The filming of your local government meeting is FREE to you and your town.
Cable companies such as Comcast and Burlington Telecom use public land for their cables; in exchange, they provide localities Public, Educational, and Government Access TV. VCAM 15 is a Public Access TV station, VCAM 17 is Government Access.
Our Government Access station promotes government transparency and community participation in local governance by recording, archiving, and broadcasting (on television and online) municipal meetings from Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, and Vergennes.
See VCAM's full statement of purpose here.
The single-person production crews who record your meetings are film and media professionals—field producers, directors, editors, who have collectively filmed events around the world, worked at major news stations, earned advanced degrees, and won awards.
Between setting a high bar for VCAM-produced content and having the typical low financial resources of the nonprofit world, we ask a field prodcuer to do the work of a 2–3 person crew alone.
Their workday begins 3 1/2 hours before the start of the meeting, and ends 2–3 hours after the meeting's adjournment. If a meeting was 15 minutes long, the field producer worked 6 hours to bring you that 15 minutes (not to mention the work of the people encoding, programming, and uploading the video the next day). If a February meeting didn't get out until 11:00, the field producer was alone blowing on their hands unloading a vanful of production equipment in the VCAM parking lot at 1 in the morning.
The gear pack they pick up, transport, assemble, disassemble, and return every meeting includes 3 cameras, 3 tripods, 8–12 microphones, an audio mixer, snake and cables, any necessary video converter devices, remote camera kits, and a TriCaster multi-camera production system, which puts everything together, allows live switching between cameras and the live addition of graphics and titles, and feeds the live stream to the web and live channel broadcast (it's the same sort of device that you'll see dominating the space of our TV studio's control room, but packed into a 60-pound Pelican case and re–set-up in a new space every evening). During the meeting, the field producer is in charge of adjusting and switching 3 cameras, mixing the 8–12 microphones, creating and switching graphics, and monitoring (and fixing any problems with) the channel feed and web stream.
This is unusual for government access TV—most access centers send shooters out with a single camera, an uncomplicated mic setup, no live streaming. We ask a lot of our field producers. Please, if you see them at a meeting and appreciate this service, let them know—they have a long night ahead of them.
Thanking the field producers, letting them know their work is appreciated—as previously mentioned—means a lot.
Making sure to speak into a microphone will help the people at home who aren't able to attend the meeting. The closer the mic is to your mouth, the clearer you'll sound. Make sure the mic is pointed at your mouth and not at the ceiling. If you're on a board, please ask members of the audience to wait to speak until they have a mic. Try not to play drums with the table too much. Papers brushing the mic will be unpleasant on your constituents' ears. If you're in the audience or presenting, please hold the mic close to your mouth or at your chest, and try not to wave the mic in the air, if possible. :)
If you have a presentation, send it to us! If you email JPEGs to Eric (eric[at]vermontcam.org) at least 24 hours in advance, we'll be able to display them in the video recording, and people at home will get to see your images/diagrams/maps/slides in detail. Otherwise, we have to aim a camera at the projection or poster, which provides the public a less clear image.
And give us feedback! We serve our viewers, and want to ensure we're providing the best service we can. Please get in touch! See below.
Comments, questions, requests, and other feedback, please send to Community Programming Manager Eric Herz-O'Brien (not to the field producers you see at a meeting) at eric[at]vermontcam.org.