UC's Digital Media Collaborative.

Digital Media Cluster Hires Bring Filmmaking, Program-Building Expertise to UC

Matt Irvine.

Matt Irvine.

Building a digital media program from the ground up comes naturally to Matt Irvine, who joins the University of Cincinnati in fall 2015 as the inaugural director of the Digital Media Collaborative (DMC), a collective effort between the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning (DAAP), the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and UC Libraries.

The DMC began with seed funding from President Santa Ono’s Transformation Fund matched by CCM, DAAP and A&S, and was successfully launched as part of Provost Davenport’s Cluster Hiring initiative.

Kristyn Benedyk.

Kristyn Benedyk.

Irvine, who joins UC with appointments across all of the related areas, comes to Cincinnati from DePaul University, where he was instrumental in founding DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts. The school, which is ranked in the top 20 film schools in the nation, includes bachelor’s degrees in animation and digital cinema, bachelor’s of fine arts in animation and graduate degrees in animation, cinema production, documentary, cinema and screenwriting. Irvine will be joined at UC by Kristyn Benedyk, an accomplished screenwriter and teacher who helped launch DePaul’s screenwriting program in 2011. Benedyk, who is also Irvine’s wife, will also be appointed across the same three colleges and UC Libraries.

“These dual-career cluster hires exemplify the power of aggressive recruitment and collaboration,” said Provost Beverly Davenport, whose office led the call for cluster hiring in summer 2014. “Together, these three colleges and our libraries were able to woo industry and educational leaders to build an exciting and forward-looking program in Cincinnati.”

The Digital Media Cluster includes multiple departments in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, CCM’s Division of Electronic Media, and Graphic Communication Design and Media Art out of DAAP, as well as technology and other resources from UC Libraries. “Speaking on behalf of my fellow deans who are involved in this collaborative, we are extremely enthusiastic about Matt and Kristyn’s hire,” said Peter Landgren, dean of CCM, the home college for both new faculty members.

“Their talents will enhance the existing strengths of our colleges, allowing us to provide our students with the creative, intellectual and interdisciplinary skills necessary to make an impact in the constantly changing digital media landscape.”

“There’s an excitement in Cincinnati,” Irvine said. “There has been so much support from everybody.”

Benedyk, who leaves her post as chair of the screenwriting program at DePaul, agreed. “There are already so many incredibly talented faculty at UC working in established, interesting and successful programs,” said Benedyk, who founded and produced a successful annual entertainment writers’ conference in Chicago. “I think it is great that the Digital Media Cluster is going to bring all of those people together working towards a shared objective that will result in UC becoming one of the top destinations for media education in the country.”

Both Benedyk and Irvine credited UC’s Cluster Hiring initiative and Dual Career Assistance program, both led by Provost Beverly Davenport, for sparking their interest in and eventually their commitments to Cincinnati.

“We’re better together than we are apart,” he said.

For Benedyk, whose background in Education fuels her passion for teaching, the move, in the end, was about quality of life.

“The dual career program was a huge draw for me,” said Benedyk, who was impressed by the reaction she got from faculty and administrators when she visited campus. “I immediately felt very welcomed as a potential faculty member.”

UC’s Cluster Hiring Initiative, launched by the Office of the Provost, supports existing and emerging partnerships within and between colleges, divisions and areas. Cluster hiring investments harness the power of faculty members focused on solving the world’s biggest challenges through leading-edge research and interdisciplinary collaborations that erase boundaries and embrace creative, bold ideas. Designed to attract top-quality faculty from around the world, UC’s Clusters represent the university’s commitment to investing in faculty and interdisciplinary problem-solving. The Provost’s Dual Career Assistance program dedicates funds and resources to accommodate job candidates and employees with opportunities to sustain healthy, connected families.

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Students in UC's Production Master Class documenting 'Expedition Alaska 2015.'

UC Production Master Class Films 2015 Expedition Alaska Adventure Race

This summer, the University of Cincinnati’s Production Master Class changes venues from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range to the pristine wilderness of Alaska to document Expedition Alaska 2015, a 350 mile, seven day non-stop adventure race from June 28 to July 5.

A crew of seven UC students is in Alaska now, working with media professionals to develop a documentary film covering this extraordinary sporting event!

A premier qualifying race for the Adventure Racing World Series, Expedition Alaska 2015 features ocean kayaking, whitewater rafting, glacier trekking, rock climbing and mountain biking. Four person teams, comprised of the world’s best endurance athletes, will navigate by map and compass through the stunning scenery of the world’s most remote, famous and beautiful terrain, the Kenai Peninsula.

