Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

TV production crew at football game

By Brandon K. Hedgepeth

The first few weeks of class included a unique start for the Telecom program. For the first two days, new television production students filled the seats as Mr. Daniels welcomed them to the program and showed them around the facilities. Our new TV-I students came from all five major NNPS high schools.

In previous years pre-pandemic, we would have a remote training course where many of our future crew members train during the week before school starts. However, with this year's pre-Labor Day school start date, Telecom began the new tradition where the remote camp took place during school time throughout the first two weeks of class.

Each of the students learned to set up and disassemble the truck cameras, pull the fiber-optic cables, and got to see the press box at Todd Stadium. Some even got to practice being a technical director. I was there intermittently to help welcome the new students and assist Mr. Price and Mr. Daniels with guiding the remote crew training. I also showed how the truck's audio setup works for those who were interested.

For the Honors Television Production II class in the afternoon, students went straight into a project preparing for the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) annual video competition, along with learning about SkillsUSA.

Friday, September 9, was the first televised football game of the season, Denbigh vs. Menchville. It also served as a practice game for anyone interested in joining the crew. We had two recruits who came out to it, both of whom I recruited to the program: my brother Ryan Hedgepeth, a Woodside junior, and Jacob Trias, who is a Menchville junior. Since it was the first game for the recruits, and we did not have a large crew, we decided to use the portable ATEM setup. With it, there isn't as much of a learning curve, though we are hopeful that we can use the truck for the next game.

Two of our returning crew members who are now in our TV-II class, Fantasee Carey (Denbigh senior) and Jolyne Roldan (Heritage senior), act as crew chiefs. They trained the recruits on operating and setting up the cameras in the ATEM setup.

During the production, Jacob worked camera alongside Fantasee and Jolyne, while Ryan handled graphics/audio monitoring.

Mr. Price was the producer, Mr. Daniels was a hand-held camera operator, and Mr. Ahmed was technical support in his role of engineer. Muriel Gamble (Achievable Dream 2017) and I (Woodside 2020) were also there. Muriel worked as a camera operator while I worked as director and livestream coordinator. Joshua Stuck (Denbigh 2020) joined the team briefly, providing technical support prior to the production and sharing words of wisdom with the crew.

Greg Bicouvaris and Nate Milton returned as the football announcers, being one of the first times they were there together for football due to the previous pandemic restrictions.

While there were some technical difficulties early on, each of the camera operators and other crew members gave it their all and helped provide a spectacular performance for those watching at home.

Hedgepeth is a 2020 graduate of the Telecom program and a former Telecom Intern. He is a current crew member who continues to assist with productions, social media, and training.