CHADRON – Much like the school it now broadcasts, Chadron State College Live, the video and audio production component of College Relations, came from humble beginnings.
CSC Live provides live video coverage of select home athletic contests, campus events and music performances and it also produces original videos and audio files for marketing purposes. In 2015-16, CSC Live covered 76 events and had nearly 10,000 unique viewers.
Certainly those numbers are impressive, but the live productions haven’t always been the highest caliber.
Beginning in 2008, Chadron State College began broadcasting athletic contests through the online service, America One. However, streaming video was almost an afterthought to various other game management responsibilities. So, the former sports information office utilized a single camera – often borrowing the feed from the coaching staff’s game footage – tied into the radio broadcast of the same game to provide an audio component.
Since the online video streaming service required CSC to have a wired Internet connection for the video feed, some interesting troubleshooting opportunities occurred. Since the press box at Elliott Field didn’t have a network connection the sports information office was forced set up a filming station on the roof of Miller Hall. A student worker, often an undergraduate or redshirt freshman from the football team, operated the camera on the roof and followed the action. By hanging cables from the roof to an open window in a classroom 30 feet below, the camera was connected to a computer on the campus network. The audio feed came from a portable radio.
Daniel Binkard, a digital graphic designer at Chadron State and the de facto engineer for CSC Live, remembers assisting with setup for football games at Miller Hall.
“It was 2009 and we were setting up for a football game,” Binkard said. “We had some heavy snowfall for a couple days but we all knew the game was going to be played. So, we hauled snow shovels up to the roof to create a path for the camera station.”
Thankfully the weather didn’t interrupt any other filming operations, but the desire to showcase CSC and its various offerings to an online video audience became a priority for the campus and its administration. In 2012, buoyed by the support, College Relations purchased equipment to use in multi-camera productions.
Since then, CSC Live has taken off. During live broadcasts, up to four cameras are operated by student workers while others are busy working in the production room. In addition to the camera operators, CSC Live employs a switcher operator and a replay technician. There are also student commentators and Craig Conway, a publications technician and member of College Relations, provides graphic support.
“We might have one student worker or as many as six or eight for a full production” Binkard said. “We’ve built this into a system that runs pretty smoothly. We know our roles and as we train new workers they get to know their roles. The entire production process runs well. Giving our viewers and fans of the college a quality product is important.”
The CSC Live productions keep Binkard busy. Since 2012, he has been involved with nearly 300 productions consisting of athletic contests, musical performances, commencement and other events. In addition to providing engineering for those events, Binkard is in charge of programming and arranging the student workers’ schedules. He also works closely with Conway to develop graphics.
“Craig is very good at designing graphics, so most of the time he’ll show me something and then I’ll say: ‘Great, let’s use it.’”
While Binkard certainly appreciates the support of the administration and Conway, he knows the broadcasts wouldn’t happen without the assistance of students.
“CSC Live couldn’t happen without the help of our student workers,” he said. “They all do a great job with what we ask of them. It takes a burden off my shoulders and Craig’s as well, knowing we have a crew that does its job well. The students get something out of it, too. It gives them practical experience and they have a background that is useful as they explore careers in this industry.”
A large part of the practical experience is putting in the hours. Binkard, Conway and the other members of CSC Live work long hours preparing for production needs, including setting up and tearing down equipment, creating video graphics, building cable runs and conducting research for each event. All of that work doesn’t even include the actual event, which can take anywhere from two to eight hours.
“There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that Craig and I do prior to game days,” Binkard said.
Despite the weekend schedule and long hours, Binkard is proud of how CSC Live has grown in just four years.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “In the coming years, I think providing video content will continue to be big. The importance of our product is going to remain because the necessity of providing high quality content to our viewers is key. We receive compliments from parents and grandparents. Our commentators are visible at all of the games and they tell me multiple times they get thanked for what they’re doing. That means we’re on the right track.”
—Alex Helmbrecht, Director of College Relations