The drama lady is going to kill me.

My fledgling video class has taken over the drama room, and I have my sights set on acquiring more classroom real estate from the music department. Soon I will control more classroom space than three or four “regular” teachers.

Quick refresher goes here. In a comic book, the main character occasionally  talks to him or herself for awhile, and catches up those readers who may not be so loyal as to have read every issue. So it’s not strictly a flashback; more of a refresher or a  “previously on” sort of thing. And so, previously on mrC’s blog…

 I’ll be “teaching” (more like figuring how to teach) a seventh grade elective class in video production. I’ll have one period of seventh graders and $70,000 worth of computers and video equipment.  Our share of the fees charged to our local cable company for their franchise to extort the community has been sitting in the bank for years collecting interest. We’re the only secondary school left in the district who hadn’t spent their money. In order to spend the money, you have to give the cable company footage to fill up the time on the mandatory cable access channel, and usually that means an elective class in video production. Nobody here has been dumb enough to take it on until now.

Now we’re almost three weeks in and I’m STARTING to get a handle on things. Here’s the loot list so far:

We have 14 boss workstation computers (with $300 video card upgrades on backorder) each with an absolutely gorgeous 27″ lcd monitor. Yes, 27″. There’s a lot of drooling when people come to visit. I also bought 10 8 foot tables (with cable trays) to put ’em on. There are the 30 rolly chairs that I am regretting the purchase of on a daily basis. Two light boxes like they use for school photos  and video production and two other smaller light set-ups. A green screen set-up. Thirty Flip HD cameras (yes, thirty) and ten chargers. Five Panasonic HD camcorders with internal 220 gig hard drives they record to. No more tape or sd cards or whatever. Six tripods and a dolly, all first rate. I have a studio quality (read: 2-3 grand) camcorder coming soon for newscast work. Batteries, chargers, cables, plastic boxes. A very groovy color laser printer. LCD projector (mounted but not hooked up yet). ThunderBass (I made that one up, but that’s what they sound like) speaker systems for each computer. I think I might send a lot of those back and order more than the 7 sets of headphones that I have. I can’t cope with the Windoze 7 bliiing thundering at me 28 times a day as they log on and off, not to mention the sound effects and such. I also bought video editing software, and a killer two-monitor system for yours truly’s desk.

Now I realize I need to buy:
A lot more microphones, booms and stands for the mics, clapboards (“Scene 2, Take 3… Action!”), lots more headphones like I said above,  an audio mixing board (that’s what I’m stealing the extra room for–audio production), lots more plastic boxes, more tape for my labelmaker, cables of every kind, 17 padlocks for the doors to the room.

There are obviously ongoing costs, but I still have a lot of cash to spare. A LOT. Once we get as far as doing school newscast stuff, there will be another buying frenzy.

And that’s the thing. This quarter’s kids are doing as much unpacking of boxes and building of tripods and tables and connecting of cables as they are video-related activities. By the fourth quarter, I’ll have it dialed and most of the equipment will be here, and the 10 weeks for those kids will look quite a bit different from Quarter #1. Oh well. They seem to enjoy all the unpacking and building and having guys from IST hovering over them trying to fix all the issues I’ve been having with the new computers. Somehow I rate a two man IST posse to fix my issues on this project. PEG (Public, Education, and Government Access) must be a magic word.

Back to the poor drama lady.

The previous drama teacher was here for 25 years and we had five periods a day of drama. Two big productions a year, as well as a bunch of skits and previews and such at assemblies. She amassed a vast collection of  costumes and props and cameras and books and masks and… the list goes on. Even a record player and a collection of soundtracks and sound effects. Every cabinet in t room is packed and there is even a whole separate room full of more costumes and props.

She left it all behind when she retired three years ago. Now we have a part-time pe teacher with one period a day of Intro to Drama on the quarterly wheel. But we still have all the stuff. So this week, my yahoos started plowing through it, looking for props for their first 10-second videos, and left the place a shambles.

We are now working out a checkout policy.

Phew, 850 words?! See you later.