Have a television studio in your school? If so, here’s the good news: As technology continues to change, schools can use existing resources and space to meet the needs of 21st-century students.
During the 1980s, there was a heavy emphasis on improving school audiovisual departments; one of the results of this focus was the addition of studio space into middle and high schools. In the years since, the explosion of Internet broadcasts has shifted the educational focus from traditional, television-style productions to the current Web-based variety.
Despite differences between the two styles, studios and many of their accessories can give students experience with the relatively new medium of Internet broadcasting. For example, existing studio spaces will already be insulated for sound and include set and camera space as well as a control room.
Virtually all of the typical studio’s original technology will be outdated. This is both a gift and curse. The old cameras, mics and sound boards are probably analog and therefore won’t work in the digital-only world of Internet broadcasting. With that said, as long as administrators shop wisely, current cameras and mics are considerably cheaper to purchase these days.
Phil Harris, a veteran television production teacher of 34 years, suggested to School Video News that administrators get as many price quotes for as many models as they can before making an equipment purchase.
“Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a single right way to build your equipment inventory,” Harris told SVN. “You must stay within your prescribed budget—that is a given. Your approach should be to pay homage to two separate philosophies:
For a reasonably functional set, a school will need a pair of digital video cameras, a pair of mics, a sound board and video editing software.
The range of cameras can be intimidating, but keep in mind that image quality is much less of an issue when broadcasting via the Internet. An average HD camera will only set you back about $100. Do a little more digging for last year’s models, and you could find even better hardware at more impressive prices.
Studio mics will cost even less than the cameras. A solid-performing USB studio mic will cost around $70 and will provide far better audio than the mics originally purchased when the studio was built.
You may want to have control over the audio coming from the mics, and in that case, a mixing board should be on your list. Avoid the fancy models with the price tags that run north of $1,500. A decent board, with input for four mics, will cost around $130.
At this point, you will have spent less than $500, and the only thing left on your shopping list is editing software. Schools that can afford big names like Final Cut should make the investment, as these tools will let students experience what the pros use. There are, however, plenty of other choices—many of them free—that deliver the functionality your broadcasts will require. CNet recommends ones such as JumpCut.
Once you’ve made your purchases and assembled the components, your school can begin enjoying a perfectly functional Webcast and podcast center.