Newlyweds in Telecom

By Mona Malacane

Having been to six (almost seven) weddings in the past 13 months, I feel like I can safely claim the title of “Wedding Guest Expert” for our department. At this point, I can pretty much smell a wedding from a mile away and I’m getting pretty good at spotting newlyweds! (Seeing updates on Facebook doesn’t hurt either.) They conveniently left this information out of their Monday morning introductions … but three graduate students in our department got married this summer! Ken Rosenberg, Ted Jamison-Koenig, and Josh Sites had zero chance of getting through this semester without me interviewing all three of them on their summer nuptials.

Ken and Ashley's wedding party

Ken and Ashley’s wedding party

Ken and his wife Ashley met in 2012 through fellow grad student (now visiting lecturer) and wedding day officiant, Russell McGee. Both Ken and Ashley were involved in planning their Star Trek-themed wedding, Ken explained. “We knew pretty much right from the get-go that we wanted to plan it ourselves, that it was going to be ours and it wouldn’t be a sort of a pre-packaged thing.” They took wedding pictures in Studio 5 – with the plan to edit to look like they are in scenes from Star Trek – and then met at the altar in the Fountain Square Mall Ballroom on June 20th.  The two continued the Trek theme with their honeymoon at the Star Trek Convention at The Rio in Las Vegas, where Ken received some useful marriage advice from actor René Auberjonois who plays Odo. The advice? “Switch sides of the bed every so often.”

Wedding pictures from Studio 5

Wedding pictures from Studio 5

ted and erin

If you’re seeing Ted’s face for the first time because of this blog post it’s because he and Erin were on a 10 day cruise through the Mediterranean Sea on their honeymoon while we were gathered in Studio 6 for orientation!

Ted and Erin have been together since the two met in high school in 2006. They were married back home in New Jersey on August 1st after a year and a half of planning. Ted entrusted most of the planning to Erin and was thankful when the day went off without a hitch, “The whole day I was bracing myself mentally for something to go wrong … and I was preparing myself to be ok with whatever was going to go wrong. But everything went pretty much perfectly according to plan.” Ted credited the smooth day to Erin’s excellent planning and also to heeding advice from family and friends, including Ken and Ashley whose recommendation was, “Make sure that you carve out time for yourselves and make sure you eat.” Ted and Erin completed another big life milestone before they left for their honeymoon: buying a house! Ted said, “The last couple of weeks I’ve done two or three of the biggest things people do in their life in rapid succession, but it’s been awesome.”

Josh and Alicia in Beck Chapel

Josh and Alicia in Beck Chapel

Josh and Alicia tied the knot on June 14th at Beck Chapel by the IMU. Not to pick on him, but of the three new husbands, Josh was the coolest cucumber and least forthcoming with details! He explained that his favorite part of the wedding was when it was over because there was nothing more to worry about and he could just relax. The two shared the planning over their three years of engagement, so it is definitely understandable that he was looking forward to life after the wedding than the actual day. Josh did, however, give me a great nugget of advice to share for anyone in the early stages of planning: if at all possible, avoid telling vendors that you are planning a wedding because the price for goods will increase at least 25%. In fact, renting Josh’s tuxedo cost more than Alicia’s dress! They honeymooned at a resort in Sedona, Arizona, spending a lot of time enjoying the amazing scenery.

Honemooning in Sedona, Arizona

Honeymooning in Sedona, Arizona

All three gave the encouraging answer that getting married in grad school isn’t actually that terribly difficult. Each one told me that the key to not going crazy was prioritizing, managing your time, and taking advantage of the flexibility you have in the summer. When I asked if life has changed after marriage, I was a little surprised to hear definitive no’s from all three. In fact, Ted summed it up nicely when he recounted his answer to a friend asking “how does it feel to be married?” His answer: “slightly heavier on the left side.”

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Lessons in Production

by Teresa Lynch

Oftentimes graduate students in our department find themselves sharing Associate Instructor (AI) responsibilities.  T101, T205, T206 are just some of the courses where multiple AIs have to work together, but mostly independently.  T283 is a bit different.  It’s a production course where Telecom undergrads have the first opportunity to get hands on experience with equipment.  Correspondingly, it also offers the assigned AIs the opportunity to work with undergrads – who have just acquired the basic skill set – in flexing their creative and technical muscles.

The course is divided into two portions – studio and field production.   Half of the students (and their corresponding AIs) begin work in Studio 5 where they hone their skills in performing live shots and learn to work with an intimidating array of expensive equipment.  The other half begin fieldwork, where AI Steve Burns says “there is personal responsibility to take care of your business outside of class and really want to do it in your free time almost because you really love doing it.”  After about halfway through the semester, the groups switch.

T283 is instructed by John Walsh and the AIs this semester are Garrett Poortinga, Brian Steward, Ted Jamison-Koenig, and Steve Burns, who all have a range of different work experiences to draw on.  They focus on teaching a specific skill set in each lab session.  For instance, you might remember last week’s post about Ted’s audio specialty.  John says that outside of their formal weekly meetings, there is a good bit of interaction between the AIs in terms of collaboration.  “The AIs from one lab will help another, we’ve gotten to know each other and know everyone’s skill set and strengths …  Even when we just are switching between the five week segments of field production and those in the studio, there’s a natural interplay.  It sort of happens organically.”

One of the most rewarding (or perhaps frustrating, humorous, and surprising) things about T283 AI work is helping students create pieces, which they could add to their portfolios.  Garrett says that guiding his students through the process of “developing a concept, producing it and delivering it” is something he really enjoys about teaching in a creative lab, as it gives him the opportunity to share his creative experience, but also see how “they’re going to branch out in terms of their creative passions.”

