Thom Hogan Returns, Waterman’s Guide Revisited, Grad Students Create Computer Animated Film, Four-Wheeled Hits Film Festival

Thom Hogan (MA ’78) Returns to Campus for Multivisions 2011

It’s been 31 years since graduate alum Thom Hogan was in Bloomington. Since then, he’s been a player in the innovation boom in Silicon Valley, sold his business to pursue his passion for photography, pioneered the e-book industry, and successfully disappeared for three weeks each year. His exciting life journey has led him to his current home in Pennsylvania and, most recently, back to his alma mater to speak at the department’s Multivisions conference for undergraduate students.

Photo courtesy,

A native of Cupertino, CA, Thom remembers the time when the area had 20,000 people living in subdivisions between orchards. “I don’t think we even had a town hall then,” he recalls. Thom left Cupertino to attend Washington State University, and after he graduated, he made his way to IU, entering the Telecommunications graduate program as big changes were occurring. “There was a transition going on here. It was previously largely production based,” Thom explains. “A new-school set of faculty was beginning to change the department and shift to studying media effects.”

When he graduated from the program, Thom was interested in the evolving media landscape. “Things were becoming available to change the media experience. I kept asking myself, ‘Can we create things that didn’t exist before?'” he recalls. Thom moved back to Cupertino, then in the early stages of its transformation into Silicon Valley, with hopes of creating new computer related products. He and his team developed an early webcam, a program for creating tables in word processors, and other technologies, typically spending 22 hours a day at the office. To survive, Thom would take a 3-week trip every year to a remote location, leaving his communication technology behind and taking his camera as a companion. It was during these trips that Thom rediscovered his undergraduate interest in photography.

When Thom’s business dissolved, he picked up work as a photojournalist for Backpacking Magazine, later became a freelance photographer, and started teaching photo workshops. He used his knowledge of photography and cameras to start selling e-books for photographers, which serve as more detailed instruction manuals on every aspect of a camera’s use. He now has 20+ self published e-books available for sale on his website, and he’s currently exploring ways to make e-books multidimensional.

5 Facts You Probably Haven’t Heard About Thom:

1) The farm his mother grew up on was the land that would later become the Stanford Research Park, which housed Hewlett-Packard and Apple in the early days of Silicon Valley.

2) He almost worked for RealNetworks (the creators of RealPlayer, one of the early mp3 players for PCs), but he turned down the job when the company wouldn’t let him take his annual 3-week disappearing trip.

3) In his youth, Thom would walk home from school and cut through the Mariani fruit orchards, sometimes grabbing a quick snack on the way.

4) On September 11th, 2001, Thom was in New York waiting for his flight back home when the planes were hijacked. He had a ticket for the direct flight from NYC to San Francisco, but he changed tickets the week before so he could have a layover in Chicago. His original ticket was for a seat on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

5) Earlier this year, Thom was involved in a hostage situation in southern Chile, where citizens protesting a reduced subsidy for natural gas blockaded the town where he was holding a photography workshop. He and his 13 students were among 1600 people held in the city for 3 days until being escorted out by military transport.

Revisiting Waterman’s “Guide for Graduate Students: Arranging Committee Meetings”

About three months ago, I was sorting old files and paperwork when I found the orientation folder from my first year as a master’s student. After leafing through the SAA handbook, health insurance information, and other miscellaneous handouts, like how to be a good Associate Instructor, I came upon Professor David Waterman’s how-to guide for communicating and working with your committee.

I remember reading this for the first time during Orientation Week and thinking, “Choosing a meeting time? Reserving a room? Not my problem.” I was too worried about everything else that comes with being a first year master’s or PhD student. But, fast track to a year later, and there I was: in the middle of working with committee members, coordinating meetings, and getting ready to defend my thesis proposal. David Waterman’s practical advice leapt to life.

