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New Camp COFAC class helps high school students produce videos

Why simply watch videos when you can produce them? Camp COFAC at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point gave teenagers professional experience doing that.

College of Fine Arts and Communication faculty members typically welcome high school art and music enthusiasts to a week of learning and experiencing college life. This year for the first time, they also welcomed 12 high school students eager to learn about video production.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and for them,” said Assistant Professor of Communications Chris Shofner, who led the new video course. “We have students coming from very diverse backgrounds. For some, I need to hone their skills. With others, I need to teach fundamentals. They seem to be having a good time, but it’s not just about fun. It’s a unique and interesting experience. And students don’t need to audition. If you’re interested, join us next year.”

Shofner’s class created a story about paranormal investigators, reminiscent of Scooby-Doo characters, who look into paranormal activities in Stevens Point. Students started with video pre-production including scripts and storyboards. They proceeded through lighting, camerawork and acting. They concluded with post-production techniques such as editing.

Day two of the camp involved clapperboards, Teleprompters, lighting, sound and camerawork.

Shofner pointed to class participant Lee Goodman, who had been operating the clapperboard, the familiar filmmaking device that helps synchronize picture and sound with a sharp "clap."

“The purpose of the clapperboard is to give something visual and something auditory so we can line them up,” Shofner told his class. “What does the audio person say?”

Class: “Speed!”

Shofner: “What does that mean?”

Class: “The sound is ready.”

“When we start the camera we want to make sure the red light is on,” Shofner said. “We don’t want the action to start right away. When I yell ‘action,’ that’s when you take off with your beautiful script… Action!”

That was the cue for Gina Nagro, of Ashland.

“Good evening, Stevens Point,” she said. “This is your 6 o’clock news. I’m Melinda Greenstorm.”

Nagro introduced a news story of the estate of the infamous Birdman. The home, which was about to be torn down, had baffled paranormal investigators because of its strange occurrences. Nagro’s pace guided a student assistant who operated the Teleprompter with a foot pedal.

Hands-on activities like these prompted Goodman to travel from St. Louis after learning about the class through a Google search. At age 17, Goodman runs his own photography and videography side business called Goodman Image. He thought Camp COFAC’s video-production class would be a golden opportunity, and he was right.

“It’s really cool how two total strangers here can become friends,” Goodman said. “We’re together with music camp students and art camp students all in the same hall. We have a little college experience and we get to learn new things. This class is helping me prepare for my professional life. (Shofner) is an amazing teacher. He’s full of great knowledge.”

The class ended with an airing of the video production June 28. Shofner said he would like to offer the program again next year and hopes to accommodate more students.

Those interested in taking the video-production class next year should watch the Camp COFAC website at www.uwsp.edu/campcofac or the Camp COFAC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UWSPCAMPCOFAC for more information. Next year’s camp is scheduled for June 21-27.