Students livestream events for schools

December 4, 2016

While the Wasilla Warrior volleyball team battled on the court during the Region III tournament, Warrior Digital Media students worked far above the action in the cramped announcer’s booth.

Instructor John Notestine and three other media students sat crowded around monitors, tricasters, and cameras. Each person worked specific duties that managed the shots produced by four other students stationed around the gym and game floor.

Notestine gave directions through headphones to the four live camera crew on the floor. In between directions and words of encouragement, he directed the three teens in the booth sitting next to him to run replays and change the camera views. A half eaten sandwich lay between two monitors as proof that no one has time to eat when live streaming.

The two year old WHS media program always intended to live stream events. Notestine said, “We always planned on livestreaming. That’s why Ray [Director of CTE, Ray Depriest] invested so much money into the program.”

Notestine said there was “no way” he could have made his class work without the help and collaboration with Colony High’s Digital Media teacher Brian Mead.

“He started it all,” Notestine said. “I used his google classroom videos and lessons for my classes.”

Notestine’s class first started live streaming last year with a few volleyball games and then the wrestling tournaments. The Tech Expo held by the District in April used live streaming with broadcasting too, collaborating with Colony High and Wasilla media and journalism students. And that’s when the class added play by play commentary with their live streamed games.

Live streaming has made the class “way more popular,” Notestine said with a laugh. Second semester Digital Media I and II  already has 41 students enrolled. “But, I am low on girls. I don’t know why more girls don’t sign up,” Notestine said.

Notestine said that Media is a hands-on class where the students produce a product. It makes it more real life and there are more “ah ha” moments.  But, the consequence of producing good work has its downside too.

“Now it is almost an expectation that Digital Media will live stream games”

Wasilla High Activities Director Stacia Rudstad echoes that sentiment when she said she would love to see more games videoed. To her knowledge there aren’t many other schools in the state that provide live streaming with student videographers.

Notestine said live streaming had been happening long before Digital Media.  Usually Powder Ridge Productions or another company would record for ASAA. But now, Digital Media can do the same job for a lot less money.

“You can get as fancy as you want,” Notestine said. A $600 ipad will live stream on a small scale, to the larger scale operation the Wasilla High students use consisting of video mixers, tricasters, four different cameras.

“ I don’t know, thousands of dollars for sure,” Notestine said.

At the volleyball regional championship, Notestine managed the four cameras on the floor, three monitors in the sound booth, and next to the sound room, in front of a green screen, sat two students broadcasting live with minute by minute sportscasting.

“I’ve learned you have to be pretty careful and selective on who sportscasts. We’ve had some mistakes along the way,” he said.

Notestine was referencing one game where the student sportscaster became too casual and remarked that the opposing team played like middle schoolers, live and on air.

Rustad agreed, “It’s a unique feature and we need to do some coaching with our kids up on what to say and not to say when they’re relaying a game.”

After each game, Notestine and his students immediately download the footage onto a jump drive and hand deliver the video to both home and visiting coaches.

“There’s nothing but positive feedback from our coaches,” Rustad said. The WHS video production has “gotten so good it’s what you might see at the collegiate level now.”

Wasilla High football coach Will Stout said he really appreciated having the football games streamed.

“It’s fun to see the opening when they introduce the players,” he said.

At first his team was really excited to have their game streamed, but after a few minutes they forgot all about it.

The football team has their own cameras filming the game to watch afterward for review, but the student streaming and broadcasting is something extra.

“This is the only school that I have worked at that has live streaming. My parents could even watch the game from Texas,” Stout said. “That was really neat.”

The November Region III volleyball live stream was viewed by over 7000 people.

“It’s really cool. We have an analytical feedback that shows us how many people are watching, what part of the video they watched, and where they are. One player is from Italy, so we had all of her relatives watching in Italy,” Notestine said.

“And, we know that 70 percent of users were using a mobile device to watch from,” Notestine said.

The professional quality video does not come without effort. Notestine shakes his head when he considers the time it takes to set up and take down and teach kids in between all about video production.

“It’s hard to tell how many hours I have in all of this,” he laughed. “But, it’s worth it because where else can kids get this type of experience for free.”

Rustad said the live streaming part of Media “gives our kids an opportunity to see if this is something they are interested in later on. It’s like a trade.”

“I’ve had kids who changed their focus after working with video,” Notestine said, “One of my students from last year is at UAF now going toward that career.”

Senior and second year digital media student Hayden Steiner said his work with live streaming started at a wrestling tournament last year. He likes working with the tricaster that monitors several cameras at once.

“ I knew a lot about wrestling so that helped. And you have to work at least two out of class assignments every semester, so I signed up for the wrestling tournament and I liked it.”

Before the Region III volleyball tournament, Steiner worked with Notestine to create visual templates of the brackets and ASAA banners to weave in and out of the footage with replays.

“It’s a really fun class,” Steiner said. “It’s hands on and people watch from all over the world.”

“I don’t think I will make it my career,” Steiner said, “but probably a side job and hobby with photography and making little videos.”

When the volleyball tournament was long over and the video cached and filed for another day, Notestine gathered equipment up to share with CHS for an event.

He was on his way to CHS to share equipment with Brian Mead and then on to Palmer High to help out the new media teacher Josh Henry. “Noone should start this class without collaborating with the people who already do it. There’s so much to it,” Notestine said as he loaded the gear into his van.

Listening to Notestine explain the details of live streaming and the necessary equipment sounds like a new language in a brave new world.  

But, that’s what Notestine likes the most about the class- that and the chance to give students real world experiences.

“I am always looking for the cool new thing. That’s always my next step with Media. What is the next cool thing we can do?”

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