Hands-on experience with the tools and technology of our fields is a core aspect of MTSU’s Media Arts programs. We strive to help our students get as much experience as possible before graduation. The goal is to help students have work samples and actual experiences to clearly demonstrate professional competence to prospective employers. Learning is also a lot more fun and effective with the tools of the trade in hand.
The Department of Media Arts maintains nine discipline-specific computer-equipped classroom/lab spaces with a total of well over 100 workstations for our students. Additionally, the program maintains a number of other special-purpose studios, labs, and other unique rooms. Most are optimized for specific programs but can be used for various classes and assignments as well. Below is a sampling of Media Arts classrooms and labs.
Mobile Production Lab
This 40-foot rolling TV studio/classroom includes a complete professional quality HD video production control room and seven cameras. This truck is used to teach multi-camera television production such as sports events, musical concerts, and awards shows. “The Truck” averages about 30 live productions each fall and spring semester and provides the students with a substantial amount of hands-on experience.
This room has been built to exacting specifications provided by the makers of Autodesk Maya software, which is our primary digital animation tool. The desktop workstations include curved, super-wide work-screens driven by high speed CPUs. Rendering is accomplished with a separate render farm that services the entire lab at blinding speeds. Rendering can be accomplished in a fraction of the time done on a standard workstation. The room includes a Sony laser projector with fantastic image fidelity that approaches theatrical projection quality. Adjacent to this room is a small Stop-Motion Animation Lab that includes a multi-plane animation stand.
Media Arts Lab
This is a playground for nurturing innovation and creative thinking with media technology. This lab is designed to encourage interdisciplinary work with both new and old technologies. The lab is currently geared up with a variety of virtual reality systems, motion capture gear for animation, game design stations, and foley materials (sound effects).
Studio 1 is 3,000 square feet of professional quality studio space. The studio is adjoined by a professional quality control room. This studio is used for classes, live productions, and as a film studio.
Studio 3 is a small but powerful production studio equipped with HD production gear. This studio is used for a variety of purposes including classes; student-produced programming on MT10, the university’s student-run cable TV station; film shoots; and other kinds of productions.
Field production gear for student checkout
Using an online reservation system, students are able to reserve and check out various types of video production gear. Available inventory includes dozens of cameras of different types, lenses, microphones, tripods, light kits, dollys, and much more. The inventory pool is equivalent to some of the best film rental houses in the market.
Video wall partnership with VER
Giant video walls have become an important part of live media production. Examples can be seen at events like concerts, Broadway shows, the Super Bowl halftime show, and TV shows like Dancing with the Stars. MTSU’s Media Arts department has partnered with VER, the world’s leading provider of rental equipment for live event production to teach our students how to design, build, create content for, and manage live playback for this exciting new field. As of Fall 2017, Media Arts is in the fourth year of partnership in which VER provides the school with a massive video wall for students to work with. At present, sixteen Media Arts graduates work at VER, many of whom, along with other alumni and current students, have worked on productions such as the Super Bowl halftime show, Twenty One Pilots live concerts, and the Latin Grammy Awards since the partnership began.
MTSU’s Photography program has the distinct advantage of being in its own freestanding building. This new facility was opened in 2015 to house the fifty-plus-year-old Photography program. Facilities include a digital photo lab with large-scale scanners and printers, two traditional darkrooms and one alternative process darkroom, a spacious photo studio with an infinity-curved wall for seamless backgrounds, a tabletop studio, two digital classrooms, and a student photo gallery. There’s even a camera obscura tucked into one of the classrooms.
The Baldwin Photographic Gallery and Collection
Since 1964, the Baldwin Photographic Gallery has provided access to inspiring works of some of the world’s greatest photographers such as Ansel Adams, Minor White, Sally Mann and Jerry Uelsmann. The Gallery’s purpose is to inspire the students and faculty of MTSU as well as the general public. At its inception, the Gallery also established a permanent collection of prints from exhibiting artists, and now includes hundreds of museum-quality images.
Technology is essential to all of the programs in the Department of Media Arts. Even though the University provides student access to substantial facilities, computers, etc., any college student would benefit from owning a personal computer loaded with appropriate software. Programs in the Department of Media Arts do not require students to have their own computers, but we are happy to make recommendations for computers, software, and other personal technology to enhance students’ educational experience. Recommendations are available from academic advisors or the office of the department chair.