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High School Students Dive into Media Production with Help from Digital Resources and AJA Gear

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High School Students Dive into Media Production with Help from Digital Resources and AJA Gear
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High School Students Dive into Media Production with Help from Digital Resources and AJA Gear

For the last few decades, U.S. school curriculum has centered on college preparation, but in recent years, parents, teachers and administrators have begun advocating for the inclusion of more professional skills-based training. Their vision is quickly becoming reality as more high schools invest in the technology and instructional staff to support more career-minded education, ranging from 3D animation to masonry, robotics and more. According to Texas-based AV Systems Integrator Digital Resources, one such field that’s drawn interest from the education community is news production and live event AV. 

Year on year, the company continues to see new clients requesting sophisticated on-campus studio builds that incorporate real-world media production equipment from companies like AJA Video Systems. Schools then harness the facility and equipment to train students on how to deliver daily news casts from start to finish, with students serving as the production crew, news anchor team, director/technical director and floor director. In addition to learning the tools and roles of the trade, they’re taught how to write story scripts; achieve the right voice quality, diction and timing; performance and pacing techniques; and more.  

Prosper Rock Hill High School in Frisco, TX is one of the many high schools embracing this methodology, and with help from Digital Resources, recently built a cutting-edge TV studio that its students use to produce and broadcast a live daily news show campus-wide. Similarly, Northwest Independent School District (ISD) in Fort Worth, TX, is using its Creative Media Production Academy, built by Digital Resources, to train students in 3D animation, live event production, broadcast, and more. Some students from the program have gained such valuable experience that they’ve gone on to land positions assisting proAV management for collegiate athletics and professional sports productions post-graduation. With educational outfits like Prosper Rock and Northwest ISD continuing to demonstrate the value that early media production training can provide, Digital Resources expects more districts and campuses to follow in their footsteps. 

Digital Resources takes a carefully curated approach to each project, selecting each piece of gear through the design and build process to ensure it meets the school’s needs. “Whether a student plans to go to college or enter the workforce after high school, there’s value in getting on-the-job experience, and there’s no better way to learn the tools of the trade than in a real-world setting,” shared Tim Bock, director of marketing and sales, Digital Resources. “We’re helping schools bring that broadcast studio experience to the classroom, including all the standard production equipment, and AJA gear is always a part of our designs. It’s a staple in most modern studio environments, easy for students to learn quickly, and highly affordable, which is ideal for schools with tight budgets.” 

A number of factors influence each of Digital Resource’s designs, including space, budget, instructor knowledge level, existing architecture and infrastructure. Although each setup varies, all studio blueprints feature a range of cameras, lighting, teleprompters, and custom set designs. A majority of the equipment is housed in an on-campus control room outfitted with Gigabit Ethernet and Fiber. There students can monitor every part of the production from graphics to credits and switching. As most schools currently produce and deliver in 1080p, Digital Resources incorporates two AJA Ki Pro Ultra 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD recording devices into each facility plan – one for master recording and playback and another for ISO recording. An AJA HELO H.264 streaming and recording device is also standard for streaming content to the school’s website and social platforms like Facebook Live, while an AJA KUMO 1616 router is included for routing signals in and around the studio without any degradation. 

Bock concluded, “Flexible, reliable, and plug-and-play gear is our go-to, which is why we continue to use Ki Pro Ultra. Schools love that they can create, record and deliver HD, 2K and 4K out of the box, and that post-show, they have instant edit-ready files to pass off to students training in post with tools like Avid, Adobe Premiere, or Final Cut Pro X. Likewise, HELO packs a ton of functionality into a small box, plus it provides a simple backup recording for archival simultaneously to its live stream, and KUMO is ideal for testing and measuring signals. Our AJA gear solves a host of challenges in the production pipeline, so that schools and students have less to worry about and can devote more focus to making fun, creative content.”