TV crew poses in stands

This year's NNPS high school football season – the 30th year of broadcasting by NNPS-TV – was definitely one like no other.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games were played in the spring and with many restrictions. Very few fans were allowed to attend the games at Todd Stadium, leaving family members, friends, and fellow students unable to watch and cheer for their team.

Thankfully, the NNPS-TV crew was able to step up their game and broadcast all the games on live TV and on YouTube.

The sports broadcast team was able to do this with a crew of only five people per game, a far cry from the usual production that includes reporters and electronic news gathering (ENG) in addition to camera operators and the technical crew working inside the TV production truck.

Price and Hedgepeth
Telecom Supervisor Ray Price and Telecom grad Brandon Hedgepeth use the portable studio in the booth at Todd Stadium.

The team used their portable recording studio, since it doesn't require a large crew or the truck. With the addition of a wireless transmitter, one of the cameras could be wireless, meaning the camera operator could get video from the sidelines for close-ups of the players and tight action shots. The other two cameras were in the stands with the cable coming down from the booth.

Because of social distancing, only one announcer was allowed per game.

The pared-down TV crew was led by Ray Price, who is Telecom Supervisor and Executive Producer and Director of the NNPS high school football broadcasts.

In addition to Price and the announcer, the crew was made up of recent graduates of the Telecom program:  Brandon Hedgepeth, Joshua Stuck, and Collin Smalls. Occasionally Price's middle-school-aged son, Elijah, served as Production Assistant.

Hedgepeth often handled the livestream in addition to operating a camera, and Stuck learned to use the wireless camera for close-up shots.

Price had to produce, direct, and run the switcher.

Rotating as game announcer were Greg Bicouvaris, Nate Milton, and Telecom Instructor Carl Daniels, Jr.

NNPS-TV Broadcast Engineer Greg Lesko was on hand for signal issues and troubleshooting.

Eleven games were covered this year instead of the usual four or five. The Telecom sports production team was asked by the NNPS Athletic Department to air all the games since attendance at the games was extremely limited.

Other nearby cities broadcast their games using only one camera showing the whole field, but the NNPS TV team wanted to do more, and found that using the wireless transmitter, their portable switcher (an ATEM Mini Pro from Blackmagic Design), and a handful of crew members, they could provide a quality multi-cam production.

According to Price, the athletic department and football coaches were very pleased to have the games available on TV and appreciated Telecom taking the time to do the broadcasts.

"I think some cities were jealous of our broadcasts," he joked.

Most of the games aired live on NNPS-TV, which can be seen on Cox Channel 47, Verizon Fios Channel 17, and via livestream on Roku and Apple TV, YouTube, nnpstv.com, and on the new NNPS-TV app. Two of the games were only on YouTube (livestream) because of School Board meetings airing at the same time on the TV channel.

Go to the Telecom student YouTube channel to see the recorded games on demand.