Spotlight: Falcon Middle School Live Stream

Updated: May 19, 2019

Over the past year and a half, I've learned that doing a YouTube live stream is not as trivial as it looks. In fact, our very own techKNOWvator TV live stream, has had its challenges to say the least. The degree of difficulty is increased when you have old equipment and zero dollars for a budget, ha! This year Ed Tech was fortunate to have funds allocated for a much needed technology boost for our live stream. We'll have a new Apple MacBook Pro computer with bundled video and audio production software for our future broadcasts. Woo-hoo! My goal for the 2019-2020 school year is to improve the production quality of our broadcasts.

Since we're talking about live streaming, just before winter break, I had a short conversation on an unrelated matter with Instructional coach Tim Scheck from Falcon Middle School in the Falcon zone and learned that he has been doing daily YouTube live streams with their FMS News program, Firebird Nation News. I mentioned that I would like to swing by during a broadcast to observe. Things got super busy for me in early spring so it took some time before I could make a visit but I eventually was able to do so just recently.

I arrived early enough at Falcon Middle School to watch the FMS broadcast team setting up for the live stream. The team, led by eighth graders, trickled in just before 7:30am for the 7:55am broadcast. Mr. Scheck, working as the technical director and 6th Grade Math teacher, Mrs. Ramirez, working as producer, provided some direction and support for the team at the outset. Mostly making sure each member was working on their assigned tasks for the live stream. 8th grader, Daniel Thomas, technical director for the broadcast, prepared the set with some help from team members. The rest of the crew filtered in within a couple minutes, each working like clockwork to have everything in place before going live.

The team setting up for the broadcast.

Mr. Scheck and Mrs. Ramirez double checked that the broadcast assignments were attended to and ready for the live stream. 6th grader, Blaze Holland, was the anchor as the stream went live and on time. Falcon Middle School principal, Brian Smith, and administrative assistant, Karen Hobson, came in to do their part of the broadcast. The team showed poise and expertise in their roles. All of them, cool as a cucumber, as you can see in the video below.

The live stream went off without a hitch. The studio setup was then taken down and all the equipment put away in its proper place. I was impressed with the teamwork and collaboration I saw during the production of the news cast, each member taking their tasks seriously in a self led environment.

Mr. Scheck and Mrs. Ramirez

The FMS News broadcast has been in production for two years with the current crop of eighth graders leading the way and passing on their knowledge to the incoming 6th graders each year. There are lots of moving parts in pulling off a live stream and the team exhibited great skill with the technology used in the production. Kudos to Mr. Scheck and Mrs. Ramirez for creating this awesome opportunity for middle schoolers to learn how to produce a live stream broadcast!

The FMS News uses the free OBS Studio software (Open Broadcaster System) as their video encoder to stream to YouTube. The computer that runs the software is a Dell Microsoft Windows 7 desktop computer with an Intel i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. The broadcast uses four Logitech webcams for video and a sound mixer for the audio coming into the computer.

I came away with some tips from my visit to Falcon Middle School and, in fact, will be changing our encoder software from WireCast to the OBS Software that the FMS News team uses. It's free, so we won't have to purchase an expensive license to run Wirecast software on the new computer that we'll be using for our techKNOWvator TV live stream. I look forward to producing some quality broadcasts this coming 2019-2020 school year. I am even planning to do a remote live stream from a conference in July. Degree of difficulty = 10, so stay tuned! Fingers crossed.