With technological advancements democratizing access to media production, most high school students have grown up filming and uploading smartphone videos to social media platforms, so naturally many are interested in learning more about media production. . Knoxville Catholic High School Digital Media Director Guy Shelton devotes his time to guiding these aspiring media professionals, teaching them the tools and techniques of the trade. Its methodology includes exposure to industry standard equipment such as AJA KUMO routers and FiDO fiber optic mini converters, as well as the development of important life skills such as interpersonal communication, team and responsibility.
Knoxville Catholic High School’s Media Production Program offers an Introductory Media Production course, which provides a basic understanding of the trade. Students leave class knowing how to balance a camera’s whites, adjust the iris, perform tripod commands, troubleshoot cabling, and more. For those looking to hone their skills, two honor tracks are then available, which include digital media and TV news, and mobile production. Up to 100 students participate in the program per year, of which 10 percent continue to study broadcast, graphic design, video production or photography after graduation.
Preparing students for real word production environments requires frequent hands-on exposure to the tools of the trade. The school’s kit, which includes a host of equipment ranging from conversion technology to routers and switches, largely resides in a control room on campus that doubles as an office. The school’s theater and gymnasium are connected to the control room via fiber, while its neighboring journalism studio is connected via a baseband coaxial BNC. Integrated into the control room, AJA FiDO converters convert 3G-SDI camera feeds in the gym and theater to fiber and back to 3G-SDI in the control room. The signals are then routed through an AJA KUMO 6464 router and switch before being broadcast live or archived.
“KUMO 6464 is a great learning tool for our students, and it has saved them a lot of time,” says Shelton. “I no longer waste an hour wiring and rewiring the rack while we prepare each production. I just set up salvos using the KUMO web UI and can launch different room productions with one click, or switch between streams as needed.
“Without FiDO, we wouldn’t have a control room because we have to go the distance,” he adds. “I also love how intuitive and user-friendly our AJA equipment is. Once we teach the students to go past buttons and lights, they start to dive in and realize how easy it can be. It’s also incredibly tough, even when handled by high school students, which is huge for us.
Beyond using the equipment to gain field experience, Shelton helps students learn to articulate and pursue their goals, and to defend themselves. He finds one of the most rewarding aspects of his job watching a concept finally land for a student. “Watching them put the pieces together makes my job worth it,” Shelton explained. “Intuitive technology is often a key part of this journey, which is why I continue to use AJA equipment. FiDO, for example, has indicator lights that alert us to any connection issues, so if a student hasn’t plugged it in properly, we know right away and can tell if it’s a fiber issue or BNC connector, directly on the unit.
To constantly raise the bar, Shelton always seeks out and explores emerging technologies, knowing that one day they will be important to his training. Its students play an essential role in the decision-making process. “The motto of the program is ‘for students by students’, so they are actively involved in finding kits, and we are openly talking about any technology that we are considering adding to the pipeline,” he explained. “For example, a few of my students wanted to implement back cameras in the gym, so we explored the options, weighed the costs and benefits, and then figured out how we could run the wiring along the rafters. and to FiDOs. “
When evaluating equipment additions to the pipeline, density, noise and electricity are often part of the conversation, as is the selection of items that may change with the program. Shelton concluded, “I like that KUMO 6464 gives me 64 inputs and 64 outputs without loud fan noise. Even though we currently only have 46 sources and 44 destinations, we can easily increase that number in the future if we build another studio. We also like the rack-mount converter. Rather than using seven outlets for seven converters, I put them there, plug in the rack, and only use one outlet.