Muir Develops Digital Media Program With Nickelodeon

The crew from Nickelodeon discusses camera lighting basics with Muir Middle School's Digital Media class. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Each semester, Muir Middle School teacher Rebecca Southward welcomes a new group of students to her Digital Media class. The students film content and then work on their own short videos using iMovie for editing and effects. Nickelodeon provides guest speakers four times every semester, touching on key aspects of visual storytelling using video.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Patrick Garney (center) discusses camera and lighting basics with Muir students. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Muir‘s Digital Media class is in its beginning stages of becoming a place where students can learn to look at media with a critical eye and use film to express an idea or concept,” commented Southward. “We are excited to be working with Nickelodeon to develop a program that will act as a taste of what students will learn at the high school level and beyond.”

Earlier in the Fall semester, two writers from The Legend of Korra, Tim Hedrick and Josh Hamilton, taught the class about developing story. Kathy Carr, Storyboard Artist on Dora and Friends, and Jeff DeGrandis, Supervising Producer on Dora the Explorer, visited the class to teach storyboarding. In November, Chief Technology Officer Patrick Garney and some crew members from Nickelodeon stopped by the Digital Media class to discuss camera and lighting basics, the importance of lighting in a film and the impact it has in telling a story.

Jim Leber discusses editing with the class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes.)
Jim Leber talks about editing techniques with the class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes.)

In December, Senior Supervisor of Technical Services, Jim Leber worked with the class on editing their videos, after talking about his long history with Nickelodeon and how he kept learning new skills which led to more opportunities within the company. He discussed ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) for eliminating background noise and other techniques for making a smooth edit or transition between scenes in a video. In addition to adding special effects like slo-mo, Leber talked about organizing and cutting footage, including intro and end credits and using stock footage and other techniques to tell a story.

One student asked how to get hired for editing work. “If I were just getting started, I could build a website and put my edited videos on that website and start applying for jobs,” answered Leber, who also mentioned he spends much of his nights and weekends shooting videos and editing them for personal projects. “The more videos you make and edit, the better you get.”

Nickelodeon provides gifts for each student in the course in the beginning of the semester. Carson Smith from Nickelodeon works with Southward to discuss goals for the year and focuses the Nickelodeon support for Muir’s Digital Media program.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The students really enjoyed the hands on opportunities given, and Nickelodeon was so generous to come bearing gifts for each student,” Southward also said. “It is such a privilege to work with these amazing and talented professionals from Nick. This is a very exciting time for Muir as we develop a great media program that offers hands on opportunities for students and opportunities to meet professionals already in the industry.”

In January, the Digital Media class starts with a fresh group of students and Nickelodeon will visit the class again. Also in the spring, Muir Digital Media students are looking forward to a film festival and competition with the other middle schools in Burbank, Luther and Jordan.


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