New studio installed for Falcon Vision broadcast class

For viewers of Falcon Vision, the TPHS student broadcast that airs once a week, the usual reporting set- up looked different on Feb. 2. Instead of the plain table and white backdrop checkered with the Falcon Vision logo, anchors Karina Shukla (10) and Madeline Guillory (10) opened the show at a sleek desk, flanked by two widescreen TVs and illuminated by a backlit TPHS Falcon emblem.

The new Falcon Vision studio, a $50,000 addition to the program, was installed in late January in the G Building, marking the latest development in a program that has only grown since its inception in 2021. While TPHS aired TPTV in the early 2000s and again starting in 2016, Falcon Vision, as a class, took off under teacher Kara Adler in 2021 and now boasts a staff of 66 students across two class periods.

“As the program grew [and] as we created awesome stories … we made a name for ourselves on campus,” Adler said. “As the class grew and grew, it made sense that our program grew with it, and part of that was getting a studio that helped to replicate the awesome work that we were doing.”

Funded by the TPHS Foundation, the district Career Technical Education department and community donations, the new studio provides the program with both a broadcast set and a control room separated by a glass partition. This replaces last year’s set: a table and backdrop displayed in a room in the classroom — what Foundation Executive Director Joe Austin called “a broom closet, essentially.”

“To see Kara and her students working with basically a [banner] clipped to the wall behind them and makeshift lighting, it felt like a middle school or even an elementary school-level program,” Austin said. “They were doing great work, so to give them a set commensurate with the work that they were doing felt like an awesome thing to put some energy into.”

Adler agreed.

“Prior to the new studio, our stories were really strong [and] our anchors were good at being on air,” she said. “But, when we went back to the studio shots, it just didn’t look as professional as the work we were doing.”

Now, videographers work with multiple camera angles, anchors read from multiple teleprompters and graphics are projected on three screens — developments that Adler said enable students “to feel like they’re on an actual news set.”

“[The studio] has really changed a lot,” Lauren Panebianco (12), the show’s graphics and social media manager, said. “People have been putting more effort into their [stories] and more effort into learning how to use the studio. It’s been really exciting.”

Designed by Broadcast Design International, the studio was adapted to the space, which served as a testing center last year. In the absence of high vaulted ceilings, backlighting was built into the set. To allow for live interviews, one side of the studio was made longer, according to Adler.

This semester, Falcon Vision will air live every Friday at 11 a.m., with a live interview each show. Each period, which consists of students in both TV Production and Advanced Video/Film, produces a show every other week.

“Last semester, I didn’t really have a lot of pressure on me,” Executive Producer Kyle Busby (10) said. “This semester, there’s definitely more of an assigned role for me.”

With the ability to display graphics more efficiently — “a game changer” for Busby — and run the show through the adjacent control room, Busby said the production is more “organized” and the viewing experience “enhanced.”

“[The studio] brings us state-of-the-art technology and a real professional space,” he said.

Eric Ryu (12), another executive producer, agreed.

“The new studio has made my role both harder [and] more fun,” Ryu said. “I’m playing with more camera angles. I have to go back and forth between behind the scenes and the studio. There’s a lot more that we can play around with.”

The new studio is only the latest change to the program. Last year, the program received 22 MacBook Computers from the district CTE department.

“I want to make sure that Falcon Vision stays up to industry standards,” Adler said. “So as technology changes and grows, [I ask myself,] ‘How can we constantly improve our show to match what is going on in the real world?’”

The current studio is something Adler wants to last “five to 10 years until maybe … we can get an even better, bigger studio.” Adler said she hopes to one day add a sit-down interview set to the studio and gain the capacity to do off-campus live interviews.

With the expansion of the program — from an increase in students to the new studio — students see a strong potential for future growth.

“Falcon Vision has gone from zero to 2,000 … within three years,” Panebianco said. “I could see people being more likely to come to Torrey Pines because of our program.”

Adler agreed.

“[With the new studio,] community members, staff members and students [will feel] that Falcon Vision is just as professional as we all think it is in the classroom,” she said.

Next year, students can receive college articulation by exam through Palomar College for Advanced Video/ Film (the capstone class of the TPHS Film/Video Production CTE pathway), and Falcon Vision anchors may have the opportunity to use a new scoreboard in Ed Burke Stadium, a project pending board approval in March, Austin said.

But throughout this expansion, the community of the class has stayed constant — what Panebianco describes as a family-like atmosphere.

“If you ask a student in the class, they’ll say ‘I love interviewing or I love the new studio,’ but what they really like about Falcon Vision … is the community of the class,” Adler said.

Photos by Anna Opalsky/Falconer

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