See, what I’ve learned since coming to graduate school is the delicate art of forming relationships. Choosing an advisor is much more than finding the faculty member that most shares your interests. It is about finding someone you can communicate with and establish a rapport. I began in the department as a MS (management)  student and have since transitioned to the MA program. As a result, I have had several advisors and committee members throughout my time here. Your advisor is the person who is going to guide you through this process.

This journey is filled with checkpoints and speed bumps, many of which seem to get in the way of doing your graduate work. Choosing your advisor.  Building your committee. Getting your program of study approved . . . and so on.  You will need your advisor and committee for all of these things.  It is a give and take relationship.  The faculty do not have to serve on your committee and it is in fact extra load for them.  They do so out of a sense of service. The grad students, on their part, need to make themselves worthy of this investment by working hard and notching up successes towards an accomplished career – the ultimate reward for you, your committee, and the department.

The process of working with a committee does not end with graduate school. Whether we pursue a career in academia or in the industry, we will have to collaborate with people. We will have to establish working relationships with colleagues. In this process, many dynamics are involved. Courtesy. Honesty. Open lines of communication. Keeping people informed. These are the things we can do to form successful collaborations and working relationships.

– Nicky Lewis

First year master’s and doctoral students: If you haven’t revisited David’s guide since that first day of orientation, now may be a good time.  You can do so here.

Grad Students Work on Computer Animated Film

Several students in the department’s MS program are working to create a computer animated short film, and they’ve already turned it into a collaborative venture, seeking the aid of around 15 voice and motion capture actors, composers, musicians, and modelers. The Districts, created and directed by grad student Andrew Benninghoff, was first conceptualized in Andrew’s first semester here. He sought the aid of a writer, then a concept artist. This year, with the addition of first year graduate students Geng Zhang (Production Manager) and Jennifer Talbott (Producer), the project has quickly gained momentum.

Currently, the group is working on motion capture for the film in facilities located in the School of Education building. This week the group pitched the project to a funding board with hopes of securing funds to create the background music for the film. The plan is to have a trailer for the film completed before the summer, and a few scenes completed before the fall. Truly a collaborative effort, The Districts has involved students from Fine Arts, actors from the Bloomington Playwright’s Project and the Waldron Arts Center, the Education building’s motion capture studio, composers in other states, and advice from others who have made computer animated films in the past.

The Districts, says Andrew, will run 50 minutes long and will be set in a distant, post-apolcalyptic future ravaged by war. “Thematically, it’s a look into free will and determinism,” he explains. For more information, you can check out the films official website by clicking here.

Mary LaVenture’s Doc Update

MS student Mary LaVenture’s documentary is rolling places!  “A Four-Wheeled Fascination” debuted at the LA Women’s International Film Festival this week.  We first told you about Mary’s documentary in September, when it premiered on WTIU.  “Four-Wheeled” was produced in collaboration with undergraduates in Ron Osgood’s year-long documentary course.  It chronicles the history of women’s roller derby from its inception to present day. “Four-Wheeled” also interviews women from two roller derby teams in Indiana and explains the many ways in which roller derby teams are involved in their communities.

The LA Women’s International Film Festival is produced by Alliance of Women Filmmakers, an organization established to empower women filmmakers to create diverse roles for women as well as increase exposure for women causes. Each year in March, the festival showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films made by women. It provides them with a platform to share their unique stories and also serves as a fundraiser for women causes.  You can check out the festival’s website here and “A Four Wheeled Fascination’s” IMDB page here.

Mary is in the process of submitting her documentary to a variety of other film festivals and will be notified in early May of their decisions.  Good luck Mary!


