Featured Student Friday – Dorian Parks

Dorian Parks is a Digital Media Innovation student at Texas State University

You may have seen this SJMC student wandering the halls of Old Main throughout the semester, or perhaps sitting beside you in class. Or just maybe you have checked out the website Geeks of Color to peruse the latest coverage of the ‘geek’ world. Well, this summer, Dorian Parks has traded the hills of San Marcos for Los Angeles and the halls of Old Main for the entertainment giant, STARZ.

The Television Academy Foundation’s Internship Program provides 50 undergraduate and graduate students with internships in various media production fields. According to their website, host companies include ABC, CBS, HBO, Disney, NBC, and Warner Bros., to name a few. Needless to say, this eight-week program is beyond competitive and Dorian has proven his expertise and passion for digital media by obtaining this position.

Dorian has been preparing for an opportunity like this throughout his education as a Digital MediaInnovation major at Texas State University. Staying true to his mass communication frame of mind, Dorian recognizes that our communication is evolving every day.

“Digital media is the new way that we ingest information and I want to be a part of that digital revolution,” said Dorian in his video interview securing him the internship. The interview, produced and recorded by the creative extraordinaire himself, provides a look into the vast imagination that Dorian uses to fuel his enthusiasm for making and distributing his original content.

While at Texas State, Dorian commits his time to the website he founded called Geeks of Color, a blog-type feed that covers current news on all things ‘geek’ and promotes inclusion and diversity in the vast world of entertainment. Reviews, podcasts, gaming, and guest contributions can all be found within this impressive digital creation, demonstrating Dorian’s passion for media and communication. Not only does Dorian care about the infinite world of comics and popular culture, but his desire to bridge the gap of race and the entertainment industry is inspiring.

“I am so excited for this internship, I can’t wait to see what opportunities it leads to,” said Dorian.

The internship is scheduled to be starting this summer and we share Dorian’s excitement as we eagerly wait to see where this position takes him in the future. In the meantime, the folks in San Marcos can stay up to date on all things Dorian and geek on his website and social media platforms.

YouTube
Twitter
Instagram

Check out what Dorian is up to next; this SJMC student does not fail to impress!

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Student Spotlight: Russell Reed

Theater kid-turned film enthusiast, Russell Reed has spent the last three years exploring his love for filmmaking and finding like-minded individuals in the process. This electronic media major is not only a self-taught filmmaker, but he also exemplifies authentic passion in a sometimes discouraging field. Only a sophomore, Reed demonstrates a great amount of dedication to his craft and doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with others.

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Reed grew up in Houston and was in theater while attending high school. As the end of senior year approached, he knew he didn’t want to major in theater during college but at the time, Reed was producing comedy and suspense skits on YouTube. Although Reed realized the skits weren’t exactly Oscar winners, he explains that it was during this time when he realized he loved film and using his creativity.

“There wasn’t anything specific that led me to my love for film, it was sort of gradual. One day I caught myself watching a film, and I started to critique their acting and wanted to see how I could do it better.” says Reed.

Although still undecided about his college major, Reed knew he wanted to be at Texas State University and near Austin’s film community. Starting off as business major, Reed realized electronic media was the best route to encourage his passion.

While still maintaining his comedy channel, Reed decided to make a second channel on YouTube that was specifically dedicated to filmmaking. The creation of ViLITE films gave Russell an outlet to produce portfolio-worthy short films, how-to tutorials, and even camera reviews.


Russell Reed hopes to make it as a director or director of photography one day. Whether it is for films or television, Reed explains he would love to stick to the horror genre but will be satisfied as long as his work has an impact. Reed’s overall goal is simple, to be a great storyteller.

“I love telling good stories, that’s really what it is all about. Capturing the cinematically pleasing images to complete a story.” says Reed.

With no certifications or film coursework, Russell is self-taught using online resources. He explains how this drives his creativity even more and brings boundless possibilities. Every aspect of his life is motivation to continue to create and it is not limited to coursework.

Life as a filmmaker has completely altered Reed’s perception of the world around him. He explains, “I can no longer walk around and have the perception like a normal human being. Just walking around in the world, everything I see, everything I look at and everything I touch is an emotion that can be geared toward storytelling.”

