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Hoover High School's "Mobile Storyteller" Hits the Road With Blackmagic Design

By Lou Wallace
The video journalism program at Hoover High School in North Canton, OH, recently expanded to include a mobile production truck, called the Mobile Storyteller, as a way to further student engagement with the community. 

The Mobile Storyteller provides high impact, career based education for students as they work on various client projects, preserve the arts in the community, build cultural awareness through journalistic storytelling, and provide onsite training for students and teachers in other video journalism programs. 

To help the students tell their stories, the truck is fully equipped with Blackmagic Design live production products, including four Blackmagic Studio Camera 4Ks, four Micro Studio Camera 4Ks, two Micro Cinema Cameras, two Video Assist monitors, four Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, an ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher, ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel, several Videohub routers, four SmartView Duo 4K monitors, three SmartView HD monitors, a SmartScope Duo 4K, a Blackmagic Audio Monitor, a HyperDeck Studio Pro recorder and several Mini Converters.

Maximizing Learning Opportunities

Launched in 2016, the Mobile Storyteller serves the 75 students in Hoover High School's video production and broadcast journalism program. The students produce content for NCtv, an educational television station broadcasting on the local Time Warner Cable channel in North Canton, as well as on the web. Students produce news broadcasts, public affairs programs, sporting events and other live productions, as well as commercials, animations, narrative films and media content for clients in the community. 

According to Tom Wilson, Hoover High School video journalism instructor, the Mobile Storyteller is unlike a traditional television production truck that is limited to recording live events. Rather, it acts as a mobile classroom equipped with a full control room, seating for students and work areas designed around a collaborative workflow. The learning experience for students begins the moment the truck hits the road and continues for the duration of a trip, as the Mobile Storyteller travels to special events, trade shows and career exploration tours. 

"The Mobile Storyteller redirects students back into their community to find ways to effectively reconnect people," said Tom. "It provides face to face, one on one interaction between student video journalists and members of the community. The information they gather can be shared through digital storytelling techniques that students are learning along the way. The project focuses on an expansion of our program's existing commitment to serving the arts, local nonprofit organizations, our nation's veterans, and others in need of a creative and powerful voice to tell their story."

Preparing Students for the Future

Tom said that part of the reason he looked toward Blackmagic Design to outfit the truck was that he recognized the company's emphasis on getting quality equipment into the hands of young people and students. He noted the simplicity and ease of use of the products, but at the same time appreciates the products' high quality, which helps to better prepare students for jobs in the future.

"In just a year or two, they will be in college or out in the real world and will either be using these same products or will need to navigate the many products on the market," said Tom. "Using the Blackmagic Design products now is preparing them for that. They have so many professional features, and having them in our control room lets the students learn in a truly professional environment."

He continued, "The students love the Blackmagic Studio Cameras with their large iPad sized screens. They are great cameras for those in an educational environment because they are lightweight and easy to set up and store, but they have powerful broadcast features that are easy to learn, even for the inexperienced students. So are the ATEM switchers, and setting up the cameras with the ATEM switcher lets the students learn the basics of television production in professional way. The ATEM switchers have all the features we could need, like chroma keying for special effects, downstream keying for logos and DVE for picture in picture effects and stinger transitions. The equipment is professional, but not intimidating, and the students get excited about using the gear."

"I believe that the folks behind Blackmagic Design's products are revolutionary in how they look at film and television, and they understand how the equipment can help to drive the story," concluded Tom. "My students are starting to understand this concept as well, thanks to Blackmagic Design, and they are applying that to their storytelling. With the mobile vehicle, every project is unique and it allows us to go further into the community. The more equipment we have and the better technology we have, the more students we can reach with the program."

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Lou Wallace is the founder and CEO of Digital Media Online. During his career he has been publisher and Editor-in-Chief of numerious publications in the digital media market.
Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, Pocket Cinema Camera, Production Camera 4K, Blackmagic Cinema Camera


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