For Husson College’s New England School of Communications, it’s the culmination of a three-year drive toward the total revamping and modernization of its broadcasting program.
For Rodney Verrill, NESCOM’s executive director of video productions, it’s almost the equivalent to the birth of a baby.
Then again, the school’s first television broadcast of a Husson football game from pregame to the final whistle has been his baby since he came to the school five years ago.
“It was our long-range plan to do this, really from the time I took over the program five years ago,” Verrill. “This is where what we wanted to get to as a long-range goal.”
Guess you could call NESCOM’s taped broadcast of Saturday’s noon homecoming football game between Husson and Alfred University at Winkin Complex a final exam of sorts for the entire school.
“Over the course of the last month and a half, we’ve had upwards of 60 students and nine instructors from all nine classes working in separate areas to bring this thing to fruition,” Verrill explained. “To pull all these classes together and coordinate something like this has been the biggest challenge.”
The broadcast will involve students from the electronic news-gathering, graphics, digital editing, sports techniques, introduction to sports and audio for television, video production, TV studio I and TV studio II classes.
“I think I’ve been involved pretty much since we got here in September. I have to pull all the different parts of this broadcast together,” said producer Tom Corbett, the highest-ranking student member of the telecast team. “I think the most difficult thing is trying to pull it all together. It’s not like a job where people come in and just put in their time at a certain time period. We try to fit it in all together when we can, but I’m very happy with how everyone has basically taken care of what they needed to.”
Corbett, a self-professed ‘sports nut’ and a junior from Vermont, said he’s put in an average of four hours a day on the project despite taking a maximum 17-credit-hour course load.
“I’ve been up until three or four in the morning a couple of nights,” Corbett said. “I’m really excited and looking forward to it, especially seeing the final product once it’s done.”
All facets of a TV sportscast will be involved in this production such as graphics (player biographies, updated game statistics, scorelines), real time statistical updates, sideline reports (by Kevin Jackson of South Berwick), play-by-play (senior Jarod Richmond of Pittsfield), and analyst (junior Sterling Pingree of Kingfield) calling the game.
“We really started working on this three years ago, when we started rebuilding the production studios,” said Verrill, who is the director of this broadcast. “When I came here five years ago, there wasn’t a lot here compared to what we have now: A full production facility, SDI, full-functioning TV station, and cable connection.”
NESCOM was also recently given the go-ahead to build its own remote production facility to allow broadcasts like Saturday’s much easier to do.
The sportscast will not be aired live, but it will air on a tape-delay basis on both Husson’s closed-circuit campus cable system and Time Warner cable access channels 9 and 12 (Bangor area) next week.
Although NESCOM already has modern equipment to use such as a character generator, digital switcher, two cameras, a replay machine, a digital/non-linear editor for halftime highlights, and a clip store called “Thunder” which allows technicians to switch from one graphic and/or audio clip to another, an ambitious project like this wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of Maine Public Television senior vice-president Gil Maxwell and MPTV, which has loaned NESCOM a mobile production truck, five cameras, and two engineers.
“We have a lot of kids with no prior experience and this is their first time, so they’re a bit terrified,” said Verrill. “We don’t expect perfection. We can’t. All we expect is that they’ve practiced, they understand their job and they do the best job they can do.
“Class time is beneficial, but the best learning tool these students have is practical experience in the field.”
Andrew Neff can be reached at 990-8205, 1-800-310-8600 or at firstname.lastname@example.org