How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I use my industry experience to give students some practical tips. For example, when you record drums in the studio, it’s important to measure the distance of microphones from the instrument. You could carry a tape measure, but when I worked in studios in Nashville, we measured with the microphone cable. Simple solutions like that can come in handy for students when they start internships or their first job in the business.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
In teaching audio post-production, I take a short piece of video that students choose and have them strip away the audio using a digital audio workstation like Pro Tools or Apple Logic*. They then recreate the audio by sourcing sound libraries and doing their own recording. Students help each other by recording or serving as voiceover actors or sound effects artists. By the time they’ve finished the project, they’ve gained a deeper appreciation for how the magic of audio transforms a piece of film or video.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
In my Video Production class, students from Audio Production, Digital Film, Web Design, and Graphic Design each propose an idea for a 30-minute TV or web program and we pick one by popular vote. Then comes the writing, storyboarding, building sets, and lighting and set design. When we start shooting, students get to wear many hats—director, camera operator, floor manager, video switcher, teleprompter, etc. The experience creates friendships along with a solid final deliverable that everyone can add to their demo reels.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
You may be very talented, but it’s when you start to collaborate with others that things really start to happen.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Someone I worked with at LucasArts once told me that you won’t like everyone you work with, but if your standards stay strong, your art will speak for itself. Some of the best work comes from teams that love art, but not each other. It sounds a little harsh, but it’s true.
*Apple, the Apple logo and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.