Camera competition

LIHUE — When it comes to interviewing, Taylor Nishimoto is more comfortable asking the questions than answering them.

“I usually don’t do interviews — I normally ask the questions,” she said.

That’s why Nishimoto was nervous when a crew from PBS Hawaii came to Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School to interview her about her experience at the Student Television Network Convention.

“There was three or four people starting at me, with their lights and cameras. It was scary,” she said.

Nishimoto was one of 21 students in the school’s digital media class who traveled to Atlanta to participate in the STN Convention in March. The convention pits schools from across the nation against each other to produce and complete various projects on a deadline.

CKMS has been going to the convention since 2006, said Kevin Matsunaga, digital media teacher.

“It’s cool to be surrounded by teachers and students who do what you do,” Matsunaga said.

During the convention, students were given a variety of projects to complete: spot features, for which students were given a topic and had five hours to shoot and edit a story; a movie trailer, for which they had six hours to shoot and edit a movie trailer; anchoring team, in which students were given three hours to complete a 45-second stand up for a news segment; and a nat sound team, for which students were told to put together a story using only captured sound.

Students from CKMS competed with about 2,000 other students. The four-day convention was held in a convention hall at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta.

“Everyone’s running around to get to places,” said Napua Canales. “It’s like sports, but with cameras.”

The intensity in the room is “magnified” as deadline approaches, Matsunaga said.

“It’s a great experience, as stressful as it is. The excitement is awesome,” he said. “So, for us just to finish, we were so happy to make that deadline.”

While it was stressful to compete with students on the Mainland, Nishimoto, who has participated in the convention for two years, said she thrived under the pressure.

“It’s crazy stress that gives you more anxiety than you ever imagined. But when you make the deadline, it’s a relief,” she said. “If you win, all those tears and yelling was worth it.”

Lessons in teamwork and time management were learned along the way.

“If you don’t have teamwork, you don’t have anything,” Canales said. “Even if you have a really good camera, but you can’t work together and are constantly yelling, or disagreeing, then you don’t have anything.”

Kolten Gusman, an eighth-grader, agreed.

“You have to be open to ideas,” he said.

At the end of the convention, CKMS walked away with eight awards, including three first-place wins in the anchoring, public service announcement and Crazy 8s Short Film.

The school’s success was documented by PBS Hawaii, in a documentary called “Aloha Atlanta: HIKI NO at the Student Television Network Competition,” which will air Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

It will be online at pbshawaii.org after the broadcast premiere.

HIKI NO is a student news network that serves a mentor for Hawaii students as they create PBS-quality video stories. The 30-minute documentary follows the students as they compete in the convention.

“It was really interesting, because a camera followed you around everywhere,” Canales said.

The documentary also aims to show viewers what it’s like for Hawaii students to compete with Mainland students, according to a release.

The digital media class is already preparing for this year’s convention, which will be held in Anaheim, Calif. In addition to honing their skills, the class is also focusing on fundraising efforts — like hosting street and craft fairs, a golf tournament and a breakfast — to pay for the trip.

It cost about $2,800 per student to go to Atlanta. The price tag included airfare, meals and hotel accommodations. It also included a week in New York City.

This year’s convention will cost about $1,500 per student, Matsunaga said.

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