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RTV students make history with live mobile broadcast of games

January 16, 2014
By cnp
Posted in Communication Studies

Students from the University of the Ozarks' Radio-Television-Video (RTV) program made history during the 2013 Fall Semester when they produced the first live remote broadcast of a high school athletic event in Johnson County.

RTV students produced and broadcasted a pair of Lamar High School football games, including a state playoff game, on KUOZ 6, the university’s educational access channel that is a part of the local cable package. The crew of 12 students, under the direction of Director of Broadcasting Susan Edens, presented the multi-camera, high definition webcast via Wi-Fi. The games were simulcast on KUOZ 6 in real time. U of O students also provided the play-by-play and commentary for the production.

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Students from the University of the Ozarks’ Radio-Television-Video (RTV) program made history during the 2013 Fall Semester when they produced the first live remote broadcast of a high school athletic event in Johnson County.

"It was quite an impressive accomplishment," Edens said. "We had a producer for each game and they met with their team leaders to organize and plan out every aspect of the broadcast. It was not an easy undertaking, but I was extremely proud of the teamwork and professionalism they displayed throughout the process."

While the RTV program did produce a live mobile election-night broadcast from the county courthouse last year, the live football game presented the students with some different challenges.

"We weren’t able to use as much pre-packaged material and the football games are much more dynamic," she said. "During a live football game, you only have one chance to get a shot of a touchdown or a big play, so you have to be on your toes."

The students, some of whom put in as many as nine hours on the days of the broadcast, did not receive academic credit or get paid for the work.

"Some of the students approached me about doing this as a service to the community and for the experience," Edens said. "To see the enthusiasm and effort they put into the project was impressive."

Because it was an off-campus event, one of the first obstacles the students had to overcome was how to get the broadcast feed back to the campus control room. Corey Pintado, a junior RTV major from Scranton, Ark., who served as the producer for one of the productions, had the idea of using his personal mobile WI-FI unit at the game to stream the video back to campus.

"Because we hadn’t done anything like this before, there were some challenges we had to work through," Edens said. "But the students took on each of those obstacles and made it work."

Another challenge was Mother Nature. During the first broadcast, a heavy rain hampered the production team throughout the evening.

"When it’s pouring rain like that, we traditionally just pack up and go home because we’ve thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment out there," said Pintado. "But we knew we couldn’t do that this time, so we just prepared as best we could. We had every piece of rain gear and rain protection that we could find. It added an extra challenge for us, but I was proud of how the team came together and produced a quality broadcast."

The second production, under the direction of student producer Ryan West, went much smoother, thanks in part to the experience of the first game.

"We learned so much from just doing it the first time," Pintado said. "There’s no better education than actually doing it, so going through that first one allowed us to tweak and change some things that made the second broadcast better."

With Edens back on campus running the control board, RTV student Alix Tiegs had the all-important responsibility of running the Tricaster at the games for both productions. The Tricaster is the mobile video control unit that allows, among other things, the use of graphics and switching camera shots.

"Alix had a lot to be looking at and thinking about and he a did a great job running the show," Edens said.

Edens said she received positive feedback from the local community about the students’ efforts.

"I heard several comments from people about how they appreciated us doing this," Edens said. "To have the opportunity to see a live high school football game on TV is not very common and I know the community enjoyed it and appreciated our students putting it together. It was a great experience for our students, our program and the community."