Category Archives: Texas A&M Media & Gaming Lab Semester Write Up

Fall 2023 Media & Gaming Lab Write Up

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Introduction

To say we had an action packed semester would be an understatement. We had a slew of activities going on within and beyond the lab. So many faculty, students and community members collaborated with the lab and have taken us on so many new trajectories and journeys. We cannot thank everyone who participated enough.

Fall 2023 Grant Projects

Lorefest 2023

Lorefest 2023 was a huge success with 3 nights of local lore programing performed by Dr. William Connor and Dr. Matthew Campbell’s students.  Held in downtown Bryan, Krisy of the Village Cafe and Vino Boheme and Misty of the Frame Gallery hosted Lorefest for the 3 evenings.  It was amazing to have their support.  In addition to their support we would like to thank the following sponsors:

  • TAMU Performance Visualization and Fine Arts
  • TAMU Institute of Data Science
  • TAMU Race, Ethnicity Studies Institute

You can check out a full write up here:  https://www.thecmcollective.org/lorefest-2023/

High Impact Instructional Innovation Grant – Sports Multimedia Skills

The High Impact Instructional Innovation Grant – Sports Multimedia Skills is a collaborative project headed by Professor Angelique Gammon to garner hands on sports broadcast skills.  Professor Jonathan Guajardo Professor Lopez would collaborate with Profesor Gammon to purchase, secure and use new video broadcast and digital narrative equipment.  Specifically in Professor Gammon’s journalism 359 Reporting Sports Professor Guajardo and Professor Lopez provided hands-on workshops with both Broadcast and Digital narrative equipment.  In addition to this experience, Professor Guajardo and Lopez provided a hands-on workshop with the podcasting studio recently setup by the Media & Gaming Lab.  The Media & Gaming Lab hope to continue with hands-on workshops with an emphasis on Sports Reporting.  We hope to bring Kaye Cruz to campus in the Spring to give hands-on workshops where the students gain interviewing and general narrative sports reporting skill sets.  

AVPA Grant – Afro Latinx Life and Writing

The Afro Latinx Life and Writing symposium was developed by Professor Regina Mills & graduate student AJ Baginski made possible by an AVPA Grant.  The Media & Gaming Lab’s role in the grant was to help provide documentation of the event and give support for the development of a website.  We were able to provide photos and videos of the event.  This spring the Media & Gaming Lab will help with any web development and assets needed to help finish the web documentation.   

Lab Projects/Events

Skateboard Art

At the beginning of the Fall semester joey pitched an idea of having local and student artists create Skateboard deck art.  Throughout the fall semester and going into the spring 2024 semester, joey has distributed boards out to interested artists.  The goal of the Skateboard deck art is to create an art show locally at the Vortex, a creative space in Bryan, TX where the TAMU Skaters, local skaters and art patrons will come together and celebrate skateboard culture and beyond.  Here is a sample of one deck created by Clayton Bever, a current A&M student.

Dia De Los Muertos Shoebox Altar

Held on October 23rd, the Dia De Los Muertos Shoebox Altar was hosted by joey and his wife Dr. Corina Zavala who gave a presentation on the history of Dia De Los Muertos.  joey then gave a presentation on building shoe box altars and the attendees created shoe box altars exuding their own lived realities and experiences.  The Media and Gaming Lab provided printing capabilities so that attendees would be able to size and print photos of their loved ones for their altar, the results were great and the event is something we plan to host yearly.

Music Recording Workshop

One of the student requests for the fall 2023 semester was to host music recording workshops.  Dr. William Connor offered to lead the workshops and over two weeks students learned about recordings in the classroom as well as in the studio getting hands-on experience with microphone techniques as well as the recording process.  

Podcast Studio

joey had made it a priority for the Media & Gaming Lab to begin podcasting, Professor Jonathan Guajardo volunteered to head up the effort and together they began building recruiting people to create podcasts and also learn technical skills.  A full write up of the effort can be round here:

Kang & Co – CSTAT Collage

Kang & Diego of the Media & Gaming Lab further developed content for CSTAT Collage focusing on a story about the student led Texas A&M Bonfire. Their work included multiple on site shoots, interviews and research about the history of the Texas A&M Bonfire. Stay tuned for their publication of the story on their youtube channel.

