SWOCC Studios, (A.K.A., Southwest Oakland Cable Comission) was a PEG station center operating out of Farmington, MI. It was a joint venture of the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills, and Novi; and produced government access channel content for all three cities. Its initial form was created in 1982, due to a tri-city cable contract. Its most prominent era began in 2003, when it received its location on Nine Mile Rd. On March 24th of 2016, Novi editor Dave Reinhardt announced on his Facebook timeline that the station would be "closing its doors" some time around the day's end of March 28th of 2016, implying that the studio was going out of business.
Channels and content
Being a PEG station, its works were displayed on cable by default. SWOCC operated four channels locally in 2010:
- Farmington 15
- Farmington Hills 8
- Novi 13
- InfoTV 12
The last one on this list was a public access channel, and several regular visitors to SWOCC specialized in creating content specifically for channel 12. The stations' numbers were assigned by their locations in Bright House's channel lineup for the area; so the channels were assigned different numbers to AT&T subscribers.
Due to the studio having a very limited budget for its operations, shortages in workforce for lower-end projects was oftentimes filled by hiring on interns for several-month, unpaid apprenticeship periods. Interns were sometimes taken in from local-area high schools, but were more predominantly from various college campuses in Michigan. A lot of SWOCC staff in 2010 consisted of graduates from Ferris, so it was only logical that Ferris and SWOCC had a good working relationship with each other.
For the beginning of 2010, Callie Thomas was sent to SWOCC in pursuit of completing her degree in TDMP at Ferris. She returned briefly to help cover the city parade, but extended her internship period by continuing on at Fox 2 Detroit. She left behind for the longest time a gray sweater that she forgot in a drawer, and could not be bothered to retrieve it.
Around late April of 2010, the Dozerfleet founder began looking for a suitable place to go for completion of an internship. Places that were initially taken into consideration included Grand Rapids Community College (which later accepted the K.A.,) Coastline Studios in Grand Rapids (which later accepted Nate Totten,) and WKTV in Wyoming, MI (which later accepted Tabby Young.) SWOCC was a last resort when none of the other places really saw how the Dozerfleet vision fit their own. The Dozerfleet founder was alerted by Ferris TDMP Seminar class instructor Clayton Rye at the 2010 Ferris Video Festival that SWOCC was interested.
Frank Molner and Lamarr English has already been accepted to SWOCC a short time before that, and their starting date was set as June 1st of 2010. The Dozerfleet founder joined them on June 7th, arriving at SWOCC around 7:33 AM. The first day consisted primarily of doing research on video codecs, which was followed by a day of creating channel slides in Adobe Photoshop 5.0 and another day of shooting footage for the Nature Discovery Center ad.
Ferlon Webster soon joined the team shortly before it was announced that Callie was leaving for Fox 2. He let the team know that he was only going to be on for three months to finish his internship for Specs Howard, as opposed to the six months required for Ferris internships.
The year 2010 proved a major transition period for SWOCC staff both in terms of its interns and its regular staff. As a result; Kat, Nathan, Melissa, and Sam would all find jobs elsewhere. Melissa would later come back, but only part time. The section of Farmington Hills' division that was actually occupied by Farmington Hills staff was cut in half, as a partner came in to rent studio space on that end of the building.
Amidst the changes, Frank was able to be hired on for full time employment as Sam's replacement. Lamarr came back as a part-time production assistant, after being out of a job for a little bit, though he eventually left and found work out-of-state. Jeremy Duloc and other Ferris students who graduated later on would consider getting their internships completed at SWOCC long after the Intern Trio had either gotten regular jobs at SWOCC or else moved on to jobs elsewhere.
There were a variety of projects provided for interns to partake of. Finding events in the area and deciding whether they were worth major coverage or just Special Event coverage was one of those many undertakings. Either way, interns either had a script provided in advance or else had to write their own scripts. Footage would be edited to scripts once approved, usually in an Avid system. Interns were also expected to make as many different non-complex graphics as were necessary for given projects.
Studio shoots and sound room recordings were also done frequently, which included both high production in Studio A and robot camera operations on smaller shows in Studio B. When not shooting, writing, graphic creating, or editing; interns were often assigned odd jobs. These included setup and take down of equipment for shoots, conducting online research on elections, and creating slides for the station's four channels in keeping with miscellaneous community events.
