For the past 12 years, KMVT 15, the Mountain View-based community media center, has provided young people the opportunity for hands-on learning at camps on video production and other forms of media. Bobby Chastain, now executive director, started the first camp in the summer of 2006, and the program has been going strong ever since.
Producer-instructor Tyler Wiest explained the motivation behind the camps.
"It’s in our mission - we want to build community in the areas we serve, and one of the best ways to do that is to reach out to those who want to learn," he said. "A lot of kids want to learn video production."
For the past several years, an after-school program has served middle schoolers. Last October marked the inaugural high school after-school session. The pilot program had just three students, from Los Altos, Mountain View and Santa Clara, but Wiest said that if there’s enough interest, KMVT plans to offer the program again in February or March, with the goal of sponsoring two high school after-school programs per academic year.
In the four weekly meetings of the after-school program, students produce their own short television show.
"They learn the equipment, a little bit about how to produce the show, then how to make shows," Wiest said. "Each student is given time to produce their own live production in the studio."
Students often come with ideas on what type of show they want to produce; if not, they find out what they’re interested in and go from there. Wiest said the first high school group had a solid idea of what it wanted to focus on.
"We have a student producing a show who wants to bring on friends to interview about topics they deal with at their school," he said. "We usually try to let them run the show as much as they can."
Producing a video from start to finish in four afternoon sessions might sound daunting, but no previous experience is required.
"We teach them the same way we’ll teach adults or kids in the kids’ camps," Wiest said. "We give them a full rundown of everything they’ll need to know … the basics of how we operate."
He added that they learn skills they can transfer anywhere.
Los Altos High School sophomore Charles Sirey, during his third class session of the camp, said the students were learning a variety of roles.
"We want to get used to everything, so we’ll have a host, a stage manager, and everybody else is in the booth working," he said. "We’ll switch off so we can get used to every single one of them. … My favorite is host because I like to be on camera. That’s a fun one."
He said that while the camp was a new experience, he’s always had an interest in broadcasting and might even consider doing it professionally someday.
The after-school programs are taught by one instructor, with an alternate available. At the youth camps, there’s one instructor and two interns - often former students - ages 14 and up.
Intern Nicholas Borda, a senior at Los Altos High School, was a camp student in middle school and has volunteered for the past few years. He helps out in a variety of ways, from explaining how things work to simply making sure the students enjoy themselves.
Borda said the camps are a great way for kids to find out if they have an interest in the field. While he personally plans a career in mechanical engineering, he enjoys seeing the inner workings of the studio equipment. He has also gained valuable experience in interacting with both adults and students.
"I’ve gained confidence in my ability to do things," he said.
While the studio looks very professional, Borda likes that it has "a bit of that homemade sort of feel to it. … You can tell that people put effort into making this thing - it feels very human."
In addition to the after-school programs, KMVT hosts several weeklong camps. The Introduction to Video Production camp - offered during February and March spring breaks as well as in June, July and August - introduces 9- to 13-year-olds to media production. Using KMVT’s professional studio, students learn basic skills in camera work, directing, audio, acting and producing. The students get to see their program broadcast on cable Channel 15, and receive a DVD copy of it.
Offered in June, July and August, the Claymation camp allows 7- to 12-year-olds to create their own Claymation movies. Students work in small groups to brainstorm ideas; create the story, script, clay figures and scenery; and design special effects for their short stop-motion animation movies. Students also receive a take-home DVD of their creations.
Advanced Video Production (prerequisite: Introduction to Video Production), offered in June, July and August, enables 9- to 13-year-olds to develop their multimedia production skills. They work on screenwriting, story boarding, producing, lighting and editing and create an entire production, which is broadcast on cable Channel 15. Each student receives a take-home DVD.
The Field Production camp (prerequisite: Intro to Video Production), for ages 9-13, is scheduled July 1-5 (no class July 4).
"The studio camp (Advanced Video Production) in the summer is the most popular," Wiest said. "They make shows just like the high school programs."
The camp was so popular last summer that KMVT is considering adding camps this year to meet the demand.
Returning customers are the best recommendation. Wiest said some students register for multiple weeks of camps in the summer.
"Often we’ll see kids one week in studio, one week in Claymation, one week in advanced," he said. "Maybe 10 to 15 percent of our students come back the following year."
Camps are held at the KMVT studio at 1400 Terra Bella Ave., Suite M, Mountain View. Prices range from $100 to $475, depending on the program. Financial assistance may be available. To register and for more information, visit kmvt15.org/learn/youthactivities.html. n