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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

On Schools
VTV gives students' video clips top billing

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

In the words of Kalaheo High School student Mark Frazer, "VTV is the bomb."

That highest of accolades is for Varsity Television. Dubbed America's High School Network, VTV is touted as the world's first satellite television network by high school students for high school students.

It provides an outlet for all the video that teens are churning out in multimedia classes across the country. Just a quick view suggests it could become a breeding ground for future stars.

Kalaheo's award-winning Communication Arts Program has its share of clips on VTV, as does Wai'anae High.

More "real world" than MTV, VTV is a fascinating amalgam of pop culture, old-fashioned teen angst and cutting-edge technology.

A VTV session could reveal anything from a news clip about students training as firefighters, to teens tap-dancing to Ricky Martin, a signing choir, slick music videos, drama, debate, cheerleading ... and it's all written, shot, edited and produced by high school students from across the country.

Among the 2,000 student clips airing on VTV are three Island-style music videos by Wai'anae High students. And from the Kalaheo CommArts room comes "Hawai'i Heat," an aloha-shirted spoof of "Miami Vice."

Also destined for VTV is Kalaheo's "The Black Night," a sophisticated mimicry of the latest genre of adrenaline-pumping action/kung fu flicks. And on the softer side: "The Heartbreak Zone," a teen's witty but blue rendition of getting dumped.

Inspiration comes from personal experience, everything that happens in school, said Kalaheo student Heather Yarbrough.

"VTV is students doing their own thing," said the Kalaheo senior, who has found her calling through the school's CommArts program.

Heather teamed up with her fellow students last year to create "Hydrochloric Hottie," a Pygmalion-type tale where the lovers ride off into the sunset on a Razor scooter.

What's startling about the work is that these high school students are so at home with things such as nonlinear editing and techniques such as rotoscoping.

(For those of us who need to ask: Rotoscoping involves taking video frame by frame and enhancing it to add special effects.)

And having their work beamed across the nation does wonders for student self-esteem and school pride, said Wai'anae teacher Candy Suiso.

"We don't have the state-of-the-art equipment like some of the others have, but the students are doing wonderful things with what we've got," Suiso said.

Many of her students have gone on to work in local television and radio, and others are designing Web pages and producing CDs.

Based in Austin, Texas, VTV started life in October as a Web site (myvtv.com), which today receives about 1 million hits a week.

The idea migrated to television in April, and Hawai'i's 'Olelo Community Television began airing it in July.

You can catch it on 'Olelo Channel 56, 3-5 p.m. Saturdays and 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sundays. More times will be added soon.

Reach Alice Keesing at akeesing@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8014.