Hours upon hours of hard work in the studio were shown off at Jamestown Community College on Monday, as Deborah Lanni's digital video production class held its annual awards ceremony.
In the 10th anniversary of a tradition that highlights the semester's accomplishments of the students enrolled in CMM 1710, students held a screening of their final projects and the top performances - both on- and off-screen - were honored through the votes of their peers.
Family, friends and members of the JCC faculty and staff were invited into the classroom for the day to view the finished products and see the fruits of the students' labor.
Students in Deborah Lanni’s digital video production class show off their awards after being honored for their work Monday. Standing in back from left are Nate Norman, Dan Coffaro, Vincent Gerace, Will Tompkins and Caleb Abrams. Professor Lanni stands in front.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
''Most people outside of the media production world have little appreciation for the level of difficulty and countless hours required to produce an effective video production,'' Ms. Lanni said. ''That's the reason I started this celebration - to let students know their work and dedication is valued and appreciated.''
Five final projects were viewed during the class period Monday, with topics ranging from the absurd to the serious. Stories told through the video format included an anti-bullying piece, a music video, a video time capsule, an instructional guide on how to get a girl, and a history of the removal of the Senecas during the Kinzua Dam construction project.
Ms. Lanni said students enrolled in the class this year were able to work on new and improved equipment, as federal Perkins funding received by the college allowed for the purchase of cameras, tripods and sound equipment she said was ''desperately needed.''
''We had been using kind of home-level Mini DV camcorders, so there was very little control over the image, depth of field, things like that,'' she said. ''The Perkins money enabled us to buy DSLRs, which are really still cameras with the ability of shooting video, and that happens to be the hottest new trend in film-making, because they have a larger ratio of lens-to-sensor - it gives a much better image quality, HD quality, and we can actually get the kind of cinemagraphic effects that make for more of a film look.''
The newly purchased equipment belongs to the communication and media arts program, Ms. Lanni said, meaning students in the class were not required to sign cameras and other hardware out of the library in 24-hour increments. They could sign equipment out for the entire semester, greatly improving their video-creation ability, she said.
''Shooting is weather- and light-dependent, and it's also schedule-dependent,'' Ms. Lanni said. ''So if you have an opportunity to go out and shoot, it might be at 7 o'clock at night when the library's closed, or it might be on Saturday when the library's closed. Having semester-long signouts makes a huge difference in that respect.''
Awards given out during Monday's ceremony included Best Actor, a tie between Will Tompkins and Sam Gulotti; Best Writing, Dan Caffaro; Best Videography, Vincent Gerace; Best Editing, a tie between Nate Norman and Caleb Abrams; Best Interview Project, ''All the Wonder in the World'' by Vincent Gerace and Dan Coffaro; and Best Final Project, ''Remembering the Removal'' by Caleb Abrams.
Ms. Lanni said the students who take her digital video production class yearly are most often communication and media art majors who intend to transfer to a four-year school to finish a degree.
''The students who are serious about digital storytelling end up working in the field,'' she said.
Abrams' video, a history of the Kinzua Dam construction project and its impact on the Seneca tribe, included interviews with Seneca historians and other removal survivors as well as archival footage from the era. He was also given the class' ''Braveheart Award,'' honoring the student who exhibits stalwart persistence and demonstrates the most growth throughout the course of the semester. His peers voted him unanimously, saying his dedication to the project was unmatched.
''I wanted to do it because it's something a lot of Seneca people know about, but they don't fully know about it,'' Abrams said of why he chose his topic. ''And other people, even though it's only 20 minutes away, may not even know there are Indians there, let alone what happened to them.''