November 18, 2009
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU video production team tackles football games - and wins
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - For a dozen Slippery Rock University students it has been - Lights! Camera! Touchdown! - as they learned the ropes of recording The Rock's home football games, then producing a product for the campus community and beyond.
"The WSRU-TV production team has done a remarkable job," said Thomas Flynn, SRU communication professor and interim production group adviser.
"Students came up with the idea at the start of fall semester and volunteered to handle recording the games using a four-camera approach. The students use University-owned digital cameras as part of the learning experience. We have to keep in mind that we have been without a production wing for several years, so this was truly a start-up operation with students frequently learning on the fly. Still, it has worked out, and their work has been terrific," Flynn said.
The volunteers recorded four of the season's games. After the game ends, they used the remainder of the weekend and Monday and Tuesday to handle post-production work, including mixing game footage with commentary provided by professional broadcasters from WISR (680-AM), the Butler commercial radio station that broadcasts SRU's games live. The students capture the radio stations audio feed.
Once complete, the game is uploaded to the SRU athletic Web site (http://www.rockathletics.com) allowing visitors to view the game on a delayed basis. Once at the SRU athletic site, visitors may click on "Football" (or other appropriate sport) then on "2009 Game Videos" before selecting which game they want to view.
"We really want to thank the staff at WISR for allowing us to use their voice reports as part of our video-stream broadcasts," Flynn said. "It is truly a learning experience for all involved."
"Thanks are also due the dean of our college, Bruce Russell, the entire communication department, the SRU athletic department, including Paul Lueken, athletic director, and Bob McComas, director of sports information, for helping us get up and running," Flynn said. "There were lots of kinks to work out, but everyone helped in overcoming obstacles."
"It was impressive to see our students step forward to undertake these productions. We have had six to a dozen students participating on a rotating basis in each of the games. Most of the volunteers are communication majors, but some are just interested in the process, so they volunteered to help make this project a success," Flynn said. "Dr. Brett Barnett, from our department, has done a great job preparing students in the classroom to meet the challenges in recording the games."
The production team's next project is to secure additional funding to purchase equipment necessary for away game broadcasts and to increase staffing. Flynn said plans already under way for a new television studio and post-production area in Maltby Center that will help expand capabilities.
"We were not sure of the students' capabilities at the start, but they have certainly stepped up. We are taking a baby-step approach, doing what we can, as we can," Flynn said. "Bob McComas has been great in helping our students with game access and other issues."
"These video-streams are valuable to use from a public relations perspective because they provide us an additional outlet for getting our athletic teams exposure while providing our alumni another way to keep in touch. It also gives us the capability of sending video to professional scouts and national media outlets such as ESPN, and the national networks, should the opportunity arise," McComas said.
The production team, headed by Jeremy Saylor, a senior communication major from Grove City, also stepped up to provide video-stream coverage of SRU's recent play in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Soccer championship against Millersville at SRU and then to follow up with the NCAA Division II Soccer Tournament games against Mercyhurst and the University of Charleston.
Saylor, who hopes to go into news or sport journalism production after graduation, said, "This has really been a great experience, packed with learning for me and the other students involved. We had hoped to get started and then expand the capacity as the new television station opens next year. I see that these projects will strengthen my resume."
He said the biggest obstacles thus far have been the weather. "Of course, with basketball being indoors and our next project, we will have a little more control and a little more fun now," he said.
As part of its basketball coverage, the production team will handle its own play-by-play announcing with communication major Josh Rizzo calling the game. Rizzo is a senior from Irwin and editor-in-chief and former sports editor at The Rocket, SRU's weekly student newspaper. There are also plans to add a color commentator down the line.
Flynn said the coverage will include both men's and women's games as more resources and more student volunteers are added.
The challenge next year, Flynn said, will be continuity. "Many of our current students will be graduating. New students will have to step up to take their place. Our department is also looking at ways to expand production efforts."
The team is also open to handling video work for campus dance and music concerts as well as other opportunities, including visiting lecturers. "The major issue, of course, is finding sufficient numbers of student volunteers interested in television production. We will do as much as our resources allow," Flynn said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.