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The Deadline Artists

The Deadline Artists
Posted on 04/24/2018
Lakewood High School video instructor Adam Ronscavage oversees final program preparations in the Tiger TV control room minutes before air.The clock was ticking down to air as the staff behind Tiger TV was getting ready for another broadcast. Just like their professional counterparts; these students were faced with what seemed like an endless to-do list before going live. There were cameras to tweak, mics to check, and chroma key levels to manage. The flurry of activity was all being carried out under the watchful eye of video production instructor Adam Ronscavage, a mainstay at Lakewood High School for the past 17 years.

“It gets a crew working together to make sure that show goes off without a hitch. We’ve got a switcher, a teleprompter, sound, the anchor who writes, camera, and all those things kind of mesh together and it’s teamwork,” explained Ronscavage. “The people that put together the show, I let the students volunteer as they want to.”

“We all do a little bit of everything; sometimes we do music for the before, and after, sometimes we do teleprompter and switcher,” added Tiger TV staffer Madeline Melton.

“You have to be very strict with people otherwise they’ll start messing around, and that’s when mistakes start happening,” explained fellow Tiger TV staffer Anna DeLaet. “You have to have good communication with people, and that’s why we have someone behind the camera with the headset so we can talk to them and they can let the reporters know what’s happening and when they need to start talking and stuff.”

The show is a mix of daily announcements, feature pieces, public service announcements, and reflects a lot of student creativity. The most challenging days when the crew is tasked with doing it all live. With just a few minutes to go before air, they realized the program is missing a key element, and a three-person team was geared up and sent out to get it.

“The kids work so fast, and I’m like ‘could you go get a whatever?’ You know we need a ‘tiger growl’ today, and they go out and get it, and they work fast, and they’re like ‘yeah, ok let’s do it,’ and they get excited about it,” said Ronscavage.

Back to the control room they went.

“When it comes off, and everything works, like today, the sound was low on the ‘tiger growl,’ I said, ‘Put it in post and crank up the game and then bring it over and we’ll crank it up again,’ and sure enough it worked. I was like, ‘you know you guys problem solved, fast,’ and that, that’s cool. That’s when the problem gets solved, that’s what makes me the happiest because it’s, there’s always something,” said Ronscavage.

“It is a chance to get better like most things, you know, practice makes perfect, even though we are far from perfect. I feel like it’s a great chance to explore not just the announcements but to explore with writing with directing with sound and with editing,” added Melton. “It helps you, I guess, to see where you fit best, and that’s really, I think, important to us as individuals, figuring out where we work best.”

Tiger TV isn’t their sole focus; they also spend their time working on short films as part of the class. The best are recognized at the Jeffco Film Festival every year. Storytelling is at the core of all of it, as well as close friendships that can develop as a result of pressure-filled deadlines.

“I think that’s a cool byproduct of just working together and making a show work and saying, ‘hey, we made a TV show today,’” said Ronscavage.

See the JPS-TV version of this story here.

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