Leaders Wanted: Each year JAG holds an annual vote for board members. It is the opportunity for members of our organization to step up, be proactive and participate in the leadership of the Jersey Access Group. This may seem like a daunting task to members, but it should not be perceived as such. Rather, this should be viewed as an opportunity for you to share your unique talents and perspective. JAG benefits from a diverse board with a wide array of valuable insights all sharing the desire to enhance both PEG and JAG. All are welcome to nominate themselves and participate in our upcoming board elections.
I’m Not Ready to Be On The Executive Board: Many people want to participate more in the JAG organization, but feel that running for the board is not the right thing for them now. As a current board member, I felt that way too. So where do you begin? I can answer that question simply — join a committee. Committees play an important role in both the growth and development of our organization. This is a great opportunity to bring your unique perspective to our organization and your passion in a particular area of interest. This is the power of being part of a JAG committee. You can find further information about committees, and how to reach out to them, throughout this monthly newsletter. Here is a list of the JAG Committees that eagerly look for new, active membership participation:
Membership Finance External Relations Legislative
Production Conference JAG Awards
Committee Member Yes, Board Member Soon: Perhaps you are already a member of a committee. You actively participate in monthly committee meetings and are looking to one day make the move to the board. So what is holding you back? In talking with members, a common answer is additional leadership training and participation. JAG recognized this and created an opportunity for those members to take the next step. What is that next step? The next logical step would be to get yourself in the position of either a chair or vice-chair of a committee. The advantage of being a vice-chair of a committee is the ability to participate in the leadership development committee. This committee is made up of vice-chairs of all our committees. This group reviews the organization’s operations, comes up with creative solutions and then in turn presents these solutions to the executive board. This committee is a great stepping stone prior to becoming an executive board member.
Say Yes To JAG: The future of the Jersey Access Group lies in your hands. The only way for our great organization to continue to grow, evolve and be relevant is to have active participation from members. The future of JAG is in the hands of the participation of its diverse membership. The ability for its members to participate and share their unique opinions and insight is crucial to the survival of the Jersey Access Group. I hope as you read through this, it sparked something inside of you that makes you want to actively be a part of a JAG Committee, leadership role in that committee or ultimately an active executive board member. I look forward to seeing new faces and hearing new voices as the organizations continues to grow. I urge you to reach out to me, any of our board members or even our Managing Director should you have any interest, questions or just want to discuss further what it takes to be more involved in JAG.
Doug Seidel, Social Media Manager, External Relations Committee
This month I want to take a moment to remind everyone of a few things since this has been a very productive year in social media and our digital footprint.
First, for everyone that attended Eastern Video Expo (or purchased a ticket and did not attend) all of the recorded sessions are available at www.easternvideoexpo.com. You just have to use the password sent via e-mail to attend the event, if you don’t have that password please contact someone at JAG.
Below are the links to our social media pages, please follow them and share with anyone that may be interested. We also have our YouTube channel and aside from sending us videos to host there, be sure to share the channel with friends and family.
Most recently we launched our updated website at www.jagonline.org. Be sure to check out the site and let us know what you think. Feedback is always key, and I would love to hear what you would like to see more of on our social media sites. We are also in need of pictures of your station in action to add to the home page carousel.
NEW CONTENT ON WEBSITE- We have now posted 24 programs from the Eastern Video Expo events to the members only section of our website. To view the video content links below, you need a members only password.
by Paul A. Distefano, Regional Sales Manager, DeSisti Lighting
What if, today, you need to interview a town official in their office? What if that official’s office is in a century old building with dark wood panels and incandescent lighting? What if that official’s office is in a 1970’s era cookie cutter building with overhead fluorescent tubes in the range of 4000K? What if it is a modern building with LED lighting which is nice and efficient, but not necessarily the highest color rendering because it was chosen to achieve a specific light level and a camera recording in there was not even an afterthought? What if any of these scenarios is further complicated by large windows and window dressing insufficient to control this ambient light….. even if you are lucky and the windows are oriented north/south instead of east/west? What if later that day, you need to cover a musical performance at a school, the library, the senior center, or some other venue that has similarly flat, ugly, low CRI, lighting? Wouldn’t a splash of color on the wall or reflecting off the performer’s guitar make the image more appealing, interesting, or just prettier? What if you also need to provide lighting for a still photographer in the room as well? What if there was a single line of lighting fixtures that could allow you to creatively light under all these varied scenarios, and more, allowing you to record the highest quality images with your camera, whether it is a pro quality 3-chip or your cell phone? Why, it would be the Zelig of lighting fixtures! Well, it exists….. and it is called the Variable White + Color technology provided by DeSisti! By the way, when the technology was first presented to us in its early development stage a couple of years ago, I made the same “Zelig” reference and my heart sunk when my clever reference was met by blank stares from my much younger colleagues on the Skype call. I’m banking on the average age of my friends here at JAG being old enough to get it, though.
