It's first period at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta, and Kevin Ramponi is sitting on a stool in front of a neon-green backdrop waiting for his cue. A year ago, this 16-year-old cinematography student didn't have a clue about video production, but now he is the anchor of the school's daily television bulletin.
"When you step into this class, you are learning," Kevin said. "I had never used a Mac before I came into this classroom. I didn't know how different it was. I didn't even know how to turn the computer off."
Under the leadership of teacher Matthew Stroup, the school's cinematography program takes students from media production novices to pros. One student already has a contract with Universal Music Group.
At the heart of it all is the mastering of Final Cut Suite, a professional-grade audio and video editing program used across the media industry. During the introductory class, students learn the basics of the software. In more advanced cinematography, they are responsible for producing Clark's daily bulletin, which provides school news and club activities and the cafeteria menu.