New Media Institute students present capstone projects

New Media Institute students unveiled their capstone projects on Dec. 8 at SLAM, an end-of-the semester showcase of student projects and certificate recipients.

Groups celebrate and demonstrate their efforts to use technology as a tool to enhance daily life.

One group consisting of Christina Conner, Meghan Murphy, Dalena Nguyen, Jaco Van Rensburg and Shan Won developed an app for UGArden, a student-run farm, to enhance digital record keeping. The technological advances can help UGArden become a self-sustainable business.

“The possibilities in agriculture for new media technology are endless,” said Christina Connor. “In our case, new media is helping the garden keep track of important data that will impact the success of the business and the e-commerce component will broaden the herb garden’s reach.”

Connor says consistent record keeping will help UGArden attain organic certification.

To learn more, visit the UGArden NMI project website.

Another NMI group presented their work of using Universal Scene Description Zip Files (USDZ) as a way to sharing augmented reality files on the internet using only a link. The team featuring Caitlin Cooper, Mark Crafton, Brooke LeBlanc and Chanjo Moon pitched the idea of using USDZ files in mobile marketing to Chick-Fil-A as a new function to their mobile app.

“Chick-Fil-A has responded really well to our ideas,” said Brook LeBlanc. “We were able to receive constructive criticism from a Regional Marketing Manager to ensure that our digital products were on-brand, and this could be an activation that could be used in-store.”

LeBlanc says Chick-Fil-A’s international presence prevents widespread implementation of the USDZ technology, but her team is hopeful that brands will use it in the future to captivate current and future customers.

Learn more about the USDZ NMI project by visiting their website or viewing the video below.

To learn more, visit the New Media Institute website.

Grady students create first ever EMST club

After just a few years of offering an Entertainment and Media Studies Department, Grady College finally has an EMST club outside the classroom.  

Four students — Julian Hagins, Anne Neenan, Trey Leonard and Kalley Huddleston— helped this highly sought-after club come to life. 

The Industry, the first EMST Grady-represented club, has already seen a large turnout of more than 150 students, beginning meetings just a few weeks ago. 

“There were so many people signed up that we realized there was a hole in [EMST] organizations,” Neenan said. 

The Industry is a hands-on experience outside the classroom, offering students, both within and outside Grady, skills involved in the production, development and writing aspects of entertainment.  

“I don’t believe in spoon-feeding people, but if I have the ability to make the access easier, I’m all about making the access easier,” Hagins said. 

Members can create content, which is helpful for building a portfolio when applying to graduate schools or jobs, Hagins said.  

“It’s an outlet for them to collaborate and work with other individuals, that way they can start to build their own content and prepare themselves for a future once they graduate,” Hagins said. 

The amount of interest in the club came as a shock to the founders, but it was a pleasant surprise. To offer the most out of the club, there will be meetings four days a week — Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for those interested in the writing side of film and Thursdays for those interested in the production side of film. 

Taylor Potter, a junior EMST major who joined The Industry, is a part of both the Production Group and the Writer’s Workroom.  

“It’s extremely beneficial to have a club like The Industry at Grady because it helps aspiring writers and filmmakers find their footing before setting off into the ‘real world’ to get a job,” Potter said. “By being a member of The Industry, we have the ability to test out different crew positions and writing styles to discover in a nonclass environment what we would like to do within the entertainment and media industries once we graduate.” 

Hayden Schwartz, a sophomore EMST major, joined after a friend recommended it to him. 

“From the first meeting, I immediately understood that this was no average club,” Schwartz said. “The industry is one of the most educational and serious clubs I have ever been a part of.”

EMST student short film wins state award

An original scripted short film written, directed and produced by Department of Entertainment and Media Studies student Paige Marogil was recognized as the Best College Story in the 2018 Middle Georgia Film Festival.

The comedy, titled “Four Five Nine,” takes place in the near future, in which people are unfairly ranked in a social caste system according to their DNA ranking of 1-9. The film features Oliver, whose DNA rank has him at the bottom of the social caste system, but he and his friend, Bo, don’t let that stop him from sharing one last dance with the girl of his dreams.

Four Five Nine” can be viewed online.

“This film is a culmination of work done in Advanced Production taken this spring, and Screenwriting taken last fall,” said Marogil’s professor and faculty mentor Booker T. Mattison, who is an assistant professor in the EMST department. “She applied the skills that she developed in Screenwriting to write a compelling story that she crafted and then directed the film in Advanced Production.”