Katie Birge:  Thom Hogan Returns to Campus and Grad Students Work on Computer Animated Film

Nicky Lewis:  Revisiting Waterman’s Guide for Graduate Students and Mary LaVenture’s Doc Update

Visiting Scholars, Visiting Hometowns, Award Winning Book, and NCA

An Afternoon at Upland Brewery with Huy and Thien

Grad student Mary LaVenture wore a comfy and tan-colored sweater Sunday afternoon, to which Thien Truong commented, “You look like a mother bear.”  Followed by a burst of laughter, Thien and Huy Ky Do began to share their story of the past several weeks spent observing the Department of Telecommunications.   They are both visiting scholars from Hue University in Vietnam.  Before their trip to the States came to an end, Huy and Thien made the trip to Upland Brewery to sample some local brews and foods.

Huy and Thien first came to learn about IU from Professor Ron Osgood, who met them while traveling to Vietnam for work on his documentary.  They had the opportunity to come to Bloomington on a travel grant.  Huy and Thien are both fine arts instructors and plan to create a video production program in their department next year.  Asked what he will take away from IU experience, Huy said he has been most impressed by the people, culture and facilities here.

The classroom dynamics in the Department are much different from those at Hue University.  Huy explained that discussions are much more open here.  The environment allows for people of many different ages, races and backgrounds to interact.  Vietnam’s classrooms are much more formal.  In addition, the culture is one of respect.  Students in Vietnam, no matter what their age, always bow to the instructor as a sign of respect.

Outside of the classroom, a point of interest for both Huy and Thien is the local food culture.  The abundance of local markets in Vietnam makes it easy for people to use fresh ingredients and prepare meals in the home.  Some of the staples include rice, vegetables and fish. In Vietnam, food is something to be shared with family.  Coffee is also important to their culture, with coffeehouses and street vendors quite common.  Thien considers coffee to be more than a drink, it cultivates social activity as well. 

When asked to elaborate further on social activities, Huy explained he was too old for those kind of things, but Thien shared that he enjoys shooting pool and throwing darts with friends.

Huy was impressed with the easy access to museums, theaters and galleries compared to his native Vietnam.  While Huy and Thien explain that networks like CNN, BBC and HBO are quite popular, their nation’s news coverage is controlled.  Thien was surprised at the number of interviews in local TV news in the US.  In Vietnam, interviews are much more limited.

After spending several weeks in Bloomington, Huy and Thien have begun to miss their families.  Huy has two sons, ages 8 and 15.  Thien has a one-year-old daughter.  After sharing photos of their children, Thien shared another insight into their culture.  While Huy and Thien are both instructors in their department, Thien still calls  Huy ‘teacher’ as a sign of respect and friendship.

Sabbaticals Abroad and Returning Home

The student union at Cardiff University in Wales. Photo credit: Betsi Grabe

For faculty members, sabbaticals can be opportunities for travel and work, but for two of our own, the semester away from the department has been about returning home. Recently back from her travels abroad during her sabbatical, Professor Betsi Grabe says she spent much of her time reuniting with family and friends in and around her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. “Really, it was a trip about getting back to my roots,” she says.

For the beginning of her sabbatical travels abroad, Betsi was offered the opportunity to be a distinguished fellow at Cardiff University in Wales. “It was spectacular timing, and the invitation came right as I was planning sabbatical.” Betsi gave several talks on journalism at the university over the course of two weeks before heading to South Africa.

Once there, Betsi caught up with relatives and longtime friends before taking a short trip to the coastline of Mozambique, where her family once vacationed during her childhood. “I’ve travelled some in my life, and there is nothing like the beaches there,” Betsi says. “They’re so wide, and the skies there are so large, and there is no one in sight.”

Professor Betsi Grabe along the beaches and big African skies in Mozambique.

Fellow faculty member Mark Deuze, also on sabbatical, has spent much of the semester on a whirlwind tour to discuss media life and media work. Much like Betsi’s travels, Mark’s trip gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his homeland, as he spent some of his time in the Netherlands and visiting his hometown of Eindhoven. Mark presented at a special event at the university there, where an unexpected reunion occurred. “The event was in an amazing all-blue theater in the city where I grew up, so some old friends showed up by surprise,” he says.