Officially rolling out this month, the VW+C technology is now available in a range of several Fresnels and Softlights. By taking advantage of our tried-and-true variable white technology and adding to it, phosphor-based color emitters in red, green, blue and amber, we give our users infinite possibilities in one single fixture with the high quality of light that DeSisti is known for. As the name implies, we have added color to the variable white LEDs that are featured in our standard variable white product. We do not “mix” to white. Our fixtures consistently outperform our competitors with higher CRI, higher output CCT whites and consistent color, from fixture to fixture, throughout the life of the LEDs.
The Variable White + Color range offer nine different modes of operation, controlled locally or with as little as 8-channels of DMX. These modes include:
XY Coordinates – Plot coordinates on the CIE1931 color space graph, which is extremely accurate utilizing 6 colors as opposed to just RGB, as many of our competitors do
Variable White – This mode utilizes just the white chips for CCT whites from 2700K to 6500K with color correction, +/- green and the ability to add cyan and amber
Variable White + Color – Color hues added to white sources
ULTRA CRI – this mode extends the range of CCT whites all the way from 1800K to 12000K and maintains a CRI of 94+ throughout the entire range for enhanced image quality from your camera
GELs – Presets of Lee and ROSCO gels applied to your choice of CCT whites
FX – choose from many preset effects
Sources – choose from a variety of presets to approximate moonlight to several other natural and artificial light sources
DeSisti continues to offer all our products in single color Daylight, Tungsten and Variable White. The Variable White + Color range is available in our 60W 4.7”, 120W 6”, 160W 7”, and 180W 10” Fresnel and our 180W SoftLED2XL, 180W SoftLED4, 360W SoftLED8, 400W SoftLED8XL, and the 180W GIOTTO LED4 Cyc light. While not in the same range because of a different 6-color array (Red/Green/Blue/Lime/Cyan/Amber) Our 35W Piccoletto Color and Piccoletto Color FLEX, with variable optics and both DMX and Bluetooth control, is also available.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all again on Oct 27th and demonstrating our latest technology to you at this month’s JAG meeting. I have the F7VW+C, SoftLED8VW+C and the Piccoletto Color FLEX here to show you. For more information on DeSisti Lighting, please visit our web site, www.desisti.it. For any of you who are still wondering what the heck that Zelig reference meant in the first paragraph, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelig.
By Jan Zachary, Cable Television Coordinator, Manalapan
Our EG (Educational/Governmental) station formed in the fall of 2004 when the Township Committee created the Cable Television Advisory Committee (CTAC). When I discovered the new committee in 2005, I joined at once.
When we formed our ordinances and wrote our policy and procedure manual, the Township Committee informed us that only Township events and meetings would be permitted. Only Educational and Governmental sponsored programs would be broadcast on MTTN; we do not accept Public Programming. We started out with a Cable Television Coordinator (CTC) and a Program Manager. The CTC oversaw the Cable Station while the Program Manager organized the Volunteers and created content for the station. In 2010 I became the CTC and assumed both functions.
I named our station Manalapan Township Television Network (MTTN) because we broadcast on multiple platforms: Optimum channel 77, Verizon channel 42 (hopefully HD soon), Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook. With our equipment (Leightronix HD server and our Data Video MU1200 HD switcher) we can capture all internet programming as well as local live events and broadcast these events live. We have been using Canon cameras from the beginning because of their ease of use for inexperienced volunteers and the Canon service center is in Dayton (well, was).
We have a great band of volunteers who help and counsel on innovative ideas relating to Manalapan. All our volunteers, whether on the CTAC or just volunteering, must help, when they can, by both supporting while setting up and recording our programming. We work on programs that deal with historical Manalapan such as the Village Inn (1732), the Battle of Monmouth (1778) and the History Fair at Monmouth Battlefield which is always a major event. We also broadcast regional high school meetings, K-8 regional school meetings, Township Committee meetings, Planning Board Meetings, county and local debates, as well as unique events given by the schools, Township, County and State. We try to cover all events that occur within the boundaries of Manalapan.
