Students in the School of Media Arts & Studies are able to explore a wide range of courses that match their own interests and talents that will prepare them for a career in media. The school has several state-of-the-art facilities and labs and teaches students how to use the tools of the trade, from software to audio equipment, allowing them to graduate with plenty of hands-on experience.
All MDIA students have access to a classroom and lab wiki, known as the MDIA Sound Studio Manual, a website updated by faculty that allows students to see the spaces in real time and have updates and classroom information at hand almost instantly. Students can see when a classroom or lab is being used by a class or is available, view equipment operation manuals and they can access a list of available audio equipment and computer software. Students even have access to the sound effects servers through the Studio Manual.
“Students can see information from when rooms are occupied to the specific technology and software offered in each classroom paired with relevant support materials, it’s really an ideal teaching tool,” said Kyle P. Snyder a lecturer in the School of Media Arts & Studies. “Students can even see what field equipment is available including quantities and manuals. This tool came about because there is a seemingly infinite amount of information that needs to be conveyed which required a central repository. The Music Production & Recording Industry (MPRI) faculty realized if we put everything online students could have this available at all times. There is little information that students can’t find on the Studio Manual. It’s really fantastic.”
One of the first classrooms all Media Arts & Studies students will experience is Schoonover Center Room 346, the MDIA Lab. This collaborative classroom seats about 30 students in small “pods”, six students to a pod, with projector screens on two walls. In this classroom audio and video students work alongside one another on joint projects learning the basics of production. The pod seating design allows for better student-to-student interaction and facilitates student engagement and productivity in the class overall according to Snyder.
"The layout increases productivity, it helps you pay attention in class, it helps you work with other people,” said Chrissy Grubb, a freshman integrated media major. “I like the ability to use all of the technology that's on the Mac computers and I like how the desks are set up in little pods so it increases workability with other students. I also like the double layout of the projection screens so it's a lot easier for people on both sides of the room to follow along with what's going on.”
Upper class juniors and seniors can often be found in the Electronics Lab, located in Schoonover Center Room 351. In the course MDIA 4305 Recording Studio Design and Maintenance, taught by Associate Professor Jeff Redefer, students learn how to repair and even build their own audio equipment. Students in the course start off building a cable tester and then progress to repairing other analog equipment such as aligning analog tape machines. Just this academic year students have built analog compressors, reverb units and entire microphones.
“These are marketable skills that serve students well as they enter the workforce,” said Snyder. “Maybe they don’t want to go out and build analog recording consoles for a living but if they know how to repair things, if you are that person who can make themselves marketable by bringing other skills to the table, that’s the type of person who’s far more employable. They become one of those indispensable people with an additional skillset who’s not just a producer, not just an engineer, they’ve got that additional x factor.”
The Sound Recording Studio in RTV Room 329, while technically built in 2003, has been updated recently during the Schoonover Center renovation project. The studio contains a large and small isolation booth, a control room, and a large and small live room for MDIA students to learn the building blocks of working in a recording studio. The highlight of the studio is the large Rupert Neve 5088 Analogue Mixer, a testament to the foundation lessons the faculty teach when it comes to the digital vs. analogue debate.
“You learn on analogue because that’s the foundation of everything in a studio,” said Snyder. “Every physical channel within the analog realm is equal to one microphone on a snare drum, one guitar, etc. There is no right click, there is no menu – everything is right in front of the student. They can very easily visualize the signal path and if they can get audio to pass through an analog recording console it will be far easier for them to work across a variety of software platforms. It’s also great way for us to teach them troubleshooting.”
The studio also utilizes and teaches Pro Tools and Logic Pro software, which are industry standards. Students are also able to learn how to setup and use a wide assortment of microphones, running the gamut from from higher end to middle-of-the-road mics and even some budget microphones.
“It’s important to learn what great microphones sound like but it’s more important for students to know proper mic techniques regardless of their budgets,” said Snyder. “Because it’s not the mic; they’re learning the skills.”
The School of Media Arts & Studies has two new exciting spaces coming online later this summer. The Schoonover Sound Post-Production & Listening Lab, located in Schoonover Center Room 448, will be completed in time for the 2016 High School Media Workshop in July. This lab will allow students to critically listen to sound in an acoustically pristine environment and have the capability for state-of-the-art audio post production for moving images, including film.
The MDIA Mixing & Mastering Studio, located in the RTV Building Room 315, currently offers a general use vocal booth in an outside vestibule that has been online since early spring semester which is available for MDIA student use. The remainder of the studio is expected to come online later this summer and will allow the school to book RTV 315 and RTV 329 separately, effectively doubling the amount of students that can be accommodated to work in a recording studio space.
Originally by: Claire Berlin
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