Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Communication students work with latest technology

communications students

Robert Yablans, director of engineering for mass communications & journalism studies, and senior communication student MacKenzie Cleveland look at the new Panasonic HD video camera. PHOTO BY: Chris Henning.

Director James Cameron has one. So does Fox News Channel. And, now students at the University of Denver School of Communication have six new top-of-the-line cameras.

The Panasonic camera, called a P2 based HVX200, is a hit in the film, broadcast and education fields because it is one of few hand-held cameras that can shoot in standard and high definition formats and can save what was shot on tape and tape-less formats. The tape-less format, called P2, is a leap in technology. 

“I want DU to be leaders in the arena, not followers,” says Robert Yablans, director of engineering in mass communications and journalism studies. 

While most film and video students are getting their first look at the equipment, senior Dan Packman had the opportunity to use one of the new cameras over the summer to shoot a short film.

“We get to be consistent with what most filmmakers are using these days,” Packman says. “That will be beneficial when we get to the work place.”

The other benefit to the tape-less format is that students can upload what they shot into an editing computer in record time. Prior, students had to load the tapes into a video tape machine, select the clips they wanted then upload them into the editing system in real-time. 

“It cuts down the most annoying part by a lot,” Packman says.

While students learn how to use the new equipment, professors have a learning curve as well.  

“Our teaching changes,” says Sheila Schroeder, assistant professor of mass communications and journalism studies. “How students shoot on set, dress the set, light the set, put make-up on actors — all of that changes, so we need to continue to update our own understanding of the technology and its repercussions.” 

While associate professor Rod Buxton thinks it’s important to expose students to new technologies, he says teaching flexibility is the key to making students marketable.

“It’s not just about technology,” Buxton says. “They need to think about what they’re shooting, how to shoot it and what they’re going to do with it.”

After all, the technology will change again.

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