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Bonnaroo 2017 wrap: Experience for MTSU students &...

Bonnaroo 2017 wrap: Experience for MTSU students ‘can’t be beat’ [+VIDEO]

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — As year four of MTSU’s partnership with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival closed Sunday, here’s what it meant for the students at the event, by the numbers:

Multimedia student journalists covered more than 20 musical performances, plus two comedy shows as well as produced other news and feature stories for outlets ranging from USA TODAY Network-Tennessee to NowPlayingNashville.com to MTSU’s student-run publication Sidelines.

Video, film and audio students — rotating among 14 technical positions on MTSU’s $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab — captured 15 concerts, shooting more than 11 hours of performances on the Who Stage featuring emerging artists.

And more than two terabytes of recorded media, including raw, high-definition video and multi-track audio, that will become the core of laboratory work for students in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment back in the classrooms.

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

“Every year, this partnership becomes more valuable for our students and this legendary festival,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “Our relationship with Bonnaroo provides our students with the kind of real-world experience you can’t find elsewhere.”

The 50-person crew of students, faculty and staff only averaged about five hours of sleep during the four-day event, working in shifts to capture acts and events that went into the wee hours of the morning.

“The volume of our student work is impressive, but numbers don’t tell the whole story,” said Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson.

Ken Paulson

“There’s also the immeasurable confidence-building that goes on, plus all the high-fives as they walk through the crowd with their MTSU gear on.”

Associate professor Leon Alligood from MTSU’s School of Journalism, who helped direct the reporting team, said, “Each year, Bonnaroo offers our students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a big-time entertainment event.

“They also leave the farm with a desire for more. As an educational experience, Bonnaroo can’t be beat.”

Students from MTSU’s School of Journalism and Department of Media Arts covered more than 20 musical acts at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., for media outlets that included USA TODAY Network-Tennessee. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Michael Fleming, a Recording Industry professor who teaches audio production, said covering a live event, as opposed to a simulated experience, helps students learn how to deal with the unexpected. For example, he said, students had to deal with a technical glitch in real time during one show – and keep working without a hitch.

“The grind of several days of production is a lot different than one-off events,” Fleming said. “You learn to deal with unexpected events and how to spring to the task of troubleshooting.”

But it’s all about the experience, plus the actual college credit, the students received at Bonnaroo, said Robert Gordon, a Media Arts assistant professor who oversees MTSU’s Mobile Production Lab stationed at the festival.

“These four days of live concerts gave students a realistic, hands-on experience about what the live video concert industry is,” Gordon said. “This event gives them a great resume builder for a very competitive, freelance-heavy field.”

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Students from MTSU’s departments of Media Arts and Recording Industry captured video and sound from 15 concerts on the Who Stage at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (MTSU Photo by Andrew Oppmann)


Bonnaroo 2017 Day 2: Students enjoy ‘nonstop production’ at Who Stage [+VIDEO]

June 9, 2017

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — This year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival will be memorable for MTSU student Erin Nicole Moore for two big reasons.

Not only is it her first Bonnaroo, but she’s spending it as the student in charge of logistics for the $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab, the multimedia nerve center of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, deployed at the festival’s Who Stage.

Moore, 20, a video and film senior from Franklin, Tennessee, was a freshman when MTSU began its unique partnership with Bonnaroo that allows students to get real-world production and journalism experience — and college credit — at the festival.

“Everyone was talking about how great of an experience it was to go,” Moore said. “I knew if there was one thing I could do while at MTSU, it would be to take this class.

“Now, as a senior, I finally get to experience this multi-cam rite of passage.”

Assistant professor Robert Gordon, video and film program coordinator for the Department of Media Arts, said he’s relying on Moore to make sure students are where they need to be and are doing what they need to do.

“Erin has proven herself to be energetic, organized and reliable,” Gordon said.

Moore is among several Bonnaroo rookies on Gordon’s crew, the next generation of video and film students to carry forward the partnership with the festival.

Using feeds from multiple cameras, the crew captures on video select performances on the Who Stage, a venue Bonnaroo devotes to new and emerging artists. The work in the truck for a live show is fast-paced, always frantic and not for the faint of heart.

“We have big shoes to fill from the crews from the past few years, but we are more than willing to put our best foot forward to learn – and have fun along the way,” she said.

Assistant professor Robert Gordon, standing, video and film program coordinator in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment

Assistant professor Robert Gordon, standing, video and film program coordinator in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, works with Media Arts students Friday, June 9, in the $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab deployed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Gordon, however, pointed out that there’s a lot of talent in this crew, among them:

  • Robert Bagwell, a key member of EMC Productions, the student production team that recently received a national honor for their work for MTSU Athletics. Bagwell was working video production at the CMT Awards in Nashville until the day before Bonnaroo.
  • Zach Carpenter, another EMC Productions student, also joined the Bonnaroo crew after working production this week for VER Tour Sound, a Nashville-based company.
  • And Jessica Mathis, Jessica Rigsby and Leayn Moyers, some of Gordon’s most advanced students with deep experience in sports and concert production.