Students working in Studio 5 for T283. Photo by Garrett J. Poortinga

In his last studio project, many of his students pitched similar ideas that were narrowed down to three different projects: an original music video, a mock-umentary featuring the “foreign director” of the music video the first group created, and an improv game show.  Garrett feels particularly suited for helping his students because he did his undergraduate work here and is well-versed in the intricacies of the studios, the equipment, and the logistics of being a student.

Bryan discussed the difficulties of having individuals come in with unworkable ideas.  His favorite?  “Body part scavenger hunt – which involved a headless, armless, legless torso who went around campus finding his different body parts.  So then you ask the question, ‘well, how are you going to do that?’ and they draw a blank because they haven’t thought out that far, they just think it’s a cool idea.”  Within the scope of the class, certain projects aren’t workable, but as Bryan explains, that’s just part of the process of learning how to produce.  One of the workable ideas that his group had was a remake of the viral Internet music video, “Gangnam Style.”  Bryan credits a remake video of “Call Me Maybe” done by a section of students led by previous T283 AI Matt Falk as his students’ inspiration for their project.  He says in the end, the students did a great job coming together and he was happy to see one semester’s students building off what a previous semester had accomplished.

Ted’s challenge this semester was to sort out which of the twelve pitched projects to undertake because each of his students’ ideas was workable and creative.  The first screening of the studio projects was a remake of “My Strange Addiction” where the students featured a man married to a blowup doll – a doll whose ultimate fate would be to get rolled over on and popped.  Ted’s primary interest and area of expertise is in audio production, but he has sincerely enjoyed the opportunity to work with students in their areas of interest.  Often, fostering those interests works to help him hone his teaching skills and help the students discover their strengths.  One of his students in particular wowed the rest of the class with his acting abilities.

Students on set in Studio 5. Photo by Garrett J. Poortinga

Over a number of semesters, Steve Burns has seen undergraduates come and go through T283 where they’re given the opportunity to build the foundations for their portfolios.  Overall, he says that the students usually come in very much the same.  “You get a lot of the same pitches year after year … There’s a lot of recycled ideas, but it’s part of the process.”  Still, Steve says it’s an excellent opportunity for students because “you have to go put a lot of time and effort into something for it not to turn out looking like your favorite movie.  And realize how do I get there and see who’s doing well and how do I line up with [them].”  That experience for Steve has been the most rewarding – helping him to strengthen teaching skills and work with students through difficulties he himself has experienced.

On his part, John sees his talented and hard working AIs building a legacy for the course.  He notes that “not only are there different production backgrounds, but everybody has a range of production experience.  Some of it real world experience, some of it extended experience within an educational venue.  I believe that as we go forward to establish a framework for T283, which these guys have contributed a lot to, as the folks did last semester, it will be easier for graduate students of varying backgrounds to come and participate because we’ll have a framework in place to guide them.  So even graduate students who have a very limited amount of experience in production will be able to participate based on the contributions of these guys.”

The Complexity of Music

by Teresa Lynch

Music is complex.  Or, so says Ted Jamison-Koenig.  Ted has a bachelor’s degree in recording arts from the Jacobs School of Music at IU and has been a performer for most of his life.  In fact, his love of performing and listening to metal have been highlighted here on the grad blog in the past.  Now, Ted’s beginning to move beyond enjoying music – of course, he is still listening, playing, and creating in all of his spare time – to studying it.  He is interested in exploring music within media and how we process it.  And that’s where Ted is beginning to feel a bit like a pioneer.

Like many other budding researchers, he is learning to explain complex ideas in simple ways.  His particular challenge is to explain musical concepts in terms everyone can understand.  In part, the difficulty stems from the way music has been studied in the existing communications literature. According to Ted, communications literature has largely treated music in simplistic ways.  For instance, music is often referred to as “happy” or “sad,” “fast” or “slow.” While the problem here in part is that many media scholars don’t have formal training in music theory or acoustical science, the more likely reason is that music just hasn’t been the focus of much of the study in our field.

But, Ted is looking to change that.

As a part of his master’s coursework, Ted sought out classes that draw on empirical research on music.  Currently he is taking a class that examines psychological research on music.  Interestingly, he’s found that many of the topics discussed in that field parallel our own.  Researchers in psychology are also using physiological measures to gauge arousal and determine predictors of genre preference.  Additionally, they are using theoretical frameworks much akin to ours. For instance, one of the topics recently discussed in this psychology class was flow. Still, Ted has found that there’s a disconnect between the fields, which he’s hoping to bridge.

Communications researchers have primarily studied music in the context of audio cues, voice differences, and sound effects, as opposed to studying whole pieces of music.  For Ted, the discrete view of music (breaking music only into genres such as R&B, rock, or classical) takes away from the subtlety of music and invites terminology that is too broad or vague.  He instead is interested in looking at music in a different way.  Ted seeks to study what he dubs “musical complexity,”  which for him is a combination of tempo and melodic contour.  This approach could lead to development of measures for entire pieces of music and that would allow researchers to study music much more dynamically.

In general Ted is hoping to use more scientific measures of music.  According to him, the current working definitions are difficult to quantify and somewhat confusing. As he says, “even volume literally means ‘the physical space a sound occupies …’ but, what does that mean?” In its place, he’s hoping to use existing measures from acoustical science such as the Fletcher-Munson curve to study musical experience.

In the end, it’s not that Ted sees the current work on music as inadequate.  Quite the contrary.  It’s what inspired him to delve deeper into understanding music.  He says the current discrete categorical system, terminology, and way of describing music in lay or emotional terms still have enormous use in study of media when the particular focus isn’t the music.  But, for him, it’s just not quite enough.  For his part, Ted’s love of metal sometimes ostracized him a bit from the musicians with whom he played euphonium in high school.  They didn’t understand what he heard in metal genres such as grindcore.  What he’s hoping to accomplish scientifically will perhaps help him bridge all sorts of gaps – both professionally and personally.

