Clayton State University students Brian Roberts (Dunwoody) and Quincy, Ill., native Jenny Dreasler (Morrow) are a couple of Communication and Media Studies (CMS) majors who are also the driving force behind the Laker Zone video segments which appear on the new Clayton State Athletics page.
“I was approached by (now-retired Athletic Director) Mason Barfield on behalf of the Athletics Department to help with his vision to improve the department through creating updated media,” Roberts says. “His vision was to keep current photographs of each of the sports, improve the live internet feed of the home games, and to create a video segment to inform the campus and fans of news within Clayton State Athletics. I currently work on all three of these projects.”
Dreasler, a Clayton State soccer player who expects to graduate in May 2012, gained hands on experience in television reporting during the summer of 2011 while interning with the NBC affiliate WGEM in Quincy.
“I got a lot of on-air time with them, and really enjoyed it, so they asked me to come back and help out over Christmas break while their full time employees were on vacation,” Dreasler says. “That was my first paid experience as a TV reporter. I told Brian about what I was doing and the on-camera experience I was getting.
As a four-year Clayton State soccer player, Dreasler has seen other schools do sports casts that drum up the media coverage for those teams.
“I spoke with Brian at a basketball game before Christmas break and expressed to him what a great thing it would be to have our own show, to do something that no one at Clayton State had done before,” she says. “I also really wanted to bring attention to the athletic program at Clayton State, especially after the women's basketball team won the national championship.
“He had the camera/film experience, and I had the on-air experience, and was about to get more. So we decided we would make the perfect team. It really has been a two-man show. He sets up the lighting and the camera, and I am the on-air host. When it comes to editing, I have the experience there from doing my own editing at the NBC affiliate I worked for back home, and he is the go-to guy for all the graphics we need for the show. It really just works.”
The pair admits that there have been some challenges.
“At first the biggest problem was improving the video stream for the basketball games with the existing equipment within the Athletics Department,” Robert says. “The live video stream is now currently viewable on any computer with internet access as well as smartphones with the Ustream application and also features a scoreboard to help with following the action.”
“There have also been challenges with editing,” Dreasler adds. “The program we use, Final Cut Express, takes forever to render. So creating a two-minute video actually takes upwards of three hours to actually be finished.”
Dreasler points out that they also have to reserve the microphone and the lights, and they don't get to shoot any B-roll of the games for lack of equipment.
“With just the two of us, it takes a lot of time to go out and get the video and do everything else too,” she explains. “As for on air-challenges, it’s different going from a huge studio with Teleprompters and all the producers there to make you look good. With (the Laker Zone video), all of my lines are memorized, the scripts I write completely on my own, which I like.”
But it’s hard getting something with this magnitude started with just two people. However, both of us are extremely driven, which explains why we don't release the product until its perfect: which means nine-hour days.”
Roberts and Dreasler look forward to their future after the graduate, however they want Laker Zone to continue to grow and keep up the momentum.
“I look forward to creating more videos on behalf of Athletics for Clayton State University,” Roberts says. “More importantly I look forward to graduating with my bachelor’s degree and continuing to pursue my current career as a production assistant in the television industry. Ultimately I want to work as a videographer. “
“I’m looking forward to seeing how far we can take this,” Dreasler says. “I want to do live interviews with coaches after matches, and then stream those interviews online. I think that is the next step in making this more realistic. I am also looking forward to making sure Laker Zone doesn't just stop after I leave. Brian has one more semester left to do the shooting work, but in finding a replacement for me, they have to know how to edit, and completely understand what on-air talent does. I look forward to helping train someone to take my spot. I don't want this to just be a one semester thing.”