NewTek, AAG in Search of All-American Video Crew

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl regularly salutes the nation’s top high school football players, cheerleaders, and marching-band members, but this year, the game will also recognize the nation’s top high school video-production talent. All American Games (AAG), which produces the Bowl, and NewTek are sponsoring a competition to form the “All-American Video Crew,” which will have a hand in producing the All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 8.

“For the last few years, NewTek has asked if they could bring local students down to get them exposure during the live streams,” says AAG VP Kate McGuinness. “We love that idea, so this year, we decided to work together, and, instead of just bringing down some local students, we are making this a national opportunity to bring down the best there are. Having students behind and in front of the cameras is really a celebration of what the Bowl is all about.”

All Production Types Welcome
High school seniors from across the country are eligible to submit video entries showcasing their work in video production, no matter what role they played in that production. A panel of NewTek executives who have made a living in television production will select four students to form the All-American Video Crew, travel to San Antonio, and participate in multiple aspects of producing coverage of the All-American Bowl.

“The judging criteria are going to be very simple,” explains Philip Nelson, SVP of strategic development for NewTek. “In their entries, students will state what their role was in that production. We’re going to judge the work based on their role. The thing about live production that makes it exciting is, it’s a team effort. Unlike an edited piece, where one person could do everything, nine times out of 10, if it’s a live production, there’s a team behind it, so we’re allowing the students to tell us what they did.”

Unlike other competitions, Nelson says, there will be no check list of criteria that the judges are looking to assess, because what makes an outstanding technical director is very different from what separates a superior graphics operator. Simply put, the judges are looking for the next generation of live-production talent.

Hands-On Experience
The winning students will travel to San Antonio, where they will participate in a NewTek boot camp to get them up to speed on how to operate the TriCaster live-production system and 3Play slow-motion and instant-replay system. Once they are trained, the winners will run cameras, operate the 3Play system, work on graphics, and be involved in almost every aspect of the live streams of pre-game, halftime, and post-game coverage of the All-American Bowl (the game action will be televised on NBC and cannot be streamed by AAG).

“On Sunday, we have the Youth All-American Bowl, which is the top seventh- and eighth-grade talent from around the country, and the winning students will be doing all of the production work on that game also,” McGuinness says. “We will have a director to call cameras and a producer to make sure the ads are running, but, otherwise, the kids will be operating everything.”

The contest winners will also have a chance to tour the NBC Sports production truck and go behind the scenes on the set of MTV documentary series The Ride.

“This contest really increases our celebration with an even greater high school presence in San Antonio,” McGuinness says. “This game started years ago with football players; then, it evolved into bringing marching-band members and cheerleaders into it. This will be the next piece of the weekend. The idea that you can gather all of this incredible talent together on one project is great.”

“Our goal with this contest,” adds Nelson, “is that this becomes a prestigious award for high school seniors to win that can springboard them into live event production.”

All Entrants Welcome
Contestants need to complete and submit an entry form and upload their video clip to YouTube. The entry form, along with a full set of rules, can be found at The deadline to submit entries is Friday Nov. 19.

“I really encourage students to apply, whether they come from a small program or a big program,” McGuinness says. “It doesn’t take an expensive camera or an incredible production suite in your school to produce great work; it just takes a video camera, some drive, and some imagination.”

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