Video students light up small screen
by Glenn Moore
Jul 19, 2013 | 2850 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Real-world video experience
Delta Charter High School student Cheyenne Bearfoot films a band playing at a city-sponsored Summer Block Party for Channel 26, the local public access channel, on Friday, July 12, at the Downtown Plaza.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Cheyenne Bearfoot edged closer to the crowd, steadying a Channel 26 video camera on her shoulder, as she filmed the band playing onstage at the Downtown Plaza on Friday, July 12.

She scanned the scene with Camera 3, waiting for the perfect shot to pass in front of her lens.

“I prefer being behind the camera. That’s what I really like — capturing the moments,” Bearfoot said. “It was nerve-racking when I thought I needed to get the really great shots.”

The teenager, who begins her sophomore year at Delta Charter High School next month, is one of eight students in John Lautenslager’s video production and news media classes who are volunteering their video skills at Channel 26, a government and education access channel that covers City Council meetings and community events. 

Chance for real-world experience

Lautenslager has taught video production at Delta Charter High for six years and sought a partnership with Channel 26 to give his students some real-world experience.

“Everything I am teaching them becomes more real when they experience it on assignment,” Lautenslager said. “We’ve gone from beginning to advanced — use the news media class as a vehicle to get kids out of the classroom.”

Delta Charter High, the ninth through 12th grade branch of Delta Charter Schools at 31400 S. Koster Road, emphasizes personalized full-time learning programs, including both online courses and onsite labs.

The charter school is next to New Jerusalem School.

During a yearlong video class on campus, Lautenslager’s students get familiar with video equipment and terminology.

Students learn all aspects of video production, taking turns shooting, editing, producing and directing videos in the field.

They showed off their skills in June when the Class of 2013 graduation ceremony was broadcast live on the Internet.

On Wednesday, July 17, the eight students met at the Channel 26 studio to listen to ideas for a commercial they will film for the city promoting meeting rooms for rent.

Although they are volunteering this summer, Lautenslager hopes to develop a formal internship program to begin in the fall semester.

Lautenslager said the students gain practical knowledge of the business and also help Channel 26 with staffing and more professional programming.

Extra hands welcomed

Dan Summa, community access coordinator at Channel 26, has been at the station for six months and has been hard pressed to provide coverage in the field.

He and one other crewmember both work part time, 30 hours a month, to create the station’s content.

The Delta Charter students’ help, he said, was welcome.

“We had camera operators, grip, technical assistants — they are all eager to help and eager to learn,” Summa said. “They are adapting very quickly. They have a professionalism — I can put them on a camera and be confident they will come back with the footage.”

Since July 1, the students have covered the Fourth of July parade and day in the park, Friday’s Summer Block Party and the downtown farmers market.

Summa works alongside the students as they handle cameras, lay cables and operate video equipment, including a tricaster that selects among video feeds from three cameras.

“(Their knowledge) allows me to focus on how to push them to the next level,” Summa said. “The next six months, I will up the ante with different camera angles and try different ideas.”

His plans for the Delta Charter students will build toward filming the state of the city address in 2014.

Challenges of field work

Incoming junior Perle Goldberg dreams of becoming a director.

“I love this program,” said Goldberg, who is starting her third year of video classes. “You have the creative idea, it’s your imagination on the project.”

On the Fourth of July, she operated the Channel 26 tricaster, but the noise around her made hearing the director’s calls difficult. Goldberg said she felt pressure not to make a mistake even as she welcomed the chance for practical experience.

“This is not reading about it in a textbook; we’re actually doing it.” Goldberg said.

At the farmers market video shoot on Saturday, July 13, Lautenslager said an unexpected tent over a celebrity chef the students were filming required them to scrap their plans and scramble for new camera angles and vantage points.

“The hardest thing is planning for the unexpected on assignment in the field,” Summa said.

As he begins his fourth year in the program, David Collura, an incoming senior, has decided he wants to make a career out of the video business.

“I think it is great opportunity to get experience in the real world,” Collura said. “The pressure is we are shooting it live and editing it live.”

Collura was behind one of the cameras filming the Fourth of July parade as it headed down Central Avenue.

“Filming at the school, maybe a few hundred people might see it,” Collura said. “Filming for Channel 26, a few thousand may see it and think it is professional work.”

Collura hopes his experience at the public access channel will help him become a cameraman or director. His ultimate goal is to be part of a zombie film.

“It’s a great opportunity — technically it’s free labor, but it is a big deal,” he said. “We are hand-picked students from a high school not too many people know about, working for the city.”

  • Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com 
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