Media@IU, Castronova’s Gamer-Friendly Grading, Ted at the Sweet Sixteen, Brown Bag

Media@IU, by Mike Lang

Gathered in Mark Deuze’s office, Mark Deuze, Danqing Liu, Jennifer Talbott, Geng Zhang, and Adam Simpson bounce ideas off one another as they plan for the upcoming Media@IU reception at the Well’s House on April 4th.  Projector to project the Media@IU website on the wall? Check. Microphone and sound system? Check. Facebook event page? Check.  Preparations for the hush-hush VIP after party? Check. Attendance is a bit light today, as team members Christy Wessel Powell and Maria Fedorova are unable to make it, but the ideas still keep flowing. Every Thursday from 1-2 the Media@IU team convenes to discuss progress and plans, but as the buzz builds, so to do the questions surrounding the initiative.

Over the last few years, Deuze has noticed an increase in media related research and creative activities across campus including research projects in other departments, courses, speakers, student clubs and organizations, and graduate reading groups. As such, the original goal of Media@IU was simply to raise awareness of these activities. Two semesters ago, Liu, working as an RA for Deuze, was charged with one of the first awareness-raising jobs, collecting information about courses around related to media. A huge project with lots of potential, Liu recruited Talbott and Zhang to help out. Setting up a T575: Directed Group New Media Design Project under the supervision of Deuze, the three embarked on creating a database on media-related activities on campus. As Talbott explains, the trio searched for classes, talked to faculty in various departments, went to the career development center, talked to career advisors, looked up student clubs, located facilities on campus that could be useful for media projects, identified UITS classes that offered media related skills, and did some research on companies affiliated with IU that could potentially offer students internships or jobs. Along the way they recruited students from SLIS and journalism to build the website that would house all of the information.

In the beginning most of the initiatives were organized around undergraduates. Because media is such a broad topic, many students need a road map of sorts. Liu explains that when Joe Schmo freshman goes to register for classes or pick a major, Media@IU can help him navigate the many facets of media scholarship and gain a clearer view of what he wants to do. They also hope that the site would facilitate faculty collaboration.  This semester the team has shifted its attention to graduate student resources such information on funding sources for research, and small snippets on projects going on around campus.

The culmination of all this work will be the first ever Media@IU conference in October. Held in the Union, the conference will bring together students and faculty to present and discuss their media related work, provide opportunities to network, and facilitate collaboration. In addition, the conference will be  spotlighted by a rock star keynote speaker selected by graduate students. Although the team takes it one step at a time, it hopes the conference will grow to the point it can resemble the old Big Ten Media and Communication conference that died out years ago.

Throughout the process, the team has gained new members from around the University, some who may only come for a meeting or two, and others who stick around for longer. Zhang says that finding new recruits in the beginning was hard. However, as their ideas evolved into a more tangible product, people were more receptive and helpful. So much so that when the team put out an advertisement for website help, they received inquiries from individuals all the way in California willing to contribute at no cost.  Although the original trio is graduating this May they hope to recruit some new members to carry on the torch after they leave.

Fundamentally, Media@IU is a ground up exercise; an initiative driven by the desire and willingness of students and faculty to collaborate in the spirit of doing more with media. It’s hard to predict where it will go, or what it will look like, but with the full backing of the provost, and a team of dedicated individuals willing to put in the work, everyone gets to reap the rewards.

The Media@IU reception will take place on Wednesday, April 4th from 8-10pm in the Well’s House and refreshments will be provided. Stop by and learn what the future of media research at IU looks like. Did I mention free T-shirts and a wicked after party? Check out the Facebook event page here. Check out the Media@IU Website here.

The Media@IU Team: Danqing Liu, Jennifer Talbott, Geng Zhang, Christy Wessel Powell, Maria Fedorova, Jihoon Jo, Jin Guo, Vasumathi Sridharan, Adam Simpson, Todd Chen.

Media@IU Logo by Todd Chen.

Castronova’s Gamer-Friendly Grading, by Ken Rosenberg

Like many of my generation, I went through school wishing it were more like a video game. When I found out that this is not just a personal fantasy, but a widespread and serious movement that needs researchers, I knew I would stay in school forever. Gamification is the use of game-like systems to structure and enhance real-world behavior and its proponents often list education among the most important institutions in need of such a shift. Games are neatly designed experiences that are logical, iterative, skill-based, egalitarian, and always potentially winnable—a perfect formula for learning. Professor Ted Castronova’s grading of undergraduates resembles a leveling system common to games, one that originated in the role-playing genre.

Students must write 500-word essays, which are graded on a pass-fail basis. Though many games have point systems—or even, ironically, letter-based grading systems—at the end of a level, the most important measure is still the “level clear” screen; either you won the game, or you didn’t.

They can submit as many times as it takes to earn complete credit. There is no limit on how many times you can try to win a game, and the only thing that matters is winning. The previous attempts do not count against you—in fact, if anything, they prove beneficial. Studies show that some failed attempts can ultimately make victory more emotionally rewarding. Punishment for failure only discourages effort.

It takes a bit more to earn each next level. Gamers know that all levels are not built equally: 1 through 20 is nowhere near the grind that takes a player from 20 to 40. Essay requirements for the next highest grade work on a +1 additive progression. Earning a “C” requires two more essays than a “D”-level performance, but going from a “C” to a “B” takes three.

The grade breakdown:

  • 1 essay   =   D
  • 3 essays  =  C
  • 6 essays  =  B
  • 10 essays = A

When Ted told other teachers about his system, they assumed that most students would earn an “A.” In fact the class still keeps the typical “C” average. Ted believes that students pick their grade from the beginning and decide to do a set number of essays. (Regardless of when or how students determine their grade, they still turn in most of them at the end of the semester.) Despite the unfortunate conclusion that game-like systems will not push everyone toward maximum achievement, there is one enormously significant upshot that all teachers can appreciate: nobody complains about their grade.

