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The Media Basement Labs


Advanced Media Lab B-2:
This lab is primarily designed for video editing, but it's certainly not limited to that. As we have embraced more and more users on campus, the range of capabilities of all the labs has broadened dramatically. Interestingly, the people at Amherst College recently asked us if we would like to standardize on using Final Cut Express instead of Final Cut Studio. Their intent is good. It's so that Five College students who move back and forth from campus to campus end up using the same version of software, and we all lower our costs. But, our answer is no. Our work is too broad in scope. We need the additional applications that come with the studio package: Color, Motion, DVDStudioPro, SoundTrack, LiveType, and Compressor. So if you think all we do is edit video, you're wrong. We make media and that, in our current world view, requires us to have a much wider range of possibilities and skill set and hence software.

There are six 24 inch iMac stations in the room. We used to have a miniDV deck at each station, but as we move faster and faster into the world of tapeless, the necessity for decks diminishes. If you need to capture from tape you need to bring with you the camera you used; that way we don't have to provide so many different format decks, most of which are on their way to being out of date anyway. Indeed, now one of the first question I ask students is: How are you going to output your project? Is it going to tape, or are you making a video-DVD, or  are you going to end up only with a QuickTime file? It's no longer so predictable where and how you finish your project. In the old days (last year) it was pretty much taken for granted you were going to output to tape, but now, who knows?

Recently I did a total of the storage capacity for the media basement, and I was surprised to find that we have 17TB of storage, so we're moving up a little in the suffix world. Gigabytes are no longer the cap. I wonder what follows the teras.

Media Lab Pic

Studio 3 B-3:
The studio has been for quite a while used primarily as a classroom space and very little as a shooting space. As the film and photo crowd move back over to their own new building, we'll find ourselves graced with a lovely studio space. I've been moving away from using the overhead light grids to using more floor lights, and have found it more enjoyable and easier to work with. There're fewer trips up and down the ladder and the lighting ends up being more subtle and dramatic instead of generically televisionish (ugh).

We have a large green wall for chroma keys; it's quite popular with the cognitive science crowd, who do a lot of animation and compositing. I'm glad we have a curtain that covers it, because I can only stand to see that much green for short periods of time.

We have studio cameras, but as with all things moving through techology land, they're still back in time a little because they're the 4:3 aspect ratio of standard definition. So if you want to shoot in 16:9 HD you need to bring your own camera or a camera from media services.

InterMedia Lab B-5:
This is our advanced lab, though we don't actually tell anyone that. It has four 24" iMacs hooked up to a server just for that lab, though there's an additional 1TB of attached external storage on each station. The room is used mostly for video editing, audio editing and graphics. We do a lot of radio documentary work and there's a quiet announce booth for recording voice-overs or telephone interviews. There is also a flatbed scanner attached to each station.

Oh, wait: You think I mean this lab is advanced because of the equipment. No. It's because we put the advanced students in here. It's the work that's advanced; the equipment is just there. It serves people like Anna Elliot, who spent a year working in Afghanistan producting a television show. Or people like Kyle Brodie, who spent his summer and most of a semester traveling across the country shooting a documentary. We get students like these all the time and a lot of them aren't even media concentrators, they're just typical Hampshire students: ambitious, resourceful, and sincere. I always feel privileged to work with them.

AudioTorium B-6:

This is a very small room for doing audio synthesis work. That's done using Max/MSP, Jitter, Live, Reason, ProTools, and Logic. The room's got a 5.1 surround system for those spacy audio mixes. Oh, yes, don't forget the midi-guitar sitting in the corner. It's a great capabiliity, but it does take some getting used to.

editing station

Division III Lab B-7:

This lab has Final Cut Pro video and ProTools audio editing and is reserved for advanced work. Twenty-four hour access is available for Division III students who live strange hours and work long time slots. The Mac Pro Tower has HDMI ins and outs, lots of storage, lots of RAM and it's the home to the first Hampshire student to shoot with a RED camera. You, too, can be a Hollywood wizard if you shoot in 4K resolution. Well, maybe the camera doesn't have anything at all to do with it, but great images do help any story if you remember it's always the story that counts.

Wow, this just in: The student who shot his Division III project on a Red camera just won the Los Angeles Movie Award 2010 for best cinematography. I wonder what that tells us?

Electron Music Studio B-8:

Two ProTools audio editing stations with full size midi keyboard, rack mount synthesizers, CD burners, mini-disk recorderand and audio synth applications: Absynth, Reason, Live, Max. Recently I've grown fond of Logic, or should I say I've grown less fond of ProTools. (OK, here's the ProTools story. I really like using ProTools and it's the best time line audio editor out, but managing it is a real pain. The iLock USB dongles you need, the software versions that have to be installed the over-head is a pain. It's not your problem, it's mine, but you should know about it too.)  I love the sounds that Logic offers and its native ability to import OMF audio from FinalCut is a big advantage. While the room has two computer stations, we find that it ends up being a single user space. It's just that people use both computers at the same time: one plays and one records. I often end up in this room on Friday afternoons after a hard week and play a little jazz and try and relax. I'm not a very good muscian, but it's fun.

Remember that having fun is one of the jobs of a Hampshire student. It's mandatory. I don't mean crazy partying, I mean enjoying doing what you're doing. Hampshire isn't a party school, though it may look like that to others, but we do like to have an enjoyable day, professionally. Fun is proof that you're going down the right path, doing the right work for you. If you're not having fun in a class you should drop it and move to a different class. Fun is a diagnostic and not a frivilous thing. At Hampshire you need to be serious about fun because it's part of the work. The goal for each of us is through interests, learning, and skills to be able to fuse fun and work together so they're the same thing. That's sucess. That's mastery. That's a happy life.

Media spaces are all over Hampshire. Most of those, however, require that you be in a class to use them. The rooms here in the library media basement are open to all Hampshire members, regardless of your concentration or what classes you are taking. Just find one of the two Johns (John Gunther or John Bruner, the staff guys that work here) and ask for them to help you get going. Here at Hampshire we don't think of help as remedial; it's part of professonal work. None of you come knowing how to do all of this. Otherwise you wouldn't be in college; you'd be at work. Asking for help is part of how we work, how we learn, and how we get through life in one piece. We're all friends here, and helping each other is what friends do.


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