  • 2AM Productions
  • Guest Lectures

Media & Gaming Lab Member Projects/Accomplishments

Rick Pulos

Rick Pulos survived the last semester of coursework in the CMJR doctoral program! It was a super productive fall that included an exciting trip to see Madonna in concert in Antwerp, Belgium. During that trip, he collected data for use in an autoethnographic account of what being a diehard fan is really like. He also partnered with the Parks & Recreation Department of the City of College Station to conduct research at their senior community centers. He came into conversation with all sorts of older folks who take Line Dancing classes at the centers for exercising and socializing. As a PhD student, exploring potential avenues for his dissertation has gobbled up a lot of his focus but he also managed to create some new media centered works. On September 21 as part of the “Landscapes of Belonging” recital, he performed an excerpt from his longer autobiographical theatre piece Mixing Ingredients or How to Make an American by Checking Off Boxes. He took elements of that performance and incorporated it into a media piece entitled “The ABCs of Trying to Belong.” These are his ruminations on his failures and success throughout his life of trying to belong. Watch it at the link below. 

Rick also continued his work with The Theatre Company of Bryan-College Station. He took the footage he shot of every performance in 2023 and created a 15-minute video Celebration of the Season. It was shown on a huge scrim screen during the company’s 2024 season reveal party and it was unanimously loved by everyone in attendance. Check it out at the link below!

Zayno Rayne

Zayno Rayne has been a major contributor to the Media & Gaming Lab on multiple fronts.  This semester he played a major role in immersing the Media & Gaming Lab into the local music scene.  Zayno is now the talent scout for the Grand Stafford Theater, his work there has enabled all of the Media & Gaming Lab students and faculty the opportunity to be part of the local music scene, here is a full write up about it:

SUMMER 2023 ReCap

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Arden visits us again!

The summer of 2023 was a crazy time. We had a lot going on. Arden Duffield was able to make his way back from NYC and we hosted multiple meet ups and workshops, we put a whole series together and Arden’s spirit really carried the lab forward. Arden also joined us on multiple collaborative meetings, such as when we met with the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts Faculty and Grand Stafford manager Rob Hitchcock to talk about future projects.

In addition we had visits from Kaye Cruz where he and Arden were able to go do some local news coverage. Elizabeth Holmes made international news going to federal prison here in Bryan/College Station. It was great getting to see Arden get some hands on experience.

Also we would all like to congradulate Arden for getting into NYU! Well deserved in our book.

Lab expansion and resources

Additionally joey worked on the lab on multiple fronts. We are currently in talks with the department to physically expand the lab, we are fortunate to have Andy Castillo (Paper Street Studios), a CMC member who does 3D renderings; he created a full fly through of the future space and gave the idea “life.”

In parallel the lab proposed a whole equipment budget for more audio and video equipment for production and the lab space in general. So stay tuned as more develops.

Rick Pulos lend technical skills to local theater

Ph.D. student Rick Pulos worked with the Bryan Theatre Company of BCS and their production of Cabaret over the summer. Specifically Rick Pulos was charged with developing sets, lighting and other tasks, such as developing video promotions. Rick has been developing a documentary about the BTC of BCS and we all look forward to seeing his film once it is completed.

Will loves to make noise! We love to Document it!

joey also got to cover Media & Gaming Lab collaborator and mentor William Connor Ph.D. of the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts as he worked on creating multiple physical instruments to be used to create a sound track for a filmmaker working on a documentary about space for NASA.

Will is a musician, musicologists and instrument builder, amongst many other talents, a polymath for sure! Watching Will problem solve and create his instruments with minimal materials has been an education for sure. Not only did joey follow him on campus, but went on multiple “music store” runs, where Will would thrift for “things” he could incorporate into his instruments.

Will’s kind character is very intoxicating, everyone who would walk by that had questions about what he was up to would get a full explanation and often demonstrations! We cannot thank Will for being part of our lab and all he contributes.

