Seize the opportunity the digital revolution and new video production tools make possible for you to tell your story to the world.
That's what Charles Murphy, a 70 year old television teacher at Roosevelt High School, an inner city public school in St. Louis, Missouri, tells his students.
For students in an urban environment, often underprivileged, this may seem like an overly optimistic message. But with a teacher like Mr Murphy who is continually looking into the future, who actively follows technology trends and finds innovative solutions to introduce into his classroom, these students are finding their voice, learning professional skills and becoming better problem solvers.
Mr. Murphy says, “The impact of the digital age is that it has democratized so much. Students can tell their stories themselves and they have tools that allow them to do it as well as anyone out there. With high definition streaming video they can share ideas all over the planet from a little school in St. Louis”
When Mr. Murphy first began his journey, he may not have realized where it would lead. He started with a few students and two analog cameras and a switcher producing the morning news. Over the years their small classroom operation slowly grew, adding more cameras, computers, routers and encoders and they began to stream live. But Mr. Murphy and the students had to overcome hardware problems to make sure their broadcasts kept going. “There were issues with the routers and encoders, which gave us problem-solving experience, but I kept thinking ‘I wish there was a simpler way to do this better.’”
During the summer of 2014, Mr. Murphy found an answer. Online he saw an ad for a turnkey streaming solution that claimed to package everything his class had been doing in one very portable machine. He began researching similar machines, focusing on capabilities and price points. He said he was looking for “a machine that would create a less problem-filled environment, but also one that has the professional features to teach kids professional skills.” The machine he found, the 1 Beyond StreamMachine, he says, is “a dream come true in a many ways.” Click Here to view one of their programs.
The 1 Beyond StreamMachine worked exactly as Mr. Murphy hoped it would. With 4 high-definition inputs, a powerful CPU and 2TB built in storage, they can live-switch between camera angles, add titles, switch to pre-recorded videos, incorporate graphics and social media all while recording and streaming over UStream or High School Cube. And students can practice with the same software on their laptops to learn the skills and then move to the 1 Beyond StreamMachine to do the live multi-camera broadcasts.
Portability was important because his class would take it, and their cameras, to their next broadcast, set up, shoot, and leave. It was that simple., They would bring it to sports games and to various classrooms around the school.
Mid-way through the year, they took advantage of a bundle offer from 1 Beyond: a set of 3 HD-SDI cameras (including a PTZ camera), tripods, carry case, field monitor and audio mixer, all for under $5000.
And when the cable access station downtown offered studio space to the advanced students, they boarded a school bus with the StreamMachine and camera bundle three times per week to produce interview shows in a real-world studio.
The program was so successful that at the end of the year, the superintendent of the schools told the class that the downtown cable access studio would be permanently devoted to the class’s broadcasting needs and they could install equipment there. Once again, Mr Murphy chose to purchase another 1 Beyond StreamMachine for this installation.
Mr. Murphy’s goal does not have an end in sight. In fact, he hopes it will never end. He wants his class and his students to be continuously improving. He’s done well so far, due in large part, he says, to “awesome equipment.” But also obviously due to his persistent energy and enthusiasm and technical vision and the opportunities he creates for students to use their skills outside the classroom on paid jobs that he finds for them. They also learn the value they can offer to the community: for the upcoming football season, the local cable provider has discontinued broadcasting High School sports. Mr Murphy’s students can fill the void and offer streaming video to their fans.
As the school and the community are beginning to see, a passionate teacher and one simple streaming machine can make all the difference in a student’s life. One of Mr. Murphy’s junior classes jumped from 12 students two years ago, to over 25 this year. Khalil Stone, one of the students in the class of 2015 Advanced Technology course completing his internship, described the StreamMachine to broadcast viewers: “The camera out there is streaming to this computer … it’s a 1 Beyond StreamMachine … And I’m going to set up a virtual set and I’m going to record and put on this live broadcast.”
Mr. Murphy’s dream, and 1 Beyond’s mission are being fulfilled. By finding ways to go beyond what is expected, innovating and building.,they are helping and sharing. And they are changing the way we conduct digital storytelling - no longer reserved for Hollywood companies or TV networks, anymore, but available to small St. Louis inner-city public schools, students, and teachers, just like Mr. Murphy.