Training turns out video specialists, military PR

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Public support is vital to the armed services' ability to carry out their mission of protecting the nation. Spreading the word to engender that support is where the Defense Information School comes in.

DINFOS takes students from all the military services and trains them on leading-edge broadcast and video technology, said Army Lt. Col. Rick Sims, director of broadcast and video production at DINFOS.

The students, who often do not have prior public affairs experience, are trained in less than 60 days to produce broadcast and video projects to be viewed by troops and the public worldwide.

"We need to turn 18- and 19-year-old kids from story consumers to storytellers in just a few months," Sims said Thursday after his keynote presentation at the Government Video Technology Expo in Washington, D.C.

To help make that accelerated learning curve possible, DINFOS has a shared-storage computer system that serves as an archive for all of the school's digital footage.

"There are 24 students using the editing system to pull pieces of footage, take parts out and build a product," Sims said. "They use it independently but can get it all at one time," which saves at least a day, compared with the old method of making video duplicates and passing them around.

During the expo Thursday, Sims showed examples of student-produced pieces that included a short documentary from the Marine Corps about the Korean War and a video about an Army training program in a Pennsylvania town that encourages kids to avoid drugs.

Sims, who is also a pilot, has produced videos in remote locations, including Bosnia and Fairbanks, Alaska. He helps train more than 650 students a year in six major courses of instruction, including basic broadcasting, electronic journalism and video production documentation.

He said students often end up teaching instructors the best way to do things using the latest technology. "It's the environment we live in," Sims said. "These kids grow up with computers. They are sponges when it comes to anything digital or with automation."

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