Minnesota High School Employs Broadcast Pix Slate 1000 for HD Production

Eagan High School in Eagan, MN, is using the Broadcast Pix Slate 1000 live video production system as the cornerstone of its HD production curriculum. In the school’s video production control suite, adjacent to its dedicated television studio, the Slate 1000 is employed daily to teach production skills and support many academic programs through the use of video.

“Our goal is to mirror broadcast industry standards and workflows,” says Paul Saxton, video specialist at Eagan High School. “We also want our students to become very media savvy adults, with an understanding of how to communicate using video as well as how the medium is being used to communicate with them.”

Saxton was shopping at NAB last year to replace the school’s GlobalStreams GlobeCaster system and advance to multi-format HD production. The Slate 1000, which was purchased from Alpha Video in Edina, Minn., arrived last fall.

“We couldn’t beat the price performance,” says Saxton. “Everything is in one box—the Inscriber CG, transitional DVE effects, monitoring, user-friendly interface, and the ability to handle a wide range of input/output formats in a tapeless workflow. I was particularly impressed with the Fluent workflow because our students can create video packages in one of the six editing suites, drop them into the Slate’s ‘inbox,’ and bring those packages to air just by hitting a button.”

Eagan High School’s signature weekly news show, Eagan AM, www.rschooltoday.com/eaganhs/eaganam. is produced entirely by students. The 12-minute live show is designed to have students write, shoot, and produce stories. “We have the students cover timely news and sports pieces, ranging from national headlines to local stories and events at the high school,” says Saxton.

Students produce field reports, edit news packages on Final Cut Pro, deliver the news with live graphics, and perform tasks ranging from news anchor to technical director. They even produce live interviews with newsworthy figures, such as recent Eagan High School alumni Laura Osnes, the star of Broadway’s South Pacific, and Natalie Darwitz, the U.S. Hockey Silver and Bronze Olympic medalist.

“One of our most exciting live interviews was with a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq,” Saxton said. “Using a satellite feed, we were able to have an honest and frank conversation with him. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the school.”

Principal Polly Reikowski is a strong supporter of the video program, but students help contribute to equipment purchases as well. “When we want to buy a new piece of equipment, we need to raise the money for it through creating business partnerships, shooting dance studios, anything we can think of,” says Saxton. “It can take years to save up.”

Eagan High School’s video facilities rival that of many small to mid-market broadcast stations. Besides the Slate 1000, the school has three Panasonic AG-HPX500 P2 HD camcorders and several Canon AH X1 HDV camcorders, plus prompters, IFB system, and AJA KONA HD-SDI capture card. An extensive network runs throughout the facility, with camera hook-ups in the school gym, theater, and commons so students can run live video back to the Slate 1000.

“We’re teaching our students top-flight HDTV skills using broadcast quality equipment,” says Saxton. “And if they choose to go into broadcasting, they’re very well prepared.”