Fall 2007 Technology Guide
From Larry Fried, Asst. Dean for Technology
Greetings from the technology staff at the Journalism School. Our department, which has 10 members, will be working closely with you during your time here.
Our mission is to help you use various forms of technology in ways that are integrated with our academic courses and best suited to the curriculum and your assignments. We are not primarily a technology school, so everything we provide is in the service of journalism.
In combination with the Faculty, we teach some technical skills, while expecting you to be fast learners willing to, as they say, practice, practice, practice. Any technical skills (using digital cameras, image editing, web production, etc) that you can acquire before you arrive here will be useful - but not mandatory. Depending on the courses you take, you will learn these and other skills.
The school’s equipment room keeps, for student use, dozens of video and still cameras, radio recording kits, etc. – enough to service many classes and projects simultaneously. However, given the way the news business is changing and how many students and faculty use technologies, we are unable to stock the vast amounts of cameras, audio recorders and portable storage media that would be needed to cover every contingency or more than 300 students’ personal interests. The equipment we have is earmarked for use within each class, which means there may not be gear available for students pursuing their own projects or looking for equipment outside of class sessions.
Therefore, we recommend that you look through the attached equipment guidelines and bring with you the items that fit your budget. While none of these are mandatory, owning your own gear will make your year a lot smoother.
Please note: One thing we do NOT do is serve as a repair shop. You will be responsible for the maintenance and servicing of your own equipment.
We welcome your comments and feedback on this guide at firstname.lastname@example.org and look forward to seeing you in August.
The Journalism School is equipped with seven computer labs and various other computer terminals. Having your own computer is by no means required, but we recommend that you bring your own laptop so you can work in the field, at home, in spaces that don’t have computers inside the School, or on the sunny steps of the Journalism building.
Laptop Computers should meet the following minimal specifications:
• Operating System: Mac 10.3 or 10.4 or Windows XP/Vista
• Microsoft Office
• Wi-Fi Connectivity
• 512MB RAM (we recommend 1GB for Print and 2GB for Broadcast and New Media)
For most print students, a laptop (Mac or Windows) with wireless connectivity and Microsoft Office should meet your needs. For students involved in multimedia applications, we recommend using a Mac. Macs come with a variety of basic video, audio and photo editing tools. Intel Macs are also capable of running Windows through either Boot Camp or emulation software like Parallels.
If you plan to purchase a new Mac, the Apple MacBook will be sufficient for most students. The Apple MacBook Pro is recommended for students interested in editing professional video on their laptops. Professional industry editing applications like Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer require an independent video card that is included in the MacBook Pro. Please note that the School has extensive video editing capabilities with a Final Cut Pro lab, 2 Avid labs, and individual Avid edit suites.
During the school year students will use digital cameras to capture stills for their print and web stories. There are also photo skills classes were students learn advanced photojournalism skills and work with our Canon Digital SLR cameras. These are advanced cameras with full manual controls, and removable lenses. These cameras are available in the Journalism School’s equipment room for students enrolled in photo skills courses.
For most assignments students can get by with a small point-and-shoot camera, if not their cell phone cameras. We recommend using a point-and-shoot with the following features:
• Records in standard formats (.jpg, .tiff, RAW) (no proprietary software required)
• At least 5 mega pixels
• Can connect to a computer via USB
• Offers full manual and auto controls
• Records to removable flash media
There is a long list of cameras that meet the specifications above and many students may already own one. As long as the cameras records in standard formats and can upload via USB to a computer, it should be compatible with the School’s computers and software.
For those who don’t own a digital camera, the School maintains a stock of Canon point-and-shoot cameras. For students wishing to purchase a camera. We recommend the Canon Powershot A460. The A460 offers great functionality and a low cost.
Audio recorders are used by students for recording sound for Radio broadcast and New Media web stories and as a general reference for interviews.
All students will be required to capture audio in their RW1 class. The School provides a variety of audio recorders, many of which are reserved for Broadcast and New Media students.
Since the School cannot guarantee access to audio recorders to all students at any given point in time, it is recommended that students consider acquiring their own recorder. Recorders should meet the following specifications:
• Records digitally preferably to removable media (flash/Hi-MD)
• Able to transfer audio files to the computer via USB and/or FireWire
• Has external Mic input for plugging in a professional microphone either XLR, 1/4” or 1/8” adaptable to XLR
• Records or converts to standard audio format (.wav) without third-party software (exception for some professional Sony Hi-MD recorders: MZ-M10, MZ-M100, MZ-M200, MZ-RH1)
One solution for students who have an iPod is a microphone accessory. There are models available from Belkin (Tune Talk) and Xtrememac (Micromemo). Before purchasing an iPod accessory, please make sure your iPod is compatible with it. Although we have not had the opportunity to test it, we like the design of XtremeMac Micromemo and recommend it.
For students who do not own an iPod or want a dedicated audio recorder, Samson has announced the Zoom H2 recorder that will be available in early August. It comes with 512MB SD flash card. A more expensive alternative, the Zoom H4, is already available. It features professional XLR mic inputs.
For students in a broadcast concentration, the School’s primary audio recorders are the Marantz PMD 660 recorder and the Sony MZ-M100 Hi-MD recorder.
For broadcast students wishing to purchase their own recorder, we recommend the Sony MZ-M200 Hi-MD recorder, which comes with a mic. The advantages of Sony Hi-MD recorders are the ability to archive your audio on Mini Discs and longer battery life. As the price of flash media goes down, however, the advantages of the Mini Disc will diminish. A professional flash recorder like the Zoom H4 will also meet broadcast specifications.
Students create many text and media files during their time at the School. While the Journalism School provides network and local storage for student data, students are ultimately responsible for securing their personal data. Because of this, we recommend that all students bring a portable, external hard drive.
The drives should meet the following specifications:
• USB/FireWire ports (drives should have both)
• Minimum of 80GB (100GB or more recommended for video)
• 5400 or 7200 RPM
We recommend the Lacie Rugged Triple Interface drives. They offer a good value for the price, durability and do not require a power supply. The drives come in a variety of sizes and prices. Before you make a purchase you should consider what type of work you plan on doing. Students producing a lot of video may want to purchase a larger drive or one that runs at 7200RPM. For students working on minimal amount of multimedia projects a smaller capacity will be adequate.
Having a portable hard drive is a sound practice. Not only does it allow you to transfer files among computers, it also provides a means of backup.
The School provides video cameras in its equipment room for the students enrolled in courses and projects that require them. The School’s standard format is Sony DVCAM. The video editing systems at the School will also support video shot on consumer and professional Mini-DV tape cameras.
Video cameras that record to hard drives and Mini DVDs are not supported by the School’s computers.