Broadcast Room Retrofit

So we’re winding down the year-long technology retrofit at our particular school and last week I received my broadcast room retrofit.  They switched out many things, added some things and gave me a whole bunch of new toys to play with.  But that’s not the hilarious part.

The hilarious part was Thursday afternoon.  The plan was to have a team (well, three guys) come and do the physical retrofit. Adding and updating the computers, cameras, teleprompter, software, etc.  Then Friday a different guy would come out for as long as I needed to show me how to use the stuff.

I gave the heads up to the people that would need to know that I wasn’t sure what would happen with the morning show and bus call those two days.  But they came in Thursday after the morning show and finished their part of the job around 1pm.  So one of them sat me down to show me how to run the bus call slide show on the new system.  “Wait a minute,” I said, “let me get Lisa to hear this too.”  Lisa is the Copy Goddess whose workroom is part of the overall media center.  Technically her job description is “Instructional Clerk” and she’s considered part of the office staff.  She does all the photocopying, helps with laminating, does the slide show, helps update the web site and basically does all of the school’s and PTA’s graphic design work.  She’s also really good at listening, learns fast, and can trouble shoot tech better than most people I know.  If I’m absent, she’s the one running the morning show and bus call.  So I wanted her to hear this too.

He ran it through with us a few times.  It was slightly different, but he explained it clearly and we both nodded that we got it.

Then 2:45 came around and of course it didn’t work.  “Lisa!” I screamed.  “It’s NOT WORKING! WHAT AM I DOING WRONG!?”

She didn’t know.  “Did you do this?”  Yes.  “What about that?”  Yes.  “Try it this way.”  Nope.

Despite my racing heartbeat and the stress shooting out of the top of my head, all hope was not lost.  The sound was working so they could all hear me saying which buses and daycare vans were there.  They just couldn’t see what I was trying to put on the screen.

Let me pause here to mention that part of the new retrofit is new presentation software for the morning show.  Earlier in the day, to test it out, one of the techs recorded a few seconds of the broadcast room and played it on the screen to make sure all was working.  We’d shut off the feed to the classrooms at that point, so no one could see or hear what we we testing.

What he recorded was me, behind the news anchor desk, moving an inflatable remote-controlled robot out of the way.  This is one of the prizes in some fund raising effort at the school.  I think I was talking to it and making faces at it.  Twenty seconds, tops.

Anyway, back to the stressful crunch of trying to get those frigging slides to display on the screen for bus call.  I was in panic mode and clicking everything.  The presentation software was minimized and the PowerPoint was up.  It was letting me edit the slides, but not SHOW them on the screen.  I popped open the presentation software to see if I could do something with that. Of COURSE the twenty second video of me playing with an inflatable robot started running.  Of course it did.  I was so mad at the moment, I just clicked the red X to close out that software all together.

The bus slides showed up on the screen as soon as I did that.

Turns out that was the problem.  You have to disable the presentation software if you want to present anything else.  Neither Lisa nor I recalled the guy mentioning that.

So anyway, all went fine after that.  I did my morning show the way I’ve been doing it up until now on Friday morning, then the guru came and showed Lisa and I all the tips and tricks he could to get us started on all the new stuff, paying particular attention to how we handled the bus call slides before he left us on our own.

Friday at 2:45 had three of us working on the bus call.  I ran it.  Lisa hovered to make sure all was well.  And my Friday clerk watched nervously since she usually does it on Friday.  Also, she had been subbing in a class the day before and been cracking up at me and the robot and all the other snafus.  She didn’t think it was so funny now, though, did she?  Oh no!  NOw she’s all worried about having to do it on her own next week.

Don’t worry, I’ll help her.  But I might make the robot scare her just to keep her on her toes!

BEFORE: 2 cameras, 1 teleprompter, small tripods.
AFTER: new pro tripods, two new teleprompters, new cameras.
BEFORE: 1 computer, 2 CRT monitors, 1 editing machine hardly used.
BEFORE: 1 computer, 2 CRT monitors, 1 editing machine hardly used.
2 computers (1 for teleprompters, 1 for presentations and video editing, new hard drive video recorder, two flat screen monitors. NOT SHOWN: new software for presenting and video editing.
2 computers (1 for teleprompters, 1 for presentations and video editing), new hard drive video recorder, two flat screen monitors. NOT SHOWN: new software for presenting and video editing (and that stupid robot).