Communications students, staff present Homecoming Webcast

University Park, Pa. — For the fourth consecutive year, students, faculty and staff from the College of Communications at Penn State led a collaborative effort to provide a live Webcast of the University’s Homecoming parade, held Oct. 17 on the University Park campus.

This year’s effort included more student-produced components and a change in location for the Webcast itself during the parade.

Links to the Webcast, which will air from 5:30 to 9 p.m., will be posted the day of the parade on the College of Communications homepage, http://www.comm.psu.edu, and the Penn State Homecoming site, http://homecoming.psu.edu.

"We're going to have a pre-recorded magazine show with five segments about different aspects of Homecoming that will air immediately before the parade starts," Maria Cabrera-Baukus, a senior lecturer in the Department of Telecommunications who has produced the webcast for the past three years, said before the event.

Some of the prerecorded segments included a feature on the Blue Band’s role in Homecoming and a feature on the push to involve more first-year students in the festivities.

Cabrera-Baukus's students in both COMM 383, Production Administration, and COMM 498B, Webcast Production, play important roles as student producers of the webcast. COMM 498B, in particular, is a six-week-long course entirely devoted to the Homecoming effort.

"The students work with me in getting information and equipment and will serve as the webcast crew, all as part of the final class project," said Cabrera-Baukus. “My job as the producer is to plan the whole production, but my main job as a professor is to train my students for Web production on their own.”

Also, club students from PSN-TV (Penn State Network Television) helped produce this year’s live event for the first time. They will air segments on Campus Cable throughout the week of Oct. 12-18 dedicated to the annual celebration.

"PSN has always had a good relationship with the College of Communications, and we're excited to help work on the Webcast," said Bill Gardner, PSN-TV student producer. “It has given our members a deep insight into the world of on-location, live broadcasts, which they would not be able to receive through their normal curriculum.”

This year's Homecoming Webcast location was changed from the Schreyer Honors College patio facing College Avenue to the space between Grange Building and the HUB-Robeson Center parking deck. Homecoming 2008 Technology Overall Steve Edling said the new location provides both better lighting and camera angles.

"Moving closer to the HUB gives the Webcast more open space, and now viewers will be able to see the floats better," he said.

Matt Jackson, associate professor and head of the Department of Telecommunications, said the webcast provides an exciting opportunity for students.

"It gives our students the opportunity to apply their classroom skills in a real-world setting," Jackson said. "They have to deal with the uncertainties of a live event plus the added complications of setting up and producing a nighttime production on a crowded street far from the comfort of a control room and studio."

Jackson added that the Webcast is remarkable for the collaboration between so many campus groups, including the College of Communications, the Homecoming committee, the Office of Physical Plant, Information Technology Services and Penn State Public Broadcasting.

"All in all, the Homecoming Webcast allows students to get an amazing experience producing a live event using the latest digital technology and it allows alumni and friends of Penn State to share in the fun and excitement of the parade from anywhere on Earth," he said.

Nearly two dozen people from the College of Communications were involved in some way with the Homecoming Webcast. In addition to Cabrera-Baukus, her students, the students with PSN-TV and Jackson, the group includes facilities manager Karen Mozley-Bryan, production/technology coordinator Chris Maurer and lab coordinator Michael Zelazny.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009