ACMS Aces: Adam Davies

Adam DaviesThe Media Teaching Lab supports undergraduate media production courses across all departments. Media Production Specialist Adam Davies recently joined the team that keeps the Lab running.

Adam’s favorite part of the Media Teaching Lab is the equipment check out service. This gives students access to cameras, tripods, jibs, sliders, microphones, light kits, and reflectors are examples of items. “We have so much great equipment and honestly a lot of people don’t know about the equipment checkout,” Adam said. Getting a piece of equipment back in the checkout rotation is a source of particular pride for Adam, especially if it was one of the pieces he has learned to repair since starting at the Lab.

The Media Teaching Lab also provides a variety of video production workshops. Adam has taught courses on some of the cameras available through the equipment checkout service as well as lighting techniques. “The lighting [is] actually my favorite,” Adam said, because he gets to demonstrate how many different pieces of equipment students can checkout from the Lab to good lighting. Interacting with students in workshops and at the equipment checkout facility has been the most rewarding part of Adam’s work. “They’re very focused on getting better at their craft,” he said.

Adam Davies teaching a workshop

Adam (left) teaching a workshop on lighting

Adam graduated from the Pratt Institute with a degree in film. Prior to joining UC San Diego, he worked as a freelance stop motion animator in New York and is currently completing a stop motion short film that has been in production for several years. “We finished shooting in October and then two or three hours after I finished the last frame of animating I had to hop in a taxi at 3:00 a.m. to come to the airport to fly to San Diego,” he recounted. The film is currently slated to be finished this summer.

Visit the Media Teaching Lab’s website to find out how Adam can support your video production needs (plus see film and video tidbits curated by the Lab’s staff).

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of ACMS at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!


Upgraded Media Teaching Lab Facilities

In the last year, the Media Teaching Lab has been hard at work improving its facilities to provide UC San Diego students with everything they need for their media-related projects.

The first major improvement was the overhaul of video studios in Communication (MCC) 139 and 140. This included:

  • Industry-standard green screens to for high definition (HD) recording
  • New lighting configurations to complement the green screens
  • Repainted floors
  • New HD cameras with intercoms to the control room
  • New high end, broadcast-quality TriCaster in the control room
  • New curtains

The equipment room has been moved to Communication 111 to accommodate the combined Media Teaching Lab and Visual Arts inventory. This included painting, carpeting, new shelving, and an improved equipment check-in desk.

Check out the time lapse of some of the construction in progress.

Time lapse of Equipment Checkout Room

The editing suites were overhauled and upgraded with:

  • MacPro computers
  • Sound panels
  • New chairs
  • USB 3 drives for student checkout
  • New flooring

New signage throughout the Communication building helps identify the Media Teaching Lab’s spaces to make it easier for students and visitors to find where they need to go.

Check out the Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) Facebook page for more pictures of the new Media Teaching Lab.

Visit the Lab’s webpage to find information on workshops, facilities available to media students, the Media Teaching Lab’s equipment checkout service, and other items of interest to UC San Diego media students.

ACMS Aces: Debbie Mowry

Debbie MowryDebbie Mowry is Facilities Manager for Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS). This role has her switching hats throughout a typical day. Debbie oversees the maintenance and upkeep of the Applied Physics & Mathematics building (AP&M) where ACMS’s main offices are located, ACMS-managed computer labs, part of the Communications building (home to the Media Teaching Lab), and even some lecture halls. Included in her duties is designing computer lab floor plans and ensuring that they meet all legally mandated requirements. She coordinates repairs and maintenance for these physical spaces and ensures the security through key and lock management.

As Safety Coordinator, Debbie arranges for training to ensure the department remains properly educated about how to handle emergency situations, ensures that ACMS keeps proper emergency and first aid supplies, and maintains the ACMS Emergency Action Plan. Debbie maintains the ACMS inventory, including coordinating ACMS’s fleet of carts. She also oversees the supplies for printers in the computer lab of the ACMS large format printer to ensure that the department always has sufficient supply on hand.

