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FM media programs shift gears

College invests in new digital equipment

November 25, 2012
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN-The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees formally accepted two curricula changes to the communication program at its monthly meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15.

The college has decided it was in the best interest of the student body and faculty to merge the multimedia, graphic design and visual communication technologies majors into one program that will culminate in an associate degree in digital communications and transmedia.

The college also changed the media communication curriculum to include classes on digital photography and Adobe Photoshop, advanced web design and Adobe After Effects. The new major will result in an associate gree in communication and broadcast media.

Article Photos

Second-year media communications students John Anthony, left, and Megan Siegle use the new high-definition TV camera recently purchased for the TV Studio at FMCC. (Photo by Levi Pascher/The Leader-Herald)

"Transmedia is the synergy of formatting information and story telling using different outlets," Multimedia Technology Professor Bob Renda said. "We live in a information age, so those students that can take information and format it in the way people want to see it will know how to and have a leg up on the previously divided major."

He said this new curriculum will be a melting pot of students who are interested in art, performing arts, graphic design, multimedia and video production to allow them to take anything they are good at in association with new technology to tell stories.

According to the digital communications and transmedia curriculum provided by the college, the students will learn to communicate across a variety of media platforms, from traditional graphic communication and design concepts to "digital workflows" and software tools for social media audiences.

Renda said graduates of this program will be jacks-of-all-trades who will work for websites, media outlets or other in other communications operations.

"We improved it to allow the students to be rounded in the arts but really polished in the new technologies that are out there," Renda said. "The old principles will still apply, but the interactive programs like Flash and Adobe After Effects really allows the students to make the videos or design 'pop' the way they want to in today's age."

Renda said the new program will be more rounded to meet the diverse needs and demands of the competitive information market. He said the students will be knowledgeable in numerous programs and design methods so they can be prepared for whatever kind of technology comes out or changes in the future.

FM?Media Communications Professor James Hinkle said the changes in his program will give his students the opportunity to learn multiple skills applicable across various media forms, including print, radio, web and television.

"We are gearing everything now for the web, which is what today's work environment in the sense of media has became focused on," Hinkle said. "I saw the need for my students to be educated on designing and placing information on the web, so we made these changes like web design and digital photography."

He said these changes will allow students to expand beyond print journalism skills to find new careers in advertising or marketing in the future.

This program is designed primarily for students who plan to transfer to four-year programs that lead to bachelor's degrees in communication technology, communications, journalism, public relations, or other related fields.

If the program changes are approved by the State University of New York system and the state Education Department, the media communications major will be available for incoming freshmen in the Fall 2013 semester, FM?President Dustin Swanger said.

New equipment

Swanger said the college recently spent approximately $120,000 to improve both of these communication programs with new equipment, software and programs.

Renda said his students have all-new Windows platform PCs with updated industry-standard software to reflect what the students will be using in the workplace. He said most of the software updates from one year to the next are minor, but if the college's software ever falls too far behind, it will have a major effect on students.

Hinkle said the TV studio at the college has gone from analog to digital and high-definition with all of the new equipment that was purchased. He said the new equipment has replaced the previous analog system, which was from 1996, when the studio first opened at the college. He said digital prices have finally fallen to a range the college could afford.

The money spent on the studio upgrades came from the FMCC Foundation, the capital fund drive and grants the college had applied for, Hinkle said.

He said in today's media industry, the analog technology has become obsolete, and the new digital equipment will save space and improve organization within the studio.

One of the new equipment upgrades was a switcher that allows the students to gain experience with a green screen, more diverse transitions and over-the-shoulder boxes during newscasts that can include animation or video.

The studio also eliminated the previous tapedeck by adding two 64 GB compact flash cards that will improve organization and can also become portable if they choose to take the new HD video cameras out of the studio setting. The college also added six new HD televisions to the studio to serve a variety of purposes, including to improve the students' ability to see what Hinkle is teaching.

The college also added a new character generator to the TV studio because the previous one stopped working during the last semester.

Second-year media communication student Greg Crawford said the new character generator has a million different dynamics that are useful in class. He said the upgrades were desperately needed because the old CG machine would constantly crash even before it stopped working at all, and the previous switcher wasn't working right all the time.

"It felt like we were in the stone age just a year ago, and now we have finally broke into the 21st century," Crawford said.

Renda said the administration at FM "really deserves a pat on the back for making sure the students here are ready for today's industry by providing them with today's equipment and programs."

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville and FMCC news. He can be reached by email at



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