Category Archives: CM@UIW

Convergent Media Showcase Spring 2015: Going Big

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A brief history:

The Convergent Media Showcase is relatively young. There had only been one before it. That was last year.

However, the tradition of the Convergent Media Showcase goes back much further.  It all began at the University of Texas at Austin’s ACTLab.  The ACTLab, one of the founding programs of the new media/convergent media fields, held end of semester showcases for every class.  They were unique from other end of semester critiques or art shows in that the students not only showed their projects, but presented their documentation as well.  The audience was also invited to ask questions and prompt a full discussion after every presentation.

The ACTLab presentation days were known for lasting up to 6 hours.  Sandy Stone, the founder of the ACTLab, provided food, students would bring snacks, and everyone in the class were required to attend all the presentations.  The public was invited and could come and go as they pleased.

I utilized the model that her, myself, Brandon Wiley, Dustin Younse and a slew of other ACTLabbers developed over the years and modified it.

In addition to having worked in academia, many ACTLabbers, including myself, have worked in the “startup world” (think The Social Network or Silicon Valley).  So I took the medium of ACTLab presentations and applied a time limit for pitches.  The presentations needed to contain both the students’ projects and documentation. They were also required to present them in a compelling manner, so as to keep the audience’s attention.

I also made it clear that if a student’s work was not up to par, they would not present.  That part of their project, was, in fact, the presentation itself.

IMG_0049IMG_9997The first Convergent Media Showcase took place at the Institute of Texan Cultures. We had over 10 presenters, and over 100 attendees.  It was well received and the students’ review of the experience was spot on, as well as the attendees and the Institute’s.

So, for this year, we started the semester with a bar we could work from.  From the very beginning the students knew they would be presenting their projects in front of a large audience and would also be in charge of hosting the event along with the Convergent Media Collective.

What progressed from this is documented below and is truly transformative.

Operation Big Screen:

Operation Big Screen was imagined by the students and myself after having a series of “Maker Days” (aka days where I invite the students to come to campus and I teach them how to do anything they want to learn).  We did a series of “Maker Days,” where I taught them projection mapping, and how to prototype projection arrays.

We then had Joao Data come and give a talk about doing large scale projections. After his visually driven presentation, the CMC were sold!

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After an array of prototypes, we finally settled on a design. This design was influenced by the physical space we decided to use.  CM student Robert had learned about the Radius Center, a community space that supports the arts, and insisted we should go check it out.  As the time to have the large projection screen built came, we went to the space and took measurements.  We then met up and talked about specifics of the prototypes and arrived at Home Depot to get a more hands-on experience and explore various materials needed for the showcase.

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Working with Jeremy Zunker, a CMC member and local engineer, we developed a model, and as a group decided on days and times to meet to actually build the structure. Thanks to CMC member Andy Castillo we were able to go pick up the materials from Lowes and take them over to a garage in the apartment complex where I live to begin construction.

IMG_7816Our model for responsibilities was modeled after 10bitworks (a local maker space) and the CMC itself.  We used a “doacracy”.  Meaning people did what they could when they had time.  I was the constant in the equation, but other then that, we had people who would come and help in no particular order.  This resulted in fresh minds who showed up at every meeting ready to get work done.

IMG_7888So, in roughly 3 days, we went from an idea to having a full screen built!

The screen came out to be 36′ x 8′.  Once installed, it amazed us all!  It truly represented a bonded effort by individuals to create something “new.”

Day of:

IMG_8005The day of, we spent quite some time setting up.  The screen was fully operational by noon.  The students worked to the very end putting finalizing touches on their projects.

I worked with Brittany and Mercedes to develop an “errand to-do list,” and the next thing I knew it was 5-something, and they were back with our printed programs, pizza, snacks, drinks, and pan dulce!

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The crowds flooded in and the students were ready to present their final projects on the 36′ x 8′ projection screen.  The evening displayed an array of projects, taking on various topics and tones throughout the night.  Audience members asked thought-provoking questions and students answered them accordingly, sparing no details on setbacks and success.