Within our Township family each Department has helped us with developing programming related to their field. We receive their request on ideas related to a specific project, then formulate a plan, set up and screenplay; and with the help of our volunteers, produce programming. In 2005 we had our first non-meeting program. Sponsored by the Health Department it was a presentation on infectious diseases and viruses (who knew!?). Our Recreation Department, Health Department, Environmental Commission, Senior Center, Veterans Committee and especially our Manalapan Arts Council all contribute programs to MTTN.
Holiday Concerts, Photo Contests, Rock and Roll Concerts, Theatre Groups, Car Shows, Cabaret Nights, Invasive Plant Control Presentations, Veteran Train Shows, Veterans Day Events, Black History Month Programs, and MLK Celebrations are just some of the events we cover. In the Health Department we record lectures on Asthma, Sun Care, Child Abuse and Project Zero the drug abuse awareness initiative. Then there is my favorite, Halloween!!! I have worked with the Recreation Department on Halloween since 1993. As you can see, we are constantly busy here in Manalapan.
On March 12, 2020, I was on holiday celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii when all hell broke loose. We got to Hawaii, and the cruise around the Hawaiian Islands was canceled by the cruise line two days before we were to set sail, so we had to book more days at Aulani (our resort). We enjoyed the Pearl Harbor tour from the last time we were there, so we did it again. The next day all tours on Oahu were in shutdown. The next day all the restaurants, even the ones at the resort, were shut down, so we went shopping at the grocery store next to the resort. We were supposed to come home on the 26th, but Hawaii shut down on the 25th so we had to find flights. Do not worry, Delta got us home with only three stops. I just wanted to say each airport we landed in was like a ghost town.
To get back on target the world had to start dealing with Covid-19. I was in Hawaii. HOWEVER, my laptop can talk to my computer at work 24/7, so what did we do? The mayor wanted to give daily updates to the Township residents starting March 16th, so I contacted one of our volunteers, Zim, and asked if he was up to the task of recording the mayor every day until I got home. So that is what we did every weekday until June when we went to three times a week, and then in September, once a week. Zim would record the mayor’s update at 4:30pm, and I taught Zim how to go live and then transfer the update into the schedule every day at 9 pm and 9 am. Recently, we stopped the mayor’s covid report and now we are back to our bi-monthly Mayors’ Report on all subjects.
Continuing with covid protocols we are now producing live hybrid Township Committee meetings, virtual for those who still feel uncomfortable attending meetings but still with the option of a live audience. We are using a professional Zoom program called HD suite. When we have finished the purchasing requirements, we will have a permanent virtual installation usable by all Township personnel.
Of course, no one can stand alone. Without the cooperation of Administration and the Township Committee we would not be able to achieve our goals to further enhance our Television Station. We also receive enormous support and help right here at JAG. If something is going on in the legal world or the technical world of PEG then here is the place to seek guidance. Thank you to all the members of the Jersey Access Group!! Manalapan Township, A Great Place to Live!
by Cyd Seidel, Founder/CEO, New Jersey Isn’t Boring
Starting a new social media page like Instagram can be overwhelming, so I’m here to provide you with a few tips to make your new account successful.
1. Register your new account as a Business Account rather than a personal account.
By having your account as a business account, you are able to post links in your Instagram stories, check analytics, and understand where your traffic is coming from.
2. Pick an account name that would make it easier for people to find you.
For example: If you are a public access station in Juno, Alaska you would want your account to be something like @JunoAlaskaPublicAccess or @JunoAlaskaTV, something that makes a direct connection to your account
Tip: Avoid using underscores, numbers, and symbols in your account if possible
3. Create your own hashtag to go along with your post and use hashtags in your post to boost traffic.
Using the example from above, if @JunoAlaskaPublicAccess is posting about an event involving icebergs you should use your own hashtag first ie #JunoAlaskaPublicAccess and use other hashtags that would help people find you like #Juno #Alaska #JunoAlaska #Icebergs #AlaskaIcebergs etc
4. Make sure your Instagram profile tells the public what you’re all about.
Example: Juno Alaska Public Access is Juno’s #1 resource for all things Juno. Use our hashtag #JunoAlaskaPublicAccess to be a part of our Instagram community
Include a link to your website (or Facebook page if you don’t have a website) or Linktree, a photo or logo as your profile picture, and utilize the email link.
