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Sutter High students gain pro-quality broadcast experience
NewTek donation opens door to livestream home football games
Watch Sutter High's next home game livestream broadcast online at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sutter-huskies.
A technology donation to Sutter Union High School is proving that broadcasting football games isn't just for the NFL anymore.
Thanks to a company called NewTek, based out of San Antonio, Texas, Sutter High now has the technology to broadcast all of its home games over the Internet on the video-streaming site Ustream.tv.
"This is just like a regular football broadcast," said Doug Ahlers, a teacher at the school who oversees the students who operate the equipment. "We wanted grandparents, aunts and uncles to be able to see the games, even if they can't be here."
The equipment in question uses a device called a TriCaster. The TriCaster allows the students to switch between the four cameras on the field for the broadcast. The production also uses a piece of equipment called 3Play, which feeds replay video clips to the TriCaster.
NewTek donated all of the equipment, which costs about $85,000. Jim Plant, a graduate of Sutter High, is the head of the company.
"It's just like watching a game on Fox or NBC," said Randy Page, director of the Regional Occupational Program and Career Technical Education, which oversees the broadcast. "The kids are calling all the angles, doing all the sound. ... It's pretty close to a professional production."
While the broadcast falls under ROP's umbrella, the school doesn't consider it a formal class yet. So Ahlers recruited eight to 10 students.
"They're still learning, but they are trained," Ahlers said. "All (of the broadcast) is student-done. I help them get it set up and running, then just turn them loose and watch the game."
Among the students is senior Michael Buell, who does most of the switching, choosing which shot will look best.
"I like doing it," he said. "I was thinking about doing something more with it professionally. I have a lot of fun with it."
Omar de la Riba and Chelsea Greer, also seniors, operate two of the cameras, which are positioned in the end zone, at the sidelines and on top of the broadcast tower.
"I stopped playing football, but I wanted to be a part of it," Omar said. "I like being out there, up close. ... I might pursue a career in this."
"I really like doing it," Chelsea said. "I like working with technology. ... I hadn't thought about doing this as a career specifically, but I would like to definitely do something with technology."
"They're all learning skills that are marketable," Page said. "I can see all of them turning this into a career."
Ahlers hopes to turn operating the broadcast into a class in the future, ideally dividing the students into teams and having them cover school events.
"One of the things you realize with a project like this is that if you cover all of the events, you'll never go home. It's given me a new perspective on the school," Ahlers said.