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Published: Thursday, 3/13/2003

Students `electric' in video making

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Justin Marchand and May Soliman work on making a video used on one of their `teevee' programs. Justin Marchand and May Soliman work on making a video used on one of their `teevee' programs.
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They call her House.

In a cluttered classroom at Perrysburg High School, House makes herself at home.

Known formally as Kathy Housepian, the English teacher who teaches “tech writing” puts the welcome mat out daily, and students stream in and out.

“This is their world. You can feel the energy. You can hear it. It crackles. There is this sense of joy, watching them working together,” she said.

With computers, cameras, printers and scanners, students turn out “teevee” video shows, such as those being aired on Buckeye CableSystem. Dubbed “Life in the Cellar,” the show premiered last week, and is being rebroadcast at 7:30 o'clock tonight on the community access channels 8 and 13.

Video production is an offshoot of The Cellar, the school's on-line literary magazine. Students involved with the magazine, as well as students in Ms. Housepian's tech writing class, work together on Cellar Productions that will be shown for the next few weeks.

Ms. Housepian describes the videos as funny, informative, and family friendly. “We want to bring people together. Students, teachers, parents,” she said. “We're not Hollywood, and we're not trying to be. We are trying to create as many opportunities for kids as possible.”

In the “March of the Caterpillar” video, sophomore Nate Bishop portrayed a student obsessed with biology. Susan Garn, a biology and English teacher, has a starring role in that video, some of which was filmed at a local park.

An upcoming video has a live bird, Phatty Fritch, in the lead role. The bird belongs to Lee Ann Fritch, technology coordinator at Perrysburg High School. After brushing its teeth and pecking at a mirror, the white feathered friend goes off to school, where it poses for a student ID card and then learns some school rules, such as `you must get a hall pass to go to the restroom.'

“We created quite a stir the day we had Phatty here,” said Ms. Housepian.

Students learn fast that movie making can be a slow process. May Soliman, a senior, has been working for weeks to produce a “Claymation” video. Handmade clay figurines - a chef, a dog, gingerbread men and others - pose for four seconds while Miss Soliman films. Then she stops, rearranges the characters and props, and films another four seconds. She repeats the process over and over.

“It is like taking a series of still pictures and then I'll speed it up on the computer” to create the animation, she said.

“It takes weeks of work for a minute of video,”Ms. Housepian said.

Students have found out that scheduling can be tedious, deadlines need to be met and there can be delays because of equipment problems: real world situations.

“What we are learning here is very career-oriented,” said Jake Pilewski, a senior who would like to land a job doing Web page design. “Sometimes it can be very stressful, but it is good training for a lot of things, like time management.”

He is a member of Hunters Run, a local band featured in the “Life in the Cellar” presentation. The band wrote the music and lyrics for the video.

Other students, including senior Krystal Connell, said the video production work has sparked interest in careers related to the film industry.

Senior Haroon Tariq, who plans to pursue an engineering degree in college, is a special effects expert, according to Ms. Housepian. It was Haroon, she said, who figured out how to add a homey touch to the Cellar Production's quirky little house that is shown at the end of the videos: a curl of smoke wafts from the chimney.

“This is all about learning,” Ms. Housepian said. “The ideas they come up with are wonderful. We have a creative, open atmosphere that encourages ideas. Once they get on a roll, they really start rolling.”



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