Since the rise of video cameras and video-enabled smartphones, Fort Vancouver Community Television has seen an increase in participation.
FVTV is a public access cable TV station where community members can create and broadcast their own content. The station has had a huge response to training classes and a change in fees. Ronald Carr, the board chairman of FVTV, said participation has doubled in the past couple years.
“More and more people have found out about us,” Carr said.
Participation in the classes generally depends on the weather — most people wait until they are able to film outdoors — and on when people have time to take classes. The classes range from video basics to more advanced skills.
Chad Wyman of Vancouver has been at FVTV for about two years. He took both camera and video-editing classes and volunteers as a camera operator. He has taped Vancouver Volcanoes IBL games and the 2010 Hazel Dell Parade of Bands.
“A lot of networking with others in the industry. It’s given me the time and opportunity to learn better camera work,” Wyman said.
The station wants to partner with Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation, Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver in continuing education. E. James Omelina, vice chairman of FVTV, said that it’s not a replacement of classes these places offer but an addition for people to gain more experience.
The program has “transitioned from people dropping off tapes into a learning laboratory,” Omelina said.
All the station’s video cameras, ranging from handheld to professional equipment, can be checked out for an annual producer’s fee of $50. The producer’s fee doesn’t need to be paid to take classes, which can range from $30 to $50, but it does allow discounts toward the class prices.
Class fees and production fees can be used by the station without restrictions, which means the money can go toward upkeep. In addition every year the station receives $50,000 from the county’s TV cable assessment. It also was given $100,000 for capital equipment by the Public Educational Government grant, funded through the Comcast franchise fee. FVTV will use the money for a broadcast technology studio.
While nothing much to look at from the outside, the studio contains the professional equipment needed to produce anything from a podcast to a full-length motion picture. Inside the large open space, the studio has room for filming on stage or in front of the green screen. On the far side of the studio, there is a soundproof editing bay.
In the future, FVTV will be able to distribute its own material, rather than run it through CVTV. That is where the broadcasting technology booth comes in. Since Comcast is currently negotiating to renew its cable franchise, set to expire December 2012, the organization is negotiating for Comcast to give it a high-definition channel.
The new broadcast technology would benefit FVTV’s goal of creating an educational environment. All the new technology will be color coded, and a class is under way to teach about the audio and engineering.
Mark Dodd, lead instructor, says instructors teach fundamental ways to create a cohesive project combining audio, video and graphics in a unified piece.
“What we really do is try to ask them what their vision is and then try to instruct them using our equipment,” Dodd said.
When tuning into FVTV Channel 11, there is never one specific genre. Religious groups bring in a lot of programming, as do variety shows. The station has “Democracy Now,” a political show given to them on tape. “Main Street Quiz Show” is a show that takes people off the street and asks them questions. The station hasn’t had a local news show for a while, but Omelina would like to see one start up again. Another popular show, “Drinking with Adam,” interviews patrons at local bars.
CVTV, which now distributes FVTV’s content, charges to air any programs on its own two channels. However, there is no charge to air a program between 30 seconds to 5 minutes long, because they can fill gaps in programming.
FVTV is a free speech station and not allowed to air commercials or any calls to action. All the decisions are made by the board and backed by the county.
“People don’t understand that this is your opportunity to have a voice in the community,” Carr said.
Any age group is welcome to the studio. However, anyone under 16 should be supervised by a parent.
Visiting the website is a good place to get started, and Omelina also invites visitors to come down to the station. FVTV always welcomes people to bring in their own tapes, too.
“Fact is, you don’t really need fancy equipment, what you need is the knowledge,” Omelina said.