SJMC Students Go Mobile at Garner State Park

IMG_0278 - Sasha Kodet

SJMC students prepare for one final hike at Garner State Park. Photo by Sasha Kodet

By Dale Blasingame

A group of 16 School of Journalism and Mass Communication students spent the weekend of Feb. 27-28 outdoors – in the name of mobile storytelling.

The students were part of the first-ever Mobile Storytelling in the Park course, taught by Dale Blasingame in coordination with Texas Parks and Wildlife. The class, which was part of the SJMC short course series, featured two weeks of online learning about how to shoot professional-quality photos and videos on your phone – everything from shot composition, camera apps, editing apps and storytelling techniques. The students then traveled to Garner State Park to put those ideas to the test. They were responsible for four video projects while in the park, all with the goal of getting more college-aged students to visit state parks across Texas.

“It got me out of my comfort zone,” said Abby Watson, an advertising senior. “I feel like in class, you just sit there and might get a little bored. But with this, you’re constantly going.”

Faculty members Kym Fox and Jon Zmikly, along with Ky Harkey, Tyler Priest, Sasha Kodet and Whitney Bishop from Texas Parks and Wildlife, assisted with the course.

Zmikly helped lead a drone demonstration with DJI Phantom Quadcopters 2 and 3 and contributed to the official Texas State University’s Snapchat (txstateu) during the weekend workshop.

“I loved getting outside and helping students with their projects. Their stories were really creative, and I could tell they had a lot of fun. These are the kinds of experiences students don’t get in the classroom,” said Zmikly.

Students used GoPros, HD mini-cameras, smartphones, mini-tripods and lapel mics to cover and capture the weekend experience, and they also gained experience with drones and 360 cameras. Footage was then edited and uploaded to various social media sites, and mobile hotspots were used when service wasn’t available. One creative project is their 360 video of the sunset over Mount Baldy where you can see the Frio river to the east (as the below video plays, click and drag your mouse for different views).

On Saturday evening, Texas Parks and Wildlife photographers led a session on night photography where students learned about aperture settings, shutter speeds and different ISO options.

The students are currently working in teams on different mini-documentary projects that will be used by Texas Parks and Wildlife. They’ve already submitted individual video projects on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

To see their work, search the #txstgarner hashtag across the different social networks.

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About Dale Blasingame
Dale Blasingame is a professor at Texas State University and the social media director at LeadHub, an Internet marketing company in San Antonio.

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