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  1. #1

    Teaching Engineering to non-techs

    I am the Chief Engineer for my school's student-run volunteer TV station. We are planning to move sometime soon and during the move, we will need to have a trained engineering staff working non-stop, as our automation system is being moved as is our master router (some other items are getting upgraded in the move). The old location will be functional during the move, so long as everything can route properly (as soon as I can, I am going to rewire some decks and TBCs so that I can bypass our master routers and use our old matrix router and patch bays). The problem comes here. Being student run, we are open to all students of all majors (mainly non-techs, due to the majors offered). In recent history, everything has been automated and there has been no manual playback, no manual traffic logging, no manual commercial insertion, etc. Not even the veterans know how to do any of this. I will need to recruit and train an engineering crew as well as some members of the traffic, programming, and production departments so that we can have edited tapes ready to air, airing properly, within spec, technically perfect (illegal video is pretty much the same as no video). I am planning on writing a short (10-30 page) technical manual and running a crash course, following it, for those brave souls who volunteer, but need sources for technical images to put into it, as well as ideas of exactly what I should put into it.

    What do you feel is the most important thing to teach an Engineer how to do (and/or not to do)?
    Do you have any ideas on a good way to introduce the concepts of the video waveform, audio levels, and calibration/proc-amp adjustment to non-techs (as well as techs who are unfamiliar)?
    Do you know where I can get technical images to put into the manual?
    Any other ideas?

    Note: I feel I have a thorough grounding in all of the issues at hand (well beyond what they will need to know), but if you have any tips for engineers in general, I'll take them.

  2. #2
    Take a look at the sites for Tektronix, Leader instruments and Harris Broadcast, they have excellent technical reference notes, obviously they are mostly centered on their own test equipment, but there is lots of general information too. If you want any specific notes, PM me as I have lots of PDF's on the subject and may have something suitable.

  3. #3
    Thank you, I'll check those out.
    Eric Adler (tonsofpcs)
    http://www.videoproductionsupport.com/ Chat at: http://tinyurl.com/vpschat
    Follow me on twitter: @videosupport @eric_adler

  4. #4
    Hi tonsofpcs.

    I'm not so sure about what you mean here.

    Being student-run, are your students engineering students? And the team of engineers who will work non-stop, are the students going to be the ones doing them?

    To a non-tech, many things work better on a need-to-know basis and sometimes on-the-job... my concern is that you might frustrate yourself trying to 'raise the dead'. Then again, if you have a ready pool of people all ready to learn, then kudos!

    What will be key for them to learn will be all you need to include.
    There's no bad camera, just a bad user
    Loong . Singapore

  5. #5
    Quote
    Quote: nagar
    Being student-run, are your students engineering students?
    No, some will be broadcasting students, but likely very few.

    And the team of engineers who will work non-stop, are the students going to be the ones doing them?
    Yes.

    To a non-tech, many things work better on a need-to-know basis and sometimes on-the-job...
    They will need to be responsible for keeping the signals in spec by adjusting the TBCs of the playback decks, the audio mixer, as well as switching between the decks. In doing this, they will need to know how to calibrate a monitor and scopes to house bars, how to adjust a signal to match it, and how to set audio levels.

    my concern is that you might frustrate yourself trying to 'raise the dead'.
    I probably will, but I have to try.

    Then again, if you have a ready pool of people all ready to learn, then kudos!
    Hopefully I do.

    What will be key for them to learn will be all you need to include.
    Eric Adler (tonsofpcs)
    http://www.videoproductionsupport.com/ Chat at: http://tinyurl.com/vpschat
    Follow me on twitter: @videosupport @eric_adler

  6. #6
    To be honest, I don't find myself a techie in most sense and so I write with the 'end-recipients' in mind.

    From the looks of it, I think it's better to employ the 'fishing net' theory. Cast your net out wide, and pick your choice catch. Train more students than you need for the jobs, be on the look-out for those technically absorbant ones (to do the job), and those with quick response to problem solving, esp under pressure (to troubleshoot). The best of both worlds is a combination of these in the few individuals but I doubt there'll be too many.

    In your training, give on-the-job problems (as best as possible, whatever you can foresee) and observe them doing. Having theory papers will help to an extent, but it's how people respond on the crunch that counts. Separate them into teams and have a good mix of the 2 combinations I suggested above. Have as many possible 'trial runs' with the equipment with them as possible.

    As for training on calibrations and all, give them simple reasons for eg, why screens/audio must be calibrated/adjusted (this is more for those who know nothing, but since there's a mix, no harm teaching everyone). Also (this might be additional, but I think it's crucial), have a sort of technical 'first-aid' manual, simple step-by-step with pictures (that'll be sweet) always available.

    All I have been doing was to think what I would need to do if I were in your shoes. Not sure if I've helped. Well, my 5 cents' worth.

    Work hard!
    Last edited by nagar; 7th Jul 2007 at 17:19. Reason: typo error
    There's no bad camera, just a bad user
    Loong . Singapore

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