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Tennessee Students Learn the Ropes of Television Production

Students in Middle Tennessee State University's (MTSU) Department of Electronic Media Communications are getting real-world television production training, thanks to the institution's new mobile HD production vehicle. The department's student-run production team is using the 40-foot, $1.7 million production truck to cover sporting events, award shows, and music and theater productions.

MTSU's mobile production lab is outfitted with "two Canon HJ18ex28B portable HD super-telephoto EFP lenses (with 2x extenders), five Canon KJ17ex7.7B portable HD ENG lenses, one Canon KJ10ex4.5B portable HD wide-angle ENG lens, and two Canon XF305 professional file-based HD camcorders," according to a statement released last week by Canon. The ENG and EFP lenses come with Canon Digital Drive units built into the handgrips, which enables the camera operator to program "iris settings, repeatable 'padded' zoom start/stop positions, steady and slow zoom creeps, and focus settings with no mechanical play or gear backlash."

The university uses the HJ18ex28B lenses during football games, to capture close shots in the end zone, according to Marc Parrish, director of technical systems at the university. "We use the HJ18ex28B portable HD super-telephoto EFP lenses during football games in the end zones," said Parrish, in the prepared statement. "They’re compact, yet fast enough to get enough light in them for our 'hero shots' of players and coaches." The lenses support a focal-length range of 28 to 500 millimeters (up to 1,000 millimeters with the built-in 2x extender) and optical speed of f/2.8 up to a focal length of 286 millimeters. The HJ18ex28B weighs less than 6 pounds and mounts to an HD camera without the need for mechanical support.

The production team uses the Canon KJ17ex7.7B portable HD ENG lenses with its main game cameras and its handheld HD cameras, Parrish said. "Those are used for our main game cams, where you don’t have to get the shot real tight and it can stay a little bit wider," Parrish explained. "We also use the lenses for handheld HD cameras on the field in football. In basketball, we use them for both handhelds and for the game cam." The KJ17ex7.7B, featuring new optical coating, is designed to reduce ghosting artifacts.

MTSU employs the Canon KJ10ex4.5B portable wide-angle HD EFP lens for live entertainment assignments, including videos, concerts, and performances in small venues. The lens's wide angle functionality, explained Parrish, enables the team to capture "everything into the picture even when the room isn’t very large." The lens also works on small jib arms, he said.

The university's Canon XF305 professional HD camcorders, used for shooting scoreboards and announcers in the talent booth as well as player interviews, come with Canon 18x HD L-series zoom lens with Instant AF, full manual focus mode with mechanical "hard" end stops, engraved distance markers, and a 35 millimeter equivalent zoom range from 29.3 millimeters to 527.4 millimeters. The six-pound camcorders, with MPEG-2 4:2:2 50Mbps XF codec, record full HD video to flash cards. The XF305's 4-inch, 1.23-megapixel LCD monitor can placed on the right or left side of the camera. HD-SDI output, genlock input, and SMPTE time code terminals on the camcorder's rear panel support multi-camera productions.

The XF305's genlock feature was important to MTSU, according to Parrish. “The genlock input is a primary reason we chose the Canon XF305 HD camcorders," he explained. "We can genlock them to our truck and not have to run the video from the XF305 through a frame sync. We run the XF305's in the booth because we can feed the signal from them back via HD SDI, and genlock it to our system."

Middle Tennessee State University was established in 1911 as one of three state schools for teacher training. The Murfreesboro, TN-based institution offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 80 disciplines.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at knamahoe@1105media.com.

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