Osborne High's Mass Media Digital Transformation
Osborne High School Principal U.S. Davidson and teacher Catherine Page-Quail share Applied Magic's Screen Play Editor with mass media students Clifton Berry, left, and Brian Doyle.Osborne High School Principal U.S. Davidson and teacher Catherine Page-Quail share Applied Magic's Screen Play Editor with mass media students Clifton Berry, left, and Brian Doyle.
If statistics were the sum total of measure, then many stories would never progress beyond an uncomfortable first glance. Take Osborne High School for example. Located just eight miles from downtown Atlanta, Osborne High School is governed by Georgia's Cobb County Board of Education. According to an article published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2000, more than one-third of Osborne's student body turned over in a single year, one-third of the students live in poverty, one-third of the students do not speak fluent English, absenteeism rates are high, and SAT scores are low.
This however, is a story driven by people, not statistics. One such person is Catherine Page-Quail, a 15-year veteran of the broadcast television industry, who signed on in August 2000 to be Osborne High School's mass media technologies teacher. "I was immediately impressed by the layout of facilities in the mass media suite," says Page-Quail. "I felt that this area had enormous unrealized potential."
Today, Osborne's mass media facility consists of nine working rooms, including a full studio, a well-equipped master control room, five edit bays and a classroom area. By the time Page-Quail arrived, however, the program was already more than 5 years old, and the equipment obsolete. The 60 to 80 students enrolled in mass media each semester were sharing four VHS cameras in various states of disrepair, one cuts-only VHS editing setup, and one Video Toaster editing system. "When I arrived, the situation was strained and volatile," says Page-Quail. "There wasn't enough editing equipment to accommodate all of the students, much less handle the workload, which led to infighting over the edit rooms." It was apparent to her that expansion and upgrades were essential to the success of the curriculum and to the school's production schedule.
Choosing the Right Resources
Fortunately, Osborne High School Principal U.S. Davidson, Ph.D., was behind the program 100 percent, and recognized the value-added opportunity of using an improved video operation as an in-house image builder and morale booster for the school. With this realization, Davidson gave the green light to research and recommend new equipment. The next step was finding and choosing the right resources to fit the program and the school's budget. "Cameras weren't the issue," says Page-Quail. "It was the big-ticket items, the editing systems that needed careful consideration. This decision had to be dead-on since I knew we would have to live with it for a long time to come."
Then a trusted source suggested she look at a company called Applied Magic, which had a new system called ScreenPlay. "We decided to hold a side-by-side demo and let the students see what each had to offer, since they were the ones who would have to use the systems every day," says Page-Quail. "It was unanimous. After the students saw that they could view their transitions and effects instantly in full screen mode on the ScreenPlay, learned about the multi-user storyboards and password protection features, the demo ended."
ScreenPlay is a PC-free video editor designed to eliminate the high learning curve, system conflicts and hassles that teachers and students often encounter with computer-based video editors. It is ideal for creating video content for informing, inspiring and educating students, teachers and others. ScreenPlay also offers many of the features and benefits that students and teachers want most from a video editor, including:
- An interface that is easy to learn and use;
- Real-time functionality - no render viewing of transitions and effects;
- Drag-and-drop simplicity;
- Multiple storyboards;
- Project password protection (administrative oversight with administrator password);
- Shared media capability; and
- The ability to interface with a television, computer monitor or broadcast monitor for viewing projects.
With ScreenPlay, administrators and teachers can easily create quality videos for educating, training, distance learning, coaching and archiving. In addition, students can create videos for class projects and reports, event/sports documentation, scholarship applications, career exploration, community service and entertainment.
The Secret Weapon
Today, after receiving grants and funding from various sources, Osborne High School's mass media program is one of the most up-to-date in the county, offering three new wireless microphones, four new Panasonic PV-DV100 digital mini-DV camcorders, and three new 3 CCD Canon GL digital mini-DV cameras. The power engines of the school's newly upgraded post-production capabilities, however, are the five new ScreenPlays. "ScreenPlay has become our secret weapon," says Page-Quail. "When the systems arrived in February 2001, we had only three months left to produce the annual video yearbook and tapes of the high school beauty contest and prom. We also had to accommodate requests for tapes for many other school events and activities, such as the sports banquet, sporting event highlights, athletic resumes, dramatic performances, band and choral events and Black History Week. Without the ScreenPlays, we could never have produced so much good video in such a short time," she says.
Teaching video editing using ScreenPlay is also easy, says Page-Quail. The unit is lightweight and portable, there are no cards or drivers to install, and no complicated cabling - all connections are illustrated for easy, error-free hookup. Applied Magic offers a ScreenPlay Academic Package designed specifically for schools. Touted as the "First Easy Editor for Education," the Academic Package offers: royalty-free video and music, a tutorial video, 12 storyboards/project capacity, Digital Juice Effects package, Luma Key Ray-BYTE Effects package and curriculum.
"One of the best aspects of ScreenPlay is that each unit holds 12 separate storyboard [projects], and each one can be individually password protected," says Page-Quail. "Even the shots in the clips bin can be locked. This means that no other student can change, move, or delete those protected storyboards or clips. This was one of our biggest issues with other systems. For undertakings as complicated and massive as the annual video yearbook and the footage-intensive Miss Souvenirian Beauty Pageant, this is the difference between life and death. It's a lot easier to motivate students to take on the responsibility of producing big projects like these if they know their shots and storyboards are inviolable," she says.
Increased School Spirit
Another benefit the new equipment has brought to Osborne is increased involvement with school events. "We have no lack of volunteers to go shoot pep rallies, school plays, or other classes holding mock-ups or presentations," says Page-Quail. "Teachers and administrators know that all they have to do is tell us about something, and the cameras are there."
This enthusiasm has not gone unnoticed. "I really enjoy seeing the mass media students at the events," says Principal Davidson. "They contribute to the atmosphere and school spirit. It's important to have a program like this not only to provide recording services, but also to give students valuable hands-on skills and experience that translate directly to industry. They're learning things like project management, how to meet deadlines and work ethic," he says.
Page-Quail reports that students like the equipment so much, she has a hard time getting rid of them, even after they graduate. Students return all the time to schedule sessions with the ScreenPlays to cut sample reels and edit college entrance portfolio tapes, she says.
Edit time is coveted not only by alumni and enrolled students, but by other faculty members as well. "We are training our coaches on ScreenPlay," says Page-Quail. "They've asked for permission to use the machines to marry practice and game footage with graphics. They want to be able to project the footage with scrolling stats and scores at team meetings."
Although all is going well, Osborne's mass media department has no intentions of resting on its laurels or relaxing. The excitement of going digital and nonlinear has fed, rather than quenched the fire. "The self-esteem and confidence of the students has skyrocketed in comparison to this time last year," says Page-Quail. "One of my biggest problems is discouraging mass media students from coming in to edit morning, noon and night, bringing their friends in to see what they're working on; bringing their friends in to sign up for the class. Mass media has become a very popular place, a real beehive. But I have to say that they are always working," she says.
This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.