This summer, Debbie completed several projects that improved ACMS spaces. At ACMS’s main offices in AP&M, she undertook a much-needed deep cleaning project that included all staff offices and the building’s lobbies and stairwells. These projects included coordinating the improvement of the AP&M basement, where students often study between classes. New furniture with built in electrical plugs make it easier for students to study in the area. Another planned improvement is new paint for the AP&M basement computer lab to brighten up the space. Debbie also helped coordinate the recent improvements to the Media Teaching Lab, which included new flooring, acoustic panel installation, painting, lighting upgrades, and lock upgrades.

Debbie has worked at ACMS for 28 years, so it is no surprise that she is part of a network of facilities professionals at UC San Diego. “I do a lot of coordination with other facilities managers throughout campus on trying to improve certain areas that we have computer labs in, as well as just maintaining a camaraderie between all of them so we all have a really good flow of communication into Facilities Management to try to help them,” she said.

Debbie plays soccer three or four times a week in different leagues. Though she sometimes plays against younger teams, she holds her own. “It’s not necessarily about speed. It’s about smarts,” she said. Debbie travels to soccer tournaments a couple of times a year and has participated in tournaments in Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta, Washington, Virginia, Utah, and Nevada, as well as local tournaments around the San Diego area.

Thank you Debbie for all you do to keep ACMS spaces bright and pleasant for students and staff at UC San Diego!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of Academic Computing & Media Services at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

Faculty Feature: Amy Lieberman

An example of one of the Media Teaching Lab's cameras available for checkout

Mitchell Wright of the Media Teaching Lab with one of the Media Teaching Lab’s cameras available for reservation.

Dr. Amy Lieberman, Research Scientist at the Center for Research on Language at UC San Diego, had an ambitious idea for her Child Language Acquisition course: have her students experience every aspect of obtaining a language sample, in this case an example of a parent and child communicating. Though she had plenty of subjects that her students could observe to get their sample, she quickly ran into a roadblock. “I couldn’t figure out how to get access to video cameras that the students could use,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman contacted the Media Teaching Lab to see if they could support her course. Adriene Hughes, Managing Producer-Director at the Media Teaching Lab, saw an opportunity to support UC San Diego’s campus goal of improving the student experience. She used Lieberman’s class as a pilot project for the expansion of the equipment checkout service, which was planned for Fall Quarter 2014. “I was thrilled to hear this as it was the one missing piece I needed to be sure I could go ahead with assigning this student project,” Lieberman said.

The Media Teaching Lab purchased three cameras that were easy to operate and provided better quality video and audio than a cell phone video camera could provide. Adriene gave an in-class demonstration of how to use the cameras and check out equipment from the Media Teaching Lab. “There were three cameras and about 20 student groups, yet we have never had an issue with a camera not being available,” Lieberman said, “All students have been able to access a camera when needed.”

The Media Teaching Lab made the equipment checkout process easy for the Child Language Acquisition students. Students made reservations to check out cameras online through the online equipment checkout system. “The student feedback has been uniformly positive,” Lieberman said. “Everything from checking out the cameras, filming the child, transferring the files, and returning the camera has been seamless.”

Working with the Media Teaching Lab enriched Lieberman’s class. “The collaboration [with the Media Teaching Lab] has made all the difference in being able to assign students a project that I feel has been one of the most effective learning experiences in the class, in that it is hands-on and interactive,” she said. “I’m sure that there will be countless classes (including my own) that will benefit from this program in the future.”

To find out how your course can receive support from the Media Teaching Lab, contact Adriene Hughes at (858) 534-1175 or email.