Ted at the Sweet Sixteen, by Mike Lang

Ted Jamison-Koenig was never a basketball fan. Then he moved to Bloomington to attend IU. For the last 5 years, Jamison-Koenig has sat through the worst years of Indiana basketball, yet cheered the Hoosiers on with ferver regardless. With the Hoosiers having a better than expected year this year, making it to the Sweet Sixteen, Ted road tripped to Atlanta to watch the fabled matchup with IU’s rival Kentucky. Edward Jones Dome, home field of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, may not have been the best suited for a basketball game (especially with all the good tickets going to alumni and high roller donors).  But that didn’t stop Ted from having a good time, as he was just happy to be there. Unfortunately IU lost the game, but the proclamation was loud and clear. IU basketball is back, and Ted was there to witness it.

Brown bag

Dynamic Motivational Activation in Media Use and Processing

Zheng Wang

A mathematical theoretical framework called Dynamic Motivational Activation (DMA) will be described. DMA models help reveal how we attend to, process, respond to, and are affected by the ever-changing information environment in an adaptive way. The models tease apart the influences of the exogenous vs. the endogenous variables (e.g., communication variables vs. audience physiological and cognitive system variables), and allow the study of their dynamic interactions. A few DAM studies will be discussed. They examine the dynamics of real-time processing of entertainment and persuasive messages, and also longitudinal communication activities in daily life.

..

Conceptualizing Flow, Presence and Transportation as Motivated Cognitive States

Rachel Bailey

Flow, Presence and Transportation will be discussed as the outcome of the motivated cognitive dynamic system settling into different attractor states. Conceptual definitions from the literatures concerning each of these states will be discussed and translated into motivated cognition variables. Data from three experiments will be presented in support of this reconceptualization. Implications for taking this dynamical, complex approach to studying these states, and media processing in general, will be discussed.

Bios:

Zheng Joyce Wang (Ph.D. in Communications & Cognitive Science, IU-Bloomington, 2007) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University, Columbus. One of her research foci is the use of real time data (e.g., psychophysiological measures, real life experience sampling) in conjunction with formal dynamic models to study how people process and use media. In particular, she is interested in the dynamic reciprocal effects between media choice/use behavior and its impact on emotion and cognition over time. Another research foci is to understand contextual influences on decision and cognition by building new probabilistic and dynamic systems based on quantum rather than classic probability theory. Her research has been supported by National Science Foundation.

Rachel Bailey is a third-year doctoral student at Indiana University. Her research interests focus on understanding how motivationally and psychologically relevant variables come together in complex ways to influence and constrain how information is processed in mediated contexts over time.

Random Search Term of the Week

One of the search terms that led a viewer to the grad blog was: “a stone with bryant substance”!

And the viewer was treated to last year’s February 28 story on Bryant Paul’s Rock Tumbler.

The T283 Team, Ryland’s Stats Search, Russell’s Thesis (Teaser), The Ted, Brown Bag

The T283 Team, by Mike Lang

Collaboration and fluidity dominates modern media work. A team of workers comes together for a project, only to disband again when it ends. Sure, packs of people may move together from project to project—just read through the credit rolls from Christopher Nolan’s films to identify some repeat offenders—but rarely does an entire team reassemble for another project down the road.  Yet, despite the temporary nature of the work, in those grueling hours of the dreaded crunch, in the moments of hilarity and inspiration, in the moments of conflict and aggression, and even in the moments of absolute and total boredom, media workers form relationships with roots so deep they sustain for a lifetime.  For Shannon Schenck, Matt Falk, Brian Steward, and Sophie Parkison, the associate instructors for T283: Introduction to Production Techniques and Practice the reality of media work holds true for work as an AI.

The conference room feels like the principal’s office Brian jokes. “I feel like I’m about to get scolded.” The beige walls and lack of windows certainly don’t produce a warm fuzzy feeling, but a good-natured vibe pervades none the less. With these four plus T283 crew chief John Walsh, location doesn’t matter that much. They can make anything fun. I’m fortunate because we have managed to find a time when everyone can meet. Anybody who has ever tried to schedule/reschedule an event with a group of graduate students and faculty members knows how difficult this can be. As an MA student I rarely interact with the production side of the department, so I’m excited to finally pull back the curtain and see what actually goes on. “This better be good” jokes Matt, “This is the only reason I put on pants today.”

T283 is a hands-on production course that gives students opportunities to work with the equipment and software they will be using in the field, in environments that simulate real-life working conditions.  As Sophie notes, T283 acts as a sampler, exposing students to the range of jobs one would encounter in a real studio or in real projects.  T283 features two parts. Every Monday from 2:30-3:45 the 90 or so students roll into the lecture portion of the class led by John Walsh. Composed mostly of second semester sophomores and juniors, T283 is a make or break class for students hoping to continue along the production trajectory, and as a result, it features a lengthy waiting list and a number of students who have waited semesters to get in. In addition to the lecture, students must attend a four hour lab led by one of the AIs.  Each of the eight sections contains 10-14 students. While older iterations of T283 were broadcast production oriented and featured eight weeks of studio work, and eight weeks of work in the field, John Walsh and Ron Osgood have introduced  new elements to the course. In addition to studio and field, there is a section of new media. With Photoshop and Dreamweaver skills acquired in the course , at the end of the semester students should be able to put together a professional online portfolio that features the work they have done in both the studio and the field.

