Inside Seven
Current Issue: April 2014
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Employee Spotlight
Steve DeVorkin, Caltrans District 7 television specialist for the Graphic Services unit, part of the External Affairs Division.

Spotlight on Steve DeVorkin, Caltrans TV Specialist
by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 05/2010

Steve DeVorkin is trained in the language of video storytelling.

[Click on photos to read captions.]

He’s wired and well-connected…(well, wired in the sense of having a lot of cable wires around)…and it’s required for his job as the District 7 television specialist. It’s a position held by just a few such skilled persons in State government.

Anyone who knows Steve DeVorkin knows his infectious enthusiasm not only for life, family, friends, co-workers and his hobbies, but for his job, and yours, too. He wants to learn all about his internal and external customers and their work so that he can deliver the best product when recruited to produce a video or document a transportation project. One of his many passions is producing video documentaries, and Steve brings a wealth of expertise to Caltrans including photography, film, videography, history and the art of storytelling.

“I love history, acting, documentaries,” said DeVorkin. “I was born into storytelling; one grandfather was an actor in Poland and the other was a photographer in Russia.”

His hobby is steam engine trains and he is a member of the Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park and volunteers for its annual ‘Depot Day.’ Every October, Steve channels ‘Sir Topham Hatt’, a character from the children’s train story “Thomas and Friends” and entertains the crowd in full costume which DeVorkin admits is not his favorite.

“I love to act the part of Santa Fe Claus, Santa’s rail riding cousin, mostly because I don’t have to shave.”

Before joining Caltrans in 1993, Steve was bitten by the “Hollywood Bug” when he was on the comedy club circuit, and acted for eight years. He was cast on TV sitcoms such as “Cheers” and “Night Court” and did a commercial with television personality and host Alex Trebeck for the ‘Jeopardy’ game show.

“Steve is very resourceful and supportive to the entire staff,” said Stephanie Jones, Graphic Services Manager. “His is creative in his craft and has a unique style in interviewing people and telling stories.”

Every Photograph is a Piece of History

DeVorkin is the department’s de-facto historian and archivist for all graphic-related images. He has helped District 7’s Graphic Services unit build and maintain an archive of film and photographs documenting Caltrans work since its 1930’s beginnings.  (Below is an audio and visual clip for the Arroyo Seco Parkway that was produced by DeVorkin. It’s historic footage of the steam rail track where Metro Rail now runs. He found the same spot where it was photographed decades ago from the hill.)

DeVorkin says that today, Caltrans needs to stay at the forefront of developing communication channels, such as live video webcasting. He sees his craft as a TV specialist to help Caltrans keep up with video imaging for disseminating information to the public and internally for employees.

“I joined Caltrans at the beginning of the desktop video revolution. Now, Caltrans is moving towards live webcasting for public community meetings,” said DeVorkin. “Technology is changing our source for news and information. People aren’t reading anymore; they’re watching TV, You-Tube, and the Internet, so that’s where we need to be, too.”

There isn’t much that DeVorkin will not do to get the best video, sharpest photo or clearest sound clip. He’s climb hillsides with brush-clearing goats and rock-blasting engineers, walked the highest planks of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, lain in the middle of I-210, flown in helicopters and picked a perfect spot in lift trucks for the best visuals.

“The most memorable and moving documentation for me involved the tragic I-5/SR-14 tunnel fire in 2007,” he said. “I learned first hand how Caltrans responds to emergencies and the full spectrum of people involved behind and on-the-scene on a fast-moving project from beginning to end.”

DeVorkin is committed to his craft for Caltrans through audio and video documentation and storytelling, but he says that the heart of a story always comes from people.

Steve DeVorkin Walks the Planks of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the Port of Long Beach. There isn’t much that DeVorkin will not do to get the best video, sharpest photo or clearest sound clip.  He’s climb hillsides with brush-clearing goats and rock-blasting engineers, lain in the middle of I-210, and picked a perfect spot in cherry pickers for the best visuals.  What is… To shoot a commercial to promote ‘Jeopardy,' Alex?’ 
And the answer is:  ’Why are Steve DeVorkin and TV personality and game show host, Alex Trebeck wearing bowties in the mid-80’s?