Lights, Camera, Interaction
By Pilar Ulibarri de Rivera
The outside world strips away when you enter the non-descript, fluorescent-lit hallway. Then, the door – and above it, a sign reads: “On Air.”
Behind the door, Miami Dade College students write, produce and direct for MDC TV. The outside world has to fall away, they say, and what they’ve learned previously in classes must come second nature. They have to be “in the zone.”
That’s because MDC TV is broadcast to more than half a million households throughout Miami-Dade County and reaches a worldwide viewing audience via the network’s online video stream (www.mdc.edu/mdctv).
The station serves a dual purpose.Programmed by the College’s renowned School of Entertainment & Design Technology (SEDT), it showcases MDC’s outstanding academic programs and leadership in communitywide events through a dynamic schedule of original programming. It is also a fertile training ground for students interested in working in television production.
Shows on MDC TV are recorded in television facilities at North Campus using the latest studio technology. The TV studio at Homestead Campus is currently being refurbished to begin production this fall. Students pursuing a career in the industry make up the production crew.
During a recent taping, a student served as the director. “Camera one, I need you to loosen up the shot on her,” the student says.
A second student works one of the three cameras.
“Zoom out a little bit more,” the director says. “There, that’s the shot I want. Camera two, give me your final shot. This is the shot I want.”
The student director, like others before her, has also worked as a camera operator and a floor manager who told people where to sit and look during tapings.
Everyone on the crew is expected to learn all aspects of studio production and is assigned a position such as camera operator, floor manager, graphics designer, technical director, teleprompter operator and show director.
“Students rotate assignments so they can get the most hands-on experience,” said Barry Gordon, director of SEDT and MDC TV.
The idea, Gordon explained, is to prepare students for entry into the highly competitive television industry.
“MDC TV is a way to showcase the College,” Gordon said. “The academic departments, student organizations and MDC’s cultural events all have their presence on the network.”
The Big Picture
SEDT is a workforce development program focused on providing skills necessary for students to obtain entry-level and advanced technical employment in the entertainment and design industries. The school additionally serves those who are currently employed and desire to upgrade and enhance their skills.
SEDT created programs of study in order to support occupational growth within the entertainment industry as the use of new technologies increased. The television and radio production programs were created in the early 1970s. SEDT developed the film production, music business and graphic design programs in the early 1990s. The computer animation curriculum was added in the last five years in response to industry demand.
The recent renovations of the teaching facilities and labs at the College’s North, Wolfson, Kendall and Homestead campuses offer students state-of-the-art, industry-specific learning environments, including a recording studio and a post-production editing suite.
Last year, Grupo Televisa, the world’s largest media company serving the Spanish-speaking population, joined the College to establish the MDC/Televisa Centre for Film and Television Production, what will become a training and development program for film and television production.
On the Set
When MDC magazine arrives on the set, the first show features Debbie Goodman, chair of MDC’s School of Justice. Goodman is interviewing a professional forensic artist. Around them, crew members communicate through headsets while the show is recorded live-to-tape.
The students agree this is a high-stress environment.
“I like being behind the camera but one day I want to be in front of it,” said Jessica Delgado, who is running the audio for today’s three shows. She is making sure that everyone’s audio level is adjusted properly.
Delgado already has an associate degree in mass communications, but when another local university recently closed its TV production program due to budget cuts, she enrolled at MDC.
“We have the flexibility to stop if we absolutely must, but we try to go all the way through the taping as if it were a live show,” Delgado said.
Students chosen to participate as crew members must have already taken television production courses.
“MDC TV is a public network and we have to know that the crew is able to do the job professionally,” Gordon said.
Each semester, five crew members receive a $1,200 scholarship and 3 credits. Often times, this experience leads to employment in the industry. SEDT helps place approximately a dozen students in professional internships and industry jobs each year.
At the studio, recording is ready to begin. Delgado has done her sound check. The “On Air” sign is switched on. The director gives her command: “OK, cue talent, roll tape, in 5, 4, 3…”