My major in college was Mass Communications – Broadcasting with a focus on television production, particularly TV news. A lot of students in the program didn’t start fully getting involved until their sophomore year, but a small group of us got in as freshman, including my friend Carl who I talked about yesterday.
My second semester of my freshman year, I managed to get signed up for Com 163 which was the first television production class. We learned basic production under the tutelage of John Fisk. I can’t even recall what sort of assignments we had for homework, but we were regularly assigned to run camera, floor direct or run teleprompter for the evening news shows. Our big capstone project for the semester was to produce a public service announcement (PSA), that if good enough, could run in the commercial breaks of the news shows. The caveat was that we had to produce the PSA live in the TV-10 studio.
Now, I had gotten a Canon Hi8 camcorder for my high school graduation present and Hi8 was a higher quality video quality than standard consumer fare at the time (i.e. VHS). TV-10 had a Hi8 deck that allowed me to dub any footage I shot off to our preferred format of Beta or 3/4″ U-Matic. With this ability, I was able to take my own camera (since checking out a camera to a freshman would likely be an impossibility) and obtain some B-roll for my PSA.
With friends Carl, Kara, Rhonda and Mike “Camera Guy” Kinnavy, I traversed the ISU campus and shot students reading books in various locations. Most of this footage was shot on April 19, 1995. I know this because it was the same day of the Oklahoma City bombing. Sadly, I was so self-absorbed in this project that I wasn’t even really aware of the scope of what was happening at the time.
With the B-roll shot, I had to figure out how to put together a studio set up so the PSA could meet the qualifications of the assignment. I enlisted the help of two seniors to play the parts of the “nerdy bookworm” and the “reading bully.” We set up a blue screen affect to show them set up in a library and after their quick shot, we transitioned to tape and then ended on a still with one of the actors as the live voiceover talent. I’m pretty sure Carl was my technical director, but I can’t recall for sure.
I saved the video, but it was on a format that I no longer had access to. And it was a format hardly anyone had access to. So time passed and I eventually threw the tape away. Fortunately, this PSA had been archived and digitized and my visit back to TV-10 allowed me to get access to the file. I hadn’t seen this in probably 20 years or so.
There is one shot in this that has been blurred out. I debated on whether I should keep it in or not and ultimately decided to take it out. If you ever meet me in person, ask me and I’ll tell you why.