TV Production Competition | Print |
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To borrow the title of the mid-80's sitcom, the 2010 SkillsUSA National Television (Video) Competition could be best summed up with the phrase "Growing Pains." Our contest continues to expand both in terms of the sheer number of teams arriving in excitement for the once-a-year challenge, as well as growth pains regarding the continual transformation of the contest to reflect our continually changing industry.

As our contest orientation meeting kicked off on Tuesday afternoon (June 22nd), contest chair Michael Crenshaw (Weaver Academy-North Carolina) and myself (Randy McWilson-Missouri) were greeted with the beaming faces of exactly one hundred contestants. With 39 teams of secondary competitors, and 11 post-secondary medal-hopefuls, our facility was straining to accomodate the people, tables, chairs, editing computers, cameras, tripods, power strips, and miscellaneous equipment scattered throughout. Looking out across the post-production platform landscape, we observed that Apple continues to dominate, with a full 75% of the machines (both towers and laptops) being Macs, and most of those running some version of Final Cut Pro, with Adobe Premiere Pro running on most of the PCs, with a few machines sporting Avid or Vegas. 

On Wednesday June 23rd, production, day, the competition was hot, but the weather was hotter. Both divisions had challenges that required the majority of the footage to be acquired outdoors. With heat indices approaching 105+, the teams hit the streets of two distinct and distinctly appropriate regions of the city. Secondary teams were challenged to produce a 60-second TV/web spot that would encourage more people to visit the (fairly) new Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City. With eight blocks of shops, diners, and other attractions, there was no lack of eye-candy for the final production.  The post-secondary teams headed further south to invade the historically famous Country Club Plaza.  Their challenge was similar: produce a 60-second spot to increase traffic to what has been called arguably the oldest shopping mall in the world (established 1923). With elaborate Spanish architecture, blooming flowers, and beautiful fountains as attractive backdrops, the teams hit the beat.

As the lead line of this article proposed, the pains of change were in the air, and this was most noticeable on Thursday, the day of post-production. With a definite nod towards our ever-changing industry, one of the biggest changes in this year's competition was the move to eliminate tape as the medium for team project submission.  All 50 teams were given a USB flash drive on which to put a Quicktime file containing their final video for the judges to view.  This decision was based upon industry trends, as well as the fact that almost all of the disqualified videos from last year's competition were due to difficulties in exporting finished videos out to tape. This change to a file-based output, though difficult, was a success, with the number of videos making it in by the deadline being increased greatly.

Some consider Friday morning to be the highlight of the competition week, as we showcase all of the submitted videos for the general public to view.  But the Showcase is not the only draw of the Friday gathering. Due to the popularity of the 2009 Advisor Debriefing meeting, we once again assembled all interested instructors and advisors for a one-hour open session prior to the Video Showcase. A wide variety of topics were covered, but the focus of praise and grief was the switch to the Quicktime file-based submission process. A healthy discussion of various codecs and other important details ensued, but the lively conversation had to be cut short to begin the Showcase which was well-received.

The 2010 SkillsUSA National Television (Video) Competition is now a footnote of history. Change is in the air, and change is never easy. But for those of us involved in the ever-changing media industry, change is not only necessary, it is an everyday fact..indeed, we cannot survive without it.

Randy McWilson is the Digital Media Instructor at the Cape Girardeau Career & Technology Center, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He has aB.A. in Mass Communications from Southeast Missouri State University (1991)and has been teaching digital media since Aug. 2000. National Education Team for the Television (Video) Production Contest for SkillsUSA Nationals. Coordinator for the Missouri State SkillsUSA contest in Television (Video) Production.

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