Mark’s presentations and lectures spanned Europe, allowing him to check out several locations in the Netherlands as well as Portugal and Belgium. Many of the events focused on two of Mark’s current books and his forthcoming book Media Life, which will be out next year.

Award Winning Book: Image Bite Politics

Professors Betsi Grabe and Erik Bucy received the Distinguished Book Award from the Communication and Social Cognition division of NCA last week for their book, Image Bite Politics. The book also received the ICA’s Outstanding Book Award this year.

Grad Students at NCA

IU Telecom was well represented at the 96th annual Nation Communication Association conference in San Francisco. On Sunday Lindsay Ems (Ph.D. student) presented “Protesters use Microblogging Tools to Make Their Voices Heard in New Ways.” Then on Monday Nic Matthews (Ph.D. student) presented a poster on work done for Betsi’s content analysis class. Tuesday’s presentations included MA student Sanja Kapidzic (her work with Susan Herring) and Ph.D. student Mark Bell (a social media research panel).  Ph.D. students Matt Falk and Travis Ross (along with MA graduate Jim Cummings) also volunteered during the conference.

PhD student Nic Matthews presenting his poster on bathroom graffiti at NCA. Photo Credit: Mark Bell


Nicky Lewis: Visiting Scholars

Katie Birge: Sabbaticals Abroad and Award Winning Book

Special Thanks

Mark Bell: Photo and guest contribution for Grad Students at NCA

Props, Docs, Homecomings, and the 1st Brown Bag

This week we bring you a potpourri of items from around the department. Check out what Professor Mike McGregor’s been collecting in his office drawer for all these years, find out when you can view documentaries produced and edited by some of our grad students, learn what Chase Martin’s been doing for the past year and a half, and feast your eyes on some highlights of the first T600 Brown Bag talk of the semester featuring Professor Rob Potter.

Objects in Offices, Segment 2: Mike’s Prop Drawer

Professor Mike McGregor isn’t one to always keep a straight face.  His sense of humor is known and appreciated throughout the department.  This week we stopped by his office to take a look inside his prop drawer.  Mike has been collecting various mementos, figurines and knick knacks since high school.  Many of the memories are from his time spent in law school and working for the FCC.  He does use some of the props when teaching media law classes, like his draft card and pocket edition of the U.S. Constitution.  However, while most are just for laughs and reminiscing about the past, many of the items have interesting stories behind them.

Mike originally acquired a pirate firearm while in law school.  Mike and his friends used to put on Gilbert and Sullivan shows, like Pirates of Penzance, to distract themselves from studying law.  In that particular production, Mike played the Pirate King and got to keep the gun out of it.

The Oscar Meyer Weenie Mobile is actually a souvenir from a former student.  While working for Oscar Mayer’s marketing and promotions department, she would drive the real Weenie Mobile around campus.

The wide variety of contents in the drawer create quite a conversation piece.  Take a look at some of the treasures we found while visiting his office:

Documentaries Airing on WTIU

Three graduate students who collaborated with undergraduates in a year-long documentary class will get to see their docs on local PBS station WTIU this month. The course, taught by Ron Osgood, allowed students to pitch possible documentary ideas in the first semester. Of the three docs selected for production in the second semester, two of them were pitched by grad students. MS student Mary LaVenture (who produced “A Four-Wheeled Fascination”) and recent MS graduate Satina Stewart (who produced “Love 2.0”) each headed up their projects, and MS student Erin Gupte contributed to the production of a documentary about the controversies surrounding the construction of Interstate 69.

Mary, who is currently in the process of submitting “A Four-Wheeled Fascination” to various film festivals, is happy with the way the documentary turned out and is looking forward to seeing it air on WTIU. She adds that creating the documentary was an eye-opening experience and a great opportunity to learn more about roller derby. “People seem really excited about the documentary, and the derby girls love it,” Mary says of the final product.

