Dayna Wichhart—Staff Writer
“Ready on camera three? Take camera three,” Derek Koops said as his technical director’s fingers flew over buttons and worked to display the basketball coach’s red cheeks and raised fists on the main monitor. Koops continued to rattle off instructions to the team.
“We need to run the Casey’s Bakery graphic, is it ready?”
“What about the replay of the dunk? Ready for it at the break?”
It’s a cold Saturday in February. While the basketball team runs the floor, a second team runs cords, cameras and microphones through the DeWitt Gymnasium.
Koops, a junior studying Digital Media Production, serves on a 21-member team that makes up the Dordt Media Network (DMN). He started working one semester after the DMN launched in January 2019.
“I was looking for a work study, but I didn’t know what to do. I talked to [Rich] Lodewyk and the Dordt Media Network interested me right away,” Koops said.
In January of 2018, Rich Lodewyk, media network director, was hired to establish a livestreaming system for Dordt events. Before his hiring, the university community expressed an interest in viewing live footage of their family members and friends participating in athletics and concerts.
Since its origination, the DMN has expanded and split into two production teams. Alex Priore and her team cover concerts and chapel while Lodewyk and his team broadcast campus and community athletic events.
In the semester leading up to the launch of the Dordt Media Network, the university invested in a media truck.
The truck serves as a mobile control center for the broadcast. All the cameras and microphones run to the truck, which boasts multiscreen displays that switch between multiple camera angles, instant replays, and advertisements.
In the first year, Lodewyk directed the events because students were inexperienced and not ready to direct and handle the broadcast on their own. This has changed.
“I believe in faculty-led, student-run.” Lodewyk said.
Lodewyk no longer sits in the truck with the students, and sometimes isn’t even at the game.
“My goal is to let the students run the broadcast, and I simply remind them of what makes a good broadcast and be available for troubleshooting.” Lodewyk said.
An hour and a half before the broadcast, Koops walks through the doors of the empty DeWitt and begins unwrapping cords and plugging them in. The DeWitt is permanently cabled, making setup move quickly. For the outdoor events, the cords run for lengths of 300 feet or more.
A half hour before tip-off, Koops puts on the headset and settles in for a couple hours of action. He began as a camera operator but has progressed to director for some games. As a director, Koops calls the shots for the livestream’s display, provides instructions to the camera operators, and ensures that all sponsors receive their proper airtime.
“Every time you work, you do a different job,” Koops said.
Four camera men line the DeWitt and two perch in the balcony, providing the main view of game play. In addition, two lie on the floor, creeping for shots of angry coaches, celebrations, and engaged audience members.
Just outside the gym, the second team resides in the truck. A replay person searches for good shots and edits them together for game breaks.
“We haven’t always been so smooth running. It used to be that if we got a couple replays in a half, we would be happy.” Koops said.
A graphics person catalogs halftime stats, schedules, and ads. The technical director and director communicate to create a production easy for viewing. The director looks at the monitors and chooses which shots look best and instructs the technical director to press the buttons to make it happen.
“Lodewyk wants the broadcast to be high quality, and he expects the most out of us.” Koops said. “He is not one to settle. He always wants to keep improving.”
Lodewyk plans to continue growing the system. In the future, he hopes to have students create a pregame show, interviewing coaches and players before the game on camera.
Koops’ work with the DMN has given him invaluable career experience, which has given him the chance to take his skills beyond Dordt’s walls. Koops takes a few odd jobs working at the Sioux City Musketeers games. At the semi-pro hockey games, Koops usually helps with replays.
“It’s similar to the Dordt Media Network. It’s just bigger scale.” Koops said.
“I think it’s the best job on campus,” Koops said, “I have a lot of fun working with a lot of different people.”
As the final buzzer sounded, teams headed to the locker rooms and students scattered from the gym, but one team remained. Koops and the DMN unplugged and wrapped up cables, packed up cameras, and drove the truck to the garage.