5. Your posts should be a mix of pictures, videos, memes, or anything that encourages interactions.
Too much wording in your pictures may discourage interaction.
6. Interact! Respond to comments, DMs etc.
7. Keep on top of Instagram trends such as Instagram Live, Reels, Instagram Stories etc.
8. Do not over post or under post. Keep your posts to 1-3 posts per day max, and every other day to stay relevant on the Instagram Algorithm.
9. Post at times that make sense to your audience. This is a trial and error process. Look at the times of your most popular likes and comments and check your analytics in your business profile.
10. Everything Else!
• Make sure your profile is PUBLIC
• Make sure you are aware of your brand/message
• Create a page that is clear, concise and has its own voice.
• If you can be found at a location, list your address!
• Hashtags to Avoid: Desperate Hashtags like #LikeforLike, #FollowforFollow and off brand hashtags
• Do things organically. Using and paying for apps to “get you more followers” will actually get you bots and fake accounts.
Recently I had the opportunity again to represent JAG at the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors’ (NATOA) 2021 Annual Conference, albeit virtually, both as an attendee and as the NJ Chapter President of NATOA. NATOA’s national conference offers a comprehensive professional development learning experience and an exclusive opportunity to interact with and learn from leaders in the field and colleagues across the country.
The conference offers three days of educational sessions on a variety of topics, interactive roundtables, exclusive speakers, and networking opportunities with experts from all facets of telecommunications sharing case studies, solutions and proven strategies to enhance the operation for our community and the experience of our residents. I was interacting with and observing the best and the brightest industry leaders, while exploring new partners to help JAG and our cause along with cementing relationships with those on the frontline in the battle to preserve PEG Access. I am happy to report out, there are many great minds working collectively to preserve PEG, bring it in to the future and keep its future alive and robust.
LEARN. NETWORK. CONNECT.
NATOA’s Conference is a premiere educational event for local government telecommunications professionals working on communications, multimedia, programming, wireless, broadband, franchising and siting issues in today’s ever-changing landscape. The conference is attended by over 400 local government professionals from across the country, there to learn the latest on emerging issues and cutting-edge technology. It’s NATOA’s unique combination of lawyers, administrators and video production personnel that gives the group a well-rounded perspective on PEG television, broadband and wireless technology. It is also JAG’s frontline of protection and legislation watchdog on a national level.
WORKSHOPS. FORUMS. ROUNDTABLES.
Experts from all facets of telecommunications were on hand sharing case studies, solutions and proven strategies to enhance our industry, profession and to help the communities we serve. I was afforded practical insights on the latest trends while participating in interactive panel discussions, peer networking and more. This even afforded JAG the opportunity to bring aboard speakers to JAG sponsored events and even our conference as well. In addition, I was able to share with them, everything that JAG does as an organization in New Jersey, what they have done for us with local leaders, BPU and state legislators. By sharing this with NATOA leaders and members, it allows them to know what we are up against and affords them to help find ways to support us as well. This two-way street is important for the survival or both our organizations.
INSPIRATION. INNOVATION. PRODUCTIVITY.
The power and prestige of NATOA brought about a wide array of engaging keynote speakers, virtual tech demos from various vendors, round table discussions and networking opportunities that make events like this a powerful conference. With the national pandemic still on the minds of all, the event gave me a unique opportunity to discuss with a wide audience across the country how this impacted their operations, what they have learned and how the pandemic has affected their future plans.
All these elements plus the conversations I had with NATOA Board Members and staff will bring about some great enhancements for JAG now and over the course of the upcoming new year. Some items I will be working on include continued and new informational sources to keep us current on national legislation, and the ability for JAG to continue to host and run our own Webinars year along with the ability to get well qualified panelists outside of our circle to give us clear and precise information on various topics. If you are interested in learning more, I look forward to sharing further my experience with you. Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss further.
Executive Board Retreat Your Board … Working Hard For You!
There are two components that help to make a great organization, its members and its board. I am happy to report that JAG has both. This organization is made up of people who really care about our industry, its future, and its impact on our community. JAG members take an active role in participating in monthly meetings, engaging in our webinars, and attending our conference. Members understand the value of JAG. In turn, the JAG Board recognizes this, and is dedicated to give members the best value for their dues, and then some.
