Behind the scenes of the morning announcements

Richer Huynh, Feature Reporter

Every morning, students and teachers throughout the building watch and listen to the morning announcements for around five to ten minutes, and proceed with their day. Despite the daily and seemingly quick process, the operation and its technology are slightly more complex than they seem.

The technical aspects behind the morning announcements include a variety of hardware and software. The main video components are two Canon Vixia camcorders and a Tricaster DUO, a powerful computer used for live production and broadcast. The main audio components are a compact sound board, three lavalier microphones, and the PA system.

The tech crew consists of four students; freshman Kaitlyn Steinhiser, sophomores Victoria Myhand and Alexis Alicea, and junior Richer Huynh.

“It’s a process that really takes a little bit more analysis than expected. I come in a little earlier every morning and turn on the camcorders, TriCaster, and soundboard,” said Myhand. The challenge, according to Myhand, comes when it is time to broadcast. “My job during the live production is mainly operating the video. At this point, it’s pretty much a simple concept and procedure to me, but in theory and initially, it’s a bit more complicated,” says Myhand. Shortly after the bell at 7:25 AM, Myhand selects and plays a special opening sequence, made in Adobe After Effects, before the actual announcements. These selections depend on the song and the day of the week. For example, the opening sequence that uses the song “Telegraph Ave.” by Childish Gambino is played every Monday.

TriCaster DUO Software User Interface
TriCaster DUO Software User Interface

After the opening sequence, Myhand must activate the live matte, or color key. The live matte works to key out, or remove, hundreds to thousands of very slightly distinct shades of any given color. The color key, in this case, serves to key out the green screen behind the two newscasters. In place of the green screen is a special background designed by MCHS alumnus and former technician Ryan Krueger.

Throughout the announcements, Myhand switches the video to the American Flag for the Pledge of Alliegence, and to the secondary camcorder to broadcast a third party. Common parties include  Principal Mr. McCollumAssistant Principal Mr. Goralcyzk, and Officer Campbell.

“I double as a newscaster, so my job is basically to make Victoria’s job easier on most days,” said technician and newscaster Alicea. Alicea, on days that she does not appear as a newscaster, operates the audio and camcorders. She balances the volume levels for the microphones using the soundboard, mutes idle microphones, and adjusts, either through panning or zooming, the camcorders and tripods for clean, poised video frames and composition.

Recently, the crew has brought in freshman Kaitlyn Steinhiser as an “intern” technician who assists in operating sound.

“The announcement crew is very dedicated and works hard every morning. We’ve had to learn many things on our own and the crew is always willing to put in extra time to make the program successful,” said program sponsor, Mr. Frank Haughee.

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