Ronapalooza, APLS Conference, and Studio Cypher

Objects in Faculty Offices, Segment 5: Ron Osgood’s Production Artifacts

Many of you know Professor Ron Osgood specializes in documentary storytelling and production.  What you may not know is that he has been collecting production artifacts for as long as he has been using them.  His office contains many items and each of them has a story.  He took some time to pull out his collection of video recording heads, most dating back over 30 years.  He acquired the oldest piece during his time in the navy, a recording head used back in the 1950’s.  He used it to record video while stationed on an aircraft carrier.

He also has several production books dating back to the emergence of guerilla television, the first time individuals or small groups could create television programming on their own.  This production modality was popular among community access organizations, documentary producers and art filmmakers.  Ron explained that one of the authors of the guerilla television books, Michael Shamberg, was the head of Top Value TV.  This organization produced the 1972 documentary “Four More Years,” which covered the Republican National Convention in Florida.  Four More Years was the first program aired by PBS that was not produced using standard broadcast-quality equipment.  Ron describes it as a real breakthrough in the world of video production.  It was shot on the Sony half-inch reel to reel camera, the same camera that Ron has in his collection.

You can check out some of the highlights from Ron’s office collection here:

Ron in Film Festivals

Announced in an IU press release, Ron Osgood’s “My Vietnam, Your Iraq: Eight Families, Two Generations” was selected for screening at the Heartland Film Festival. The film was also selected for viewing at the GI Film Festival, the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, the Red Rock Film Festival, and the DMZ International Film Festival in South Korea.

Find out more information in the IU Press Release.

Erik Bucy Organizes, James Ball Presents

Associate professor Erik Bucy helped organize the 29th annual meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences held on campus October 14-16 and co-sponsored the meeting through his Colloquium on Political Communication Research.  The conference brings together a diverse group of interdisciplinary scholars interested in issues at the intersection of politics, public policy, and ethics, all with some connection to life sciences research. Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom, Arthur F. Bentley professor of Political Science, delivered the keynote address to the conference on her polycentric approach to climate change research.

On Friday, Bucy co-presented a biobehavioral research study with Telecommunications master’s student James Ball, summarizing a detailed visual analysis of the 1960 presidential debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The study, which forms the basis of James’ thesis, performs a detailed, shot-by-shot analysis of all four encounters between Kennedy and Nixon. As James reports in the below interview, the study’s preliminary findings include a significantly higher blinking rate for Nixon than Kennedy, more angry/threatening facial displays exhibited by Nixon than Kennedy (but greater use of an angry/threatening tone by Kennedy than Nixon), and more improper camera adjustments when Nixon was shown than when Kennedy appeared on television.

Overall, the results of James’ visual analysis so far confirms that Nixon really did look worse than Kennedy, lending credence to the popular understanding that, while Nixon won favor among radio listeners, Kennedy seemed to outright “win” the televised debate encounters by dint of appearing and sounding more reassuring and confident.

Studio Cypher Founders Visit Campus

Will Emigh of Studio Cypher presenting at the TV/Radio Building on Monday.

Last Monday, three IU Telecom grad program alums returned to campus to provide insight and inspiration to those interested in the independent video game industry. Will Emigh, main presenter, founded Studio Cypher six years ago along with fellow MIME program alumni Ian Pottmeyer and Nathan Mishler. “Five years ago, we didn’t know we could do this,” said Emigh in his presentation. “It’s entirely possible to get here in five years or less.”

Studio Cypher, based here in Bloomington, develops video games and interactive projects for a variety of clients, ranging from games for academic conference attendees to the Ancient Americas exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. The importance of games, according to Emigh, lies in what they can offer the person playing them. “All games teach something,” Emigh says.

Ian Pottmeyer, Will Emigh, and Nathan Mishler of Studio Cypher posing for a photo after their presentation. Photo Credit: Jenna Hoffstein

Despite the fun they’re having getting to do what they truly love, the founders of Studio Cypher caution that the independent game industry isn’t an easy one to enter into, but the rewards are worth it. “This talk isn’t about making you rich. This talk is about making you successful,” Emigh says.

The rest of their advice to the room full of aspiring independent video game developers? “Keep it fun. If the simplest version of your game is boring, your game is boring. Talk to everyone,” offers Emigh. And of critical importance, Emigh concludes, “Start making a game today.”

To find out more about Studio Cypher and the work they do, follow the link to their website here.

Ron Osgood’s Brown Bag Presentation

In addition to featuring Ron in our Objects in Faculty Offices Series, he was also the headliner for this week’s brown bag presentation:

The Development of a Video Online Interactive Documentary

“He was just like me. Complaining about the same things I complained about. The weather, the food. He was just trying to get home.”

These were the words infantryman Arthur Barham spoke to me in July 2007 during his interview for the documentary My Vietnam Your Iraq ( Barham was referring to a letter he found that had been written by a North Vietnamese soldier who had died during a battle and had not been sent to his wife. This was the spark that motivated me to initiate The Vietnam War: Stories from All Sides.

The project will consist of several elements, including an interactive website, a video documentary and a museum installation. The content will be based on ethnographic style interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans that introduce both historic content and reflection, including stories of the physical and psychological consequences of their experience. Compiling these oral histories in an accessible form is my goal.

The  website will use an innovative technique that I have labeled VOID – Video Online Interactive Documentary. This technology will be used to document the Vietnam War/American War from the point of view of soldiers who fought on both sides of the conflict. What makes this project unique will be the user’s ability to customize stories.

Random Thought:

“I hated it when the blog was posted late last week.  Blog and lunch go together.”

–  Annie Lang, delightful comment on October 11th, published with permission.


Nicky Lewis:  Objects in Faculty Offices and Brown Bag Presentation

Katie Birge:  Studio Cypher and Ron in Film Festivals

Special Thanks:

Erik Bucy:  Post on APLS conference

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