A new media center to drive students’ ingenuity and inspire collaborative work is under construction in the Communication Arts and Sciences building at Michigan State University. According to ComArtSci Weekly, the college’s weekly newsletter for students, this new space will include a newsroom, motion capture lab and a game design studio.
The space was temporarily up and running on Nov. 8 to cover the 2016 Presidential Election. MSU has famously covered elections at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in the past, including the 2012 election.
Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, shared the story behind the creation of the space.
“The inspiration came for (the media center) when I was in Los Angeles,” David said. “One of our alums runs a major ad agency. When I walked into this building, it was beautiful. You could see all kinds of young people working on creative projects. There was a certain buzz. The very moment I stepped in, I thought, ‘We should capture this.’”
Lucinda Davenport, director of the School of Journalism, said that a typical day in the newsroom will be full of activity because the student-produced TV news programs will be shot there, students will be doing photo shoots, making videos, creating voiceovers for radio and activities of all different types.
“There is a space in this room for almost every process of the story to happen to completion,” Davenport said.Troy Hale, a film and broadcast news professor at MSU, supported the idea of creating the media center’s newsroom. His vision for the space stemmed from the excitement and energy of 200 students and faculty working together four years ago during the previous “MI First Election.”
“I said to (Lucinda Davenport), ‘We need to have this everyday,’” Hale said.
Hale said that other than covering the November election, the newsroom will be used by classes to develop a daily news cast that will incorporate all mediums: print, online, broadcast and radio by January 2017.
According to David, a student will be able to sit in front of an anchor desk, turn the probiotic camera and lights on and stream live.
According to Hale, anchor, teleprompter and performance training will be necessary to get students ready for the newsroom.
“Students and professors will step up what they’re doing,” Hale said. “If you work in a new environment, you will work up to that level.”
Stacey Fox, transdisciplinary artist in residence, was the force behind the addition of a motion-capture studio in the media center.
Fox said the College of Communication Arts and Sciences will be offering a motion capture class, open to all MSU students in Spring 2017, that would be great for actors, dancers, athletes, animators and others. Motion capture is proving to have an increasing presence at the college and the space will allow for versatile opportunities to learn.
According to Fox, the motion capture studio coming to ComArtSci is unique. Unlike other systems, the equipment will be markerless, meaning that students won’t need to put on special suits or white markers on their joints to help the camera capture their movements. The system can also capture students exactly the way they look in 3D or take their movements and put that on any character. The equipment can also motion capture a student and put them into any environment.
Fox believes motion capture technology has a vital role in journalism because students can be motion captured in the studio and then put on the lawn of the White House, the United Nations Convention or the scene of a hurricane.
“We can – in real time, live – motion capture you and put you into any virtual reality environment. For news, let’s say we have the virtual reality environment of a storm scene. We can capture a student journalist and put them in that scene like they’re there in real time,” Fox said.
Students can also recreate moments in history through virtual reality. If Barack Obama came to the studio, for example, students could archive his voice and motion. Years later, another student can put on goggles and have a conversation with Obama as if they had been there with him. Fox said this is the concept of immersive journalism, where immersive environments are created and viewed by the public.
Fox believes that the media center will provide students with access to state of the art technology and the opportunity to experience what the professional industry workflow of a newsroom is like before they go out into the real world.
David spoke about how journalism is in dire need of new models and the millennials of this college generation are going to find them with their familiarity of multimedia.
The dean believes students can gain skills in the new space including journalism, television, radio, social media, interactive design, animation and game design.
“We do so much good work in our classrooms but it’s all hidden behind brick walls. We’re tearing down the walls and creating this beautiful environment,” said David. “You see the great work being done in the classrooms, the technology that students have access to, the innovative ideas of the future.”