Media Lab Visits Synth Makers, Developers & Players in Austin, TX

Durning the summer, joey, Will and Corina went and visited Brandon Wiley and Jeremy Zunker, two synthesizer enthusiasts based out of Austin, TX. It was great seeing some of their designs, talk shop and ideate on future collaborations. One collaboration we walked away with is hosting a Symposium aka “Synthposium,” in downtown Bryan, TX at Tavo coffee.

Turning up the Volume at the Media & Gaming Lab

joey also worked on making the Media & Gaming Lab feel more welcoming, building a customer speaker system for the turntable, adding more vinyl, more posters and Nintendo Switch docking station.

Grants & Collaborations

We made headway on all the Fall 2023 grants and collaborations including

  • Lorefest Fall 2023
  • BIPOC Poetry & Recital Workshop
  • Communication & Journalism Broadcast Facilitative Learning Workshop
  • LatinX Critical Creative Consortium Fall 2023, UT Austin

So stay tuned for more blogs about all that we are up to!

Spring 2023 Write Up

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Introduction

The Media & Gaming Lab in the Department of Communication & Journalism at Texas A&M University is excited to share with you all our activities and collaborations from Spring 2023. We worked on student projects, collaborated across the university with amazing folks in the Department of Performance Studies, and offered two conferences to the community, including one that showcased the Data Justice Lab’s aim “to address the role of data sciences in social issues in various domains such as health, education, built environments, crisis management, and finance.” (https://www.datajustice.tamids.tamu.edu). The Media & Gaming Lab is a community of folks with various interests that come together to create art and knowledge that encourages and supports students, faculty, and staff at the university and in the BCS community. Join us!

William Connor & Matthew Cambell

At the beginning of the spring semester William Connor Ph.D. contacted joey about some possible collaborations (which you will see below), within days they hit it off and William introduced joey to Matthew Campbell Ph.D. Dr. Connor and Dr. Campbell are professor in the music department. Dr. Connor specializes in the Music Ethnology, audio engineering and all things gothic. Dr. Campbell is a media studies specialist, his work spans from popular culture to being a music technologist looking at machine learning, artificial intelligence and he has an affinity for studying mix tape culture and other medium cultural phenomenon.

Together they are sponsoring the FM student organization, which joey got to check out first hang when Zoe visited. It is a great group we hope to collaborate with in the future.

Dr. Campbell also sponsors the Album of the Week club, it is an amazing group where students (typically 40-60) meet up each week and listen to an album and then discuss it. Joey was able to attend one of the meet ups and said it was amazing.

We are so excited to have Dr. Connor and Dr. Campbell as part of our group, they have attended so many events and meet ups of ours, their support has been invaluable. We cannot thank them enough for all their support!

Activities & Weekly Meet Ups

“Dog Love” Short Video Shoot

Rick Pulos brought his dog, Muffin (a.k.a. Scout), in for an impromptu video shoot. The Media & Gaming Lab worked collaboratively to come up with a simple story. Lab member Ananya stars along with Muffin. Muffin sits peacefully atop the stairs of Bolton Hall until Ananya approaches with a guitar in hand. As Ananya serenades her, Muffin is frightened away. Later, they reconnect and become BFFs. Alazar filmed and edited the short film. Below is a “ruff” cut of the video.

The Media & Gaming Lab faciltates Graduate Student Rick Pulos on his Documentary

PhD student Rick Pulos started filming his episodic documentary Once Upon a Time in Community Theatre in February. His film focussed on The Theatre Company of Bryan-College Station (https://www.theatrecompany.com) where he serves on the Board of Directors. The Media & Gaming Lab facilitated Rick’s production by loaning him key film equipment including a camera, lighting kit, and a professional level tripod. In addition, the Lab coordinated with Rick to help film a dress rehearsal of the production of the Tony winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Dr. Joey, Professor Guajardo, graduate student Nate Car, undergraduate students Sophie Villarreal, Zayno Rayne, Kali Johnson, and Faelen took pictures and operated cameras to cover the performance. The documentary is still in production but below are some behind the scenes video and images.