To ensure the organization continues to grow, progresses with the times, keeps up with changes in the industry, and legislation, the JAG board participates in an annual retreat in August. This year we meet again virtually for several days over a two-week period.
This is the board’s chance to reflect on the year past, evaluate and plan the goals for the upcoming years, and review the organizations Policies & Procedures and Bylaws. In an ever-evolving organization this is an important task the board assigns itself each year.
Each year prior to coming to this retreat, board members are given a list of goals which our organization strives to achieve. Board members are asked to grade our organization on accomplishment of these goals on a scale of 1-10. You can imagine, each board member might view things slightly different from another, but this gives us an understanding of both the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. This becomes the foundation of our retreat.
Next, we examined our operational structure, management structure and our action plan. Committee chairs and board members use the action plan as a tool to guide our organization, keep on top of our goals and report back to the members. The reporting on the action plan takes place at both membership meetings and in this monthly newsletter. The action plans for all standing committees and ad-hoc committees were explored in addition to receiving a yearly update from the committee chairs.
We concentrate going through all our financials, getting updates from our treasurer of financial filings and more. I am happy to report out that our organization is financially solvent, on track with all our financial filings and reports. The board also reviews the financials monthly at our executive board meetings as presented by the treasurer. Again, I am happy to report that we are on the track and working closely with our accountants and tax preparers to keep moving forward in a financially sound manner.
Examining our future legislative battles, the FCC being one of them, and preparing the organization for what is to come is another task the board takes seriously. We are aligning ourselves with other organizations in the same fight, keeping on top of the national battle from NATOA and working with our partners and lawyers to keep JAG members informed. JAG keeps a close eye on state legislation with our statewide partners who have a vested interest in cable franchising and broadband. By reaching out to other organizations including the League of Municipalities, Board of Public Utilities – Office of Cable Television our goal is to help steer the legislative battle. Our legislative chair Dave Garb and his committee, along with our managing director and myself, take an active role in keeping up with anything on the hill or state capitol that might affect our industry and getting that information out to our members in a timely manner.
Our policies and procedures are an ever-changing document, although at its core remains steady. The Policies and Procedures along with our bylaws are the very heart of the JAG Organization. It is important to look through these with a fine toothcomb, see what is working, what needs to be adjusted and sometimes what just needs to be cleaned up. The Leadership Development Committee is also tasked with reviewing these documents throughout the year and bringing and changes to the board for a vote. Our board takes these documents very seriously, understands the value of them and that they are the very core of the JAG Organization. Some proposed bylaw changes will be introduced to the members at our September Meeting and will be voted upon by the general membership in October. These are strictly house-keeping items and language clarification.
The board uses all that we learn during our annual retreat to help determine future goals, the direction of the board for 2021-2022, and inform the membership moving forward. As always, I invite you to take an active role in this organization by sitting on committees, running for board positions, and actively attending and participating in our monthly meetings. There is a good chance that some board members might be retiring from the board after many years of service, so the board eagerly looks forward to new members stepping up and filling their shoes.
I urge you to carefully read through this newsletter for organizational updates, committee reports, peer reviews and more. In addition, take advantage of all JAG has to offer by attending our monthly membership meetings and scheduled webinars and social hangs. Find something in this organization that interests you, participate in a committee and even run as a board member. The future of JAG is in your hands, and knowing that, I know we are going to be in good shape.
By Yervant Keshishian, Sales Engineer & Technical Director, Varto Technologies
Modern broadcast facilities don’t quite look like they used to, and that’s okay! As we look to upgrade and future proof there are several innovative solutions and workflows available that can drastically improve productivity and give us new opportunities to create high quality content.
Today I will dive into a few of these solutions, but I look forward to our presentation on September 29th where we will virtually demonstrate these concepts and more in our new IP-based REMI control room & studio in East Rutherford!
Everything over IP, Integrated seamlessly
Everything over IP, Integrated seamlessly With protocols like NDI for video & Dante for audio we can leverage your existing or new IT networks to easily integrate solutions from hundreds of different manufacturers. This integration can create new workflows that are just not possible with traditional analog or digital cabling. IP moves us past uni-directional XLR or SDI to a world where every source is available anywhere in your facility. Think of this as your own ‘audio & video internet’.
