Monday, September 5, 2011

The Fall 2011 Semester Begins...

Ok, now that we're through the summer, and Labor Day weekend has come and gone, it's time to talk about school once again.

This semester, I have some real dreamboat classes, I've got a guy to hold me through the sorrows and the triumphs and I've got a job to go along with it.  As you probably can guess, my gaming time (even a game of solitaire) has been cut down, cut off and well, simple for the facts, there's just no time.

For those of you who are curious, I have found my blue-eyed friend a moniker.  I'm just going to call him "Ace."  Basically you can look at it this way, he's my ace in the hole, he's aces at making me feel better and it just fits, so Sophmorites, meet Ace.  Yay!  New character!  But what am I talking about, we've got a whole list of characters to introduce you to for the fall semester, so let's get started.

This semester, which started on August 29, has been an outstanding rush so far...let's go over it one by one...

I have three classes this semester on campus and ALL of them are located in Greenspun Hall at UNLV, so guess what, no having to walk a mile and a half across campus for anything except maybe a trip to the library, and even that doesn't seem likely.

For Fall, I'll be talking about a new professor to the Sophomore who I'm just going to call "Scorsese."   Trust me when I say that when it comes to the ad world, the professor who I have for two classes, Journalism 332 (Media Planning and Buying) and Journalism 463 (Integrated Marketing Communications Strategic Planning), is the ad world equivalent of Martin Scorsese.  It doesn't hurt that he's of the same stature and reminds me strikingly to the real Martin Scorsese, just minus the big glasses and bushy eyebrows.  He's an uber-genius when it comes to the ad world, he's done his time at the agency level and I wouldn't be surprised if he has a OneShow Pencil stashed away somewhere.  The thing that really gets me about Scorsese is that simply, he retired from the ad world because it wasn't fun for him anymore, so he got out and he's teaching because he wants to be there for all of us who are learning the craft.  I can't speak highly enough of Scorsese, he rocks on so many levels.

At first, 332 didn't really float my boat.  I'm in Media Planning and Buying because I NEED to learn how to plan and buy media for my job.  However, right out of the gate, we got introduced to a woman from the campus radio station who informed us that we had to sell underwriting for the radio station.  Ok, remember when you sell advertising for a radio station, you can sell it, BUT when you are dealing with a non-profit radio station such as NPR or, in our case, the campus radio station, you're asking for sponsorships and inviting people to underwrite the programming.  Basically it's the same thing either way, it's just that with a non-profit, you can't actually "sell" anything.  It has to be worded super-carefully.  When she got up and asked us to provide five leads as homework, I sat there thinking to myself, "WTF?  This is a planning and BUYING class, not a selling class."  I'm not comfortable in the least going out and soliciting.  That's not me.  I got into advertising because my work gets seen over a huge audience, not me walking up and personally asking people for money.  The prospect of actually having to "cold call" people absolutely grated up and down my spine.  After class, I looked at Scorsese and said, "I'm not happy about this, because this is definitely NOT what I signed up for.  I don't have to do it, do I?"  He looked at me and said, "You have to do it, it's part of the class."  I just simply looked at him and said, "Ok, for you I'll do it, but I'm going to be gnashing my teeth the whole way."  He shrugged and said, "Sheri, my teeth are already ground down into nubs."  So we know that Scorsese isn't thrilled about it either.  But, to my sheer relief, on Thursday in 463, he told all of us 332'ers that the homework she assigned was cancelled and they're going to be doing things differently.  So, time will tell.  However, it doesn't skip the fact that I want to take the radio station lady out behind Greenspun Hall and launch her out of a cannon.   Not an auspicious start to 332, but I adore the TA (teaching assistant) that Scorsese has for it, who I'll just call JJ.  JJ is a real doll, she's a graduate student who seems to love the craft as much as I do, so I'm looking forward to what I'll be learning from her.

463 though, that's a whole different enchilada...IMC Strat class.  OY VEH.  This, my friends, is the food of the gods.  NOM!!!  I have 463 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, my only class all day and oh, how I wish it WOULD last all day.  Last Thursday, Scorsese began his lecture, he talked about things that I have only dreamed of discussing, the blood and guts of analysis and creating great strategy.  I sat in my seat and swooned.  At 11:15, he looked at the clock and noted that he only had 15 minutes left in the lecture and I almost wept, thinking to myself, "No!  No!  Keep going!  Who cares about the time?!?!"  Oh I could have sat there for hours on end just hearing him talk about the craft.  It was serious swoon time.  I engaged in the subject matter and I began to wax poetic thinking to myself, "It's all about pushing it and sculpting it so that all the strat, execution and all the rest gel into a wonderful, heady perfection, where the creativity looks at strategy and instead of arguing, they become a symbiotic whole and where angels sing of a campaign's lasting impression on popular culture."  I'm obsessed with what I do.  I love's just so...*SWOON*  It's as beautiful as Ace standing at my front door holding a handful of white's just so awesome...  It makes me smack the vein in the crook of my arm like I'm jonsing for a shot from the ad gods...