Not all projects which were either assigned to or proposed by interns panned out completely. Sometimes, events were canceled. Coverage of events would also be canceled due to equipment failures or personal emergencies. Sometimes, editing equipment malfunctioned and destroyed source footage. Accidents with the handling of source footage can also resulted in cancellation of event coverage. Dozerfleet-relevant projects were not all immune to problems:
- The Troublemakers' concert at Fuerst Park in Novi almost wasn't covered due to a the tape having faulty hardware, making it difficult to extract footage.
- The Miss Farmington Pageant concert was shot on a tape of insufficient length, and barely had enough useful footage due to inadequate shooting conditions. Crowded theater conditions, and lack of cooperation from theater staff, led to limited availability of decent camera angles being made available for event coverage.
- The House of Worship Tour's coverage was canceled partially due to a lack of cooperation from the worship houses. Only the Jain temple and local mosque in Farmington Hills were serious about helping get the coverage done of their shares of the tour. The Methodist church was reluctant to comply, and the synagogue showed no interest in post-tour coverage of their facility.
- A city commission meeting in Novi that was intended to be a full-on event coverage was demoted to a Special Event when lighting conditions in the bar where the city's meeting was held proved unfavorable to remote production cameras.
Most notable was the scrapping of a proposed project: the Swinecopter.
This helicopter-pig hybrid contained a snout and eyes made of SWOCC symbols, as well as a propeller blade made of one. Swinecopter would have become SWOCC's mascot, but the idea was shot down because one of the regular workers feared it would become too popular and replace his black-and-white "Old Hollywood" opening sequence for the Special Events Show.
Oddly enough, a Flash-based game called Swine Copter would later appear online, unrelated to the SWOCC Swinecopter.
Not everyone important to SWOCC and its operations actually worked there. There were several hosts from the three cities that came on periodically to do shows, including Mary Engelman and Brian Golden. Some of the hosts did shows in their native environment, making SWOCC come to them. This included Chef Anne-Marie of the Longacre House Cooking Show.
In 2010, another prominent figure in four different SWOCC productions was Jenny Fernandez. She was appointed Miss Farmington 2010 in the pageant, featured in the parade, and sang the anthem to begin a race. She also was the 2010 winner of Farmington Idol.
Election coverage in 2010
In addition to a whole slew of ordinary individuals from the three cities visiting SWOCC or having SWOCC visit them to make various shows in 2010, dozens of candidates were contacted in the hopes that they'd come on for various components of election coverage. Due to the three cities being too obsessed with their image of being "nice" places to engage in an open and honest debate that actually was willing to refer to itself as a debate, a debate called a "forum" was held in Studio A. It featured primarily of city officials that were up for election that year, most of which were either Republican or Democrat.
The Candidates Spotlight, a series of short videos shown in a chain succession, allowed for candidates from a broader range of election-relevant positions to give their personal testimonies of why they intended to run for election to begin with. Originally set to be two-party, some hard work and determination by the Dozerfleet founder ensured that this segment was open to five parties.
A teaser trailer for the primary and general elections of 2010 was generated by the Dozerfleet founder and set to air shortly before the primary held at the beginning of August. Election 2010 ensured that its ending title card carried symbols of the Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, and Constitution parties.
Candidates Spotlight resulted in at least one Constitution Party candidate showing up at SWOCC (Stacey Mathia.) On his own time and separate from SWOCC operations, the Dozerfleet founder officially endorsed Stacey for governor of Michigan both on the Dozerfleet Database and on The Dozerfleet Forum. DzMD (known as Utterly Sims at the time) would even feature a download of Stacey and her Lt. Governor candidate pick Chris Levels as characters for The Sims 3. One Green Party candidate showed up: Harley Mikkelson. Running for governor, he took up most of the Green Party of Michigan's election budget. Therefore, the party didn't have a sufficient amount of funds to offer a significant number of candidates to run for elections in Oakland County. Surprisingly few Republicans and Democrats actually showed up for the bigger elections whose categories mattered to the three cities, so the 2010 project nearly became the Libertarian Party Power Hour.
|Regular staff in 2010||Interns in 2010|
| Caren Collins-Fifer
|| Melissa Bondy
|| Callie Thomas