“Pulling together an original scripted short film is already a big job,” said James Hamilton, professor and head of the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies. “It’s great to be recognized by this award for doing it with such skill.”

“I learned to trust the process and let the story take on a life of its own,” said Marogil. “I’m proud that we succeeded in creating not only good entertainment, but a film that also comments on social issues that are prevalent in our society today.”

Marogil also served as lead editor, casting director, and dance choreographer. Other EMST students serving on the crew included Caitlin Guffin, director of photography; Shelby Cerniglia, sound mixer, boom operator; Caleb Moss, boom operator; Anna Wing, assistant editor, 2nd assistant camera); Sean Carruthers, 2nd assistant camera; and Tori Hunter, 2nd assistant camera.

“This is only the beginning for Paige,” Mattison continued. “Her best films are yet to come.”

EMST students win national recognition

The work of two students in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies has earned national recognition in the annual Festival of Media Arts conducted by the Broadcast Education Association.

Emma Murphy earned Second Place in the Original Television Series Pilot category for her script “Cloverleaf Mall.” Joe Lavine and Chris Carson (cinematography) earned an Award of Excellence in the Short Form Documentary category for their film “From the Shadows: The Struggle for El Pueblo.” Included on the crew was EMST student David Andriate (animation).

Students from 175 different colleges and universities throughout the country submitted 1,540 entries to the competition. The award was announced Feb. 6.

“I can’t say enough about these accomplishments,” said James Hamilton, professor and head of the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies. “Given what our students continue to achieve in these important competitions, we can claim to be among the best in the nation.”

Murphy’s winning entry “Cloverleaf Mall: Yesterday’s Mall of Tomorrow” tells the humorous story of a world left behind by the Internet Age, and a man who refuses to let it go. Herman Stetson is an optimist to a fault as well as the mall’s longtime manager. In the pilot script, Herman plans to bring holiday revenue peaks to July by introducing Summer Santa, a mall Santa for the warmer months. However, when Santa must resort to pitching the mall’s ticket items to children, cries of Corporate Santa turn the event into a media scandal. The script explores how Herman in his blissful ineptitude tries to navigate this PR disaster.

“I am so humbled to be recognized by the BEA Festival and Competition,” said Murphy.  

One of the most important lessons she plans to take with her post-graduation concerns the value of creative collaboration. She thanked EMST faculty Kate Fortmueller for her creative guidance, and also her writing group members in Fortmueller’s class, students Thomas Heiges and Marshall Moore.

Murphy’s script is noteworthy in great part due to “the eccentric and original characters,” said Fortmueller. “What made this script particularly memorable was Murphy’s wit, word-play, and attention to structure to maximize the humor,” she added.

Lavine’s entry, “From the Shadows: The Struggle for El Pueblo,” highlights the struggles of the undocumented community, while calling for an end to deportation and incarceration in the United States. Produced in collaboration with the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, the film is rooted in Athens, Georgia, but is applicable anywhere where immigrant organizing takes place. By offering a first-hand account of efforts to challenge Georgia’s anti-immigrant legislation–including a ban of undocumented students from University System of Georgia schools– the documentary also addresses the problematic narratives surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

“When you put in months of work on a project that you doubted on many occasions that you could actually execute, [and] a project that means something to the community” said Lavine, “it’s definitely nice to get recognized on a national stage.”

Along with crediting his crew members Carson and Andriate and a past adjunct instructor Dale Wheatley, Lavine appreciated the “amazingly thorough, constructive feedback” from Booker T. Mattison and Taylor Miller. “I cannot express enough gratitude for these professors and their dedication to pushing students to be their best storytellers.”

After viewing a rough cut of Lavine’s short documentary, “it was abundantly clear that he had vision” said Mattison. “I was eager to help him sculpt and refine his very fine documentary,” he continued. “I look forward to seeing all that he will accomplish.”

Mobile application developed by NMI students released in the app store; technology used internationally

There are few New Media Institute projects that are fully developed, funded and released in the Apple iTunes tore. There are even fewer NMI projects that have such specialized technology that they are sought by international researchers.

