5th and 6th grade Austin Middle School students in Galveston, Texas produce a weekly news
broadcast for the campus. This is a technical review of a news broadcast video
retrieved from www.eschoolnews.com. The review will be in three parts:
preproduction, production, and postproduction.
In preproduction, ideas for the video are proposed and examined, a general concept is selected
(in this case, the concept is a news broadcast), a message or messages are
designed (in this case, there are multiple messages regarding news, interviews,
current events, and upcoming events), a script is written (could be a
storyboard), and a production plan developed. In the Austin Middle School news
video there is evidence of significant preproduction planning beginning with
the opening homage to broadcasting and continuing through the various news vignettes.
Each vignette clearly evidences audience consideration, costuming, any needed
props, sound and sound effects, and effective use of symbolism. We have no
information about the use of story boards, scripts, or shot lists. But, from
the quality of the production it is clear that these were likely a part of
Production is when the actual shooting takes place an action is captured on the camera
or on film. Production was clearly the most challenging for the students. The issues of
sound, lighting and camera work that appear in the video are most likely due to
the quality of equipment available to the students. In the opening scene in the
nurses office, the lighting is too bright. There doesn't be seen to be
effective use of the line of action and the eye level over the shoulder shot of
the girl patient was effective. The action that developed as the two students
left the office and proceeded down the hallway was marred by lighting and the
tracking camera being slightly too far behind. There was also some distracting
camera movement. The point of view at this time is "objective" with
the audience observing third-party action. All the shots through this vignette
were at eye level.
The opening news broadcast vignette shot at eye level in a side-by-side shot was effective.
But, lighting was still a problem with almost a halo effect around the subjects. The
transition to the group interview scene was good, all subjects were in the
scene, focus was a challenge, as was sound. The transition to the teacher
interview vignette was good; however lighting was again a problem. Sound and
the teacher interview was acceptable, but there was a lot of background noise.
The transition to Caleb's weather forecast was good. I didn't like the blue background and his
bright red shirt. Both seem to create lighting problems and halo effects. I'm
not sure the waist up shot was appropriate here. For example when he acted out
being blown by the wind, not being able to see his foot action detracted from
The transition from the news desk to the science fair was good. The opening shot of Zachary
and his fellow student again was waist up. I would've preferred a little closer
shot for the dialogue because there was way too much background showing above
their heads. The background noise did emphasize that it was a science fair, but
was distracting. This was true of the second science fair interview as well. I
guess my concern could have been solved had they zoomed in some to have the
waist ties shot filled most of the screen. Maybe they were trying to emphasize
the science fair material in the background. The awards being presented
vignette also was not centered in the shot. All the shots tended to be in the
bottom third of the frame.
The transition to the movie review vignette was good. Faith's review of The Race
to Witch Mountain was very good. The lighting and color were excellent. I really like
the background poster and her standing in front of it and to the side really
focused on the film poster. I also like the black background which made the
poster and Faith really the focal point.
The YouTube clip of the week vignette was hilarious. The guy with the fake skunk was lucky
somebody didn't punch him out. I love the older guy who just kept moving his
legs and not running away. Talk about laid-back and retired. The closing scene
with the two "reporters" waving was pretty neat.
The final quality of the video was the result of some good postproduction effort. The video was
edited well and flowed seamlessly. The students obviously gave a lot of thought
to what the final product should look and feel like. I didn't like the
inclusion of credits at the end of this science fair vignette. I did like the
inclusion of a permission from YouTube, but I'm not sure it really needed to be
part of the video.
Throughout the video that point of view was "objective" with the audience as
observer of third-party action. The dialogue shots did provide honest
expression and presentation to the viewer. All were shot at eye level, a neutral
angle. There were snow issues of camera movement crossing the 180 degree line
of action. There were no panning shots. There was the one tracking shots in the
opening then yet as the students ran down the hall and my only complaint was
the camera seemed to be too far behind the running students. There were no
craning shots. All dialogue shots were side-by-side and with both subjects
facing the camera the only over the shoulder dialogue shot was in the opening
vignette. I didn't see any low angle or high angle shots, 90° shots, use of
different heights or separation to build tension. There were no offscreen look
type shots or opposed shots.
The news broadcast concept is probably very enjoyable for the students. You can see how engaged
they are in the process and how much fun they were having.