BUIES CREEK - His students gathered around him in horseshoe, adjunct communication studies professor Pete Kenny holds up a state-of-the-art microphone and demonstrates how to slip on a dead cat -- broadcasting speak for the fuzzy sock that blocks out wind sounds when recording outdoors.
Behind the students is a sound-proof studio with three high-definition network-quality cameras, new video and audio production boards and monitors and more equipment barely out of the box. Kenny’s class is about to get their hands on these knobs and switches for the first time -- something they would have had to travel to Garner for in semesters past.
Campbell University’s new on-campus television studio is here, and it’s in use. And for the students in Kenny’s Studio Television Production class, these tools of the trade are allowing them to work with the same equipment they’ll work with in the real world.
“Just this week, these students installed the lights you see in the studio,” Kenny said, looking up at one of the bright spotlights that can be controlled from the production room. “It was a great first lesson for them in that it gave them first-hand experience. You don’t get that kind of experience in a lecture hall.”
The new studio, located on the first floor toward the back of Taylor Bott Rogers Fine Arts Building, is home to a “complete production truck in a box,” says University Audio Visual Technician Travis Autry. In addition to the three HD cameras (JVC GY-HM750s, to be exact), the studio is home to a NewTek TriCaster Studio, which offers two onboard digital video recorders, virtual set effects, video and text editing software and more.
Kenny said he hopes it will attract more students to the program. This semester’s class has 10 students, compared to just six a year ago.
Junior Katelyn Phelps of Ocean Isle Beach said she feels fortunate to be among the first students who stand to benefit from the equipment.
“It’s something I can put on my resume … that I have worked in an actual studio,” said Phelps, who wants to pursue a career in television production. “And I hope the University uses this for more than just teaching students. I hope it’s utilized around campus, and that we’re able to use everything here for more than just a grade.”
That’s a hope shared by Kenny, who also runs his own nonprofit production company in Holly Springs, Joshua Path, which shoots and edits video for missionaries working in underdeveloped parts of the world. He said he can imagine an “array of uses” for several departments.
“I could see the athletics department doing a coach’s show … the medical school using it as a teaching tool … video interviews for the law school … there’s a lot of potential here,” Kenny said.
Junior Sean Goatley-Soan sees the potential, too. The communication studies major from South Africa came to the U.S. for Campbell’s golf team, and his first impression of the new studio is a good one.
“The technology here is great,” he said. “I’m happy to know my experience here could help find a career in something beyond golf.”
Kenny said the class will have a handful of projects throughout the semester, but the big one will be their own production -- a show they create, cast, direct and produce using whatever format they want.
“It could be a demonstration show; it could be a talk show format or a “Today Show”-esque morning format,” Kenny said. “The important thing is it will be their project from start to finish.”
Holding the dead cat-covered microphone, Kenny demonstrates mic positions often used in the business -- above the camera frame for movies and sitcoms and below the show in other instances, such as an on-location news report.
“Audio is 80 percent of the video,” Kenny preaches. “What happens if you’re watching a show, and the audio is poor quality? You change the channel. If it’s not a good recording, you’re toast.”
It’s a lesson Campbell students can now learn for themselves from the comfort of their own campus.
-- STORY and PHOTOS: by Billy Liggett, Assistant Director for Publications