Faculty Feature: Zeinabu Davis

Professor Zeinabu DavisZeinabu Irene Davis, professor in the Department of Communication, teaches a wide array of courses to undergraduate and graduate students on subjects including film history and theory. An accomplished filmmaker, Professor Davis offers media production courses where students create their own video productions. Collaborating with the ACMS Media Teaching Lab enriches her students’ educational experience.

“I could not teach my courses without the Media Teaching Lab,” Professor Davis said, “Adriene [Hughes], Lev [Kalman], and Mitchell [Wright] are basically the other parts of my hand in terms of teaching here at UC San Diego.”

The Media Teaching Lab’s mission is to collaborate with all faculty in their courses. “In production it’s all about teamwork, and everyone plays a very important role in making a film happen,” Adriene Hughes, manager of the Media Teaching Lab, said. “Teaching is the same [kind of] effort.”

Professor Davis’s students take advantage of the numerous workshops offered by the Media Teaching Lab each quarter. With only three hours in class per week, Professor Davis does not have enough time to cover all of the aspects of video production that her students need. The Media Teaching Lab bridges that gap. “They are my teaching partners, that’s what I like to think of them as,” Professor Davis said, “because they will get the students through editing situations or they’ll get them through learning how to use the camera, the microphones, the lighting equipment, all those sorts of things.”

Some of Professor Davis’s students have a critical need for the Media Teaching Lab’s services. “Even though I’m in the Department of Communication, all of my students do not necessarily come from the department. Some of our courses service students outside of the major,” Professor Davis said. Winter Quarter 2014 saw graduate students from the Departments Ethnic Studies, Literature, and Sociology, as well as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, enroll in her courses. Media Teaching Lab workshops gave the students without a media production background the skills they needed to succeed in courses like those offered by Professor Davis. In fact, the Media Teaching Lab can support any UC San Diego course that has a need for video production resources, not just those from the Departments of Communications or Visual Arts.

In addition to training, the Media Teaching Lab provides students enrolled in media production courses with access to the Equipment Checkout Facility. Students can check out cameras, microphones, lights, and other equipment needed to create videos for their classes. They can also reserve time in one of the Lab’s editing suites to do post-production work on their projects.

Professor Davis could not overemphasize how much the Media Teaching Lab enhances her courses. “It’s really, really important to me that the Media Teaching Lab exists,” she said.

To find out more about how the Media Teaching Lab can support students enrolled in media production courses or graduate students who use media in their research, visit the Media Teaching Lab website or email them at

Faculty Feature is a series of articles highlighting faculty and their creative use of technology in the classroom. Check back regularly to find out how UC San Diego faculty are moving the future of education forward!

News from the Media Teaching Lab

The Media Teaching Lab's Equipment Checkout FacilityThe Media Teaching Lab at UC San Diego supports undergraduate students who are enrolled in official media production classes and graduate students who use media in their research. The Fall 2013 quarter was especially busy for the dedicated team at the Media Teaching Lab.

Close to 180 students enrolled in Visual Arts 70N, which put almost all of the circulating equipment from the Media Teaching Lab’s Equipment Checkout Facility in use every day. Canon T3i DSLR cameras were made available for student checkout for the first time. More than 70 students attended the workshops required to use the cameras.

Visual Arts 70N students were also the first to take part in Adobe Premiere video editing software workshops offered by the Media Teaching Lab. Adobe Premiere is now available in the Media Teaching Lab’s editing suites along with Final Cut 7 and Avid Media Composer 7. The suites have also been upgraded to include Blackmagic HD SDI video converters connected to high-end color-calibrated Panasonic BT-LH1850 production monitors to give students the best possible views of their videos in true colors and high resolution.

For the first time in several years, the Department of Communication offered a sound production course, led by sound artist Laura Vitale. The course focused on documentary sound production, interviews, multi-channel sound design, and audio for video. The Media Teaching Lab supported the course, giving staff the opportunity to teach and deploy their wide variety of microphones and Marantz audio recorders. Students also learned how to use Adobe Audition, the audio-focused program in the Adobe Production Suite.

