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Chris Xaver and Christine Guest

Hands-on ... cameras onChris Xaver and Christine Guest

If you've never seen an on-site television production, you might be surprised at the amount of equipment required to shoot one scene in one location. Tompkins Cortland Professor and Communication Arts Chair Chris Xaver is standing in front of three to four cameras today, shooting The Sweet Life, a cooking show for PBS television, and she's opened her house and her kitchen to a crew consisting of students and faculty, as well as a few neighbors gracious enough to help in the prep kitchen.

Aside from the cameras packed into her kitchen and the microphones dangling overhead, Xaver's first-floor bedroom and living room are lined with wires, draped in light-blocking blankets, and also home to a bank of computer monitors watched intently by students getting the hands-on experience reserved for juniors and seniors in four-year communication programs. It's an irreplaceable experience.

"When our students transfer, they are years ahead of their fellow students in terms of actual production experience," says Xaver. "What we're able to give them is applicable in the real world, and it's usually reserved for juniors and seniors at four-year schools."

The show is directed by Ithaca College professor Christine Guest.