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Lights, Camera, Action: UAlbany Hosts Digital Media Workshop for Catskill High School Students

Day is an Outgrowth of President's Nine-County Tour

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 5, 2014) – At the University at Albany digital media studio, Paul Miller stands in front of the Catskill High School students holding a small white object about the size of a laptop. It is shaped a bit like an airplane.

“How many of you have seen a drone?” asks Miller, director of digital media at UAlbany. A few hands go up.

“You can fly it around with a camera,” he says. “I can fly it out of sight.”

“Can it go to the moon?” asks one student.

“Only if the moon is a few football fields away,” quips Miller.

Now he has their attention. Miller passes the drone around the room and the students look it over.

“It’s an amazing time for you to be the age you are, as all of these tools are coming into use,” said Miller. “Ten years from now drones will be no big deal.”

The drone was a part of a workshop that Miller and digital media producers Brian Busher and Bill Pyke presented recently for more than 20 students from Catskill High School media classes.

“The workshop is really an outgrowth of UAlbany President Robert J. Jones’ commitment for the University to be an engaged community partner in the Capital Region,” said Miller. “Catskill High School has a great media program and we’re happy to provide our expertise and advice on how to succeed in this field.”

Virginia LuPone and Patrick Hernandez, who teach the media classes at CHS, brought their students to UAlbany for the seminar.

“UAlbany has been extremely supportive of the development of the Media Communications Career and Technical Education (CTE) program being offered by Questar III/BOCES, and we hope to continue to build upon that relationship with the University,” said LuPone.

“It’s great to come here,” said Hernandez, a business teacher who said the UAlbany experience gave his students a chance to learn how to use video production equipment in a professional setting.

The activities are part of Catskill School District’s continuing relationship with UAlbany and Columbia-Greene Community College (CGCC). The CTE piece, via Questar III/BOCES, and the associate’s degree program at CGCC complement each other. The idea is to develop career paths for students from high school to college.

“I’m learning how to set up lighting today,” said freshman Nathan Hernandez, who attended digital summer camp. “I want to be a homicide detective, a professional soccer player or a teacher.”

“I want to be a professional baseball player,” said Branden Eacott, also a freshman. “My backup plan is video production for TV and movies.”

The students have gained from a robust media program at the high school. Junior John Ford is the video editor for the weekly Catskill High School news broadcasts.

“I am learning skills I need for later in life,” said sophomore Skyler Richards, who takes a video production class and edits various video projects, including a montage for the superintendent’s upcoming Veterans Day speech.

Later, UAlbany’s Busher finds three volunteers to create a “green screen.” A green screen is a special effects technique for layering images or video streams together.

The first student, sophomore Camilla Trischetti, uses her arms to make stiff robot-like motions with a green-colored screen behind her. The second, junior Rhiannon Apjohn, pretends to dance, making diagonal motions with one arm and pointing her index finger down. Junior Liam Shanagher, rotates his shoulders. Busher videos the motions.

Busher takes the three separately shot videos and inserts them into one computer image with dance club lights illuminating the background.

“See, now you have a green screen with three crazy dancers,” said Busher, to the laughter and approval of the students.

“It was really fun,” said Apjohn at the close of the workshop. She does digital storytelling at her school. “Everyone was really nice.”

“It was an exciting opportunity for our students to be in a college environment to get hands-on experience working with experts in the field,” said LuPone.  

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