Because the bulk of the class takes place in the lab, the success or failure of the course largely rides on the AIs. Each lab has a distinct personality, according to Brian, and figuring out how to work with those different dynamics is a big part of the job. As Matt says, the AIs have to play the role of executive producer. They have to put everyone in the best position to succeed, and that can’t happen if the AIs don’t know the students. You have to know what makes them tick, what is going on in their lives, and what is their personality because it is all going to come up in their work.  But then, with such small classes, and four hours of face time in the lab, “you’re going to learn them really fast,” says Shannon. Because of the structure of the course, the relationship between AI and student extends much further than that of the typical instructor-student relationship. As Shannon says, because the AIs invest so much in their students, their students invest back in them. They come to the AIs to talk about life, classes, projects outside of class, equipment, and everything in between. It creates a different dynamic in the classroom. The students really value what you think.   Matt says the system builds trust. “Other students see us laughing and joking back and forth, which encourages them to open up to us.” Beyond grading and giving feedback, the AIs have to foster a sense of collaboration and creativity that encourages students to really engage and think.

The beauty of the course lies in the subtleties. While the course covers all of the basics, the difference between average and exceptional can sometimes amount to half a second.  For Brian, the moments students learn these subtleties are light bulb moments.  He says one should not tell students what to do but to let them attain realizations on their own. In one instance, one of Brian’s students was directing a scene.  Instead of watching the monitors as the scene played out, the student had his head buried in the script, calling out camera changes based on the dialogue. After a few poor takes, Brian walked up, and took the script out of his hand and told them to roll again. As soon as the take started, the light bulb clicked on and the student understood immediately why watching the monitors is so important.  In the span of five minutes, the student recorded the best take of the day, and gained a whole new confidence in one of the most intimidating positions in the studio. In a sense the course is an exercise in building confidence, and for the AIs nothing beats a student who comes in nervous and afraid and leaves bustling with energy and self-assurance. As Brian notes, sometimes you might suggest an idea to a student who will muster up the courage to say, “I think I’m going to stick with my idea and see how it goes,” and when it turns out better than the suggestion, you know they are really getting it.

The AIs work as a team and rely on each other like family. As John notes, every member of the AI team possesses a different yet complimentary set of skills and experiences: Shannon’s handiwork with the camera, knowledge of the production lab, and background in teaching screen writing; Matt’s masterful command of audio, and experience as a documentary filmmaker; Brian’s background in the industry (if you haven’t check out Brian’s IMDB page yet, make it happen);  Sophie’s knowledge of story and development and her extensive experience with Studio 5 and IU in general. As such, the AIs lean on each other in various circumstances. Matt is a common fixture in labs that aren’t his own—talking about the soundboard and sharing his extensive audio knowledge. Brian may come over to students working in field to demonstrate techniques or share his own experiences. Since Brian hadn’t set foot in studio 5 since the first Reagan administration (when he was an undergrad), he relied on his fellow AIs to show him everything in the studio. They even taught him how to use Final Cut. They also lean on each other when it comes to dealing with students. The boundaries which separate one AI’s students from another are very porous. They constantly field questions and review work from students in other labs, especially if they are hanging around the production lab. “You have to be careful” says Sophie. “If you go in, you might not come out.”

The team is in constant contact over email, at their weekly meetings on Monday, and as they cross paths between labs. They share strategies, discuss what went well, and ways to make things better. Most importantly, they encourage one another. “It’s almost like we’re soldiers together” says Shannon, and they certainly share that camaraderie.  Brian and his wife Elizabeth are expecting expecting in April, yet the team has already devised a contingency plan in the event the baby is early, late, or on time. They take care of one another and even though they are providing their students with a real media work experience, they are also getting one themselves. “This is how you feel about a crew when you work with a crew” says John. “Its our semi-permanent work group!” jokes Sophie.

Each semester is different. AI teams come and go, group dynamics change, and new concepts are taught, but T283 continues to offer students an experience of media work that reflects the real world, and without the exceptional work of the AIs, none of that is possible, a fact not lost on the students. At the end of the fall semester Brian surprised his lab with pizza. As his wife Elizabeth walked into the studio with the stack of boxes, the students had a surprise of their own. Knowing the newlyweds were expecting, the students had pooled their money together to purchase a gift of their own. From a pile of baby clothes, one of the students pulled out a tiny onesie that read “Daddy’s Little Sweetheart.” That just doesn’t happen elsewhere.

John Walsh frequently refers to his AI team as superheroes. After my conversation with them, it is easy to see how important they are to the success of our program.

Ryland’s Stats Search, by Mike Lang

Ryland Sherman, first-year Ph.D. student, has plenty of experience with statistics. While this author humbly admits a lack of in-depth knowledge in statistics, it’s still safe to say that “proof-based multivariate calculus” sounds daunting—and, in the very first class of Ryland’s undergrad career, proficiency in it was expected before walking through the door. When in law school, he took a business class: Spreadsheet Modeling in Finance, a synthesis of “multivariate calculus, economics, finance and inter-temporal math, and statistics.” Ryland earned an “A,” impressive not only because of the material, but also because the bar for that top grade was set at ninety-six percent. The point is, simply, that one Ryland Sherman is no slouch when it comes to statistics. A self-proclaimed guru in Excel, he also knows most of those acronym-named stats programs that begin with the letter “S.” Then, he met a new letter of the alphabet, R—“the Linux of stats,” according to Ryland—and the experience has caused him to give pause when considering his next methods class.

Most Telecom students take applied stats courses, often in the psychology department. Ryland, however, decided to go to the Department of Statistics to attain a more abstract, fundamental grasp of statistics. The students in the S501: Statistical Methods I were asked to vote for the program of choice and they chose R. Though he prefers Excel, “ultimately, R is more robust,” Ryland explained. “It’s able to run these packages that were created by statisticians on this freeware, shared among people who must be advancing their careers by writing open-source R code to do cutting-edge statistical stuff. That’s why stats majors love R—but stats majors have computer programming backgrounds, apparently.” R is not for first-time programmers; it has a reputation for being clunky and sometimes outright counterintuitive. Nicky Lewis, another member of our cohort, took the class previously and did well—but she had a background in HTML programming. “Right off the bat, we were expected to be able to learn new programming languages and run loops,” Ryland said. Instead the course material ran loops around him.

