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Farmington, Aztec students run livestream feeds

Students at both high schools have been operating live video streams of games, concerts and other school activities

Joshua Kellogg
jkellogg@daily-times.com
  • Farmington High is offering a multimedia course to teach students about live video broadcasting.
  • A two-man team at Aztec High School has been livestreaming games and drama productions.
  • Both schools hope to grow their programs by adding more equipment and software in the future.
From left, Terrell Kosea and Isiah Hamby operate a camera for a livestream during a basketball game Tuesday at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

AZTEC — Local high school students have been working overtime to produce and broadcast live video streams of sporting events and school activities for viewers to watch online.

Students at Aztec and Farmington high schools started livestreaming events last school year with minimal equipment.

Last year, Farmington students used a single Apple iPad tablet on a tripod to livestream events like basketball games, said Farmington High teacher John Curry.

Growing student interest led Curry to apply for a federal grant that supports science, technology, engineering and math endeavors. That allowed the school to purchase nearly $10,000 worth of equipment. Curry said a new multimedia course was offered to teach the students how to use the new equipment and operate a livestream.

"What started as a single iPad and a couple of kids turned into this," Curry said. "Our administration saw the value in it as far as students learning valuable skills."

On Tuesday evening, a team of seven Farmington High students worked together to livestream the Farmington boys varsity basketball game against Gallup High School.

Students arrive about two hours before an event to set up the equipment and test the livestream, said freshman Skylar Bell, head director and engineer. She said the most difficult part of the process is managing her fellow students and communicating how she would like the broadcast to go.

"I used to be shy, and I'm not really shy anymore," Bell said.

During Tuesday's livestream, Bell used software on a laptop computer to manage the video feeds of three different cameras and determine which feed to broadcast. Videos are uploaded to thecube,com, which provides viewers a spot to watch both livestreams and older videos.

For a livestream at Farmington High's Scorpion Gym, students use feed from two cameras set up on the mezzanine above the crowd in the stands. A student on the gym floor also operates a wireless camera that offers a closeup view of players on the court.

Two students provide live audio commentary during the livestream and conduct interviews with players and coaches.

Brandon Chavez interviews Berrett Bentley after Tuesday's basketball game at Scorpion Gym in Farmington. Chavez is part of a group of Farmington High students who livestream sporting events and other school activities.

On Tuesday, junior Jonah Herman and freshman Cameron Nez donned headsets before offering commentary as the Scorpions beat the Bengals 55-51 to win the District 1-5A regular-season title.

The day before a game, the commentators spend time researching the opposing team and district standings to inform their discussion.

"We discuss how the defense and offense are working, highlight players performing well," Herman said.

In addition to basketball and football games, Farmington High School students have also livestreamed choir and orchestra concerts.

Curry said students will livestream a prom fashion show organized by the Student Senate on Friday.

So far, viewership has been solid. Earlier this season, a basketball game between Aztec and Farmington garnered about 1,100 views and a choir concert in the fall had about 1,200 views, Curry said.

It was at a basketball game last year that Aztec High School Athletic Director Bryan Sanders saw what Farmington's students were doing and decided to organize a similar program.

"I saw (the students) doing it, and I was inspired by their work," Sanders said.

The livestream program at Aztec High currently consists of two students, Mark Erickson and Wyatt Resh. The sophomores are taking an independent study course that meets in a conference room adjacent to Sander's office.

Aztec High School sophomores Mark Erickson, left, and Wyatt Lesh pack up the equipment they use to livestream video of sporting events and other high school activities on Thursday at the high school in Aztec.

The two-man team has been livestreaming soccer and volleyball games, as well as performances by the school's Playmakers drama club.

Erickson said it has been exhausting to operate the livestream with two people, since it usually requires four.

"It's really stressful when it's just Wyatt and I," Erickson said.

The class has been fun for Erickson, who said he enjoys learning how to use new technology. Resh added that it offers an opportunity to highlight the efforts of Aztec High students.

Right now, students are using several pieces of new equipment, including a laptop computer, software, a camera, a sound mixer and two Apple iPod Touch devices that broadcast video to the laptop wirelessly.

In the future, Erickson hopes to secure a software upgrade that would allow him to superimpose graphics on the video feed to display the score of a game. Plans are still being developed on how to integrate the livestream program into another class, like video production, to grow the program, Sanders said.

At Farmington High, Curry said he is now working to set up his students to broadcast videos of road games at other schools.

Operating a livestream teaches students technology and multimedia skills that could lead to successful careers, Curry said.

Herman said he has already received scholarships offers from colleges that want him to provide audio commentary on their livestreams.

"We want to teach them skills so they can step into a university-level program or job, and they won't miss a beat," Curry said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

Bryan Sanders, athletic director and assistant principal at Aztec High School, talks on Thursday about the school's livestreaming program.

Watch live

Aztec High School's livestream can be found at aztecathletics.org.

Farmington High School's can be found at scorpionathletics.com.