Archive Page 2

The Power of a Brick

By Carole Burns

I work in the Diederich College of Communication so I shouldn’t be surprised when communicating a need actually produces results. Recently,  I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about a man who left his job to spend time building sculptures out of LEGOs. I was very impressed by the article, not because this man, Dirk Denoyelle, received a high honor from LEGO – three years ago they added them to the elite group of LEGO Certified Professionals – one of only ten individuals.

But my admiration went even deeper than that. I have been trying to start a business for my son; a LEGO store that would employ individuals on the Autism Spectrum (ASD) and prepare them for work at companies and businesses throughout the country. This was the first time I had such high-proof that LEGOs go far beyond the childhood years.  There are, in fact, an entire group of Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL) and they are creating amazing things. Continue reading ‘The Power of a Brick’

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Wins 2012 Edward R. Murrow Regional Award

By Diederich College of Communication

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service logoCongratulations to the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS), whose staff received a 2012 regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the RTDNA (Radio, Television, Digital News Association), in the online news category. The team will also be eligible for a national award, which will be announced this summer.

Located in the Diederich College’s Johnston Hall, Milwaukee NNS was launched in March 2011. Visit their website at or follow them on Twitter at @MilwaukeeNNS.

Exploring Instagram

By the Diederich College of Communication

Instagram photo of Johnston Hall in spring by Gee Ekachai

Last Thursday, Diederich College faculty member Gee Ekachai  gave a GROW presentation about using the popular social media photography app, Instagram. Her talk included tips and best practices for users.

Since its posting last week, Ekachai’s presentation has proved to be popular, with more than 33,000 views on Slideshare as of April 14. Instagram has gotten a lot of press of late, due in part to the program’s recent addition to the Android marketplace and purchase by Facebook for $1 billion.

View Gee Ekachai’s Instagram presentation online at

Digital Storytelling: An International Exchange of Ideas

By Jennifer Janviere

Joe Lambert speaks at the Relato Digital Storytelling Conference in Valencia, Spain.

Joe Lambert speaks at the Relato Digital Storytelling Conference in Valencia, Spain.

Last month,  I had the opportunity to attend the international Relato Digital Storytelling Conference at the Universitat de Valencia in Spain. I was there to present a video poster that I’d created with my friends and colleagues Daria Kempka and Mandi Linder about using the tools for multimedia narrative to empower people who had experienced past traumatic life experiences. I was also fortunate to learn from the presentations of other academics and storytelling professionals at the conference (not to mention getting the chance to put my Spanish language skills into practice).

There were many great ideas that people shared during the event. Some of these were entirely new concepts, while others were affirmations about the importance of this creative medium. Continue reading ‘Digital Storytelling: An International Exchange of Ideas’

The Evolving Landscape of Media Production

By Maya Held

In the vast world of digital technology and media, where does television stand?

As someone with a background in film production (I actually SPLICED film!), broadcast engineering and production (before HD) and video production, it sometimes feels overwhelming to try and keep up in the ever-changing landscape of media production.

First, there was film, then broadcast television, then cable and fiber optics and video recording on VHS and Beta. Now, there is satellite and high definition, giving us television that looks more and more like film has traditionally. Panavision recently stopped production of film cameras, which, for purists like me who feel the richness of the picture film creates can never be matched by even the highest resolution high definition video image, brings sadness.

In terms of distribution, people watch television on mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, and the DVR has made the VCR obsolete. I hear a lot of discussion about multimedia and making video accessible for people to watch on any device. But I also hear people discuss how this new mobile push affects the content and more importantly, the aesthetics of the product.

While many projects I and my students create end up on client websites or on YouTube or Vimeo, for people like me, I will always choose a movie theater first, and my nice, big high definition television screen second. Watching a film or television show with my 13-inch laptop screen practically pressed to my forehead never seems appealing to me. Television (and film) is meant to be watched on a larger screen for the audience to appreciate aesthetic factors like shot composition, lighting, use of color and to fully appreciate a good performance by an actor. When I hear people say television is a dying medium, I strongly disagree.

Maybe this resistance to change is a generational issue, and I am simply becoming my parents. My father wouldn’t use his cell phone outside of his vehicle until he was forced by the nature of his job as an attorney. He types with two fingers and it takes him ten minutes to write an e-mail. His younger colleagues, of course, often write their own correspondence instead of dictating and passing off the work on legal secretaries, and are glued to their smartphones, updating Facebook statuses from the courthouse. Maybe with age we become less open to new things, and will only change when the “sink or swim” ultimatum rears its head. Or  maybe I simply want things to look pretty and sound awesome. Either way, I learn new technology because I owe it to my students, and ultimately the quality of my creative work, and in the long run, tape-less technology trumps crinkled videotape and film splicing, even considering the occasional system crash that plagues our second floor editors.