At its core, NDI moves video, audio, and data across any network; global, wireless, mobile or local, between cameras, mobile devices, production equipment or desktop machines and is the most used standard to move content in the world. NDI has constantly pushed the boundaries of video production over IP and now, with WAN and audio capabilities never seen before, NDI 5 offers unprecedented integration and power to move video, audio and metadata between devices anywhere around the world.
Hardware devices with NDI baked in can range from simple HDMI to NDI Converters from NewTek to high quality PTZ (Pan/Tilt/Zoom) cameras from major brands like Panasonic, Sony & Canon that can send video and receive control data over a single ethernet cable.
Dante is the leading Audio-over-IP solution in the world, found in over 2000 products from more than 400 manufacturers. Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with a standard IP network that delivers completely lossless audio, massive channel counts and near infinite signal routing flexibility, all while being incredibly easy to deploy and use. Audinate, the developer of Dante, has a line of AVIO Adapters that let you use your favorite legacy audio gear with any Dante-connected system, delivering the interoperability, performance, and scalability that only networking can bring. Also, major audio console brands like Allen & Heath, Behringer and Yamaha build digital mixers with integrated Dante cards that can support dozens of channels of Dante in and out.
Remote production, or REMI (for Remote Integration Model), refers to the workflow of sending camera operators and minimal crew on-site to events and leveraging advanced technologies like IP bonding, 4G and 5G cellular, and HEVC compression to feed live camera and audio signals to a centralized control room. This central control room located in your facility replaces the need for an on-site production truck, hosts all your video switching, audio mixing, and is where your final transmission takes place.
This room can range from a fly pack to a full dedicated control room. Generally, this includes a video switcher, audio mixer, graphics system, record & playback system, intercom system, inbound & outbound transmission capabilities.
In today’s climate, with people unwilling or unable to leave their homes, a REMI production workflow makes sense. And it’s one that’s being heavily utilized by production companies and content creators throughout the country. REMI production helps production companies significantly reduce production costs and setup time, increase productivity & expand creative coverage surrounding events.
REMI production was on the rise before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has certainly expanded its use. But like video conferences and work-from-home, REMI will remain a dynamic trend in broadcast long after the pandemic wanes.
At Varto Technologies we are partnered with industry leading manufacturers who are developing cutting edge solutions that are changing our industry. These relationships, combined with our decades of experience, allow us to build modern, reliable & cost-effective integrations that are truly mind blowing. It’s one of those see-it-to-believe it situations… so join us virtually on September 29th to see our demo facility pictured above in action!
byDustin Dumas, Station Manager, SOMAtv, South Orange/Maplewood, NJ
In this column I regularly cover topics helpful to independent producers. Today’s column will cover some of the lessons I learned during the 2021 Eastern Video Expo that I will be placing in my virtual toolbox. I will focus on interviewing techniques, lighting and editing techniques.
Being able to tell the story means that interviewing skills are important. During the Expo, I learned some great strategies on how to tell a good story and was also reminded of strategies I currently use in telling a good story.
Be prepared and research your subject
An interview is not the place for you to “wing it” and hope for the best. The best way to engage is to know your subject. This means going beyond the fact sheet your guest sends. Learn about the industry and subject matter. You do not have to be an expert, but you should know enough to ask intelligent questions and engage your audience.
Ask “What happened next?”
A solid way to elicit an expansive answer is to ask, what happened next? This helps pull the story along in a linear fashion and it allows your subjects to tell the story at a pace that is comfortable for them. I have experienced a few interviews where my guest answered monosyllabically and asking this simple question would have elicited better responses.
Do a pre-interview
Part of being prepared is doing a pre-interview. This does not necessarily mean doing an actual interview but rather asking your guests what they would like to talk about. When you determine what they want to talk about, it will help you stay on topic and make sure you cover these areas if you find you are running out of time. Doing a pre-interview helps with a successful interview.
Do not ask the most important question first
This was a great piece of advice. How many times have you interviewed someone and asked all the important questions too early in the interview and the rest of the interview was anticlimactic? Asking the background questions that should have proceeded those important questions are not as engaging since you have already asked the most important questions.
Can you imagine having been granted an interview with the late Neil Armstrong and the first question is “What was it like to walk on the moon?” The questions that come after: Why did you decide to become an astronaut? How long was your training? Why were you the one to walk on the moon first? would pale in comparison.
Be silent after asking a question
Silence is important when asking a question. Sometimes an inexperienced interviewer will want to fill up every available moment with words since silence feels awkward, however, leaving that extra space may elicit a more thoughtful or sincere response.