One of the latest projects Reed has worked on was a collaborative effort with the late Travis Green. Although Green had passed before production started filming, Reed and collaborators made sure that film was completed. Reed explains how this project was important to them since it was one of the last projects Green put his hands on and they are trying their hardest to have it showcased through Texas State.

As for advice Reed has for others thinking about pursuing film, he says the the most important attributes are staying confident in your work, continuing to create and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. This recipe for success seems to be working for this dedicated young filmmaker.

Reed’s last piece of advice is that, “Although all odds are against artists, your safe route should never be your priority.”

Featured Student: Ryan Reissig

Reissig Media began with a model Compag computer with Microsoft Paint and games. Mass Communication junior, Ryan Reissig, started capturing memories with his brother and their Polariod cameras.  Reissig Media is a product of the dynamic duo simply doing the things they love.  Last summer, Reissig Media was created after they used a drone to capture real estate footage of their cabin at the Frio River.  The duo produced a couple more real estate videos, which allowed them to upgrade and add equipment.  Reissig Media is now the proud owner of a Panasonic GH4, lighting and sound gear.  Now they have been able to produce promotional videos for RedBull, concert videos for Parker McCollum and weddings.

Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced having your own company?
Reissig: “The hardest thing about owning a small business is marketing yourself and finding work.  Recently, I came to the realization that if you truly love what you build your company around, the work will come as you begin to master whatever it is you love to do.  Someone who builds their company around their passion will progress far more than someone who establishes a company for the sole purpose of making money. With this mindset, I have been able to lift stress off my shoulders and focus on making more videos for pure enjoyment.  The more we create and share videos for fun, the more people notice them and send us job requests.”

Q: What advice do you have for students looking to venture out in the industry like you did?
Reissig:
“I will advise any individual to take a jump and follow their passion. Personally, my biggest fear is to give up on my dream and spend my life building the dreams of someone else. My brother and I have progressed more in a year than I could have ever imagined simply by truly having a love for all these components that make up Reissig Media. The more we focus on creating and the less we focus on money, the more progress we make. This mindset applies to any passion an individual possesses and I encourage you to go for it because you will forever look back and wonder what could have been.”

Q: What’s coming up next for you?
Reissig: “On a small scale, we plan on getting another camera soon with an electronic stabilizer and create a branch of Reissig Media that does primarily weddings. On a larger scale, we plan on hiring employees eventually to do work locally so my brother and I can have residual income while we travel and network in other states. I plan on getting a degree in digital innovation and meeting people in my classes to do work with.  We never focus on the setbacks and will continue to move forward. We are excited to see what the future holds for the company.”

No more classrooms, no more books for outdoorsy SJMC students

February was an unconventional month for SJMC students who wanted to get out of the classroom and into the “wild”.

On the first Saturday of February, senior lecturer Jon Zmikly took his Digital Tools: 360 Video & Virtual Reality course to the Meadow’s Center for Water and the Environment on the campus of Texas State University-San Marcos. This one-credit “Digital Dash” hybrid course revolved around immersive storytelling and giving students hands-on experience with virtual and augmented reality. Armed with 360 video cameras, smartphones and GoPros, students learned how to plan, shoot and edit video content for these new platforms.

“My favorite aspect of this course was the hands-on experience at Spring Lake. I am a very visual learner, so physically working with the technology allowed for me to fully grasp what I was learning in the modules,” said student Savannah Stockton. “I enjoyed the change of devices and the ability to work different parts of the story using the different technology, and I feel as if it not only expanded my professional qualities, but also my level of coolness.”

Zmikly said all 18 students enjoyed getting outside and had fun with the unconventional “classroom.”

“I was amazed at how many students were excited to get up early on a Saturday morning for class,” Zmikly said. “They also picked up quickly the nuances of filming for a 360 environment. It’s a different world than flat video, so there was a lot more to think about than just shooting one subject. I was really impressed.”