Musical by Robert L. Freedman

Zayno Film Noir

The amazing and talented Zayno (a.k.a The Pumpkin King), an undergraduate in the School of Public Health, had a vibrant vision of a film noir series of music videos and the Media & Gaming Lab jumped right in to collaborate with him and his creative team. Zayno, along with Media & Gaming Lab member Alazar A as the co-director, cinematographer, and editor, brought us together in downtown Bryan at The Village Cafe for an evening of filming. Graduate student Rick Pulos secured the location from a contact through The Theatre Company (TTC) and also borrowed masks for the film shoot from TTC. The legend known as Scruffy D. McLightning made a guest appearance! The music is by Zayno and he and Alazar will continue to produce the short film noirs in the future. Below is an image of Media & Gaming Lab students all dressed up in costume after the film shoot at The Village Cafe. Photo by Joey Lopez.

From left to right: Rick Pulos, Falen, Ananya Amar, The Pumpkin King, Scruffy D. McLightning (a.k.a. Johnny Guajardo), Katie, Keldan, Alazar A., and Grace Barr.

Check out Film Noir [Unto the Nyte Kingdom] by Zayno now!

Kaye Cruz Visit

Kaye Cruz paid us a visit this semester and delivered some great story telling tips, the current media landscape of traditional and new media spaces. His work always inspires all who attend his talks. Thank you Kaye for coming and giving some great lectures!

Exploring AI & Data Science’s Impact on Society:  A Social Justice Perspective

Joey and Dr. Lu Tang along with the Texas A&M Institute of Data Science collaborated on this symposiums that was held on March 3. The symposium featured speakers from academia, government, and nonprofit sectors discussing the ethical and social implications of data science and AI. Topics covered included ontological models of culture, race, and ethnicity in health data, media bias analysis, visual misinformation, hardware and data justice, and public health data analysis.

Joey’s sister Dr. Tina Lopez delivered an amazing talk on using public health data to understand and research issues of health inequality. Dr. Yunkang Yang was also a presenter. Many graduate and undergraduate students attended the all day symposium!  

Artist Zoe Nowak Visits Texas A&M

From March 25th to April 2nd Artist Zoe Nowak visited Texas A&M giving workshops, interviews and ended with a night of performances along with students of the Texas A&M School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Art. The visit was conceived and facilitated by Dr. William Connor, a Texas-based scholar and percussionist and a new faculty member in the School of The School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts. Zoe performs electronic in a wide array of spaces using hardware interfaces that allow her to integrate with other performers through tape looping, sequencing and live electronic performance. Zoe’s live performance was a collaboration with faculty and students and included a dance performance choreographed by Professor Ben Howard. In addition, students from the Department of Visualization created media that was projected onto a large screen during the performance.

On March 27th, Zoe Nowak met with the Media & Gaming Lab for an interview and then discussion. Rick Pulos of the Media & Gaming Lab volunteered to head up the weeks worth of on location shooting. For the interview, Rick produced and shot the video and Rolf Rydahl was the boom operator. Director of the media lab, joey, interviewed Zoe Nowak. Media & Gaming members Nate Carr, Latifah Adesina, and Ananya Amar, among others were involved with the capture of video and photos from Zoe’s live perfomances. Below are some behind the seem images from the week. For more information visit: https://www.thecmcollective.org/artist-zoe-nowak-visits-texas-am/

Texas Music and Movie Making Conference 2023

Conceived and implemented by students, the Music & Movie Making in Texas Conference 2023 was held on April 15th, 2023 at the Liberal Arts and Humanities building located at Texas A&M in College Station, TX. The conference had over 60 attendees and was lived streamed. The concept of the conference was to bring regional talents ranging from students, faculty and industry together to discuss music and movie making in Texas. The efforts by the students resulted in 5 panels and two open ended spaces, one about video streaming and the other a noise music studio where attendees were able to have hands on experience throughout the conference. Check out the full write up here: https://www.thecmcollective.org/music-movie-making-in-texas-conference-2023/.

End of Semester BBQ

As is a tradition started last year, we hosted an end of semester BBQ. It was a good time and it’s always great to build community. One student came by and wanted to learn to cook Fajita’s so we handed the grill over and next thing they knew they had made a great skirt steak for some tacos!