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Schooled on tricks of the video trade



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Kylee Haase prepares to film a student as he jumps into the Clarkston High School pool. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
March 02, 2011 - Senior Ivan Blade sunk the camera into the pool at Clarkston High School as his classmates held their breath and went under the water.

After a few moments, they came back out and Blade pulled the camera back out, safe and dry in its sealed plastic bag.

As many wonder about how movies film scenes underwater, the Media Video Production class taught by Scott Banks was learning and experiencing it first hand.

"They are good kids doing cool stuff," said Banks, explaining the class is divided by groups and experimenting with different ideas and how to convey them using video. "I show them technology and how to use the equipment."

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Some of the ideas involve skits and performing special effects in front of the green screen sharing space with the school's television studio.

"Being in the class and around the equipment has helped," said Blade, from Banks' fifth hour class. "Before the class I hadn't done anything like this. I had never done visual design or used the editing programs. Anything I can do now is a result of taking this class."

What he can do is take 5-10 hours of film and cut it down to a piece four minutes or less.

He created a water conversation Public Service Announcement complete with effects and a professional look. He also interviewed three people for a piece on diversity.

While he was helping classmates with camera work, senior Barbara Walker was in one of the editing rooms with her group putting together a piece, "My Blackberry is not Working," from a BBC skit about a man taking a Blackberry to the fruitstand because it's not working.

"We basically made it as a skit to work out some camera angles," she said. "It is practice. We are basically editing, cutting and putting all the clips together for a 2:05 segment."

The video production and television classes also shoot morning announcements, commercials for the high school's clubs and organizations, and short pieces.

"Each group might make segments to put into the basketball bit like interviewing the coaches and the players. They put it in during halftime," said Banks. "Instead of just letting the camera run and just watch people walk around."

Banks teaches the students what they need to know in the real world.

"I don't want to focus on basic skills because these kids are smart enough and learn quick," he said. "Everyone should be challenged all the time."

"It's not a textbook-based class," Blade added. "You aren't just working with a template and copying what someone else has done. I can be creative and make the videos I could potentially get paid to make."

Blade is looking at going into video production after he graduates.

"I have a friend who took media classes here and he is a professional now. He has worked for the Big Three and all kinds of people," he added. "His stuff is just ridiculous. He can do anything."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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