Reflections on the First Chapter of the Visual Media Studio

by Juliana Cecera ’16, MBA ’17 
Graduate Assistant & Video Production Supervisor

My junior year of college, I knew that I needed to get an internship but I didn’t know where. At the time, I was lost and confused as to what I wanted to do with my life and career. Thankfully, I landed an internship with Dr. Mauri Pelto, creating videos for the college. I had never used the software he introduced me to, so for 20 hours a week, I would teach myself how to work with Final Cut Pro and learn to create videos. The expansion of technology on Nichols College campus has drastically improved during my time as a student and in my graduate studies as well. From once working on a laptop at any available table I could find, I now have the capability to work at a desk in an office-like setting.

The year after my internship with Dr. Pelto, I decided to stay on as his student worker. Then last October, the new, ground-breaking academic building opened, housing the Visual Media Studio —  with a state-of-the-art Green Screen and Editing suites. Since the Visual Media Center was being planned during my junior year as an undergraduate, I worked alongside Dr. Pelto and Professor Robert Russo to learn how to use the technology and master the software. It was beautiful, like a sparkly new toy that you don’t want to touch, but just look at.  However, with anything, it wasn’t perfect right off the bat. We did have some bumps in the road when starting off.

_MG_6950When opening the Green Screen and editing suites, there was a lot we didn’t know. Running what would become almost like a department is a lot different than working by yourself editing videos on a laptop. Some of the bigger problems we encountered were logistical. For example, the quality of the cameras in the Green Screen created such large video files that we did not have the properties to store them. We worked with the Information Technology Department to obtain three external hard drive centers, each with 8 TB of storage. Getting the students to be on camera was another challenge. There was much hesitation and whispering from students about utilizing the technology. One of our first groups that we worked with was Len Samborowski’s LEAD class. His students were to create videos to demonstrate in a storyline what it means to be a leader and have grit. The students videos were a success and later shown at a cultural about grit presented by Professor Samborowski.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 7.34.33 PMSince the first LEAD class, it has since boomed. At the time when we filmed Len Samborowski’s LEAD class, the library owned only a few portable external hard drives. Students would check out a hard drive from the library and use it to edit off of when working on class projects. Since the library one had a few, problems arose when the demand to use the editing suites increased. Due to the heavy demand, more portable hard drives were purchased. In addition to the hard drives being located at the library, the school purchased three camera kits that were stored at the library. These kits were equipped with a Canon Powershot G16, GoPro Hero 4, tripod and accessories. Students would check the camera kits out at the library and bring them to the editing suites to work on the footage. This seemed counterproductive, so Professor Russo offered to house the kits over in the Visual Media Center. With the increase in demand from professors, we also hired three work study students to create a team. These students are Eric McLellan and Bill Rauscher.

_MG_6954Currently, my team is consistently working with classes, professors, clubs, and departments to create material. We have also had the chance to record students and alumni in the studio to capture their stories. The level of usage has forced us to develop efficiencies, such as increase in production turnover and staffing. Nichols College has encouraged the use of experiential learning, or hands-on learning. Classes have since designed part of the curriculum to incorporate this type of learning. Currently, I am the Graduate Assistant for the Sports Broadcasting Curriculum, which was designed to incorporate the Green Screen or film/editing into every project. This is a brand new practicum, currently in its second semester.

Len Samborowski has also utilized the Green Screen and editing suites, creating podcasts called “Manager Memo” that have launched on iTunes. In each podcast, he interviews a different leader from various industries. Rob Russo teaches Visual Communications, where he has incorporated editing, having his students create 30-second teaser commercials for Thompson Speedway. The clips were a hit and Thompson Speedway would like to continue partnering with Rob and his students. Jean Beaupre teaches IMG_1576Principles of Marketing, where her students utilized the Visual Media Studio technology to create a video to get the attention of the Crocs corporation. They were successful and later had a conference call with Crocs, learning about their marketing strategies. Within a year, the Green Screen has been a success. My team and I have worked with 85% of all departments, 90% of all majors, and about 25% of the student body. Some examples of this work below.

Over the last year, we have produced over 150 videos, both student work and professional work. The growth of the Visual Media Studios in just a year was astounding. I look forward to the evolution of the studios in years to come.





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