The team worked with the Meadow’s Center for Water and the Environment in celebration of the Center’s 15-year anniversary. Multimedia intern and SJMC student Dy Rios also joined the team to help provide content and act as a liaison between the class and the Center.

“I can’t tell you how much I loved working with the students at the Meadow’s Center,” said Rios.

Some of the students’ content will be published on the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s website at meadowscenter.txstate.edu.

Last weekend’s out-of-the-classroom experience was led by senior lecturer Dale Blasingame, with help from Kym Fox and Jon Zmikly. After spending five weeks learning how to turn stories solely using their phones, students were responsible for creating social content that chronicle the rebirth of Bastrop State Park, which suffered a devastating wildfire in 2011 and a flood last year. Signs of life are emerging at the park – including flowers and new trees, nearly 2,000,000 of which have been planted in the past five years.

Students and faculty at Bastrop State Park

“Weekends like this mean so much to me. Hearing the students talk about experiencing a park, some for the very first time, never gets old. I’m beyond excited to see the work they come up with,” said Blasingame.

The group used everything from Go Pros to smartphones to get footage and create social media-specific posts on topics from “10 Things to Do at Bastrop State Park” to “Signs of Life”. They even partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife and “took over” the organization’s Snapchat account. During the final night of the weekend, Texas Parks and Wildlife captured a Facebook Live of the campfire and has now garnered over 23,000 views (and counting)!

 

“Obviously we’re always busy on social media, but we never actually focus on the storytelling part of it,” said student Marco Martinez.

Both of these courses are digital electives for students throughout the SJMC program, and Blasingame and Zmikly said they are proud to be bringing an out-of-doors angle to the Digital Media Innovation major, of which they are faculty.

“Dale and Jon have been particularly creative in developing these experiences for students,” said Dr. Cindy Royal, director of the school’s Media Innovation Lab. “Their work has been instrumental to the direction of our Digital Media program in encouraging students to get outside and engage people with digital tools, as opposed to using technology to avoid doing that. I appreciate the time and effort they have taken to learn new skills, develop curriculum, manage the logistics and build relationships associated with these successful experience projects.”

Blasingame’s three-credit Mobile Storytelling class began as a one-credit “Digital Dash” hybrid, and Zmikly said he hopes his 360 class can make the same evolution.

“I’m very excited students can gain hands-on experience on new tools for storytelling. It will serve them well wherever they go in the future,” said Zmikly.

Helping TXST Athletics show off new football locker room in 360

lockersThe Texas State University Athletics Department is showing off its sparkling, brand-new football locker room – and asked for the help of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to do so.

Athletics contacted the SJMC to assist with 360-degree photos and videos to highlight the new facility on social media.

“Creating interesting content is a great way for us to get that interaction with the Bobcat fan, and 360-degree photos and videos are some of the newest forms of media to utilize on Facebook and YouTube,” said John McElfresh, the assistant director of marketing, promotions and video for Athletics. “SJMC continues to operate on the edge of technology and prepares students by exposing them to real world experiences and equipment, so it was an easy decision to reach out and see if they could help and educate us in this venture.”

SJMC senior lecturer Jon Zmikly, who heads the 360-degree photo and video efforts for the School, visited the new locker room this past Sunday for a photo and video shoot.

“The process was impressively quick,” McElfresh said. “Jon shot the video and did his magic and had it to us within a few hours. The quality of the photo and videos was great.”

Changes in the football locker room include replacing 15-year-old lockers, which were funded with private donations. The new lockers include:

  • Keypad-locking mechanism
  • Electricity for phone chargers
  • A ventilated shoulder pad rack and compartment
  • Custom maroon, padded seating
  • Brushed steel branded hooks
  • An LED-lit Supercat
  • Custom name plates for each player

The 360-degree photo was posted to Facebook later that afternoon and has been a huge hit with Bobcat fans.

“The post reached nearly 40,000 Bobcat fans in less than 24 hours on Facebook,” McElfresh said. “That kind of exposure will open up more opportunities for interaction in future posts and help spread that Texas State pride.”

Texas State Excels at TIPA Awards

TIPAlogoTexas State students impressed last week, scooping up numerous awards from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.