The UC Production Master Class involves an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty from the University of Cincinnati who work with nationally recognized television and film professionals to produce digital media content that reaches a national and global audience.

Since 2012, the UC Production Master Class has involved over 90 UC students hailing from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

UC Production Master Class.Developed by CCM Professor Kevin Burke and UC Alumnus and Emmy award-winning producer Brian J. Leitten (BFA, 2001), the UC Production Master Course was first funded by a three-year grant from the UC Forward Collaborative, an initiative that supports experiential learning and is part of the UC Academic Master Plan. Earlier this year, UC President Santa Ono pledged additional funding, which allowed the production to continue beyond its initial three-year grant period.

The goal was to create a transformative, “hands-on” experience for the students by taking them out of the classroom and into the field to produce the documentary series that could be distributed to a national television audience.

The project’s initial three years focused on the Gold Rush Expedition Race, a grueling 275-mile race through the California wilderness. Three 90-minute films were produced to document that race. All three films have aired nationally on NBC’s Universal Sports Network.

The 2013 Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary film was recently nominated for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the professional category of Best Documentary – Cultural/Topical. You can learn more about that nomination by visiting http://www.uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=21859.

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Photography by Kaori Funahashi.

UC President Ono Provides Support for Student-Produced Documentary Series

We are delighted to report that UC President Santa Ono has announced funding support for the interdisciplinary Production Master Class in digital media, which uses experiential learning to create student-produced documentaries. Since the course’s inception with a three-year UC Forward grant in 2012, it has produced three 90-minute documentaries that air nationally on the Universal Sports Network.

Each documentary focuses on the Gold Rush Expedition Race, one of the world’s premier expedition races that feature an international field of 50 elite athletes trekking, mountainbiking, climbing and kayaking along a grueling 275-mile course in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The presidential investment in the UC Production Master Class will allow the production to continue beyond its initial three-year grant period and represents Ono’s ongoing support of interdisciplinary digital media projects and experiential learning at the University of Cincinnati.

You can read the full announcement at uc.edu/news/NR.aspx?id=21328.

You can learn even more about UC’s student-produced Gold Rush Expedition Race film series at ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/notations-ovations/student-produced-film-series-airs-on-universal-sports-network.

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CCM Announces Collaboration With CET Cincinnati Public Television

CCM’s internationally acclaimed performing ensembles will be coming to a television near you courtesy of a new collaborative arrangement with CET, Cincinnati Public Television. CCM’s upcoming Monteverdi Masterworks (Nov. 28, 2012) and Mahler Marathon (March 2, 2013) concerts will be recorded for future broadcast on the CET Arts Channel, initiating an ongoing partnership between the two organizations.

“This was an idea that had ‘yes’ written all over it,” explains Peter Landgren, CCM Dean and Thomas James Kelly Professor of Music. “I know from my own experiences that performing for television cameras and live microphones brings you to a greater level of focus as a musician. This is an unparalleled opportunity for our students. I want to thank CET Executive Vice President and Station Manager Jack Dominic for initiating this partnership and for giving us this platform to showcase the talent of CCM.”

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CET Arts Channel Broadcasts CCM E-Media’s Performing Arts/Digital Future Panel Discussion

Earlier this year, CCM’s Electronic Media Division hosted Performing Arts/Digital Future, a panel of opera production and marketing experts gathered to examine the impact of the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcasts in movie theatres across the country. Panelists included:

  • Marc Scorca, President and CEO, OPERA America
  • Patricia Beggs, General Director/CEO, Cincinnati Opera
  • Marcus Kuchle, Director of Artistic Operations, Cincinnati Opera
  • Robin Guarino, CCM Opera Department Chair and opera director
  • Marjorie Fox, CCM Electronic Media Division Head, moderator

CET’s Digital Arts channel will be broadcasting this panel discussion at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. on channel 48.3 (Time Warner channel 987).

Learn more about the panel discussion here or visit the CET Connect website for more detailed scheduling information.

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E-Media Professor to Serve as “Thought Provocateur” in New Speaker Series

CCM E-Media's Peter DePietro

CCM’s Assistant Professor of Electronic Media Peter DePietro will serve as one of the “thought provocateurs” in a new speaker series highlighting UC’s innovative thinkers called Life of the Mind. DePietro will join two other speakers on Tuesday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m. in the Alumni Center for a discussion centered on the theme of technology.

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CCM Electronic Media Hosts a Panel of Opera Insiders For Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcasts Discussion

CCM’s Electronic Media Division presents Performing Arts/Digital Future, a panel of opera production and marketing experts gathered to examine the impact of the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcasts in movie theatres across the country. This event is free and open to the general public and will take place on Wednesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. in Mary Emery Hall, room 3250.

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