One of the trickiest but most rewarding things to accomplish is good lighting. Lighting can take years off of subjects, create a mood or even tell a story. This session impressed how important lighting is beyond making sure that there is adequate lighting for the camera. Lighting can complement the story. The session was quite comprehensive, so I will focus on: using the correct lighting based on skin tone, storytelling and softening facial features.
It is rare that a studio adjusts the ceiling lights or even uses the floor fill lights for a show but doing so will improve the overall quality of your shows. For example, our studio often has guests who have both light and dark skin on the same show. Guests with lighter skin look fine as most lights and light set ups default to lighter skin. However, guests with darker skin should have extra light on the side, otherwise the skin can appear grayish and unnatural looking. Good lighting enables everyone to look natural and increases the overall quality of the production.
We were given great examples of how using shadows and darkness can help tell the story. We were shown video examples demonstrating how where the light was placed, (sides, back or front) in relationship to the subject, could create a story. For example, since the eyes follow the brightest point, wherever you place the light will physically lead the story in that direction. You can have a person seated and have a bright light to the left and the eyes will naturally be drawn in that direction. You can use light to create drama, fear or evoke other emotions you would like to use to tell a story. Using light and dark is a unique part of storytelling that is often overlooked.
Softer facial features
Everyone wants to look great on camera and depending on how well-rested your subject is, you can help them attain that rested look by how you light them. One strategy we learned was that if subjects have bags under their eyes, you can relax that look with correct light placement and a diffuser. In this case, you would place the diffused lights at ground level in front of the subject, pointing toward the face. This allows the face to soften, and it will not create a shadow on the face.
I was really looking forward to this session because I do a lot of editing for our studio, and I was looking forward to learning new techniques. This was another session with many good strategies so I will focus on the music because it was very interesting how they explained how important it is. Most independent producers have a music library available to them but how many know to correctly use music to create an engaging story?
The music you choose can create the overall mood of the production. Think about how the music from Sesame Street complements the series. Just as you would probably not put jovial music over a funeral scene, you would also not put typical funereal music over a children’s show intro. One thing I try to do when choosing music is to create an emotional feeling which is what the presenters recommended. One example that immediately comes to mind is Spike Lee’s use of jazz music in his movies. The tempo, the selection and the type of jazz music all align with what the audience sees. This not only helps to move the story along, but the music also helps tell the story.
Another thing mentioned in the session was that it is perfectly acceptable not to have any sound at all. I have used this when a sensitive subject has been addressed on an episode. Having no music is more impactful on what has just been viewed. The mind can focus on what has been seen instead of competing with music that does not add to the story.
As an independent producer, using the right type of music can let your audience know what to anticipate even before they see a frame, and silence can be just as powerful as a full orchestra if used correctly.
The presenters said that once editing is complete, then add the music. This was an excellent tip because until you have seen the finished product, you cannot fully expect to know how any music will fit in with the final edited video. You may have an overall idea of how the music will fit, but depending on the pace of the video, the end result can be quite different. Is the video capturing a national park with wildlife or is the video capturing an interview of a person graduating from college? The music for each of these videos is going to be different because the pace of each video will be very different. Another great suggestion was to set aside the entire project for a day and then come back to it. This is good advice for most projects but especially when you have been editing projects for long periods of time. This gives editors the ability to see things they may have missed by being so close to the project.
I have mentioned just some of the things I learned at the 2021 Eastern Video Expo that I will be placing in my virtual toolbox for future use, and I will be adding more tools as needed.
Dustin Dumas is the host and producer of Dustin’s Kaleidoscope and What’s Up Around Town. She is the station manager of South Orange Maplewood Television (SOMAtv) and serves as Vice Chair on the Jersey Access Group, External Relations Committee. She has been part of community television stations in Illinois, California and New Jersey and enjoys helping people tell their stories.
by Dimitry Mikhaylov, Vice President, Fair Lawn Television
We in Fair Lawn were just dreaming to switch our old analog plant to digital. In fact, the digital upgrade didn’t begin until 2019 when our old Leightronix server was suddenly dead, and we got a chance to replace all our outdated equipment at once. As late as 2019 seems, there are some surprising advantages to coming late to a new technology. Digital workflow was a mature, robust system that was adopted by broadcasters at every level, and we had the advantage of learning from all those who were on the bleeding edge of adoption.