However, when push comes to shove, give me a DVD to watch, not a YouTube link for a compressed, pixelated video. Quality does matter, and while the technological landscape is evolving for digital media,  I will choose to watch shows on my TV, as it was intended to be seen by the director and the crew, every time.

Then again, I am not above pulling up Elmo videos on YouTube on my phone to entertain my toddler…

Maya Held is an instructor in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication department at Marquette University.

March Madness Through the Eyes of Twitter

By Claire Karon

March madness. This month is dominated by the most intense, grueling, and emotional tournament in college basketball. It consumes the lives of people young, old, sports fans, and non-sports fans alike. There is something fascinating about watching basketball games between teams you never thought would play each other, and trying your best to predict the outcome. Who doesn’t get a thrill out of arguing with family and friends about which NCAA Men’s basketball team is superior?

Especially when you have no connection to that team, or the reason you want them to win is because the team they are playing you absolutely can’t stand. It is the time of the year to prove to yourself how much you know about college hoops, and if you are like me, to prove to your friends and family you know more than them too…who doesn’t like a little bit of friendly competition.

Tweet 1

The story is no different here at Marquette. If you kept up with the MU Basketball season at all this year, you know that it was filled with lots of exciting games, devastating losses, and a huge amount of support from the Marquette community. Lots of this support came from one of our favorite social media sites; Twitter. From my perspective it almost seems that Twitter is becoming just as popular (if not more) than Facebook. Especially when trying to reach a large group of people with similar interests. The Marquette community is a very tight knit one. Yet for a “medium sized” school our following is exponentially greater than that. Support from students, alums, families, and the community helped make Marquette’s NCAA Tournament experience that much more exciting. There are a number of different Twitter accounts that are all associated with Marquette University, and during tournament time most of the Tweets are usually something #mubb related.

Tweet 2 Continue reading ‘March Madness Through the Eyes of Twitter’

Bringing “The Laramie Project” to Coastal Carolina University

By Stephen Hudson-Mairet

The Laramie Project at Coastal Carolina University. Photo courtesy Stephen Hudson-Mairet

The Laramie Project at Coastal Carolina University. Photo: courtesy Stephen Hudson-Mairet.

I have just completed a one-week residency at Coastal Carolina University, where I created scenic designs for “The Laramie Project.”  It has been an interesting process to design a show a little over a year after we produced the same show on Marquette’s campus. For those of you who saw the Marquette version, I thought I would share a bit about the process on this production.

The Coastal design was greatly influenced by two elements. The first was the space itself. The Wheelwright auditorium on the Coastal Carolina campus is vast—a large proscenium that is fairly deep. When I visited in October, I was struck by the openness—a quality I remember from my days in the great plains of Kansas. This is big sky country I wanted to represent, and this space would allow for that. At the same time,  I wanted to maintain the opportunity for intimacy between the audience and the performers, as the play consists of a series of monologues. I ended up with a large open rake that could be filled with furniture and performers that was backed by a large projection screen. The play is book-ended by a large projection of the sky in the day time at the beginning, and the night-time starry sky at the end.

My second influence was the play itself. On re-reading “The Laramie Project this fall, I was struck by how this is really a play about a community, and the impact this event had on that community. It is centered around the heinous crime committed on Matthew Shepard, but the play illustrates the impact, reaction and tenor of the community in many ways.  I sought to represent the community in abstract through the scenic design. I did this by dividing the three acts into scenic movements—the first act has large steel frames that fly just in front of the projection screen— these frames fly in and out and represent the multitude of voices and personal lenses that the story is told through.  The second act brings in a barrage of video panels that attack the audience with news media, much like the town of Laramie experienced.  The fact that CCU had a large supply of surplus flat panel video screens was a big plus. The third act clears the visual field to bring us toward resolution.

I am proud to have been involved in this important production twice in the past year—once as the department chair and main cheerleader, and as the scenic designer of this latest project.  “The Laramie Project is a show that has the capability to make great change in the world. Had Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project not undertaken this venture, the story of Matthew Shepard may have gone the way of many a media story—hot today, gone tomorrow. The fact that audiences continue to hear of Matthew’s story, and hopefully commit to make a change in their world accordingly, is heartening. It is one of the reasons we have a Theatre and Social Justice commitment at Marquette—to work with our audiences to use theatre to focus on issues of injustice in the world in order to actively make our communities better.

Stephen Hudson-Mairet is an artistic assistant professor, artistic director and chair of Performing and Media Arts at Marquette University. The Laramie Project opens on Thursday in the Wheelwright auditorium on the Coastal Carolina University campus in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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