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Improved Mac Lab Builds Students' Job Skills in Graphic Design and Digital Media



Improvements to the Art Department's Mac lab give students hands-on training; caption below

Improved Mac Lab Builds Students' Job Skills in Graphic Design and Digital Media

Aspiring filmmakers, musicians and graphic artists at California State University, Dominguez Hills will have more creative tools at their fingertips thanks to the new equipment and software now available in the Mac computer lab in LaCorte Hall. Twenty student work stations now feature new Macintosh computers running OS X 10.4.10 and complete with state-of-the-art programs such as Pro Tools sound editing software, Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection, which includes After Effects motion graphics software, Final Cut Studio and Audodesk Maya 8.5, a cutting-edge 3D animation program.

Michele Allan, chair of the Art Department and associate professor of visual arts, is excited about the prospect of expanding the curriculum in animation, motion graphics and Web design as a result of a grant she co-wrote with Bernard Baker, professor of visual arts, and George Vinovich, chair of digital media arts, in hopes of acquiring new equipment for the lab.

“We received two grants,” she says, “one from a California State University entertainment initiative. We were told that if we could raise some money, the CSU would match the funds and pay for half of it. We raised funds through Associated Students, Inc. (ASI), who have been very supportive. In 2000, they financed the machines and software, upgrading the software in 2004 and again this year, contributing $41,000.”

The hardware upgrade cost approximately $80,000, according to Allan. Students will have access to two scanning stations, an oversize printer, an Epson Stylus R2400 photo printer and Apple Cinema Display 23” flat screens.

Mario Congreve, lecturer, digital media arts, says that the lab improvements are a great advantage for his students.

“These classes are packed,” he says. “If students have a laptop, I can get up to 25 in here, having them sit in the back. If they don’t have a laptop, and we don’t have comparable software, they can’t stay.”

Congreve, who also serves the campus as a television producer in the College of Extended Education’s Mediated Instruction & Distance Learning, has been teaching courses in tools and techniques in digital media production and TV titling and animation for five years. While connecting students with internships in the industry, he prepares them for the job market in the classroom.

“The students learn what they would need to do while working on any television show,” he says. “For example, they learn how to create lower-thirds (onscreen titles and captions), and opening and closing titles and credits.”

Allan, whose professional experience as a graphic designer includes work for the Musée National du Château de Versailles et du Trianon, introduces her students to artist-client relationships through assignments such as designing the invitation for the annual graduating seniors art show, the covers of the fall and spring class schedules for the 2008-09 academic year and posters for campus theatre productions. Allan is proud of the success of the program’s graduates, who have gained their skills not only through the academic training just on campus but also with internships and other development opportunities.

“We have graduates working in print design, Web design and motion graphics animation,” she says. “I’ve been in touch with recent alumni and they’re doing quite well.”

The program also stands to benefit students from other disciplines who look to the arts to round out their education. Gilbert Lam, junior, works as a technician in the student computer lab in Welch Hall. An amateur photographer, he is excited about this fall’s class in digital photography, taught by Jim Keville, assistant professor of visual arts.

“My friends and I are really into cameras,” says the biology major. “I just want to learn how to use my camera properly. Right now, I take pictures for cat adoptions.… I was thinking of approaching the Carson animal shelter and offering to take pictures for their Website.”

He also hopes to use his new skills in ways related to his academic career.

“I just took a class in biology of evolution,” he says. “The teacher was really into going places and observing nature. I was hoping to do research with him, and knowing how to use a camera well will come in handy.”

For more information on programs in graphic arts and digital media arts, click here.

- Joanie Harmon

Photo above: (Standing, back row, L-R) Mario Congreve, lecturer, digital media arts, Jim Keville, assistant professor of visual arts, John Pierce, graphic designer, University Communications and Public Affairs and lecturer, visual arts, Michele Allan, chair and associate professor of visual arts and Julia Allan.

(Front row, L-R) Argenis Villa, senior, communications, Paul Miranda, junior, criminal justice and
Gilbert Lam, junior, biology



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Last updated Thursday, September 13, 2007, 10:29 a.m., by Joanie Harmon