by Carter Gehm on December 8th, 2014

Recently the varsity football season came to an end, and with it came the end of the 2014 Video Crew season. Video Crew is a project that a group of passionate Westlake TEC members has been working on for over a decade. It has evolved greatly over time, but the general idea has always been that a crew of around 24 comes together for every varsity football game, be it home or away, and records a professional broadcast to air on television.
I personally have had the unique opportunity of being one of the few people to have been a member of the  video crew since my freshman year, something that very few students have the opportunity to do. This year, my third year on video crew, I feel that we had some catching up to do at the beginning of the season with the ten new members who joined us this year. It’s strange having teach someone else all that you've learned, and that was an adjustment I think all of the older members were having to deal with. We struggled a bit with a newer crew but everyone stepped up, worked hard, and managed to improve immensely over the past four months. It amazes me how much better we are now compared to back in August when we started our training, especially since we had to overcome the challenge of a very new group. Since I held the position of broadcast director, I was able to observe just about every crew member in their positions and really see how much each and every one of them has improved. Based on our success this year, I can’t wait to see how well we do next year.
One thing that makes our broadcast so high quality is the specialization we practice. Just like the football team, we have one or two positions that we learn as much as we can about and then pass on that knowledge to the younger members before we leave. Personally, I think that this was a rebuilding year. That was what this year was all about: passing on all that knowledge you had gathered over the years and teaching it to newer members. Its great if you know how to work a camera really well, but it doesn’t help the program if you graduate without ever teaching anyone how to be as good, or even better, than you are. With out the constant training of newer members, we would be unable to maintain the high quality of work that we pride ourselves in so much. Next year is going to be absolutely amazing because of all the hard work that everyone put in this year.
        As far as the actual season goes, we did an excellent job. As I am looking back through our footage while editing the highlight video from this season, I see no shortage of good shots. I’m really impressed with everyone and  I think our camera operators did an excellent job of capturing plays and color shots. There hasn’t been a play yet that we didn’t capture with at least two cameras. It’s exciting to see that we no longer have an issue there, when it has been a problem in past seasons. 
        This year, the football team got a new coaching staff and the transition hasn’t gone without its bumps in the road. With the previous coaching staff we were encouraged to get shots of both the players on and off the sideline, as well as shots of the coaching staff. This year was another story. Coach Dodge is different than past coaches in that he doesn’t want us distracting the players what so ever. This means that we have had to back up from the players and film them only from far away. I see where he is coming from, but I hope we can improve our relationship to the point where there is a mutual trust between us, and he knows that we can safely film his players without causing distraction to the team. The close up shots of players' faces look great and it will be a shame if we can’t get them anymore. Hopefully we can mend that relationship and continue to broadcast excellent football, but for now we will just have to see how we can adapt to these new circumstances.
​All things considered, we had a great season and I look forward to seeing what next year has in store for us!

by Conner Beasley on November 10th, 2014

Recently I had the opportunity to interview a former president of the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew, Dylan Randall.  Dylan was very active in the Technical Theatre program for all four years of his high school career and served as president during his Junior and Senior years. He is currently working towards his doctorate degree in Physical Therapy at Rosalind Franklin University, outside Chicago. Here are the results from our conversation:

What year did you graduate Westlake High School?
“I graduated in 2006.”

How did you get involved with Technical Theatre and the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew?
“When I was in 8th grade and applying for my high school classes, I wanted to do computer animation as an elective.  I had put technical theatre down as an alternate because I did not completely know what it was. It turned out I got my alternate elective rather than my primary choice, and ended up in the tech theatre class. So it wasn’t even intended. “

How many years were you an officer?
“I was an officer for three of the four years I was involved in Westlake TEC.”

Did you stage manage any major productions and, if so, what was that experience like?
“My sophomore year I stage managed Brigadoon, which was that year’s musical performance. This was my first opportunity to lead a large crew. I remember thinking about the potential to make some really noticeable mistakes. I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about cues, worried about making mistakes. It really opened my eyes to the fact that I have to trust my crew and know that if I did my part, they would follow through and do theirs. It was really cool seeing all our preparation from rehearsals spring into action on production day. It taught me how to work through issues. During one of our performances, a wireless microphone failed, and we all communicated well and worked together to overcome that difficult situation. Everyone performed their job flawlessly, and the audience didn’t even know anything had gone wrong. “

What are your thoughts about becoming president junior year?
“At first it was a little intimidating knowing that I would have to gain the respect and lead people both younger than me and older than me. I learned that doing so was possible and I proved to myself that I could do it. I liked having a second year to learn from my mistakes and build on it. I had a second shot at it and could improve from what I did the previous year. “

What have you done since you graduated high school?
“Since I graduated high school, I went to Brigham Young University, where I was majoring in Theatre and Film. After my freshman year, I spent two years in Sao Paolo, Brazil with my church being a missionary from 2007 to 2009. After that I returned to BYU and switched majors and began taking Pre-Med classes. The year before I graduated BYU, I got married to Kara Butler, a wonderful girl from BYU. Currently, I’m getting my doctorate at Rosalind Franklin, outside of Chicago. “

Looking back on your four years in the Technical Theatre program, what was your favorite memory?
“Probably my favorite memory looking back was my junior and senior year when I got to lead newer members and teach them everything that I had been taught, then getting to see them step up and succeed.”
How did your four years in Technical Theatre affect your life after high school?
“In TEC, there was something new to be learned every day. It has given me good communication skills, teamwork skills, leadership skills, discipline, the list goes on. Those are skills that you work on your whole life but TEC really gave me the foundation that I never would’ve had.”
What advice would you give students that are currently in TEC?