“I have a love-hate relationship with R,” Ryland confessed. “She’s a rough mistress, hard to read and hard to understand. Occasionally, I was able to reach a mutually agreeable outcome—often at three or four in the morning, long after I thought I would be done.” As with most relationships, it was difficult to see the issues before diving into it. Without any background in programming, it became difficult for Ryland to learn the stats-related lessons of the course. “Programming is a world of trial and error,” Ryland said, “where you spend most of your time fixing a problem you didn’t see was there. That’s not a way to learn stats.”

“While I think everybody needs to know basic stats and be able to draw from that toolkit, I think that there are lots of areas of equations and models that can be pulled from areas other than the statistics program,” Ryland said. “On some level, I’m happy that R slapped me around a bit, because it’s made me think more outside the box.” Forced to pick a new minor, he is considering economics, sociology, and informatics. Regardless of which department he chooses, from now on, statistics will be less of an abstract affair. “Stats does not exist independent of the way it is used. The reason why so many people in our program have taken stats in psychology is that stats is taught in the context of psychological methods … putting stats in context is much more valuable. The statistical methods utilized by people coming out of psychology stats are as sophisticated as anything else and are a much better, custom fit to their applications.”

Russell’s Thesis, by Ken Rosenberg

Russell McGee and Brad Cho, both second-semester master’s students and experienced filmmakers, are going to collaborate on a project of thesis-level proportions. Cinema 67 (working title) is a postmodern coming-of-age movie that deals with intolerance of homosexuality in a small rural town. Some of the more lighthearted elements, like a prank involving cotton candy dye, are loosely derived from Russell’s past experiences working at a drive-in theater. Brad has been commissioned as the director of cinematography.  This project will be a fresh and exciting undertaking for Brad, as his past experience has mainly been with documentaries. With the script complete and a tentative schedule in place, they are in the process of finalizing the cast and building sets—shooting will begin over the summer. If you want to provide encouragement—or maybe a headshot, depending on your intended career trajectory—feel free to stop them in the hall for a quick chat about their work. Stay tuned for further updates!

Random Photo of the Week: The Ted

Ted Jamison-Koenig's new vanity plate finally offers the department a way to distinguish between the student and the professor in casual conversation.

Brown Bag

We are all kinda here: Collaborating in virtual and analog environments

Mark Bell

Over the past few months, I have been assisting Dr. Anne Massey (Dean’s Research Professor & Professor of Information Systems) and a team of researchers with a National Science Foundation Grant. This grant studies collaborative virtual presence (CVP) in collaborative virtual environments (CVE), such as Second Life. Using a range of measurements (SL activity, eye tracking and physiological) and researchers from a number of areas (Telecommunications, Information Systems, HPER) this project is, in itself, a collaborative effort that synchronously captures three streams of data.  I will give an overview of the project, its goals and the part I am playing.

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Reconceptualizing Gatekeeping in Multimodal Contexts: The Case of Italian Radiovision RTL 102.5

Asta Zelenkauskaite

A change is occurring in media production and consumption in mass media contexts that affects the gatekeeping process of content selection: User-generated content (UGC) is increasingly being incorporated into programming. This research asks: What are the differences between attitudes and practices with regards to UGC integration in mass media programming, and what are the actual audience participation patterns? To address these questions, gatekeeping theory is applied to a case study of an interactive multimedia setting — a leading Italian radio-television-web station, station RTL 102.5. Through interviews with media producers and content analysis, this study analyzed two types of UGC:  SMS messages and Facebook messages.

Bios:

Mark Bell is a PhD candidate at Indiana University in the Department of Telecommunications. His past research has focused on virtual words but more recent work focuses on deception in computer mediated environments. He is interested in digital deception detection, group information verification, digital image and video manipulation and online identity manipulation.

Asta Zelenkauskaite is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University. Her research interests include Computer-Mediated Communication, and Social Media. She researched user-generated content mediated by TV such as Facebook messages and mobile texting; user participation pattertns in online environment – online Internet Relay Chat; collaboratevely analyzed knowledge depositories such as Wikipedia and user interaction patterns in an online massively multiplayer game BZFlag.

 The audio from last Friday’s seminar: Brown bag 6 (Feb. 24, 2012 – Asta and Mark)

Ted Jamison-Koenig’s Hi-Fi Dreams, Avi and Daphna, Brown Bag

Dreams of a Music Man: Inside the Creative Mind of Ted Jamison-Koenig

Ted Jamison-Koenig didn’t grow up dreaming of graduate school (what kid does really?). Instead, he spent his time with music, and when his senior year at Communications High School in New Jersey rolled around and the time came to make a decision about where to go and what to study, one thought dominated: become a recording engineer at a multi-track studio. Five years later, after finishing his degree in recording arts in the Jacobs School of Music, Ted  finds himself here, an MA student in telecommunications, putting together a committee, writing papers, and doing the prerequisite intellectual push-ups in T501. A far cry from throwing faders, placing mics, and checking equipment at Sunset Studios, I sat down with Ted to talk about his background in music, his experiences with recording arts, and why he ultimately decided to leave it behind.

Music has been a part of Ted’s life since he can remember. When he was really young, his first instrument was the family piano. His parents signed him up for lessons, but like many kids, practice just wasn’t a priority. Even though the lessons stopped, Ted’s musical interest still simmered, waiting for the right outlet. In 3rd grade he got his first trumpet. “The first day I brought home my trumpet was really awesome, I didn’t know how to do it, so I asked someone to show me the basics, and I just sat there for hours, and played. It sounded like crap, but I thought I was doing really awesome.” After that it clicked. In 4th grade Ted started playing the baritone euphonium (the solos in Holst’s “Mars: The bringer of War” from his suite “The Planets” are played with a euphonium if you need a sonic reference), and in 5th grade Ted started playing the trombone. Throughout middle school and high school music became Ted’s sport. He earned all state twice, in addition to a long list of honors and awards for his musical acumen.