The Media Teaching Lab also continued its 25-year history of support for the Department of Sociology’s Ethnographic Film and Media Methods course. The course, taught by Professor Bennetta Jules-Rosette, challenged pairs of students with no exposure to filmmaking or editing to make 20-minute documentary films. The Media Teaching Lab team educated, supported, and trained the students in in camera use and technique, audio interview techniques, and video editing software. The students’ films were juried by a panel of judges made up of academics, filmmakers, and producers. Media Teaching Lab Manager Adriene Hughes has been a panel judge for the last nine years.

Keep up with Media Teaching Lab news and find film production facts and information on the Media Teaching Lab’s Tumblr.

ACMS Aces: Lev Kalman

Lev KalmanThe Media Teaching Lab provides instruction, facilities, and equipment to UC San Diego’s undergraduate students enrolled in media production classes and graduate students who use media in their research. The Media Teaching Lab’s workshops and instructional capabilities were recently boosted by the arrival of Lev Kalman. Lev is the newest Senior Producer/Director to join the Media Teaching Lab team.

Lev teaches many of the workshops that the Media Teaching Lab offers to UC San Diego students. This is no small task given the fact that there can be as many as eleven workshops each week. Workshops cover a variety of topics, ranging from editing software to equipment operation, and Lev is particularly excited about the new workshops for this quarter. “We’re teaching [Adobe] Premier now and we’re teaching Avid,” Lev said, “Those are two kinds of workshops that we didn’t offer before. I’m leading those two.” The Media Teaching Lab has also upgraded its visual effects workshops to put more emphasis on Adobe After Effects. “[It] is a higher end software than what we were teaching before,” Lev said when describing After Effects, “and it really gives a lot more flexibility for the kinds of special effects or video effects [that] students want to build.”

Lev has really enjoyed how enthusiastic Tritons have been in his workshops thus far. He cited a recent workshop he taught on video compression. Lev started teaching compression in a similar position at Columbia University because it is often glossed over in many video editing courses, but if it does not go well it can often become a huge hassle for students at the end of a project. “Usually the first week is kind of quiet so we had a small group, but they were really psyched—more than I thought they were going to be,” Lev said.  Though Lev admitted that compression “is the least sexy topic in the world,” his students were incredibly enthusiastic about learning about it. “The students said, ‘What’s the point of making a good video if it’s not going to look good when you play it back?’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Though he only recently joined the Media Teaching Lab, one of the things that Lev has enjoyed the most about his position is that he gets to work so closely with the undergraduate students to help them learn about different equipment, software, and techniques. “What’s so great about this program is that there are so many awesome resources that we have that are super expensive and that are really hard to access in the professional world,” Lev said, “What’s great when you’re [a student] here is that you have a chance to try out a whole different bunch of things.”

In addition to teaching workshops, Lev is also available to media students who have questions about video production techniques. “It’s almost like having office hours,” Lev said, “We have ten editing rooms in the facility, so there’s always students working on things. They [will] come in with questions or they want me to show them how to do this or that.”

Prior to coming to San Diego, Lev had lived in the New York metropolitan area for his entire life. He has found the adjustment to Southern California living to be an easy one and he has not been alone in that. “My dog really loves it a lot more [here],” Lev admitted, “We’ve done camping and hiking and all the things you should do.” When it comes to a favorite movie (a question we just had to ask since he is at the Media Teaching Lab), Lev cites Robert Altman’s 1985 high school comedy O.C. and Stiggs. “It was totally ill-conceived,” Lev admitted, “but it ended up being this really great, really funny movie about these teen pranksters.”

The next time you are at the Media Teaching Lab, stop by and say hi to Lev. “Even though we’re all the way over here [in the Communications building], I just want you guys to know that I’m really excited to meet all of you,” Lev said. Welcome to the team Lev!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of Academic Computing & Media Services at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!