Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

cameraman running with runners
NNPS-TV Producer Nik Long, left, runs alongside Menchville High cross country runners to record them with the Osmo camera. Beth Scott/NNPS-TV photo

Trying out new gadgets that improve production quality and help tell the NNPS story is something the NNPS-TV production team loves to do. These devices and other equipment help bring out the team's creativity and improve their final product by allowing them to get shots that otherwise would not be possible.

The team has been using two drones for a couple of years now, most recently to fly around Verizon Wireless's cell phone towers and Mobile Switching Center for the Elementary Engineering Design Challenge "intro video" called "Tower Power." One of the drones can be controlled by a single operator who flies it and records video, but the other drone needs one person to pilot it and another to control the camera.

But NNPS-TV's newest gadget doesn't fly and maybe isn't quite as cool as a drone, but it has been a fantastic addition to the production team's bag of tricks, and they have gotten a lot of great footage using it.

The Osmo camera, which is made by DJI (the maker of the two NNPS-TV drones), has turned out to be a more-than-worthwhile purchase. It is basically a drone camera on a hand-held stick. The small camera sits in a three-axis gimbal on a handle, so the camera is supported in a way that it does not bounce or jiggle.

Using Bluetooth, the team's iPod Touch connects to the Osmo and an app allows it to serve as the viewfinder. A mobile phone can also be used.

The Osmo camera was designed for smooth movement shots, and the number of times it is needed for video-recording the activities of NNPS students is quite large. The production team knows that school-aged children move around a lot, and learning does not always happen while sitting still at a desk, so the Osmo camera is the perfect tool for capturing the many innovative learning and leading activities of NNPS students and staff.

Station Manager Jim Anklam emphasized that they "do not jump on new technology to be the first kid on the block with a new device or software." Rather, he said, "we evaluate the technology to determine longevity and any future applications."

The production team is composed of Anklam, Producer Nik Long, and Production Specialist Aaron Moore, who does a lot of the editing in addition to shooting.

The team has put the Osmo camera to good use, for episodes of shows like "Scouting Report" about a student running group called "Students Run the Streets," and the Hilton Hustle 5K. It was also used for a "Teach Green" episode covering Woodside and Warwick high schools' ecology field trip.

The Osmo came in handy for video segments for "This Just In" about George Green Field Day, Menchville High's Run-a-thon, and the Middle School All-City Track Meet, too. Upcoming segments will feature footage from the Osmo camera of CNU’s Lacrosse team mentoring Yates Elementary students and the FIRST LEGO Robotics Tournament at Crittenden Middle School.

"The Osmo allows us to follow fast action from a closer vantage point, which is a huge benefit," said Long.  He often dons running clothes and shoes to get footage of NNPS student-athletes with the Osmo. "The Osmo makes the footage look smooth and effortless, even though I’m hyperventilating to keep up," he joked about the Menchville Run-a-thon shoot that had him running alongside cross country runners.

NNPS students keep the NNPS-TV production team on the move, and the Osmo camera gives the videographers a chance to capture these quick-moving subjects to show parents, administrators, and the community at large some of the opportunities, activities, and accomplishments of these outstanding students.

Watch the videos

Scouting Report #57: Students Run the Streets 2016

Scouting Report #65: Hilton Hustle 5K 2017

Teach Green #60: Woodside-Warwick JRA Ecology School

This Just In #403: Week of November 13, 2017 - Middle School All-City Track Meet; Carver, Discovery STEM Academy, Epes, Nelson & Saunders Walk to School Day; Hilton Hustle 5K, Menchville Cross Country Run-a-Thon

This Just In #377: Week of May 15, 2017 - George Green Field Day, General Stanford Judo Olympian, Saunders Fitness Egg Hunt, NNPS Wellness Expo, General Stanford Month of the Military Child, STEM Community Day Promo