small, which means the fun stuff, like the Osmo camera and the GoPro.

The Osmo camera is hand-held steadicam made by DJI (the maker of drones). It is basically a drone camera on a stick. Long says it's "used when the camera operator has to move with the action, for amazingly smooth, gliding shots." It is ideal for running alongside active NNPS students participating in school events, like the annual George Green Field Day, middle school track meets, and ecology field trips.

The GoPro camera is really small and can be put in a waterproof housing, so the production team uses it "anytime we're around water: canoeing, underwater robotics, under a water-bottle rocket," said Long. The GoPro can also be attached to things like bicycles and school buses for a unique perspective.

The students also got to check out the Mavic Pro, which is the NNPS-TV drone. "We use it for almost any outdoor shoot to capture unique perspectives and help tell stories through an aerial vantage point," said Long.

The main video camera used by the NNPS-TV team is the Panasonic HPX-170, which according to Long, is "our daily workhorse that gives us great quality in a compact design to grab footage quickly on the go."

The fancier Panasonic HPX-500, which is used for high-end projects, commercials, and multi-camera shoots, was also demonstrated for the students.

The team showed the students the DSLR camera, which is a traditional "still" camera, but one with video capabilities. Long wanted to show how these cameras "are now being used widely for video production because of their range of lenses, light weight, and shallow depth of field for a more cinematic look."

For the part of the instruction on audio, the NNPS-TV team showed the students four different microphones, which vary in size from tiny to cumbersome.

Anklam and Long showed them the lavalier or lapel microphone, which is a small wired or wireless microphone that can clip onto clothing, so it is hands-free and also inconspicuous. They also brought along a hand-held mic, the type used during news reports and sporting events for interviews and commentating. The shotgun mic with a boom pole is long and unwieldy, but according to Long is great for "capturing quality sound when a boom operator is available to focus the microphone in the right direction."

Zoom Digital Recorder
Zoom Digital Recorder

Lastly, the team brought a Zoom Digital Recorder to show the students. It can be used for capturing dialogues and sound bites, or sound through an audio mixer.

According to Anklam, it is "used to capture high quality sound using a variety of sources, while not having to be tied to a camera.  The XLR connections allow all of our professional microphones to be used with the recorder."

"A typical example would be using a DSLR camera but wanting to capture audio using a boom mic," he explained.

This is the type of situation where the traditional film-making tool called a clapboard comes into play, Anklam noted.

"Since the primary audio recording is separate from the video recording," he said, "the sound and picture will need to be synced in the editing process. An efficient way to do this is to slate each scene with a clapboard.  In post-production, the editor will then be able to sync the exact moment the clapper strikes the board with the first frame of audio."

Anklam further explained that digital clapboards are available nowadays, and in a pinch, clapping your hands is a way to sync the audio.

The team brought the cameras back in while speaking about audio so the students could learn about the different visual and audio capabilities of each camera. Anklam said, "some, like the Osmo, have an external mic input, while others, like the Mavic, don’t – and even if they did you would simply hear the whir of the blades."

"The overarching goal [was] to impress upon the students that each camera and mic is a tool with certain characteristics and the more you know about your resources, the better choices you will make to tell your story effectively," he added.

The communications class loved seeing the equipment up close and many had questions for the TV team.

A few days later, Anklam received a call from a colleague whose son was in the class saying how much the students enjoyed their visit.

The students' current project is producing a 30-second commercial.

Visit to Woodside High Communications class:

Anklam and Long with camera class
Anklam demonstrates the Panasonic HPX-500 — the "big gun." Anklam shows the class the shotgun mic on a boom.
Long with communications students communications student
Long shows how a cell phone or iPod is used with the Osmo camera. A communications student checks out the shotgun mic.
communications student with mic communications student with camera
A student inspects the studio microphone. A student tries out the Osmo camera.