Brass Quintet for the Ages – Just a Closer Walk With Thee

Ted attended Communications High School in New Jersey, a small, competitive magnet school that that specializes in equipping students with the skills necessary for careers in the media. Despite the lack of a specialized recording arts program, Ted became the token audio guy in a program that focused on film making.

Even outside of formal settings, Ted was finding creative musical outlets. In addition to the trombone and baritone euphonium, Ted played guitar. A fervent metalhead, he formed a band, New Jersey’s Drown the Swim Team, in which he played guitar and performed vocals. Although he admits to conducting an “Axl Rose one man band take over” (writing all the material, doing most of the thinking, and having his band mates execute his vision), Drown the Swim Team was, and to an extent, still is, his baby. While Drown the Swim Team earned a respectable following in the local area, more than anything, the band unlocked Ted’s passion for the recording arts.

School projects, high school band, Drown the Swim Team; the opportunities for recording were growing, and so too was Ted’s stockpile of recording equipment. His first important piece of equipment was a Korg 12 track digital recorder with its own disc drive so Ted could directly export his recordings from the machine. That allowed him to experiment and create. “I sat there, and at the time, I was ignorant, and interested in guitar pedals and processing. It was me sitting there alone in my room for hours and hours a day, with a guitar in my hand, hitting buttons that I didn’t understand, writing things. It was all very intuitive. It was very creative.” Not one to read manuals if he doesn’t have to, Ted learned the basics of compression, EQ, gain structure, and the like through experimentation. In some cases, it yielded something unique. “Even if the way I’m using something isn’t how it is supposed to be used, if it sounds good, or works for me, then I use it.”

Drown The Swim Team – The Guns of August

When it was time to choose schools, his parents warned him that going into recording arts would pigeon-hole him, but he pushed ahead, knowing it was exactly what he wanted to do. He was accepted to Ithaca College’s film school, but opted for Indiana after learning Ithaca didn’t offer a specialization in recording. Moreover, Jacobs is considered one of the best music schools in the world, and Ted wanted to record the best players. “No matter how much people tell you that they won’t care how the piece is played, and will care more about how you recorded it, it always helps to have a good player.” On his first day of his freshmen year, he sat in a class with Konrad Strauss, chair of the Department of Recording Arts, who posed this question: “Why invest in an education in recording arts, when you could use the money you are spending on education to purchase the necessary equipment to start your own studio?” For Ted, the answer was simple. The program allowed him to learn his craft, learn what equipment he should buy if he ever wanted to start his own studio, and it allowed him to play with rare vintage equipment that he would never have been able to use otherwise. Most importantly though, it gave him the chance to figure out if the recording business was really right for him. As he learned later, it wasn’t.

However, while he was in the program, Ted was inundated with projects. Every graduate recital in the musical school is recorded and archived, a responsibility that falls to the recording arts students. He helped record IU operas at the MAC, and worked with local bands looking to record EPs and albums. His best experience in the program was the orchestration of the live stream of American folk icon Todd Rundgren’s Halloween recital in 2010.  “I got to sit in the booth and watch it, and order cameras around. The place was packed.” Held in Auer Hall in the music school, the show drew so many people that an overflow room was organized downstairs, where they watched Ted’s livestream.  Furthermore, popularity of the stream ended up jamming up the servers. “It was the coolest thing because I knew what I was broadcasting was being watched by a ton of people, it was high pressure. Even if I never get to do anything like that again, I’ll have that experience.”

After four years, Ted decided that a career in the recording arts wasn’t for him. As digital technologies develop and allow individuals like Ted to gain access to top flight recording tools, the demand for big dollar mega studios is drying up. “Big studios are dying. If I have the same stuff that everyone else has, so why would I spend $1800 a day to record in a big studio when I could just do it at home?” As big studios die, so do the dreams of those like Ted hoping to find their name in the album liner notes of the world’s biggest bands. “The thing that I wanted to do is becoming more and more of a pipe dream. Frankly, it’s becoming unattainable by most people.” As the role of the recording engineer shrinks, the money is shifting to electrical engineers and computer programs who build the equipment and design the programs relied upon by recording engineers. As such, to break into the world of recording you need to “be willing to literally clean toilets for 2 years just to get your foot in the door. For every person like me who is unwilling to do that kind of work, there are 200 people willing to wade through the crap just to get a job.” Ted acknowledges that he would be willing to do it  if the end result was more rewarding. The head of the studio he interned for was 25 or 26 years old and had been in the business for a few years. Even though he had been elevated to head engineer, he still lived at home, didn’t make enough to have his own place, and he never saw his family. He got home at 3 in the morning, only to have to be back at 9, and as a result, he would often sleep in the studio. The life of a recording engineer is a grueling one, and for Ted, who one days dreams of a family, it is just too much.

Ted Jamison-Koenig – Mantlepiece

Although his dreams of recording superstardom have faded, his memories won’t. He recently compiled a list of 70 songs which remind him of his undergrad days, and every song transports him back to an event or a moment in time. “Music is very connected to memory” Ted tells me. As one who listens to his own recordings more frequently than he would like to admit, Ted will always have a vivid archive of his brief career as an aspiring recording engineer. While he may not ever use his recording skills in a professional environment, his recording career mirrors his life in music.  From piano, to baritone euphonium, to trombone, to guitar, and finally recording, musical skills come and go, but the fervent passion for music lingers on.