The Ebb app team included Joe Reisigl (ABJ '16), Clarke Modlin (ABJ ’17), Madison Hall (AB ’17) and Kristyn Hicks (ABJ ’17).
The Ebb app team included Joe Reisigl (ABJ ’16), Clarke Modlin (ABJ ’17), Madison Hall (AB ’17) and Kristyn Hicks (ABJ ’17).

The Ebb app, a fall 2016 NMI capstone project developed by a group of Grady College students, is one of those rare projects.

“Honestly, it came from out of nowhere and came from a period of adversity and turned into something great,” Joe Reisigl (ABJ ’16), the lead developer for Ebb said. “I’m pretty proud of it.”

Ebb was a back-up project for the NMI capstone team that included Kristyn Hicks (ABJ ’17), Madison Hall (AB ’17), Clarke Modlin (ABJ ’17) and Reisigl. When the first project that the team had spent several weeks developing fell through, the team had to scramble to come up with a new idea to summarize their NMI education. Based on a suggestion that Hall had, the team turned to the development of the Ebb app.

Ebb is short for Evaluate, Breathe, Begin.

The Ebb app is used to monitor heart rates that are caused by spikes in anxiety. When the app, which is most functional on an Apple Watch, detects the jump in heart rate, it sends a message to the user suggesting exercises that can be done for a temporary fix including yoga, meditation and spatial recognition. It also includes a feature to journal about the experience so patterns can be detected for the future.

The principle developer on the project was Reisigl, who ironically, didn’t own any Apple products and just recently learned the Swift coding used in Apple apps.

“It is funny that I developed an Apple Watch app that I can’t even use or see,” Reisigl, who is a digital producer at Atlanta Magazine, admitted. “As I was developing Ebb, other people were teaching me how to use an Apple iPhone and apps.”

Reisigl discovered his interest in coding through his coursework at Grady with Bart Wojdynski and Chris Gerlach.

“I was completely clueless when I started, but then I sort of fell in love with it,” Reisigl said of his newly-developed interest in coding. “Honestly, for me it was just burying my head in YouTube videos and tutorials and just Googling everything I possibly could about Swift. I found myself sitting there trying to make something work and, eventually when it did work, I had that rush of satisfaction.”

“It was pretty cool to see that this could actually make a difference in someone’s life if it was applied properly.”

–Joe Reisigl

Emuel Aldridge, a senior lecturer at NMI and the team’s advisor watched the process come together through Reisigl’s coding.

“What Joe did is take what he learned in capstone and adapt it,” Aldridge said. “Joe was able to take a learning experience and turn it into an earning experience.”

The app was first presented in a beta format at the fall 2016 NMI SLAM showcase and by February is was officially launched on the Apple iTunes store.

“For it to work and actually get launched was just like mind-blowing for me,” Hicks, a public relations major said. “It was really cool.”

There have been a few forms of validation along the way. First there was the Atlanta-area psychologist who reached out to the team because she works with patients with anxiety and stress. She said she recommends the app to clients because it suggests some of the same exercises that she recommends to her clients.

“The fact that this psychologist with 20 years of experience told me that my app was viable and could be used to actually help people was one of the greatest compliments I got it about it,” Reisigl said. “It was pretty cool to see that this could actually make a difference in someone’s life if it was applied properly.”

The other source of validation came from Japan.

Shortly after the official launch, Aldridge was contacted by Jim Moore, a professor of large animal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at UGA. Moore also works in developing interactive 3-D teaching materials and had attended an Apple Educators meeting in Berlin where he heard a Japanese researcher talk about his work. The researcher, Takahiro Uchida, was working on methods to help severely handicapped students. Specifically, he was trying to determine when the students were engaged in the classroom, but since they could not speak, their engagement was difficult to determine.

Uchida described a complicated way he had been monitoring their heart rate, and when Moore heard the many steps and rudimentary way he was doing that, he suggested someone at UGA might be able to help make it easier and more convenient. Moore approached Aldridge who was put in touch with Reisigl.

Moore, who said he was pleasantly surprised that this technology came from a student team, said the project has been a success.

“Dr. Uchida is extremely pleased, and now is seeking additional help to make the process even easier so other teachers can use it,” Moore said.

This is one of three apps created by NMI students that have reached the consumer market. An app of UGA stickers that can be added to social media messages was developed last spring, and in October of this year, an app called “Film Norcross” was developed, identifying key movie locations in Norcross.