The Digital Studio just became my favorite place on campus
Underneath the core of Hekman Library and next to the CIT Lab lies the Digital Studio, a hidden gem that awaits discovery. Officially titled “The Teaching & Learning Digital Studio”, the small room is filled with high-performance iMacs and PCs that are dedicated for the multimedia services it provides. A quick glimpse at the Studio’s website shows us the list of different services and the featured software that are provided, but I opted for a more personal approach in learning more about the T&L Digital Studio. So naturally, I decided to take a quick tour.
With the dimmed, warm lights providing an intriguing sense of serenity and chicness, the Digital Studio is, in my opinion, the most visually-appealing room on campus. Several paintings, photographs and graphic artworks adorn the burgundy walls in a manner that imbues the room full of artistic vibrancy. The aura of the Studio is unlike anything I’ve seen or felt in Calvin. No other room at Calvin truly reminded me that I am living in the digital era of the 21st Century by being surrounded by cutting-edge technology.
As I entered the room, Seth Altena, the staff consultant, welcomed me inside and proceeded to quench my curiosity about the Studio. Seth is a Digital Communications Junior that has been working at there since his Freshman year; one of the many consultants who provide a multitude of technological expertise. With his years of experience, it was clear that Seth is very comfortable in his position to serve any and all students that may come.
The T&L Digital Studio provides access to high-end programs and software that is otherwise not easily accessed by students. These programs range from the Adobe Creative Suite, which include creative toolkits such as Photoshop or Illustrator, to professional audio software such as Logic Pro X. The highly educational Lynda.com services, which are now available to all Calvin students, was once solely available through the computers at the Studio. It’s an academic website that helpfully guides users through tutorials of countless professional software and highly accredited worldwide. The staff at the Studio are available for helping people get familiarized with the Lynda services and progress at developing their skills.
Aside from the vast collection of software provided, the most frequently used service at the Studio is by the faculty for OMR test marking (the multiple-choice test sheets where you must completely fill in the circles). That’s some random Calvin trivia for you. Seth tells me that students only sparsely walk into get assistance of their problems and most his work concerns the OMRs. Students are free to walk in to the Studio during open hours (8AM~5PM weekdays) yet many are unaware of this. Seth describes his work done with students to be “pointing them on the right direction” by providing them with both software services and his own technical expertise on the issue.
Out of curiosity, I asked Seth about the most memorable project he had worked on at the Studio. Seth recalled a project he had conducted two summers ago that involved a musician, a musician that previously recorded some singing at a Church and wanted to play a piano accompaniment separately at the Studio. The keyboard was brought in by the musician and the project was successfully completed with Seth’s help, this keyboard was later donated to the Studio but alas is currently out for reparis. Another fascinating anecdote from Seth was about a professor, whose confidentiality was kept, asking to “rip” movie files from a DVD; a request that Seth describe as “odd.” These are but a select few of interesting tasks that Seth has engaged in over the years. Numerous content that has been created through the Studio can be found here.
A major obstacle that hinders the T&L Digital Studio from reaching its maximum potential of usage and significance is the insufficient awareness of it within the student body. Seth believes that the Studio is not publicized enough, even though there have been several efforts to do so. The staff at the Studio run a blog that posts interesting snippets of news pertaining to technology as well as the Studio itself, go check it out. Additionally, they have participated in orientation sessions to inform the incoming freshmen and they are continuing to find different ways to promote the Studio. An idea that developed in our conversation was the placement of more posters around campus about the Studio.
When asked about any improvements for the Studio, Seth suggested the addition of a dedicated recording space that provides an isolated environment for students who wish to record in silence. I think that cooperating with the actual “Audio Engineering Studio” over at the DeVos Center could perhaps generate a synergy that provides the highest quality of audio production at Calvin. Another slightly trickier aspect of improvements at the Studio is the upgrading of hardware. The rapid rate that today’s technology develops can be quite overwhelming and the budgetary constrictions are something that cannot be ignored. Seth mentioned several gadgets that they are in talks of getting, and the HTC Vive was one of them. That would definitely be an amazing addition that could help raise attention towards the Studio.