But enough of my obsession with my ad classes, let's get to the rest:

Along with 332 and 463, I'm also taking Journalism 202 (Electronic Media Production) with Doc L.  Now, for those of you who are new, Doc L. also fills in as my undergraduate advisor.  He's the man who made this semester possible for me because he nursed me through getting accepted to my major and who signed off on me getting into 332 and 463 this semester.  He's also awesome and he's got a tremendous sense of humor.

Journalism 202 is a hoot.  The first thing that caught me off guard is that there are NO books for the class!  It's a lot of note taking and great discussions, but overall, a week in, I'm in love with it.  From my viewpoint in the cheap seats, even though my destiny is probably not going to be having a lot of time inside of a studio or the production booth, I'm enjoying it because it gives me a viewpoint into how things get done in a television studio.  Monday and Wednesday mornings find me focused on every word that comes from Doc L.  Mondays are dedicated to lecture, but my lab on Wednesdays is three hours long, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and letting us out just in time for me to run up the hall for Planning and Buying with Scorsese at 11:30 a.m.    

Last week's lab time for 202 had me learning about all sorts of different lights, from flood lights, Fresnel's, ellipsoidal's and Videssence lights (which Videssence is basically the Kleenex of lighting, it's a specific type of fluorescent light with special baffles in them so they don't change color.  Lots of people make them, but they're just known in the studio as a "videssence").  I learned about the pipe grid that hangs above the studio and holds all of the lights, and I learned why studio ceilings, far above the pipe grid, are so high.  Now in what seems like the ultimate common sense answer happened to elude a lot of people...the ceilings are high so that the heat from the lights can rise and not heat everything up to a hysterical level.  Pretty cool right?  Then we went over how the whole production area at Greenspun Hall is actually housed in neoprene so it floats and doesn't conduct any type of noise.  It literally carries no noise in that production studio, it's almost creepy how insulated it feels, but at the same token, it feels remarkably safe.

In lab I got to drive a $60,000 camera.  Holy cow, one look at the Sony cameras that are rolling around on pedestals in the studio made me afraid to even touch them.  They're almost like a car!  Trust me with how expensive they are, it's amazing that they have handlebars like a motorcycle, even complete with switches on the handles.

What came next though, I didn't expect.  After a break, Doc L. took us into the control room.  I'm not going to go on about the endless banks of buttons, dials, screens and the sheer amount of technology that would have my technology-fearing mother faint dead away, I'll just say this:  Doc L. showed us the Technical Directors seat and all of the gadgets and gizmos that go with it.  Instead of giving you details about how intimidated I was by all of the buttons, I'll just give you this, the Pixar short "Lifted."  When you see the little guy looking at all of the switches and so forth, think of me on a Wednesday morning.

I'm not even kidding, looking at that bank of controls for the first time had me feeling just like that little green guy.  As soon as I walked in the control room, I became that little green guy, knowing inevitably that I will NOT be able to handle those controls fluidly until I get a lot more time with Doc L. who seems so at home amongst all of that technology.

As you can see, I've got two interstellar professors this semester and it makes going to school every day (Monday through Thursday) a real treat. The class that rounds out my 12 credit hours for this semester is AAS 101, also known as Afro-American Survey I, which is my multicultural class required in my core curriculum to graduate.  It's an online class, so I can squeeze it in whenever I have time, which is a good thing.

So there we have it...the fall semester in a nutshell.  I'm looking forward to every day I get to spend with Scorsese, Doc L. and JJ.  I know it's just going to be incredible.

Let's dig up an oldie but goodie to theme out this semester.  PR is killing advertising, I'm being put behind video control boards, and I'm learning how to use media to my advantage... and just for fun because the last time I listened to this song I was an 8-year-old schoolgirl.  (Remarkably on September 9th, this song will be 32-years-old.)  The Buggles, "Video Killed the Radio Star."

Happy Fall 2011 everyone!

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