Sunday, January 23, 2011

The REAL costs of RTV News

Running a television news program at our school isn't going to be cheap. There are big ticket items that need to be purchased. This includes broadcast cameras, a video switcher, microphones, monitors, the list goes on.

There are many all-in-one software solutions out there. One such program is Boinx TV. It's a great way to get into producing a TV news show, and we've used it for 3 years, but it's time to move on.

Most schools that want to run a broadcast program will soon be on the hunt for some kind of video switcher. There are two basic types out there: the virtual switcher and the physical analogue/digital switcher. Both have merits for applications in schools.

The virtual switcher such as the Tricaster from Newtek is a great value. It's great because you can shoot student news in front of a green or blue screen. The host looks like they are in a huge set with many different angles available. It also requires minimal students to run the software. a 3-5 person team can easily use this virtual switcher to produce great looking shows.

The physical switcher is the route we are going. For about the same amount of money as the Tricaster it allows us to connect 3 cameras as well as a computer source to a physical box that also records to an SD card. This switcher from Roland that we are testing out is more of a solution for us. We will be connecting our 32 channel audio mixing board in the theatre to it with pre-mixed audio from the anchors using 2 of our 12 wireless mics. Lighting will be with the theatre lights. The keying feature will allow us to do weather and sports in front of a green screen. The switcher actually CREATES jobs in the news room. I've got 27 students signed up for RTV News starting January 31 and each one will have a role to play. You can see my preliminary planning on our class wiki. This site will become our own 'how-to' and will share every aspect of how we are getting our program going.

Luckily we have an older JVC DV500 studio camera that just needed a new power cord to make it functional again! It will be the second camera to our new Panasonic camera. I checked these out on ebay and they are still going for $1000-5000!

So the REAL cost of the news? Right now it's sitting at around $7500 for the switcher and camera. If we had to add lights and wireless mics, it would be somewhere around $10-15,000 including computers. We will have one of our Mac Pros ($4000)running a Final Cut timeline through a Canopus converter ($200) to get our packages into the switcher. We also will have a second iMac ($1500) for graphics. It's big bucks. More than most schools can get into.

For entry level, a program can be run with a computer ($1500 iMac), a camera with Firewire ($500), Boinx SE software ($200) and a couple wired mics ($25 each). This is good for about 5 students running a show. I've been there, done that, and now it's time go to the next level, but where is the all the funding going to come from?

It's time to get creative. I'll share some ideas in my next post later today.

1 comment:

  1. Jared,

    Just came across your website after watching a couple of TED lectures with my wife and friends. I am new to technology and teaching and your website has opened my eyes to some great, new ideas. I have some thoughts for implementing technology and PE but they are very raw and would love a sounding board and/or to establish a PLN to develop some of my ideas. Any thoughts?