BCA, Athletics Departments Partner on Video Initiative

MOUNT PLEASANT - As anticipation continues to build toward the opening of the CMU Events Center on December 1, one of the top priorities is developing an infrastructure of staff and equipment that will make it the top facility of its kind in the region.

A key part of that infrastructure is the relationship between the athletics department and CMU's School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts.

The departments have partnered on a relationship that is giving BCA students real-world, hands-on experience with both live video production and the creation of pre-produced video content for use at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, in the Events Center and online at CMUChippewas.com.

Already, that partnership has helped CMU develop one of the most-watched online video libraries in collegiate athletics. BCA students have played a key role in the development of the content housed on the CMU Sports Zone on CMUChippewas.com. Traffic to the CMU Sports Zone, which has risen steadily over the past year, has spiked since the launch of a new video player earlier this month.

During the month of August, the CMU Sports Zone registered 13,956 total video views. Just halfway through September, 11,687 total video views have already been counted.

“Strong campus partnerships are not only integral to our operations, but they allow us to engage our students in real life experiences," said CMU director of athletics Dave Heeke. "We are committed to contributing to the research and learning that takes place on campus and providing educational opportunities outside the traditional classroom.”

CMU Athletics' director of electronic media Chris Rodela currently employs five BCA students who assist in the production of video content for CMUChippewas.com and the video board at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. He has received requests from 45 students who are interested in being part of the video production staff in the new Events Center.

Every athletics event in the facility will be a full production that will utilize multiple cameras, graphics packages and commentators for web streaming, all directed from a control room. A new studio will be used to shoot interviews and other packaged video pieces.

"Students are reaching out to us and want to be involved," Rodela said. "This is an opportunity for them to get hands-on experience with top-of-the-line equipment and gain the skills necessary to be employed in a very competitive industry. To have events be fully student-staffed would be the ultimate success for me.

"In the past, our departments operated separately," Rodela said. "Now, with the help of Ben Tigner, we are moving forward together and continuing to work toward being a leader in the area of video in college athletics."

Now in his fourth year with the BCA department, Tigner manages Moore Hall Television, the student-run television station on campus, and teaches production and post-production classes. Tigner says the students he works with are excited about the partnership BCA and athletics have forged.

"This is going to create an opportunity for them to produce more programming," Tigner said. "They will have opportunities to work with more editing systems, to gain more experience behind a camera and to work with different clients who have different viewpoints and needs.

"I really want to attribute a lot of what has happened between our departments to Chris Rodela and Derek van der Merwe," Tigner said. "Their willingness to work with us and their desire to make sure students get this type of real-world experience has been critical to our partnership."

Rodela began working on CMU's athletics video production staff as a student in 2007. One of his current student employees, Baxter Trapp, is in his third year as a staff member.

"I've been given more responsibility each year," Trapp said. "I've had the opportunity to learn and use the newest equipment, and I've learned a lot about working with different people and the importance of meeting deadlines.

"I'm excited about the three-play system that will be installed at the Events Center," he added. "That equipment will allow us to show replays from more than one angle and to immediately build highlight packages to use at halftime and following the game."

While multiple-angle replays and highlight packages will give fans a greater in-game experience, the new system will also assist in the distribution of highlights to media outlets and the creation of additional online content. Each of those video distribution methods will provide students an educational experience that complements the traditional classroom.

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