Helping out in Herter
By Anna-Maria Goossens | Wednesday, September 13, 2017
By Anna-Maria Goossens
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Transferrable skills are good to have, as Technical Director Michael Cottom demonstrated this summer. He worked with Shorelight Education to design a new TV studio that will broadcast courses by UMass faculty to students in China in real time, and once designs were signed off on, Cottom and Scenic Construction Director Brandon Hall worked together to build the new studio in Herter Hall, which is already in operation.
The scene shop's involvement with the project began in spring 2017, when Shorelight, an organization that offers international distance learning opportunities with faculty based on American college campuses, approached chair Gina Kaufmann to ask if there was anyone who could help with a revamp of the on-campus studio, which is located in Herter Hall. Kaufmann referred the request on to Cottom, and after meeting with the Shorelight, he signed on.
The biggest challenge with the old studio design was the two large screens. They had been set against a white wall, and Cottom learned that contrast was an issue in terms of how the screens read in classrooms overseas — those students needed to be able to see clearly what was on the screens and lack of contrast in the transmission sometimes made that difficult. He solved the problem with two innovations: he dressed the wall in a solid black fabric, which made the brightness of the screen pop better, and he designed a support structure for the screens that made them physically stand out from the wall instead of being flat against it.
He enlisted Hall's assistance to build the structure, and by late summer, UMass had a renovated TV studio ready to go!