The year-long course culminated in May with a public screening of the three documentaries, but anyone who missed the spring viewing can catch the documentaries on WTIU throughout September. “This is something WTIU has been doing for the class for at least the last couple of years,” says producer Mary LaVenture. The documentaries are airing a week apart every Friday at 10:30pm this month. Here’s the schedule:

“Love 2.0”- 9/10 @ 10:30pm: This documentary produced by Satina Stewart explores the changing meaning of love in a world increasingly turning to online dating. Featuring interviews with people all turning to online dating for different reasons, “Love 2.0” examines the successes and perils of finding love in a digital world.

“Interstate 69: Under Construction”- 9/17 @ 10:30pm: This documentary produced by undergraduate student Ryan McDonald investigates competing forces in the controversy surrounding the construction of I-69 in southern Indiana. Interviewing proponents and opponents of I-69 construction, the documentary captures all the different viewpoints.

“A Four-Wheeled Fascination” – 9/24 @ 10:30pm: This documentary produced by grad student Mary LaVenture chronicles the history of women’s roller derby from its inception to present day. “Four-Wheeled” also interviews women from two roller derby teams in Indiana and explains the many ways in which roller derby teams are involved in their communities. You can view the documentary’s IMDB page here.

Chase Martin

If you’ve been hanging around the TV/Radio building for a few years, you may have noticed the return of a familiar face this fall—Chase Martin. Currently back from a hiatus in the industry, he’s finishing up his master’s degree while serving as Instructor of Record for T205, the undergraduate course on media and society. Chase has been assistant instructor for T101 before and even taught an extra section as Instructor of Record in the past, but this semester he admits he’s taking on a bigger challenge in his new role.

Though Chase is stepping a bit out of his comfort zone for T205, a class of 122 undergraduates, he’s ready to put a new and personalized spin on the class. “For me,” Chase says, “it’s about looking at new media and social media, and this gives me the opportunity to add my own input to the course.” For Chase, this personalization includes getting each student set up with a blog as well as a Mark Deuze-inspired Twitter feed during class, reminiscent of the professor’s T101 courses in previous semesters.

Chase, who spent his time away from the department working for a company that made learning software for the Department of Defense, is ready to be back in the academic swing of things and is currently collaborating with Professor Mark Deuze on research related to independent game developers in the video game industry.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to indulge in the ideas available here,” Chase adds. “It’s great to come back and get to work through my thoughts.” Chase plans to continue his research on organizational models of video game companies.

Brown Bag

Professor Rob Potter had the honor of presenting at the first brown bag seminar of the semester this past Friday:

Is the Third Time a Charm?:  The spotty past, booming present, and hazy future of psychophysiology in the media psychology laboratory


This talk begins by examining two distinct—and brief—moments in the history of communication scholarship when researchers employed measurements of physiological reaction during message processing as dependent variables in experimental research.  I then discuss how psychology’s move toward behaviorism curtailed the use of such measures in both these eras, even though they were separated by more than four decades.

This brings me to a look at the modern era, where measures of bodily reaction are much more accepted in communication research.  The reason?  These measures are now collected, analyzed, and presented under the assumptions of psychophysiology.  I’ll discuss these assumptions using some recent data collected in the ICR to illustrate.

Finally, I attempt to briefly predict what the future may hold for physiological measures of media processing . . . a prognostication that may not be as rosy as you may expect.

Watch some of the highlights from Rob’s presentation here:

It was great to hear all that Rob has been working on since his sabbatical to Australia.  He has recently finished a book on psychophysiological measures, which he mentions in the video clip.   You can find additional information on Rob’s book here:

Rob Potter’s New Book

Special Thanks

Rob Potter:  For telling us about the treasures in Mike McGregor’s drawer


Nicky Lewis:  Mike’s Prop Drawer and Brown Bag

Katie Birge:  Documentaries Airing on WTIU and Chase Martin