The Artist and the Academic

Grad student Daphna Yeshua-Katz and her husband Avi are true masters of time management.  Daphna is in the second year of her PhD program in the Department of Telecommunications and Avi is a working artist who recently opened a show at the John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington.  For both organizing work and play is extremely important while raising their two young children, Stav and Itamar.  Luckily for her, Daphna can easily dispel all common notions of what it means to live with an artist. She says, “Avi is a really social person; he can make friends anywhere.  He is actually much nicer than me.”  Daphna explains that when she and Avi first started dating in their native Israel, her friends joked that for an artist, Avi is surprisingly normal.  Some of Avi’s previous projects include providing artwork for all the rooms at a hotel in Tel Aviv, designing the calendar for logistics company DHL, and creating art for health video games.  He is now in the process of designing wine labels for a major winery in Israel.

His current exhibition focuses on the urban landscapes of Bloomington. The creative process for this project involves several stages.  He first scouts a location that is visually intriguing.  The vistas he chooses are often ones that feature what most would characterize as eyesores, e.g. electric lines and light poles.  He then sketches out the line work of these vistas freehand, before going back and scanning them into his computer.  Next, he uses Photoshop to color the line works before printing them on canvas.  “When I first print them on canvas, it always surprises me.  It’s such a big difference as compared to working on a little computer screen.  The large scale prints on canvas reveal so many more dimensions.”  He leaves the electric lines, fences, and other “eyesores” uncolored or white, so to separate them from the rest of the landscape.  Avi explains, “Photoshop is liberating.  I have more artistic freedom.  I change the colors until the painting reflects something that evokes an emotion while viewing it.”  Indeed, two of Avi’s line work sketches did not make it into his current exhibition because the colors weren’t quite right.  When asked about the two sketches, he explains that although technically the line work was very good, the colors did not speak to him.

Both Daphna and Avi agree that his artwork has a playfulness inspired by their two kids.  They own several ‘Where’s Waldo’ books in Hebrew that get a lot of use.  Avi explains, “I began to hide animals in my illustrations to quiz them.  Then I found that it added an interesting element for adults who view my art.”  Avi names his works after the animals he has hidden in them, such as “The Hawk and The Hog.”  Avi observed that once viewers read the title of the work, they began looking for the animal or animals hidden inside.  While the piece is dignified by its placement on a wall at a gallery, it has a child-like challenge to it, something Avi describes as art you can play with.  “I use it as a tool to get people to stop and take a good long look at the painting.  This makes them take part in my game.”  The side effect is that the viewers take more interest in other details of his work.  While his current work was inspired by the Monroe County Courthouse, Avi’s next inspiration springs from the various broken down cars he has seen in and around Bloomington, often in fields.  This inspiration invokes nostalgia, as each car has a history, a story behind it.

As for making the lives of an artist and an academic work?  For Daphna, it’s a balancing act.  Back in Israel, both her and Avi’s parents helped in watching the kids while they worked.  Now, they schedule their work while the kids are in school and organize a shift system on the weekend.  Daphna explains, “I’ll work Saturday and Avi will work Sunday or I’ll work mornings and he’s work evenings.  We have to schedule the time to work on what each of us do.  Also, we are lucky that we can rely on the friends we’ve made in Bloomington.”  Before Daphna came to the United States, she remembers reading a blog of an IU grad student who was also a parent.  It stressed the importance of being able to work day and night.  A self-proclaimed day-worker, Daphna had serious doubts about whether she would be able to do so, but looking back, she wouldn’t change a thing.  “Once you find something you are passionate about, you find a way to do it.  I am passionate about my research and Avi is passionate about his art.  We find a way to make it work.”

Check out some of Avi’s work here.  His exhibit runs at the John Waldron Arts Center, 122 South Walnut Street, until November 28th.

Brown Bag 

Co-sponsored by Gender Studies, Telecommunications, and Journalism, this week’s brown bag featured two scholars whose research interests involve the dimensions of self in regards to makeover television.  Katherine Sender is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.  Brenda Weber is an associate professor of Gender Studies and adjunct associate professor of American Studies, Communication and Culture, Cultural Studies, and English at Indiana University.  You can listen to the full audio here: Katherine and Brenda

Abstract

The Reflexive Self: Makeover Television and its Audiences

Katherine Sender talks about her forthcoming book Makeover Television and its Audiences (New York University Press), which is the first to consider the rapid rise of US makeover shows from the perspectives of their viewers. Here she argues that this genre of reality television continues a long history of self-improvement, shaped through contemporary media, technological, and economic contexts. Most people think that reality television viewers are ideological dupes and obliging consumers. Instead, Sender found that they have a much more nuanced and reflexive approach to the shows they watch. Audiences are critical of the instruction, the consumer plugs, and the manipulative editing in the shows. At the same time, they buy into the shows’ imperative to construct a reflexive self: an inner self that can be seen as if from the outside, and must be explored and expressed to others. This book intervenes in debates about both reality television and audience research, offering the concept of the reflexive self to move these debates forward. It concludes by addressing the concept of reflexivity itself, and how we can rethink this to take account of people’s emotional and institutional investments.

Brenda Weber reflects on Sender’s presentation via her recent book Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity (Duke University Press). Based on her analysis of more than 2,500 hours of makeover TV, Weber argues in this work that the much-desired After-body speaks to and makes legible broader cultural narratives about selfhood, citizenship, celebrity, and Americanness. Although makeovers are directed at both male and female viewers, their gendered logic requires that feminized subjects submit to the controlling expertise wielded by authorities. The genre does not tolerate ambiguity. Conventional (middle-class, white, ethnically anonymous, heterosexual) femininity is the goal of makeovers for women. When subjects are male, makeovers often compensate for perceived challenges to masculine independence by offering men narrative options for resistance or control. Foregoing a binary model of power and subjugation, Weber provides an account of makeover television that is as appreciative as it is critical. She reveals the makeover show as a rich and complicated text that expresses cultural desires and fears through narratives of selfhood.

Credits

Nicky Lewis:  The Artist and the Academic, Brown Bag

Mike Lang:  Dreams of a Music Man