The awards included top spots across each media category.

The staff at The University Star, Texas State’s newspaper, won Best of Show while members of the team picked up individual first-place prizes in Newspaper Design, Sports Feature Writing and News Features.

KTSW 89.9, The Other Side of Radio, scooped first place for their Commercial, PSA or Promo work as well as for their Production.

The student-produced television newscast Bobcat Update also won a number of awards; for their Sports and News non-feature work, their Sportscasting and Announcing.

See below for a full list of Texas State’s awards and winners.

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University Star participates in Global News Relay 2015

Texas State University’s own student newspaper, The University Star, was chosen as one of 10 universities to participate in Global News Relay 2015, an annual newscast coordinated by the University of Salford, UK. Global News Relay links up students from universities across the globe to produce more than 2 hours of continuous broadcast news.

Poverty around the world, #GlobalNewsPoverty, was this year’s chosen broadcast topic. The newscast included 15-minute segments from six universities in the U.S. and universities and colleges in India, Australia, Dubai and the U.K.

Check out The University Star‘s news broadcast in the link provided below (Texas State’s segment begins at 45:41).

 

SJMC student uses drone technology to encourage San Marcos river conservation

by Becky Larson:

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Senior SJMC student Kelsie Frommel used both a GoPro camera and a friend’s drone in her project on the San Marcos river.

At peace on the river

“I knew I could make it great because I’m passionate about it.”

Senior Kelsie Frommel shared this thought while discussing her Fall semester Web Publishing final project, in which she used a GoPro camera and a drone to capture dramatic footage of the San Marcos river.

TX State lecturer Dale Blasingame’s class culminates, each semester, in a final project meant to be “a marriage of classic storytelling and digital tools.”

Students are expected to report on an issue or story of their choosing and build a website and incorporate multimedia components that present their work.

Frommel said her decision to highlight San Marcos’ river, and the conservation efforts around it, came from her deep love for the watercourse.

“I chose the river because I love being out there.  I feel most at peace when I’m [there].  And, I really liked the different aspects I was able to capture.”

Bring in the drones

While for many, when tasked with taking a video the first choice of apparatus often comes in the form of a smartphone – Frommel said she immediately thought of a GoPro camera.

“I always had the GoPro out at the river and was always taking different videos,” she said, adding that her experience with the camera was part of her inspiration for her video-based project.

Taking a step further, Frommel asked a friend if she could borrow his DJI Phantom drone for aerial footage, after checking with her professor.

“I first wanted to confirm it would be all right with Dale.  I wanted to make sure he would believe it was my video!”

One can understand her concern when they see her final product.  The video pans across broad expanses of the river with incredibly smooth action and a crisp picture quality not always possible in student work.

The four-propeller drone weighs less than three pounds and is controlled through an app on the user’s phone.  Frommel said the operation was simple and that the hardest part was keeping a steady hand.

While the senior said the Web Publishing class introduced her to digital tools she found challenging, she added that, “it really helped me find my path – I need to be creative.”

Protecting the future

In her piece Frommel highlights some of the native flora and fauna endangered by river pollution, such as the Texas salamander and Texas wild rice, a rare species of grass.

She ends her video entreating students and San Marcos residents to safeguard the river for the future.

“To protect the river and provide future generations with the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, do your part to keep the San Marcos river clean and beautiful.”

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Bob Metcalfe talks innovation, creativity at Digital Entrepreneurship speaker series

Photo by Dale Blasingame

Photo by Dale Blasingame

by Cheyenne Meyer:

Robert “Bob” Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet and Professor of Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, visited Texas State University’s Digital Entrepreneurship class on Weds, Feb. 11. Metcalfe was the second speaker in the series sponsored by the School of Journalism Mass Communication, designed to bring distinguished entrepreneurs to the school to discuss communication and business with mass media students.

The question and answer session, moderated by associate professor Cindy Royal, began with a discussion on Metcalfe’s most memorable experiences in business. He explained that the most stand-out events were inventing Ethernet, starting 3Com, the manufacturing company, and growing that company into something much larger.

