Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Cultivate Video Skills

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When country music superstar Garth Brooks walked into the new Child Life Zone at Cook Children’s Medical Center (Fort Worth, TX), he exclaimed, “"I had to be 50 and have a record deal before I got something like this,” at the sight of the professional broadcast and recording studio.


The $1.5 million studio, originating up to three live shows a day that are broadcast 24/7 on a closed circuit channel throughout the 456-room facility, is outfitted with several Panasonic P2 HD camcorders—two AG-HPX370s, an AG-HPX250 and AG-HVX200A—an AW-HE50S remote HD camera, and several remote and shading controllers.

Cook Children’s is a nationally recognized Pediatric Medical Center and the flagship location of a health care system that covers 47 percent of the state of Texas. The Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation and the Troy Aikman Foundation combined their efforts to donate the Child Life Zone (CLZ), which includes a teen room with video games and a pool table, theater, library, kitchen and craft center, as well as the broadcast/recording studio. CLZ-TV went on the air last November, and is now broadcasting 24 hours a day, with daily live shows that patients and their families can call in to and be part of, right from their hospital room.

Other programming includes morning shows, “MK in the Morning” and “Karma Korner”; a cooking show; and “Short Sport Report,” hosted by a longtime patient who loves the Texas Rangers. Beyond entertainment, patients are welcome to come into the studio and learn the rudimentary production skills to create music videos and other personal content.

“CLZ-TV distracts the children from their illness, treatment and pain,” said Shawn Griffith, Broadcast Studio Producer. “Working and playing in the Zone affords the kids control and skills—and it gives them hope.”

Griffith, with an extensive background in filmmaking and production, was committed to professional production values. “We’re competing with iCarly and SpongeBob,” he said. “We use virtual sets and stage multi-camera shoots.”

Griffith explained that for studio-originated programming he typically utilizes the HPX250 handheld for the wide shot, the HPX370 shoulder-mounts for opposing/crossing single shots and the HVX200A handheld high and wide on a jib arm. The HE50S faces back on Griffith, who doubles as back-up talent to the shows’ hosts. A 1080/60i signal is output to a high-volume network-attached storage device, and packages are recorded in-camera to P2 media. Griffith edits variously on Avid, Final Cut and Adobe Premiere NLE systems.

“Earlier in my career, I’d worked with P2 gear and the P2 workflow, and I like the high quality and efficiency,” Griffith said. “The camcorders are great for field production, and we’ve done several events outside the hospital that we pipe into the building. The gear is reliable and rugged, an important asset when you’ve got kids playing with it.”

Griffith said his one year goal for CLZ-TV is to broadcast to Cook Children’s more than 60 buildings across the state. “Ultimately, we’d like to share our content with other children’s hospitals around the country,” he said. “I really believe the Zone experience has been transformative for patients: I see therapists and parents schedule treatment around the shows and their kids’ studio sessions. Perhaps most movingly, we’ve had children create videos that families have gone on to use in memorial services as part of a final tribute.”

For more information about Cook Children’s, visit www.cookchildrens.org.

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