Academic Impressions at Penn Libraries

walking tour group
Academic Impressions group at EC (Click to view all photos)

This past week Anu Vedantham and I had the opportunity to share thoughts on library service with a broad collection of higher education professionals – from librarians and architects to administrators and consultants – at an Academic Impressions conference here in Philadelphia. With guidance from Patrick Cain, our conference director, we brought the group to tour spaces at Penn Libraries: the Education Commons, the Weigle Information Commons, the Collaborative Classroom and the Kislak Center. Continue reading Academic Impressions at Penn Libraries

Hello Dolly!

w4dx_deluxedollyWhen you carry a video camera and walk around while filming, the resulting video is often very jerky and can be annoying for the viewer if you don’t follow good technique.  Ideally, we’d all like that smooth camera motion you might get from a SteadyCam, but SteadyCams can get very expensive, they need some customization for the camera you’re using, and they take a long time to learn to use effectively.

So we’ve added a new heavy duty Tripod Dolly to our equipment lending program.  Basically, you can rest your tripod on the dolly, and then wheel it around to get that professional look and feel in your final video.  For obvious reasons, you’ll need to use it on smooth surfaces, so grass, gravel, thick carpets, uneven sidewalks, etc. probably won’t give you the best results, but it works like a dream on regular flooring or low carpeting.  (And even on a slightly bumpy surface, you can always use something like Adobe Premiere‘s Warp Stabilizer to remove most of the shakiness after the fact–just ask a lab consultant if you need help with this!)

Wes and I made a 90 second video on how to use it, which you can view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=267ccJfyQOY

Right now we only have one dolly, but if it proves to be a hit, I’ll get more to meet the demand.

Reserve the dolly online at checkout.sas.upenn.edu (you’ll find it located in the Tripods category.) If you’re new to borrowing from the Vitale Digital Media Lab, check out our overview of How to Reserve Equipment.

p.s. Thanks to William for the perfect title for this post.

Planning better study spaces at Penn

Student at WhiteboardWhen it’s time to get work done, the right kind of space can make a real impact on your productivity.   We want to know what you think makes a good study space – both for individual and group work.  Where do you currently go to study?  What works well, and what could be improved?

Penn Libraries, College House Computing and SAS Computing are hosting a series of focus groups for students so we can hear your opinions. Your input will help guide the development of new study spaces and improve existing facilities.

Please register by clicking on the link next to a session below. These sessions are designed for undergraduates and we plan to record audio of the discussions.

All sessions include the same content and refreshments will be provided. Please join us in the WIC Seminar Room, Weigle Information Commons, First floor, west side in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.

That’s One Sharp Monitor

4K monitorI’ve been wanting 4K monitors in the Vitale Digital Media Lab for a long time.  Most of the machines in the library aren’t powerful enough to drive a 4K display, but our new Mac Pros are, so I figured they deserved a display befitting their abilities.

We now have a gorgeous new 32” 4K Sharp Monitor, pretty much one of the best available as of this writing. (It’s on the workstation right next to the paper cutter.) The lab consultants, some lab users, and I gathered around it last week oohing and ahhing as we watched some beautiful 4K footage we downloaded to put the monitor through its paces.

Please enjoy it, and let us know what you think! If it works out and we’re happy with it, we may upgrade the rest of the monitors later this year.

Screening Scholarship Media Festival 2015

CAMRA
CAMRA Festival Poster

We are looking forward to camra‘s annual media festival on March 27 and 28. Our partnership with camra has brought us fun times exploring audio and video. Past festivals have featured student-created videos including the Rubber video from Lisa Mitchell’s class and the great work of our own Lindsey Martin (after two years, we still miss her at WIC!). The Screening Scholarship Media Festival is a great place to meet colleagues interested in new media. As they describe:

"We explore the affordances and challenges of multimodal representational strategies in research, and we interrogate their social implications. SSMF is a hybrid between a traditional academic conference and a film/media festival."

We hope you will join us at the 2015 SSMF – check out the Festival Schedule

Lending New Nikon and Canon DSLR Cameras

left-1200 copyAt the suggestion of a lab user, the Vitale Digital Media Lab recently added some brand new Canon 70D and Nikon D7100 DSLR cameras to our equipment lending program.  These are a significant step up from the Nikon D3100 cameras we’ve had up til now.  This brings us up to 8 DSLRs, which remain the most popular items that we lend.

The new cameras provide significantly better image and video quality, higher resolution, less noise, more dynamic range, better color depth, longer battery life, faster and more accurate focus, and better performance in lower light situations without a flash.  The Canon 70D also has a very useful flip-out LCD screen that you can tilt so you can get better shots when you’re shooting at unusual angles.

The cameras are identified by model number in our lending system so you can reserve the ones you like. If you’re new to borrowing, check out our overview of How to Reserve Equipment.

I hope to add more of these in the future, so please let us know what your experiences with the new cameras are like.  If you have additional suggestions for purchases, please let us know and we’ll do our best to get it.

Italian Madrigals on WIC iPads

manuscript copy
Image from event website

When Professor Mauro Calcagno submitted a request to borrow 5 WIC iPads, I figured it was for his students to use for coursework, which is typically the case with our iPads in the Classroom Program. However, I was intrigued to find out that the iPads would be used by the Penn Madrigal Singers to perform digital editions of 16th-century composer Luca Marenzio’s work. I was lucky enough to attend the event last week, which was organized by the Penn Music Department, the Center for Italian Studies, and the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center, and co-sponsored by the Digital Humanities Forum. It was so fascinating to see both the digital humanities project that Mauro and his colleagues are working on and the fantastic performance by the Penn Madrigal Singers!

Continue reading Italian Madrigals on WIC iPads