The presentations flowed smoothly and together, the students and audience helped create an immersive evening filled with constructive feedback, creative projects and emotionally-charged presentations. From short films, to narrative projects, to full-scale musical performances, the showcase exhibited different aspects of the students’ diverse creations.

At the end, students commiserated with one another and basked in the glory of their accomplishments. For them, the night represented the culmination of a year’s worth of collegiate discovery, academic growth, and creative experimentation. It truly embodied the motto of Convergent Media: “Make stuff, take risks, and be awesome,” and showed future generations of Convergers what’s possible when they apply themselves and invest fully in their ideas.

Convergent Media Collective Collaborates on the Boy Made of Lightning

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One of the unique things about our collective is our collaboration. In fact, a key reason we formed was to help each other’s efforts. We saw how we were all working on cool projects and wanted to join forces and go that much further.

A wonderful example of that is a collaboration that took place with Barbara Renauld Gonzales and Deborah Vasquez and the creation of a book titled, the Boy Made of Lighting.

The Boy Made of Lighting’s history can be read about at the San Antonio’s Express News’s website.  What was cool was that joey lopez and Kaye Cruz were key participants in the creation of the book.  Jonathan Guajardo and Christian Rios were two other members that contributed with the audio and video production of the project.  As the project fell on tough times as described in the Express News article, the Convergent Media Collective came together in the summer of 2013 to help put the finishing touches on the book. We also put together a social media campaign to help promote and bring awareness to the book and the importance of it as one of the first interactive children’s book that explores Tejan@ and Chican@ leaders.

The book can be viewed on the ipad and ipad mini by downloading it on itunes.

We would like to thank the Barbara and Deborah for being visionaries of the interactive book idea and for allowing us to collaborate with them!

Our hope is to keep promoting the book and bring cultural awareness so that other Tejan@ and Chican@ books are made in an effort to preserve the heritage of the community.

The CMC collaborates with Bexar County’s Bibliotech

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The Convergent Media Collective came to be because there was a group of students,professionals and makers who were regularly meeting up as friends working on projects for fun.  We collaborated on each other’s projects and helped each other learn new skills.

One of the first projects we undertook as a collective was the Bexar County Bibliotech project.  This project came to fruition when we the Convergent Media student organization was presenting at the annual UIW tech fair.

Across from us was the Bexar County technology group and they were very impressed with our work.  They interacted with Joel Peña and Charlie Young, who showed them some projection mapping and augmented reality.

They then contacted us to have a private meeting where we showed them some demos of our work.

Out of those meetings we were then asked to do a full demo to the CTO of Bexar county and other technologists at the county.

They were quickly impressed with the work we showed them and the ideas and theory we shared with them about social media, both in terms of campaigns and analystics. We presented on visual demonstrations as well as augmented reality.

They then asked us if we could specifically consult with them about Bibliotech, one of the first ever public digital libraries, located in the heart of San Antonio.

As a group at this point we hadn’t officially formed, we just had a chat on Facebook called “the bexar county library chat”.  But one day as we discussed somebody change the title of the chat to “Convergent Media Collective”.  And we were off!

We met regularly with the Bexar bibliotech project manager Laura Cole, who guided us through mutliple demos for various groups.  The highlight of our consultations with the Bibliotech project was consulting directly with Judge Neslon Wolff at the actual project site.  We showed them the technologies and media production ideas that would end up being incorporated into the final opening of the Bibliotech space.

The interactions and meetings gave students and community members first hand experience working with government entities as well as non-profits.  Pitching and demo-ing projects ideas and concept quicky became second nature for collective members.  Our meetings became more frequent, both online and in person.

We prototyped out some augmented reality ideas for them that ended up being directly incorporated, here is a video of one of our initial tests.

What was amazing was the interactions and the reception of The Collective’s ideas by the Bexar County officials, they were so open and encoraging when it came to us exploring ideas and presenting them.

We would like to thank Bexar county for giving us an opportunity to interact with them and give the collective a real world experience in the world of developing new convergent media ideas.