BSC mass communications instructor Cole Bernhardt sits in a small, dark control room in the basement of the NECE. A Tricaster flickers, and three screens show the action several hundred yards away in the BSC Armory where the Mystics women’s basketball team races the Miles Community College (MCC) Pioneers up and down the court.
The chatter in the control room sounds a lot different than the cheering from the stands. Bernhardt continuously directs the student running the cameras in the gym:
Follow the action follow the action. Very nice follow. Perrrrfect. There’s a replay stand by replay. Oh nice. Back out to camera one.
Normal game play. I’ll be on two, replay is camera three shot.
Now really tight on the shooter… tight, tight, tight, tiiiight! Oh! A little too tight.
Snap in – not herky jerky just snap and concise – that’s perfect!
Stand by three. Three’s up.
Good follow. Good follow.
At the other end of that chatter is BSC student Levi Holzer, a 21-year-old Bowman native, running the cameras for the first time. Camera one is mounted on the wall above him, and cameras two and three are on a tripod that he uses to follow the action. In constant contact via headsets, Bernhardt gives him direction and encouragement.
“It’s not hard to do. I like sports, and this is fun,” Holzer says.
After trying education at DSU, then business at BSC, Holzer discovered videography during an internship with the Bismarck Bucks arena football team. He played football and ran track in high school, and coaches both of those sports in Mandan. He says being connected to athletics through the camera is rewarding. He appreciates the hands-on learning he’s getting with the BSC Mass Comm program.
“I’m learning how to do play-by-play, set up cameras. I’m ready for a lot of different job scenarios, and getting credit for it, too.”
On this particular night, no students were providing color commentary for the livestream, but Mason Thorensen, a fellow mass comm student, and Holzer will serve in that role for upcoming games.
“When we got the idea to do this, it was a goal of ours to have the students involved as much as possible.” says Dusty Anderson, another mass comm instructor. “It’s great to see the excitement from them covering the games.”
While BSC has had broadcast equipment for some time, recent technology has eliminated the need to for the control room to be housed in the same building as the action. That improvement motivated the mass communication instructors (who also serve as BSC’s video production crew) to cover BSC’s basketball and volleyball home games this year as part of their curriculum.
“I believe we are the only ones in the state using this new technology, at least at any of the campuses,” says Anderson.
On this particular night, the women lost, but the men won. For the production crew, winning or losing isn’t what drives their effort. The goal is to get good shots – regardless of which team makes the shots.
At one point, Bernhardt encourages Holzer to zoom in on the MCC coach who was becoming visibly irate over a call. He was animated and his antics helped keep things interesting for the livestream audience.
Channeling the excitement of a game onto a screen at home is a craft Bernhardt honed covering Bismarck Wizards basketball games at the Civic Center. He’s focused on directing the storytelling, not on the game itself. “If you asked me who was winning at the half, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.”
What Bernhardt does know, is that this kind of hands-on training is unique to BSC. “I don’t’ know of any other [two-year] college doing this.”
To see the Mystic Athletics live go to bismarckstate.edu/community/live/mystics/
. To learn more about BSC Mass Communications visit bismarckstate.edu/academics