Music studio takes over the classroom

Students will learn how to use equipment similar to the monitor pictured above in the new Advanced Media Production Technology certificate program starting Fall 2014. Photo illustration by Miranda Leung.

Chris Suarez
Staff Writer

This fall, VCU students will get the opportunity to leave their classrooms and study inside a production studio, learning music from the inside out.

The new Advanced Media Production Technology certificate program at In Your Ear Studios will teach the first class of students audio production, digital imaging, sound engineering, editing and their ties to contemporary marketing, advertising and entertainment.

The director for the program said he believes that Richmond has even more to offer culturally than Austin, Texas.

“We have a top art and medical school, the Martin Agency and multiple Fortune 500 agencies,” said Carlos Chafin, president of In Your Ear studios and co-director of the AMPT certificate program. “We need to tell the world what we’re doing here.”

Categorized under the School of the Arts and classified as a post-baccalaureate undergraduate degree, the 24-credit hour certificate program is under the direction of Chafin and the executive director of creative entrepreneurship Matt Woolman.

“The AMPT program is meant to target alumni from VCU and also professionals who are working or living around Richmond who wish to develop a skill set in the technologies related to media production,” Woolman said. “Anybody wishing to develop the skills needed to capture, develop and produce stories, this program is for them.”

The concept for the program began more than two years ago, with faculty in the school of the arts and members of the local production studio, In Your Ear, outlining the curriculum. The program’s goal is to provide higher-level audio production and technology education at an affordable cost for VCU School of the Arts students looking to expand their skill set after completing their undergraduate degree.

Located below Church Hill at 19th and Broad Street, In Your Ear’s state of the art 18,000 square-foot studio has done audio production for a number of different media, including television shows like “Family Guy,” “Person of Interest,” and the new AMC show, “Turn” — which was filmed in Richmond. The studio has also been responsible for helping produce Grammy-nominated tracks, such as Chris Brown’s “Deuces.”

“When you get into digital media, the sky’s the limit,” Chafin said. “Cable channels, cable and satellite programing, corporate communications, it’s insane how much is out there.”

According to Chafin, about 70 to 80 percent of all audio in film, television, advertising and other media ends up being produced, re-recorded and dubbed over most video.

Students in the program will take four core classes: one advanced core class, two in their chosen concentration, Audio, Video Post or Production, and a final group project capstone class. Story editing, conceptualizing and producing all audio and video is included to ensure students understand work-flow in media production. 

Woolman said the idea for the program has been in the works for a number of years, and Chafin and staff from In Your Ear have already been teaching a number of different classes at VCU as associate professors. With an external, independent studio being the classroom, the program offers students a chance to work with high-caliber industry professionals and see first hand what to expect in the field.

“For two years, we assembled a sort of board of advisors comprising professionals, faculty and students,” Woolman said. “We wanted to get a wide-ranging input from a number of sources, and they ultimately helped hammer out what’s taken shape here.”

Following VCU’s Quest for Distinction strategic plan, the program was accepted in part due to its progressive curriculum and engagement in supporting student and alumni future success.

“Hopefully a program like this will not only prepare people who want to get into the creative side of it, starting film companies or producing independent film,” Chafin said. “We not only want to teach people how to take their art and combine it with some appropriate digital media solution, but we also want to connect them with people in the industry that we think would be a good fit for them.”


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