Thursday, May 21, 2020

Twenty seniors in Charles Munro’s Advanced Production/Design course worked in four teams on projects of their own choosing during the spring semester. They were tasked at the beginning of the semester to find and tell a news story in a short-form (6-10 minute), professional-level documentary using at least one high end visual production technique. Then came COVID-19.

They decided early in the semester on their topics and were well into planning when everything stopped: no interviews, no access to production gear, cameras, editing. To overcome these handicaps each team had to pivot, to find a way to tell their stories in whatever media that was available. In virtual team meetings from their homes they came up with creative “workarounds” to tell their stories.

One team [A] converted their story to a print piece, another to combination of print with links to video shot before the quarantine [D], two did podcasts [B and D]. One team salvaged footage that was shot early in the semester and using professional editing software on personal computers and stock footage to cover what they did not shoot, they produced the video they envisioned to begin with [C]. Team B’s story and podcast already been published in local magazine.

The students learned more than a typical semester: real life lessons about flexibility and adaptation to real challenges - obviously not course objectives; but incredibly valuable in their own way.

TEAM A “IOWA LITTY: An Examination into the University of Iowa’s Drinking Culture”
Read the printed article.
Participants: Molly Hunter, Megan Schnoebelen, Kennedy Cook, Amelia Johnson, Alyssa Roach

TEAM B “The Rental Housing Crisis in Iowa City: What No One Tells You”
Note: Their project consists of three parts: A published article, sound clips via SoundCloud, and a podcast on Spotify.
Participants: Rachel McCracken, Colette Haley, Riley Marsh, Alexis Gore, Grace Colton

TEAM C “Stalking and Internet Harassment in Media”
This team was able to finish most of the shooting before the quarantine. They edited from their homes, using stock footage where unable to shoot b-roll. They plan to shoot more appropriate b-roll in the future.
Watch their video on YouTube.
Participants: Lucy Rohden, Karly Lent, Bailey Speraw, Kathleen Doyle, Dallas Jones

TEAM D “The Effects of Binge Watching”
This team’s project includes print and links to embedded sound clips.
They have edited the sound into a 21-minute podcast.
Participants: Charlie Reitz, Trevor Roarson, Skyler Barnes, Jake Salter, Marci Clark

Charles Munro is an instructor who has been a journalist, manager, industry consultant and educator for more than 30 years.  The purpose of the Advanced Topics in Production / Design course is to provide students the opportunity to work collaboratively to create a professional quality, commercially viable content for media. Students who wish to succeed in professional fields related to journalism, strategic communication, or mass marketing are those who demonstrate mastery of storytelling across media. Thus, this course is ideal for those who wish to produce products that have viability in the real world and who bring with them an understanding of still, video, audio, text and visual design techniques. The central focus of this course output. That means this is a class in which students produce real, practical “stuff” of value in our competitive commercial world that demands high quality products to inform, persuade or entertain.