Candles and Carols preps AU students for broadcast careers

Wed, 2011-11-30 08:58 -- univcomm
November 30, 2011

Dressed in all black, Anderson University junior Collin Rudkin will try his hardest to blend in with the stage during Friday evening’s annual “Candles and Carols” concert.

The communications major from Casper, Wyo., will shoot footage on stage from a hand-carried camera weighing just shy of 20 pounds during the production. His goal — to get the right shot by remaining invisible.

rudkin“I’m a little nervous. Last year I was in the balcony and felt like I could just fly under the radar because I was the least exposed,” Rudkin said. “This year I am on the stage in front of everyone.”

[Photo: Anderson University student Collin Rudkin]

“Candles and Carols” is a holiday music program recorded and distributed by AU’s Covenant Productions®. It will air in December on more than 100 television stations. The program will also be shown internationally by the EWTN television network.

Friday’s concert is free to the public and begins at 7:30 p.m. in Reardon Auditorium, 1015 E. Fifth St.

Although this will be the 47th annual Candles and Carols, producer Don Boggs said the program has only been televised since about 1989.

“It’s been a musical tradition at AU for many years,” he said. “The show consists of AU musical ensembles. Various music groups are represented.”

Boggs, general manager of Covenant Productions®, said the program started out as a community event for Anderson. Once televised, that community grew to 120 television stations across the United States, one to two satellites for international channels and is watched in 1 billion homes, he said.

“It’s an unusual thing because most Christmas shows for TV typically are shot a year ahead of time or in July,” Boggs said. “It’s always shot the first Friday of December and aired that year. We have to turn around the program very quickly.”

walkthroughA staff of mostly students have less than 13 days to take the footage filmed on the evening of Dec. 2 and produce a program ready to be uploaded to various stations by the 15th.

[Photo: The production staff of "Candles and Carols" meets in Reardon Auditorium to see the production setup for the concert.]

“We use eight cameras and six of those are operated by students,” Boggs said. “That’s just unheard of — to film a program of that high of quality to be seen internationally and use students. We’ve got great students though.”

Covenant provides professional experiences and credits for students through programs like “Candles and Carols.”

“A credit is important because it’s like a résumé,” Boggs said. “Employers look for that experience. How do you get that experience? Well, this fills in that gap.”

Planning for “Candles and Carols” started in July with music selections. In August, stations were called and the music was licensed. Three weeks before the program, assignments were passed out, followed by two large production meetings. On Thursday, a full dress rehearsal will be filmed.

“The dress rehearsal just confirms the shots. It’s where we make sure the plan works. Then on Friday, we shoot live,” Boggs said. “It’s a very challenging production that demonstrates in a very powerful way the different parts of the profession.”

meetingWith help from AU faculty and professionals in residence, students get a chance to try different positions within the production process each year.

[Photo: David Armstrong, operations director for Covenant Productions®, meets with the Candles and Carols production staff.]

“There are so many different aspects of production,” Rudkin said. “AU allowed me to get a feel for some of them.”

Rudkin’s first year of production with “Candles and Carols” was spent in the role of assistant director. The next year he spent the evening filming from a hard camera, a stationary camera on a tripod, from the balcony. Next year, Rudkin hopes to return to the role of assistant director and direct a few segments on his own.

“I got exposed to everything — equipment, professionals,” he said. “It was so much more than expected from my first semester.”

Rudkin said the experience he gains from “Candles and Carols” will help him with future internships and even employment after college.

“I’ll spend my summer interning, hopefully in Colorado or Wyoming because that’s where I’m from and where I’d like to live,” he said. “Whatever I do will influence what I decide to do after graduation.”

— April Abernathy is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission. Photo credit: John P. Cleary / The Herald Bulletin.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.