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I got lots of great responses! Thanks! Here's what all said:

I have used the Casablanca Avio made by Draco with students.  It is so easy
that a kindergartener can use it.  It is all-in-one editing equipment.  Go
to this site:  www.draco.com to learn more about it.  It has a 20 gig
harddrive.  You load your tape footage on it.  Then you cut, splice, add
music, add titles, etc. and record it out to vcr tape.  All you have to
purchase in addition is a vcr and a monitor.  I recommend the Panasonic
AG1980 editing vcr.

First thing you need is about $8000-10000+ dollars.  You need at least 2
video cameras, 5 or 6 monitors depending on your number of input items.  You
need a panasonic mixer/switcher which is about $3500.  You need a video
editor unless you are going to use a IMac and do digital editing(That is
about $4000 or more.) and two vcr's, one for recording and one for playing.
I just have an apple g2 and do video editing, not digital.  Also a digital
camera is nice with video out capability so you can chromakey different
backgrounds behind your speakers.  Chromakey paint is $69. a gallon. You
need mikes, wires, connectors, etc. and an expert to put it all together for

I have a mixer and an editing system with a title maker.  However, I use
none of that for our morning announcements.  Our school is three years old
and I haven't had a chance to really learn how to do it.  Also, for the
10-15 minute program we put on every morning, I think it would be a hassle.

Instead of looking at equipment for fancy video, I looked at the AV
production room.  The first thing you need is a room (or area) in which you
can put a backdrop.  I painted 1 and 1/2 walls a bluish gray.  Then with
the help of the PTA, we installed some very bright lights.  We had to use
the paint and walls to "locate" our African American, Hispanic and Asian
children.  Without the paint and lights, we barely saw their eyes.   Even
with our very hot, bright lights, there are dark spots unless the camera
zooms in on a face.  Groups do not show up well.  This past summer my
husband and a friend built a permanent stage and anchor desk.  One firm
that I called said they would charge $6000.  We built it for less than
$500.  I've asked the art teacher to paint the front of the desk to make it
more attractive.  We also built a removable puppet theater for our weekly
puppet show.  It is a big hit with students and teachers alike.

Maybe your production is much more elaborate than mine.  But, my advice
would be to look at the picture you're sending out to the
classrooms.   Maybe this year I'll investigate the fancy intro and
switching, but I wanted to make sure my output was as good as I could get
it first.

    With your age group, keep it simple. You can do a fine job with your
videocamera, an external mike, a set with a backdrop that can stay put, and
maybe 2 lights for each side of your set.
    Later you could get something like "I-Movie" (which comes with any
I-Book) and it includes a titlemaker and audio input.  Or you could buy
"Titlemaker" if  you just want titles on a daily basis without much prep.

I have a very low-budget morning news program.  Our studio -- which is also
my office, periodical storage area, meeting room, and production room is
very small.

I began with only my video camera, and monitor (which was originally an old
television) and a VCR.  I have 6 students (different students each 6 weeks)
who rotate jobs daily.  (Anchor 1, anchor 2, menu, camera, VCR, and
producer/substitute.)  The year before last a computer was donated that had
PowerPoint.  I added a bulletin board that runs all day throughout the
school.  I have a scan converter that makes this possible.

Last year, a parent brought me a program that was a teleprompter.  We pieced
together a computer that would run this program and placed it in front of
the camera.  The student producer runs the teleprompter now.

Near the end of last year, I connected a portable CD player to the system
and  now have classical music (Mostly Mozart and Bach) accompanying the
PowerPoint bulletin board broadcast.  The teachers love it.

I used PowerPoint to create an opening video, the Star-Spangled Banner and a
closing video.

For the morning news itself, this is the equipment I have:
Video Camera
RF Converter

The morning news is fun for the students and for me.  If you have any other
questions, I will try to answer them.

Doing the morning news can be really fun.  I've done it for the past almost
three years.  What equipment you needs depends on exactly what you expect
from your news show.  If you want just the basics, then a single camera,
tripod and mike (to plug into the camcorder) along with a portable modulator
will do the trick.  However, you will have a very basic show.  If you want
some of the bells and whistles, more equipment is required.  We do a fairly
sophisticated news show so I'll run you through our equipment list.

1.  portable modulator
2.  video mixer (Videonics has a way cool one, but it costs over $1000.
However, you can up-grade it to digital should the need arise)
3.  monitor for the video mixer to preview your video (some studios also
monitors for each camera and the VCR also.  It is possible to do without
those.  I did for two years and had no problems)
4.  audio mixer (we have a Mackie which costs in the area of $600)
5.  two camcorders
6.  two tripods
7.  two tripod dollies (really pretty optional)
8.  two low impedance microphones
9.  boom box
10.  VCR
11.  computer with video and audio cards (we run a PowerPoint presentation
with news on it all day after the announcements)
12.  Video editing software such as iMovie
13.  a truckload of various cables and adapters
14.  Either a wall or a portable backdrop painted chroma key green (or any
putrid color no one wears so you can chroma key which is like doing blue
screen.  Kids love it)
15.  Some good lighting
16.  Lots of patience and willingness to experiment and occasionally fall on
your face in front of the entire school (something I have done on more than
one occasion :-) )

Running the news can be your biggest challenge (I got tossed into it without
a lick of training and boy, did I sweat bullets for several months.  Good
thing the kids knew what they were doing!), but it can also be a big joy.  I
love doing the news and wouldn't give it up for anything although it takes a
good bit of my spare time at home (about the only time I have these days to
edit video).  Your news is whatever you make of it.  It can be a boring
recitation of menus and birthdays, or you can make it a dynamic learning

Anyway, I'm sure I've left some stuff out, but this will give you a place to
start.  If you need any help, just holler.  I remember only too well what it
was like when I first started out.  It can be daunting.

We started a broadcast team last year with only a stationary camera which
was broadcast to each class and a handheld camera that we used to prerecord
stories.  We do have a mixer but no one knows how to use it.  The best thing
we ever purchased was a teleprompter.  It's just a piece of software that we
loaded onto an old computer, but it helps so much to have the students be
able to be looking into the camera when they read a story as opposed to
looking down at a piece of paper.  We have an anchor person, weather person
who also does a Lost and Found Item of the Week, a sportscaster who also
announces the daily birthdays, and a reporter who goes out into the school
and does interviews or stories on school events or holidays.  The kids
absolutely love it.  You really can do a great show with a minimum of

Carol Simpson at UNT-SLIS has a website of a fellow that does morning
announcements and has lots of good information about what you need, or how
you can do things with what you have.

I think if you emailed Carol she'd share the website with you. I have it
bookmarked at home but not here at school.

Joan Geismar, Media Specialist
Oakridge Elementary School
Hollywood, FL

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