SE: K-StateHD.TV Offers Students Unmatched Opportunities

Cody Isern started at K-StateHD.TV with “absolutely no knowledge” of video editing. Now, he’s interning with ESPN Los Angeles.


Dakota German also began as a “new guy who didn’t know much.” Now, he’s training fellow students and building on a resume stacked with skills and experience rare for someone still in college.  


Nicholas Patterson, entering his third year with K-StateHD.TV, said he “can’t even put into words” his progression since he began with the high-definition, digital network.  


These are just three examples of how K-StateHD.TV, which debuted in the fall 2011, has created an ideal environment for students with a desire to learn almost any part of the broadcasting world.


For those students, the advantages of working with K-StateHD.TV are vast.


The opportunities are greater. The expectations are higher. The technology measures up to the industry standard. Not to mention, K-StateHD.TV’s full-time staff takes pride in being able to groom students to ensure the overall product reflects a professional company.


‘A Real Blessing’


When students first come on with K-StateHD.TV, they will likely start with the basics: pulling cable, running cameras and “taking in everything,” as German put it.


As the foundation is built, the opportunities expand.


Isern knows all too well how far K-StateHD.TV can take a student. The past two years, Isern traveled with the K-State women’s basketball team, shooting video and producing packages while also being forced to mature as a professional quickly.


“It definitely made me mature by tenfold,” he said, now aware of all of the organizational details of working on the road. “You just have to be professional because you’re in a state by yourself and you represent K-State HD.TV, and you’re the only person getting that footage. The team needs it and the fans want that footage too.”


Patterson received a similar opportunity this past year. He traveled to some of the K-State track and field road meets, including the Big 12 Championships and the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon.


The experience, Patterson said, taught him to shoot, edit and turn around a video package in a timely fashion. He also learned how to adapt and enrich his skills for a certain sport.


“It’s definitely helped me learn how to film track, and not just film it, but learn the sport by traveling with them. By learning the sport, I know what to film, I know how to film it,” Patterson said. “Shoot, I watched the Olympic Trials in order to see how they’re doing things in order to improve my skills so it can help better the videos getting put out on K-StateHD.TV.


“It’s been a real blessing and a great opportunity that K-StateHD.TV provides to students to be able to do that.”


German, who’s been with K-StateHD.TV since its first year, has gone from pulling cables and running cameras to producing high-end commercials, directing games and designing entire graphics packages. In a production truck, he’s learned nearly every position.


“I feel, honestly, like I’m ready to go out in the workforce,” he said. “If I didn’t have K-StateHD.TV, I do not think I would be nearly as prepared. They really gave me all the skills that I got.”


When measured up to other student video opportunities, Patterson said, “There’s no comparison.”


“Everything that I’m going to give in my portfolio, my demo reel, it’s coming from here,” he continued. “This should be a selling point for students who are coming here on campus and are wanting to get into video production or filming or any live TV broadcast. This is a fantastic selling point to students.”


The opportunities available at K-StateHD.TV also include being able to learn any desired position within the department, allowing students to diversify their skillsets.


“K-State HD.TV is really great for students that want to learn,” German said, “because if you have the passion for it and you have the drive to go out and learn new things, K-StateHD.TV can provide all of that for you.”


‘Rising Tide’


A big part of what pushes students working at K-StateHD.TV at a faster pace is the expectations placed on them from the get-go.


Those expectations, whether it is for a game’s broadcast, a coach’s show or a highlight package, are “just a lot higher,” said Andy Liebsch, assistant director of video services for K-StateHD.TV. “It’s just something where they have to raise their levels of work to be able to do that.”


With each year of existence, K-StateHD.TV’s reputation within the industry has improved, leading to more opportunities to produce games for regional and national networks.


This has raised the bar for students even higher.


“Starting out, we were just trying to get as much content out there as we could. It was kind of more quantity over quality, and now I’d definitely say it’s more quality over quantity,” Isern said. “They set the standards pretty high for what they expect out of us, which is what they would expect from a full-time employee.”


Plenty of factors go into cultivating a professional culture made up of mostly students. A leading force in it is having a full-time staff willing to work with students at all experience levels and drive them in the same direction.


