Digital studio with audiovisual technology opens in Gelman Library

Media Credit: Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

Construction on the CREATE design studio began when classes moved online last year.

Students and faculty now have access to a digital studio where they can check out advanced audiovisual equipment.

Officials said the CREATE digital studio, which opened at the start of the semester, is a digital technology center that includes a full audiovisual production suite, 3D and large-format printing, high-powered multimedia editing computers, AV equipment for check-out and a virtual reality space. Geneva Henry, the dean of libraries and academic innovation, said the studio will help students, faculty and staff create “high-quality” videos, podcasts and interactive experiences to effectively communicate their ideas and research into the world.

Henry said “experienced multimedia professionals” will provide workshops on a variety of digital media, like graphics and podcasts. She said staff will work one-on-one with students and faculty on classroom assignments and projects.

“I encourage all GW students, faculty and staff to drop by CREATE Digital Studio and attend one of more than a dozen workshops to learn more about shooting and editing video projects, creating impressive graphics, recording a professional podcast and much more,” she said in an email.

Ten workshops at the CREATE studio are currently posted on the GW Libraries website, including three scheduled for this month – a pre-production video planning tutorial, a walkthrough for “on-the-go” video recording and a lesson on Adobe Premiere Pro.

Henry said the studio’s development began in 2019 with help from GW Information Technology, which sought to provide students, faculty and staff with free access to Adobe Creative Cloud at about the same time. She said construction of the space kicked off in early 2020 when the University transitioned to online learning, but officials postponed the construction until the summer and built a smaller space than originally planned due to a “freeze on funding for construction” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials enacted a hiring freeze and budget cuts that gave way to staff shortages and employee burnout among GW Libraries staff as a part of pandemic budget mitigation efforts.

She said officials prioritized purchasing the most “useful” technology for student use, like computers, but had to use furniture from other areas of the library for the space as part of the “scaled back” version of the studio’s plan.

“We look forward to reviewing how students and faculty use the space and their feedback to expand CREATE Digital Studio’s space and services in the future,” she said.

The CREATE digital studio is currently open on the weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on the weekends.

Kari Lim, a clinical supervisor in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, said she learned about the studio during the pandemic when she was looking for resources to make recordings available for her students. She said she visited the space when in person classes resumed last month.

Lim said she used the audiovisual suite, but she still had some difficulty learning how to use the new equipment. She said the space wasn’t “user-friendly” yet but added that it’s still “outstanding” because of the range of available equipment.

Lim said the lack of training at the studio means that other faculty members will likely face a learning curve like she did. She said staff at the studio are “spread thin” she spent hours on her own to become more proficient in the recording technologies offered in the space.

“Once you learn how to use the equipment, it’s great,” she said. “It’s a great resource that we have, and I’m really glad that we have it.”

Allie Collier, a student lab assistant in technology at CREATE and a first-year graduate student studying fine arts, said she started working at the studio to gain more experience creating graphic design projects and helping others do the same. She said she was already familiar with the design software used in the lab, like Adobe Creative Suite, but the CREATE staff trained student workers on the studio’s programs and equipment in case they weren’t familiar with it already.

Collier said anyone on campus can rent any of the studio’s facilities and equipment and can ask for help from any of the student workers.

“It’s about accessibility and creating a creative space for students from any background,” she said. “Anyone can come in and use the equipment and the software. I think it’s about creating an accessible space for people.”

Owen Desburg, a student lab assistant in technology at CREATE and a freshman majoring in international affairs, said he expects that classes that are “highly technical” with computers will utilize the studio’s equipment and software, more so than many of his classes like Introduction to International Affairs. He said the space is still a helpful place to work because it’s quiet, accessible to everyone and fosters students’ ability to think outside the classroom setting with the new technology and equipment.

“You have that opportunity to really use these resources and have some fun with it a little bit without it being a costly hobby or anything like that,” he said.

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