I spent my five years at RPI heavily involved in RPI TV, it was the first extracurricular activity I got involved in on campus and it’s safe to say I made a majority of my acquaintances at RPI as a direct result of my membership in the organization. Over the years I served as News Manager, Station Manager, and a few other positions that have now been deleted or otherwise removed from history. If you’re unfamiliar with RPI TV, I suggest you check out their wikipedia page which provides a pretty high level overview of the organization. I can’t remember, but I might have started that page.
One of the tenants of RPI TV’s existence, as well as a handful of other organizations on campus, is the RPI Hockey season… the only sport that RPI is (at least as I understand it) competitive at some decently high levels. If memory serves, RPI TV first started filming hockey because one or two of the clubs early members were particular fans of the sport and figured it would be something fun to film. I think that’s a good attitude to take towards productions, I had a similar philosophy when it came to Student Senate meetings though there was a touch of service-to-a-higher-calling in there as well.
As a very interested member in RPI TV I was mildly interested in participating in any activity, I didn’t see hockey as any more exciting than football or some strange dance or award show. Freshman year I found myself busy the first few weekends when hockey season came up, and approximately everyone else was interested in helping out so there weren’t any slots for me to fill (at the time there were slots planned well in advanced). I should have seen this as a forecast for the rest of my time there.
Come sophomore year, I had leg up on the rest of the RPI TV crew, I had a station wagon. That made me particularly valuable considering the second best candidate for moving equipment was a small civic or something along those lines. It could, and had, been made to work, but when lots of things needed to get moved I became the preferential transportation method because my seats folded down and you could actually see out the windows while driving a car full of stuff (that probably wasn’t as important in retrospect, but I like to thing safety first or second). When hockey season came around I chauffeured equipment to and from the field house, equipment that I rarely got to setup or use in any capacity. When the crew was short a cameraman and I was feeling bored I’d stick around to help out, often getting the least important lowest-room-for-screwing-up camera that existed. I didn’t have a desire to take away someone else’s role that they enjoyed doing or were perceived at being good at, but I also would have minded a chance to try my hand at something less mind-numbing or mildly important.
What quickly became apparent to me, in my role as senior equipment chauffeur, was that there were a lot of well established traditions that I was pretty clueless too as someone who hadn’t filmed hockey my freshman year. I hadn’t gone out afterwards for pizza (this was before Denny’s was popular, though I didn’t do that either) and it was very convenient for me to volunteer to stay back and straighten up the equipment while others went out or headed back to a party in someone’s apartment. I hadn’t done anything important or worth celebrating operating lame-duck cam, so I might as well take a few minutes to restore some self-pride by straightening up some cables.
In the back of my mind I kept hoping for a non-hockey opportunity to do something exciting and it kept not coming. Partially because hockey had already trumped everything in the priority queue and partially because I’m not good at finding exciting things to do. At the time my experience was producing daily news in a studio setting, neither of which RPI had (news, or a studio).
When my car became less relevant Junior year so did I. There was no longer reason for me to be senior chauffeur, my sole purpose if I wanted to have one, at a hockey event would be to operate the lame duck cam and pretend anyone cared. As you can guess, I ceased and desisted just about any hockey involvement that didn’t involve pleading for extra help first (aka there was once a holiday weekend before break or something). I don’t know if I would have been any good at anything else, but the fact is that no one else was interested in finding that out. Everyone had, my freshman year, established pretty solid roles that didn’t have any good place for me. These things happen, I’m not as upset over it as you probably think.
More troubling, was the shift I felt I felt in the club from a group who filmed hockey for a few weeks a year among a plethora of other productions to a hockey-filming club that warmed up a few times before and after the hockey season to break in new people, equipment, etc. As this spilled over into things like budgeting and long term planning, decisions weren’t made what would be the best solution to a generic need the club had or what tool is blocking members from trying a different production style to what do we need to make our hockey productions better. Anything else was secondary at best (and humorously football was secondary, which looks a lot like hockey if you view it from the a color and depth-blind birds-eye view). It didn’t matter that I wanted access to a studio, or that a camera was too large to be practical for a single camera shoot, hockey didn’t need a studio and you had N people to help move and setup gear for hockey. If you weren’t replicating the hockey setup at non-hockey events people thought you were weird or bound to make a mistake just because that was the way everything had been done previously; all because a few guys happened to enjoy watching hockey.
All in all, I had fun in RPI TV. I’m not sure what I would have done differently in my involvement. I ended up directing / using the switcher for a total of 4(?) productions, 2 of which never ended up being recorded; some cultural show that no one wanted anything to do with and the GM Debates which were mildly interesting events but nightmares for other reasons (t’was busy season). I went out with club members a grand total of once to Denny’s after a production during my 5 years at RPI. I didn’t run for President of the club partially because I didn’t like hockey enough, and I don’t know I would have had any luck securing a VP position if I’d tried for similar reasons. I suspect I won’t go down in the history books, but until someone wipes my database entries I’ll be that guy who filmed a whole lot of senate meetings that no body cared about; I’ll have to be ok with that. My other contributions will likely have been overwritten by more exciting and hockey-centric ones.
As the Chief Mate once described things, a more adequate name may for the group may have been “RPI Sports Sports”.