Years ago, Michael Peck, a high school teacher, wanted to offer something more to the students at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, California. He started out teaching business but wanted to provide students with another creative outlet. So, he went to the administration and proposed a video production class. Now, years later, Pleasant Valley High School is equipped with a fully functioning video production studio that utilizes high-tech equipment. Recently, he had an opportunity to test out the Canon CR-N300 PTZ camera in his studio.
The early days
Michael essentially started a program, the PV House of BLUE, from scratch with practically no video equipment.
“I was basically starting from scratch from a business computer lab with no cameras, no film equipment and no curriculum. It was a lot of work and took a lot of creativity.”
When Michael first started his video production program at Pleasant Valley High, he had very little equipment at his disposal. “I think we had three cameras in the class the first year, which we shared amongst 30 to 34 students.” On top of that, the editing software was rudimentary at the time. Now, it’s a whole different story. “If you can believe it, right now in my gear room, there’s probably 25 to 30 cameras in there,” including the Canon CR-N300 PTZ camera.
Starting out, the coursework was basic. The program started with just one class. Now, the program offers a four-year pathway, emphasizing college readiness and career development. Michael, and the program he developed, give his students the best chance for future success in the industry.
“I know for a fact many of my students get opportunities here that they would have never had. A lot of them are now set up for post-secondary education or a career based on what they’ve seen, experienced and learned here.”
In creating a program focused on video production, Michael also created a new creative outlet and program where students can feel like a part of a team. His students participate in state competitions and typically do really well.
“There’s a lot of recognition, and there’s a lot of value to the program. The kids feel really proud to be a part of a team. This is kind of like my own team. Even though we might not be in the spotlight like some of the sports teams, we work just as hard, and it feels good to be successful.”
Thus, Michael has created a multi-dimensional, four-year program where students can develop and see success across many areas.
Four years of development
So, what does the development look like for these students over the course of four years? Developing a comprehensive, four-year program isn’t easy. “Teaching production classes is and can be very difficult,” he says.
When freshman students first start in Michael’s video production program, they begin with the basics. We’re talking about the basics of the basics.
“I teach Adobe Premiere Pro to my freshmen in Intro to Multimedia. We’re literally just learning how to open apps, how to move files and how to rename things. A lot of kids don’t get that experience with technology anymore.”
He goes on to explain that most places and schools use Google Drive in the classroom because it’s easy to use. Everything is accessible and easy to find. However, this kind of storage and file management doesn’t transfer over to video production.
“There’s a lot of learning that has to take place around file management, hard drive systems and networking — and where you put files and how to keep them organized for the best workflow.” From there, it’s just a step-by-step process.
By the time the students are seniors, their skills are much more developed. The program is really about continual growth. The goal is for his students to obtain the knowledge they gain throughout their four years in the program.
By the time the students reach their senior year, they work on more advanced projects.
“… Four years later, during their senior year, they are making music videos, documentaries and short films,” Michael says.
One of the biggest projects his students work on is a short film. They work in groups of four, and each plays a part in the production. They all have their primary roles: the director, the screenwriter, cinematographer and editor. They also have to write an original script.
Putting his students in these kinds of projects, especially group-focused projects, gives them an idea of what it’s like to work with others during production in the real world.
Michael also has his senior students develop a portfolio of their best work. He has them create a media reel and a biography with their professional photo. He also has them create a resume and filmography of all the videos they made during their time in his classes. He has them put all of this on their own website.
Ultimately, Michael wants to set up his students for success. Creating work that applies to the real world, beyond high school, is what helps drive and motivate his students.
Expanding students’ capabilities
When it comes to the video production program at Pleasant Valley, Michael is always looking to expand the students’ knowledge, as well as the equipment they have access to.
“I’m always looking to prepare the kids for real-life work. That’s why we expose them to all of the aspects and types of video production.”
Preparing his students for various aspects of video production means offering them access to as much equipment as possible. This includes editing software, lighting, audio equipment, and — of course — cameras. Over the years, Michael has obtained all of the equipment necessary to help his students reach their full potential.
“We have the tools, the hardware, we have the cameras, we have the lenses, we have the microphones, we have the lights. Then, we give it to the students and see what they can do. That’s where we’re at in the studio.”
Where the Canon CR-N300 PTZ comes in
“We’re always looking for ways to expand our capabilities. That’s where these PTZ cameras come in. There isn’t much these cameras aren’t capable of,” he says, referring to the Canon CR-N300 PTZ.
The Canon RC-IP100 joystick controller allows Michael and his students to control the camera’s pan, tilt and zoom functions. They can create preset shots and adjust the exposure. It also has a touchscreen for intuitive use.
“We’re able to use the PTZs in every corner of the studio. They can be used for our green screen and can easily switch to the other side of the room.”
Currently, they have two PTZ cameras. They can control up to 100 cameras, so Michael is sure they won’t outgrow them.
“The PTZ cameras allow us to conduct multi-camera productions, be it live or live to tape. We can even use them to livestream.”
The cameras allow for shooting in 4K and have multiple slots and outputs, which Michael finds quite useful.
Going above and beyond
Overall, the Canon CR-N300 PTZ goes above and beyond when it comes to Michael and his student’s needs.
“The Canon CR-N300 PTZs are great. They meet my student’s needs and help prepare them for the future.”
Learn more about the CR-N300.