“This crew is full of hard-working and talented men and women,” Moore said. “We’re all there to help each other, work hard and to learn.”

Billy Pittard, chair of the Department of Media Arts, formerly known as Electronic Media Communication, said his students “thrive with hands-on, real-world experience.”

Billy Pittard

“When we can say that Bonnaroo is our classroom, it shows that we understand the importance of breaking out of the confines of old-school thinking,” Pittard said.

“This is real. The intensity of four days of nonstop production takes the experience to a whole new level for the students.”

And, Moore said, it’s very cool.

“It’s no secret that hands-on learning is better than sitting in a classroom,” she said. “I have such love for live production and there’s nothing better than being able to refine our skills in the real world.”

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU student Erin Moore, front right, positions one of the cameras used Friday, June 9, by the College of Media and Entertainment’s Mobile Production Lab to shoot video of music acts appearing on the Who Stage at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. Fellow student Minh Tri Chau is working the other camera. (MTSU Photo by Andrew Oppmann)


Bonnaroo 2017 Day 1: MTSU multimedia students attuned to ongoing partnership [+VIDEO]

June 8, 2017

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — It’s the fourth year that Middle Tennessee State University has deployed a team of multimedia students to cover the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, but the experience never gets old.

That’s because each year of the unique partnership between Bonnaroo and MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment is a fresh experience to the students who gain valuable on-the-job experience in one of the world’s top live-music venues.

“Each year, we bring a broader range of study to our ‘Bonnaroo campus,’” said Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson. “This year, students majoring in photography, journalism, audio engineering and video production will pursue their academic interests in the fields of Manchester.”

A contingent of about 50 students, faculty and staff arrived Thursday at the 700-acre farm that serves as grounds for the four-day festival. It has been described by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003, a year after its debut, as one of the 50 moments that changed rock ‘n’ roll.

MTSU journalism students will be covering major music acts, including U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weeknd, Chance The Rapper and Major Lazer, as well as a wide range of other artists and events on Bonnaroo’s several stages.

A broadcast-style student production team will capture audio and video of performances on the Who stage, using MTSU’s state-of-the-art, $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab already set up on the grounds.

“Most universities do not have the facilities or faculty experience that we have at MTSU,” said Robert Gordon, a media arts assistant professor who oversees the mobile lab. “We teach students the skills to produce the kind of entertainment that Bonnaroo produces.”

“We’ve learned to always be flexible and adapt to changing operational and artistic conditions on the ground,” said Michael Fleming, a Department of Recording Industry professor who teaches audio production.

Michael Fleming, right, a Recording Industry professor in the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment, works Thursday with Jacob Keener, a graduate student in recording arts and technology, inside the $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab deployed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival’s Who Stage. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Also, a student multimedia reporting team will be generating story, photographic and video coverage of Bonnaroo for area media outlets, including The Tennessean and USA TODAY NETWORK sites throughout Tennessee, including The Daily News Journal.

And, for the first time in the partnership, MTSU’s public radio station, WMOT Roots Radio, will be on the grounds to highlight some of the Americana acts playing at Bonnaroo. The station at 89.5 FM will broadcast live reports Saturday and Sunday, as well as the Bluegrass Situation’s Superjam on Sunday night.

Most of these students are enrolled in credit-bearing courses based upon their Bonnaroo experiences.

MTSU students last year filed 45 bylined reports at Bonnaroo, along with 12 sets of photos and a myriad of social media posts, for The Tennessean, its network affiliates and Sidelines, the student-run campus news platform.

“This is an excellent opportunity to receive up to a half-dozen publishing credits,” said Leon Alligood, an associate professor in the School of Journalism who serves as faculty adviser to MTSU’s student media platform, Sidelines. “I don’t know of another opportunity like this.”

This year, students will also contribute content to NowPlayingNashville.com, an arts and entertainment site administered by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“One of the most exciting and challenging teaching aspects about the weekend is being mindful of the audience metrics that help guide The Tennessean and other media outlets these days,” said Pat Embry, an adjunct professor and former journalist who returned to again help MTSU coordinate its Bonnaroo operations.

“The students and editors must ask themselves: Is this story relevant to readers and fans and followers of these bands? How can we create more digital traffic for our work?”

That, Paulson said, makes Bonnaroo both fun and valuable.

“When our students get their first jobs, an assignment to work a major media or music event won’t be their first,” he said.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Schiller Poland, left, and Gleb Iarovoi, both graduate students in recording arts and technology in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment

Schiller Poland, left, and Gleb Iarovoi, both graduate students in recording arts and technology in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, help set up audio equipment Thursday at the Who Stage before the start of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. Poland is from Milledgeville, Ga., and Iarovoi is from a community outside of Moscow, Russia. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Michael Bevers, a graduate student in recording arts and technology

Michael Bevers, a graduate student in recording arts and technology in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, helps set up audio equipment Thursday at the Who Stage before the start of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. Bevers is from Littleton, Colo. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students from the MTSU Department of Media Arts pose Thursday for a group shot at their work site, the Who Stage, at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)


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