Centered on Technology

Centered on Technology

Successor to University's AV Department provides wealth of services to all parts of the campus

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Fifty years ago, the Audio-Visual Department at Boston College began with one screen and one 16-mm projector.

Center for Media and Instructional Technology Audio Engineer Jonathan Sage (right) assists Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts) with his film project in the CMIT's Campion Hall headquarters. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Fifteen years ago, when Yoshio Saito took over as director, manual typewriters with oversized keys were used to provide lettering for lecture slides, and recording sessions in the audio room in the Campion Hall basement were scheduled Sunday evenings, when they were less likely to be disturbed by flushing from the lavatory upstairs.

Today, the AV department's heir, the newly dubbed Center for Media and Instructional Technology, provides an expansive array of services ranging from cable telecasting to print graphics to multimedia Web design.
For example, CMIT staffers did the sound and the poster for the latest documentary film by Prof. John Michalczyk (Fine Arts), and the audio and cover art for a new CD of poetry readings by McIntyre Professor of English J. Robert Barth, SJ.

Other CMIT projects have included the development of World Wide Web pages for the Human Resources Department [/bc_org/hvp/index.html] and several faculty members, and a live streaming-video Webcast of Commencement Exercises this past spring which drew more than 1,600 viewers on the Internet.

CMIT services are free to faculty and staff. But many do not realize the offerings available from the department tucked in the cellar of Campion Hall.

"We are a well-kept secret," said Saito in a recent interview. "Some people don't realize the extent of the audio-visual services we offer. When you think of AV, you think of film projectors."

The new name - Center for Media and Instructional Technology - was adopted this fall in an effort to better reflect the range of the department, which is staffed by 16 full-time employees and 120 student and graduate assistants, and provides graphic, multimedia, photographic, audio and cable television services.

In a new venture into digital video, a DVD recording of a lecture by Visiting Prof. Richard Kearney (Philosophy) currently is being produced by Assistant Director of Video Services David Corkum for a distance-learning partnership with Lancaster University in England.

Audio Engineer Jonathan Sage and student assistants, who tap on laptops instead of turning knobs, help provide sound feeds for national broadcasts from Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum. The design shop led by Assistant Director of Graphics Michael Swanson produces everything from posters for conferences to adornments for the marching band.

A recent visitor was shown the soundproof foam-padded "whisper room" where audio recordings are made, the video-editing suites, and the banks of video monitors where content on the campus cable TV network is controlled.

Photography staffers scanned images of rare book leaves to the Web. The design team worked on a variety of projects: letterhead for the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life; three-by-five-foot graphics for a conference being attended by scholars of the BC Institute on Aging; posters for a Lynch School of Education program to encourage Boston schoolchildren to read; and pins for the BC Screaming Eagles Band.

"It's a blast. We have the best time," said Swanson. "For all intents and purposes, we are a functional art department. Some of the studio arts majors come to us for experience.

"We're capable of just about everything down here. Anything you can conceptualize, we can execute."

Said Saito: "They're in this business because they love to be in this business. I love my job and all my staff love their jobs.

"We are always looking at what our service constituencies are interested in," said Saito. "This is important, because needs are changing every day.

"For a first-class institution, we want to provide first-class support."

To arrange a consultation or request service, call CMIT at ext.2-3243 or visit the web page at /cmit. Turnaround time on projects may range from a few days to one or two weeks, depending on the request.


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