SVGU Profile: IUP puts students on frontline of sports production

By Carolyn Braff

When listing the nation’s top football programs, Indiana University of Pennsylvania is not the first college that comes to mind, but this Division II school is certainly among the elite when it comes to broadcasting. IUP’s student-run television station, WIUP-TV, produces a five-camera shoot for every football game, both home and away, from the comfort of a 1983 GNC Army box truck-turned-production unit, and Webcasts all of those feeds from the station’s facility in Indiana, PA. Under the direction of executive producer David Lind, 10 paid students form a talented crew that gains valuable experience each Saturday during football season.

“My truck was built in 1983 and it was on an army base until five years ago,” says Lind, who has spent 27 years working in production as a videographer, director and editor. “We bought it and refitted it with newer equipment. The roof leaks, so we have to put plastic up over the audio board, and we’ve had issues with the brakes blowing out, but it’s an adventure. That’s why I do it.”

The equipment in the 14-foot truck is not the industry’s most up to date, but it allows student operators to get their hands on the same type of gear the professionals use. Lind’s truck, which he equipped himself, houses a Sony DFS-700 switcher, Sony DSR-DR1000 hard disk recorder, DNF ST300 slo-mo controller, two Panasonic DVCPRO VTRs, a Soundcraft audio mixer, Compix Media character generator, and JVC and Panasonic cameras with Fujinon lenses, among other elements.

Training 10 students to produce a weekly five-camera shoot is no easy task, but Lind has his system down to a science. During basketball season, he puts out an open call for students interested in sports production, and the cycle begins.

“We usually get 10 interested students and by the time basketball season is over, there’s only two or three remaining who want to commit every Saturday of their fall semester,” Lind says. “It is an undertaking; we train the students a week before our first game, but the students are able to pick it up rather quickly and understand the process.”

Lind’s students generally stay committed to the production team throughout their collegiate careers, so at the beginning of each football season, he already has most of his team assembled.

“The director is normally a senior who understands the process,” Lind says. “I train the students on the camera, directing, and I have a great technician who trains other students on slo-mo, switcher, the graphics and the audio. The two hardest positions are camera and directing. I’ve got to teach them the flow of directing a sporting event and how to follow a football game, which is sometimes the hardest things for them to comprehend.”

In addition to airing on WIUP-TV, the productions are also broadcast on a local Comcast public station, a Comcast VOD platform, an Atlantic Broadband public station, and over the Web. The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference requires that every member school stream its football games, but IUP was the first to do so, partnering with Web service company Penn Atlantic to push out content.

“We have a great infrastructure here, and nobody else was Webcasting when we took the plunge,” Lind says. “They’re able to give me a large enough broadband pipe to send the feed out and then people subscribe to watch the games. We trained a student on how to run the equipment and these kids can pick up the stuff so easily, it’s simple to Webcast.”

In addition to streaming every football game, Lind’s team also broadcasts and streams IUP’s men’s and women’s basketball games, with the hope of expanding their coverage to other sports in the upcoming years.

“We can only do football and basketball,” Lind says. “I would like them to start doing baseball and volleyball but those are hard to crew because games start in the afternoon when there are classes still going on. And volleyball starts during the football season, which is just too much to ask without putting together another crew entirely.”

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