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Many traditional broadcast outlets don't have the demanding schedule that Texas High School's TigerVision has. For the 175 students involved in the program, their school day consists of standard classes and sports, as well as maintaining a high quality television station that pumps out daily and weekly cable and streamed content. All on a local, public school budget.
Texarkana's Texas High School (THS) has always prided itself on being able to offer real world learning experience at state of the art facilities. It is home to a vibrant and united student body. The public school is well known for competitive sports and even some famous alumni that have gone on to become politicians and professional athletes. Even the facility itself is widely acknowledged as an architectural beauty.
THS's programs include an exceptional multimedia department, giving students from grades 8-12 a unique chance to produce broadcast quality content. TigerVision is THS's student run television station, broadcast campus wide, locally on cable and online at http://www.tigervision.org/. Daily programming includes a ten minute campus broadcast, in addition to student interviews, Tiger Theatre Company original series, hour long locker room shows during athletic seasons, and digital signage content that is broadcast on three local cable channels over the course of the year.
Instructor Charles Aldridge may consider himself a teacher first and a video professional second, but one only needs to tune into TigerVision to see that, at THS, the two go hand in hand. On top of his duties as an instructor, he also has built and continues to grow a television studio that includes HD cameras and monitors, professional level editors and equipment for streaming and playback. All used and maintained by a group of ever changing amateur cameramen, editors and production crews. To make this all happen smoothly and reliably, Charles counts on Blackmagic Design equipment.
Aldridge said, "We have about 175 students in the program with a variety of experience. The students begin in the eighth grade, finishing daily shows for the middle school in the TigerVision Jr. program. As they enter the high school as freshmen, they learn all the basics, from terminology to technique. They enter their sophomore year running, learning all aspects of shooting, editing and 'telling the story', in a very hands on environment."
He continued, "TigerVision's curriculum is AV heavy, and students are charged with producing live programming to be streamed across the campus, on cable and online. With daily student shows, weekly sporting events and frequent theatre productions, this essentially means their work is neverending!"
Talent and Miss Texas High
The students that are part of the crew of TigerVision gain valuable hands on experience with professional equipment, which sets those interested in pursuing a future in video apart from other kids their age. This year, even students that aren't involved in the TigerVision program joined in on some of the action, as participants in the first ever "Tigers Got Talent" show and in the Miss Texarkana and Miss Texas High pageants.
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For "Tigers Got Talent", a take off on television sensation "America's Got Talent", TigerVision placed 20 second excerpts of each performance on KnowMi, THS' social networking site, for students to vote on privately. After 12 finalists were selected from the first two rounds, the finale was shot, edited and placed on the TigerVision website.
The Miss Texas High pageant, which was more of a production, followed shortly thereafter. Streamed live online and broadcast live on cable, the pageant involved multi camera shoots, extensive editing and graphics, and virtually every tool in the TigerVision arsenal.
The theatre control booth and the TigerVision studio are equipped with three Panasonic AG-HPX300 cameras, two Blackmagic Design DeckLink HD Extremes and three DeckLink HD Extreme 3D cards for capture, playback, keying and graphics. Editing is done with a combination of Final Cut Pro on a Mac Pro and a Panasonic 400 HD switcher for the theatre. Live playback is handled by the DeckLink cards and a Softron OnTheAir Video Express license, which playout to Panasonic 10K HD projectors in house, as well as out to the community and internet.
According to Aldridge, "The DeckLink cards form the backbone of the TigerVision workflow, allowing students to not only move media easily between systems, but also playback for post production and to live audiences alike."
Programming at TigerVision is currently broadcast in SD across the THS campus, but students shoot and edit in HD and playback the HD LIVE through a DeckLink HD Extreme that downconverts to SD on the fly. TigerVision has the eventual goal of transforming into a full HD operation. The DeckLink's ability to handle both SD and HD material easily will allow for an efficient transition to a full HD studio without costly reinvestment in new technology.
Of the many variables that would be involved in such a transformation, budget is perhaps the most important. Aldridge explained, "For a high school program, we're considerably sophisticated. The challenge is to maintain that high level of workmanship without breaking the bank." Having recently returned from the Student Television Network News (STN) Convention in Dallas, where TigerVision won $10,000 from the first Annual US Education TV Awards and was honored in the 'Best Live Event' and 'Most Innovative Use of Platform' categories, he continues, "It was wonderful to not only receive this level of recognition, but also to earn some extra funds that will expedite the transformation to HD."