New VCS TV studio is a green screen for imagination


New Viera Charter School Radio & TV Studio/Video Production Lab coordinator Kristen Cook, left, interviews teacher Corey Power as teacher Scott Beaudry works out the kinks behind the camera in preparation for student use.

photo by Linda Wiggins

Life just got better for students who loved the Radio & TV Studio/Video Production Lab at Viera Charter School. 

Born in a second-floor science classroom last year, it has been moved and expanded to a first-floor lab that will be its own classroom, complete with a green screen backdrop, recording studio and video equipment, full lighting kit and five additional cameras and screens around the lab so all students can work on projects at the same time.

Last year, students took to the mic in the busy front office for morning announcements, and now they can video them in real time in the lab. Final touches are in progress to go from audio-only to video broadcast of the announcements in each classroom on equipment already in place, and eventually Internet access by families at home.

The new faculty coordinator for the studio is already a student and faculty favorite, Kristen Cook. Known as “Cookie,” students coin new terms of endearment according to whatever is viral on social media or inspired by her crazy get-ups on dress-down days when students and faculty get a break from uniform dress.

Fun aside — and fun is not to be discounted as it is a huge enhancement to learning — the studio has practical applications. It is part of the new Digital Arts and Engineering Academy, where students in upper grades seven and eight use all forms of electronic media as they prepare to transition to high school, college and high-tech careers.

Students of all ages will use the studio, as much of life is shaped by digital pictures, posts and video for sharing on social media. Practically speaking, these activities are as much for commerce as for pleasure, as consumers spend more time on social media and the marketplace seeks more ways to connect with them. Employers increasingly seek out candidates who have mastery over social media.

And perhaps the most practical component of the studio is learning how to stay safe in a virtual reality, Cook said.

“Everything is on social media these days, and this is a great opportunity for students to learn safety on the Internet, what’s appropriate to post and to view,” Cook said. “The kids are very excited about this program. Giving them the space and the tools, everything they need to be constructively creative, they’re just going to run with it.”