“My advice to students currently in the technical theatre program would be, remember that it’s not about the equipment. Throughout your life, technology will change and the technical skills you learned won’t necessarily benefit you directly, even though having a good technological base is a good thing. What really matters is the skills that you learned like how to work with other people, leadership skills, communication skills, self-discipline, etc. Those are skills that people will always need no matter how much the world changes. “

by Isaac Frost on October 22nd, 2014

A couple weeks ago, we hosted TEC 101 here at the PAC. For those who have never attended, allow me to explain: TEC 101 is an opportunity for members old and new to meet in a friendly and fun environment while also getting hands-on experience with the equipment. For many younger members, this is their first chance to get involved with the TEC program outside of the classroom.

Regrettably, I didn’t attend this event as a freshman but I’ve made sure not to miss a chance like this again. I had very different experiences each time I went. As a sophomore, I already knew most of the freshman; however as a junior, I saw numerous unfamiliar faces. Regardless of my age, I always look forward to TEC 101 as an opportunity to meet new people and learn something new.
Immediately after school, more than fifty TEC members gathered backstage to socialize and enjoy some snacks. After meeting with each other we broke the ice with a few activities to bring the group together then sat down in the theater to watch our Mission Statement Video. This video features several members of the TEC program and demonstrates the values that we strive to live by within the organization every day. From there, we split up into small groups and visited various stations inside the Concert Hall. These stations included audio, conventional lights, moving lights, camera and video production. All the stations were led by the TEC Officers and gave the younger members unique opportunities such as designing their own light look or hearing their favorite song on the PA system.
I taught the moving lights station, a unique opportunity considering the fact that we generally only use the moving lights rig for larger events in the PAC. This was also a chance me to brush up on the Hog (the moving light console) myself. As I discussed the functions of the board and our rig of light, I could see the curiosity in everyone’s eyes. This is what inspires me to continue with TEC. I get to see the future of the generations rise up and take their place like I am now. I can’t help but think back to when I had an older member teaching me these things, and it makes me think just how old I am.  

For the younger members, TEC 101 is seen as a chance to meet some people as well as get some hands-on experience with the equipment, but for me, for the older members: TEC 101 is an amazing opportunity to see the future of this organization. We'll just have to wait and see where the newer members take TEC in the next few years.

by Carter Gehm on October 15th, 2014

This week, the famous author of the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan, visited Westlake High School for a day of signing and speaking in celebration of his new book, The Blood of Olympus. Over 1,100 people attended the event to recieve a signed copy of Riordan's new book, some coming from as far as Mexico! Riordan spoke to the crowd about his writing history, his new books as well as his inspiration. I was one of the lucky few who had the privilege of working the event from behind the scenes, directly with Riordan. I was given the opportunity to see how Book People runs a book signing event in which we helped Riordan sign over 1,200 copies of his new book in under 30 minutes. We all shook his hand and discussed our favorite books of his. It was one of the most memorable events I have worked because of the huge influence his books had on my childhood.

by Audrey Bertin on August 31st, 2014

Every summer, several weeks before the start of the school year, 24 dedicated members of the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew meet to begin preparation for broadcasting the Chaps' varsity football games throughout the season on Time Warner Cable.
The students selected to participate in this program are recruited months in advance and must be completely dedicated to the task of producing broadcasts comparable in quality to those of professional television networks. Crew members are typically expected to dedicate three nights each week to preparing for and carrying out the video broadcasts. Just like the football team, as well as groups like Hyline, the marching band, and cheerleaders, we are often pulled out of class early on Fridays when we are traveling to an away game.
I came into the program for the first time this summer with a basic understanding of the basic operations of the Television Broadcast Crew. I was assigned, along with another newcomer, to the tasks of video engineering and cmoputer graphics. I understood the general idea behind my position, but my knowledge more or less ended there. Still, I was amazed when I walked into the Performing Arts Center on the first day of training to learn just how much was involved in broadcasting live football.
We began the first day with a brief history of the program, followed by seemingly endless hours learning the specifics of football, camera operation, and the layout of the facility from which we would broadcast home games. By the end of the day, my head was spinning and I was exhausted. Would I be able to make it through the week? I felt like I could really use a time out.
The next day was more of the same, but we started delving into the individual roles given to different crew members. Each of us learned what the other members were doing in order to better understand how we would fit into the big picture. Things became progressively easier as the week went on.
It was incredible to see the transformation of all the new members, myself included, happen so quickly, going from wide-eyed novice to confident team member. Because there were more new, inexperienced crew members this year than there have been in recent years, there was some concern about whether the group would be able to function as smoothly as in previous seasons. With that thought looming in the back of their minds, the team leaders of video crew were pleasantly surprised to find the opposite of what they had feared. By the end of the first week of training, although they had only just put their toes in the water, the new camera operators looked confident and capable. I, myself, went from knowing almost nothing to being able to take a camera output signal that had purposefully been altered to settings at wildly inappropriate levels, determine what was wrong, and remotely adjust the camera settings to obtain a high quality, visually pleasing image. 
At that point, summer training was almost over and I had to spend the next week mentally preparing myself to tackle the season opener, scheduled for Friday of the first week of school. Hopefully I would be able to take the new skills I had learned and contribute to a great first broadcast!
All in all, I had a great experience this summer transitioning to being a member of the Television Broadcast Crew. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the importance of teamwork for the success of the program. If any one person is not giving their best effort to help the rest of the group, the end result suffers. Without the dedication and commitment of everyone involved, it would be impossible for us to do what makes us so successful: putting on professional quality television broadcasts to entertain the dedicated fans of Chaps' football.

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