17 August 2011
When I met Lita Talarico, co-chair of MFA Design at the School of Visual Arts, one of the first things she suggested was to use Adobe Connect for virtual classes and information sessions. Every year we invite students into the studio to learn about this unique program. They come from practically every continent to hear about what's in store if they join as students. The MFAD's co-founders, Talarico and Steve Heller, along with alumni and current students, are represented during question-and-answer sessions. What we called the "Virtual Info Session" was an opportunity to reach potential candidates who were interested in applying to the program but unable to come to New York City.
What I wanted to do with the virtual session was to re-create the experience of being in the studio. Connect enables you to control your environment, which was critical in achieving this goal. My approach was to think of each layout as a scene in a television program. As in any television production, there was a need to enlist the help of others. I called upon the student body to create the look and feel of our first "Virtual Info Session."
What made it all come together was the talent of the student body and the power of Adobe's Creative Suite 5. Students contributed to provide content. Photographers Wes Gott and Chris Seabrooks were tasked with creating a time-lapse video of an average day in the studio. Leen Sadder designed the identity for the project as well as the motion graphics. The team took full advantage of Creative Suite 5. They used Photoshop and Illustrator for all the signage and ancillary graphics. After Effects was the key tool in creating the animations for our videos. We encoded the final products in Adobe Media Encoder CS5 for uploading to our meeting on Adobe Connect Pro.
From the outset, we knew we were going to be using Adobe Connect Pro. When SVA was invited to be a part of the Connect 8 beta, we jumped at the chance. As soon as I started playing with the beta release, I knew we would have to use it for production. The preview version was unveiled just in time for our big day. The new interface made it easy to make adjustments to layouts on the fly. This really became useful, as there were some last minute changes to one of the presentations. We were able to use our existing equipment to make the magic happen. The camera work was handled by second year MFA Design student Thipchat Arthasarnprasit. We used a Sony DV cam that we had on hand at the studio. Presenting the audio required using a small Mackie mixing board to ensure the sound on the webinar was exactly the same as in the room.
Although we researched other methods of presenting our Info Session to an online audience, we are glad we chose Adobe Connect. It allowed us to easily integrate our existing assets and maintain control of the final product. Designing the webinar was a unique experience and posed new challenges for the students and staff alike. You can view a podcast of School of Visual Arts MFA Design Info Session here : http://design.sva.edu. I applaud the talented individuals at SVA and the Adobe Connect team that helped make our Info Session a success.