The town management authorized a modest budget to accomplish our conversion, but as a small PEG channel we surely couldn’t afford the same equipment as the broadcast stations around the country. We knew that we needed to work with someone who truly understood the marketplace, someone who could design a facility that would do what we needed to do within our budget. We began talking to Varto and Yervant at Varto Technologies about our needs and it soon became apparent they understood both the technical requirements and the financial constraints that faced our project.
Our analog control room was in the basement of our Municipal building, but the meetings we needed to cover were on the second floor. This immediately presented a challenge. How could we get the video and audio we needed from the council chamber back to our control room without pulling multiple cables. Varto introduced us to the concept of using NDI technology. It would allow us to send all the video and the control signals to and from the three cameras in the council chamber to the control room on just one Cat 6a cable.
We purchased three PTZ Optics cameras for the council chamber and the Cat 6 cable allowed us to run power and pan-tilt-zoom control remotely from the control room over the same cable. To ensure reliable signal flow, Varto designed a standalone IT network to carry the Video over IP signals without relying on the existing network within the building. Once the signals reached the control room, they were converted to SDI and routed to a Black Magic 12X12 Router Switch and sent to a Tricaster Mini with an outboard control surface and Skaarhaj controller that is the heart of our studio. We added a 50-inch Samsung LCD Monitor as a multiviewer that allows us to monitor the feeds from the cameras and the preview and program feed from the Tricaster.
We were faced with a difficult decision regarding the nature of the audio feeds from the council chamber. We could have run them digitally over the IP network, but that would have cost a fair amount of money and required us to purchase a new audio board. We already had a single analog line that carried the mixed signal from the PA system in the council chamber to the control room so we decided just to use what was already there. We ran that feed into a Shure 6-port portable mixer and then into the Tricaster. This audio mixer was the only device we were able to use from our previous control room. Although our audio is still analog, the IP network that Varto installed will allow us to deliver digital audio to the control room in the future.
We also purchased a LiveU 2000 server in anticipation of the day when we will do remote productions in other places around the town. We experimented with the LiveU cell phone app, but we have not purchased a professional transmitter yet.
Now that we could produce a complete show with our new equipment, and we needed a new server to schedule live and pre-recorded programming and to run our community billboard. This was one of the most difficult decision we had to make. After carefully reviewing the marketplace, we decided on a Cablecast VIO server. As you know, there are many servers on the market and they all will allow you to program your station and send a signal to your cable provider. It became a matter of which system was easiest to program for our staff. The Cablecast interface was intuitive and the billboard was easy to program. In addition, while the pandemic hadn’t started yet, we were able to program both the station and the bulletin board remotely. Of course, this feature proved invaluable during the pandemic. While we liked the TelVue system a lot, the Cablecast server also turned out to be a bit cheaper than the other options. Their billboard software seemed to be a bit more advanced and the additional bulletin board services such as weather, news and traffic were included in their price. The other suppliers required additional payments for these services.
Ironically, now that we can make beautiful, digitally created HD pictures for the channel, we have to downgrade the signal with a Black Magic converter to a 16X9 SD signal to supply to our Altice cable provider. Luckily, we don’t have to downgrade the signal for our Verizon FIOS feed anymore. Hopefully we will be able to provide Altice with an HD signal too in the very near future.
Two additional points: Thanks to the team from Varto Technologies – the entire job, from the cabling to powering up the equipment, was completed in just 5 days. Of course, with all this new equipment, we needed training, and again Yervant provided us with necessary training until we were up to speed on the operation of all the new gear.
In addition to our linear cable channel, we now stream our council meetings live to Facebook once or twice a month, and we also now produce and stream a daily Russian Language program. In the future we hope to purchase a Cablecast Streaming server that will allow us to stream all the programming on the channel 24 hours a day.
Luckily, the entire job was completed before the COVID pandemic and with the new equipment, we can run almost our entire operation remotely. Physical presence at the station was needed only during live or zoom council meetings and for daily streaming.
While the upgrade was long overdue, we now have a digital facility that makes beautiful HD pictures at a price that we could afford. The installation was done professionally. All wiring was neat and the connections in our council chambers were all made with decorative wall plates for an aesthetically pleasing finish. Upgrading a facility is always a challenge, but with the help of the team from Varto Technologies, the process was painless, and the results were just what we needed at a price we could afford.