Lights, Camera, Action – South Campus Students Gain Hands-On Video Production Experience

Video Class RinehartOn a recent spring afternoon, two SUNY Erie students sat under bright lights on a stage under a microphone held overhead by a classmate, as they engaged in a conversational analysis on the NBA playoffs. Three other students sat behind a control desk, watching multiple monitors and making minor adjustments to ensure the shot had the right lighting and clear audio.

The first- and second-year students were practicing producing a green-screen segment – not as part of an internship, but right in class at South Campus’ newly renovated professional broadcast studio.

As the students wrapped up, Amber Rinehart, professor and department chair of Communications & Media Arts, asked questions about improvements for the next take, occasionally making gentle suggestions – but the students ran the show.

“We start with ‘hands-on’ work right at the beginning,” Rinehart explained. “The whole model of this class is that we learn by making mistakes. You can talk theory all day long, but you learn video production by actually doing it.”

Students in the Communication & Media Arts program at South Campus recognize and value the practical experience.

Chad Halford, a third-semester student, remarked how the program offers a chance to dabble in several different types of media and allows each student flex their creativity.

“Every student should give a class like this a try,” he suggested. “It’s a small family here at South, which provides a great college experience.”

Several students commented on the versatility of the program and the creative independence it affords, including Alex Gillis, a second-semester student in the video production class.

“It’s a fun and interactive class. There’s a good variety of projects and the professor tailors it to your main interests, so if you’re interested in podcasting, for example, you spend more of your time on podcast production,” described Gillis.

Video Class on Set

Many Communication & Media Arts graduates from SUNY Erie have gone on to jobs at local media outlets and beyond. Rinehart pointed to Gregory Garrett, Jr., press information officer at City Hall, Chris Owen, a DJ at WYRK-FM radio, and Charles Gilbert, who runs his own podcast network.

Rinehart explained her “pitch” when she visits high schools to promote the communication studies program centers around the ability to get first-hand experience quickly, as well as the value of a degree in communication.

“The work world is all about versatility. It’s not about how well you can do something or what you know, it’s how well you can communicate it,” she affirmed. “From here, you can go into pretty much any field you want.”

Learn more about SUNY Erie’s Communication & Media Arts program.