“It’s invaluable,” German said of working with K-StateHD.TV’s full-time staff. “When I first started, I didn’t know much, and they honestly turn that around pretty quick. I think the most valuable thing is they force you to learn what is expected of you in the real world, and that starts early.”


Isern said each full-time member offers something different for students to learn from, pointing out the graphics animation skills of video producer Preston Koerner, the “eye” for shooting video of producer Jay Moline and the patience of Liebsch when working with students.

“Everyone there is so professional and so knowledgeable about what they do and how they go about doing it,” Isern said. “Working for them, I’ve learned so much because they’ve been in the business for a while.”


Now, the teaching environment not only includes the full-time staff. As more students become involved with K-StateHD.TV earlier in their college careers, training can come from experienced workers like German.  


“Everyone kind of teaches everyone a little bit,” Liebsch said, “Like a rising tide, it lifts all the ships.”


All of it adds up to an enjoyable and beneficial work environment, Patterson said.


“I love coming into work every day,” he said, “and part of the reason is, one, I love what I do, but I also love the people I work with.”


Top of the Line


On Isern’s first day of his internship with ESPN Los Angeles, he noticed a relieving detail when checking out the equipment the largest sports network in the world used.


“I came in and noticed our cameras are basically the exact same that we had back at K-State,” he said. “I knew exactly what I was doing when I put my hands on it and it wasn’t something foreign to me.”


K-StateHD.TV's equipment provides not only a professional product for K-State fans across the globe to view, but it also gives student workers an easier transition into jobs after college.


“When we built our equipment, we had Fox come in and give us a list of what they had in most of their trucks — the best trucks they had equipment wise — and then we copied it,” Brian Smoller, director of video services at K-StateHD.TV, said. “So that walking out of here, (students) were going to be using the same stuff that they would find on a Fox truck somewhere.”


With the industry standard technology, K-StateHD.TV has increasingly been able to work games for regional and national networks. Because of this uptick — up to 57 games last year — the number of students needed has grown and the number of opportunities has expanded along with it.


“When I joined we only had a crew of like 20 or 30 people,” German said, now working with a crew of about 60 people that include roughly 40 students. “As we’ve been expanding in what we do, that’s where we’ve been getting a lot more people.”


Being Set Up


Isern first applied for an ESPN internship in 2015. He didn’t hear anything back. After another year with K-StateHD.TV, he took another shot at it. Out of more than 600 candidates, he was chosen as one of five ESPN production operation interns.


“The experience so far, it’s once in a lifetime,” said Isern, who’s operated cameras for shows such as SportsCenter and SportsNation, reviewed video packages for errors and trained on audio as well.


Without K-StateHD.TV, he’s pretty certain he wouldn’t be in Los Angeles.


“Honestly, I feel like working with K-State HD.TV the last three years, it’s set me up for what I want to do with my future career,” he said. “I feel like I’ll be prepared when I graduate. I’ll have a good background knowledge through kind of everything: collegiate athletics, video programs and technology used.”


Patterson traveled a similar path to his internship with Sporting Kansas City. He applied for an internship one year, didn’t hear back, and after another year with K-StateHD.TV was able to secure a position.


“That was a really great experience,” said Patterson, who helped operate the videoboard at Sporting Park, ran cameras on game days and assisted with recap videos for Sporting Club Network. “I was able to bring a lot of the experience I knew from here over to Sporting KC, and those were great people to work with and I felt really comfortable in that environment because of the skillsets I’ve learned here.”


For students like German, working at K-StateHD.TV can provide enough experience in a number of areas that an internship wouldn’t necessarily add much.


“Honestly, after what I managed to get out of everything here, I don’t think another internship would’ve really prepared me that much more unless I was doing something that was totally different,” German said. “What I’ve gotten out of here, I think it’s plenty for me.”


Smoller, who’s been on the forefront of K-State’s groundbreaking digital network, said what he’s truly enjoyed is watching students grow and take their skills to the professional world.


“That’s the cool part, is seeing what people have gone to do,” he said, “You remember back when they were here and you think, ‘They’ve done it. Good for them.’”

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