From Xerox to 3Com

Metcalfe began working at the Xerox Research Center in 1972. There, he was able to apply what he had been learning at Harvard University about packet switching and ARPANet. He served as Xerox’s “networking guy,” pegged with the task of interconnecting the personal computers within the office.

Living in Silicon Valley and rubbing elbows with the likes of Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard and Steve Jobs, Metcalfe decided to write his resignation letter to Xerox and open his own company.

“Everyone was doing it,” he said. “And if my new company failed, I could always go back to Xerox. I’ve [since] learned that it is easy to start a company, but much harder to grow it.”

Metcalfe’s new prototype for Ethernet was not immediately recognized as the standard for packet “plumbing” at its initial release; Metcalfe explained that he was involved in a ten-year, dirty local access network (LAN) war.

Secrets for Successful Selling
Metcalfe explained to the aspiring digital entrepreneurs in the audience that selling is “every bit as complicated as electrical engineering”; entrepreneurs must know how to sell, communicate effectively, and tell their company’s story.

“And the secrets to selling are these: learn to listen,” he explained, “and make promises, then keep them.”

And much like the professors within the SJMC, Metcalfe stressed the importance of knowing how to code.

“How can people think without knowing how to code?” he asked. “Coding is like calculus; one of the fruits of civilization,” he said. “It equips you for life.”

Photo by @i_amscarymonsta

Photo by @i_amscarymonsta

Learning to code, he explained, teaches two important lessons that can be applied in a multitude of areas, especially inventing and innovating. For one, when something goes wrong, you learn to look back at the last thing you changed. For another, when you’re trying to experiment, you change one small thing at a time.

“You don’t have to be a programmer to benefit from these skills,” said Metcalfe.

Net Neutrality
When asked about the controversial topic of net neutrality, Metcalfe had a very strong opinion.

“There are people in Washington who want to re-regulate the internet,” he said, “and I am against it. Net neutrality is deeply ideological, and as we all know, those problems never get solved. The solution to net neutrality is competition – not regulation.”

Though Metcalfe thinks differently on this topic than many in the audience, that didn’t bother him.

“Very few people agree with my opinion on net neutrality,” he said, “but I’m used to being the only one right.”

Invention vs. Innovation
From studying at Harvard and MIT to working at Xerox in Silicon Valley, to eventually inventing Ethernet and starting his own tech manufacturing company 3Com, Metcalfe has had plenty of experience in both inventing and in innovating. He explained, however, that the terms are not synonymous, and that innovating takes much more focus, business skills and patience.

“Invention is a flower; innovation is a weed,” he said. “Everyone loves innovation until they’re innovated upon.”

When asked how to protect an idea in its early stages, Metcalfe explained that ideas must have the resources adequate behind them in order to be put into action.

“An idea is just an idea until you execute it,” he said.

The True Meaning of Entrepreneurship
While many describe entrepreneurship as simply “business”, Metcalfe explained that it is much more than that. It’s about taking risks.

“Entrepreneurship is all about ambition, creativity, and selling,” he said. “And all of those skills can be taught.”

Finally, Metcalfe shared that, while entrepreneurs may face many unforeseen obstacles and challenges in growing their businesses, there is a secret to getting past them.

“It’s like tennis: when you make an error, you can get upset and make a worse error,” he explained, “or you can calm down, learn from your error, and recover.”

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication would like to thank Bob Metcalfe for visiting the speaker series. The next speaker in the series is Evan Smith, the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief at the Texas Tribune. The Q&A will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Old Main 320 on Weds, Feb. 25, with a short discussion about net neutrality starting at 5:00 p.m.

A video of the Q&A session with Metcalfe is available on the Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series YouTube channel.

“Our Hometown Heroes” Documentary of San Marcos Integration

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is proud to showcase a video produced  by students in the digital production class taught by David Nolan.

Our Hometown Heroes is a documentary that reveals first-hand experiences about the integration of Texas State University. Many community members of San Marcos were fundamental to the changes that resulted in the desegregation in student population. The documentary interviews several of the first African-American students of Texas State University as well as many leaders today that discuss what the University provides today in order to become a truly diverse university.