Investing in the Creative Media Professionals of the 21st Century

Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts Proposal Investing in the Creative Media Professionals of the 21st Century

The Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts is an investment in the future of students from the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film and in Carson’s legacy for the 21st century. The Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will require dedicated and talented leaders, faculty, students and staff; the resources to attract accomplished industry professionals to provide specialized learning experiences; and the most current facilities and equipment.

Leadership

The field of emerging media arts is dynamic and constantly changing. The Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will have leadership with a vision that aligns with current advancements in the field and who can apply that knowledge entrepreneurially. The director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, with the assistance of a possible Associate Director of the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts and the Board of Advisers will provide this leadership.

The Board of Advisers wll meet semi-annually to provide counsel on:

  • Creative and business trends in film and emerging media and their relevance to and effects on courses, programs and activities in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts
  • Developing relationships with private and public sector businesses to partner in Innovation Studio and other programs that are focused on hands-on learning experiences for students
  • Linking the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts to professionals who will participate as Carson Fellows, Professors and Guest Artists

Faculty & Staff

Talented faculty and supportive staff attract talented students and are important to developing innovative programs and producing the future leaders in emerging media arts.

Teaching in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will be by appointment of the director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. All faculty members teaching in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will maintain their tenure homes in their respective departments, with a preponderance of the faculty having a tenure home in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. The director will oversee the hiring, evaluation, and promotion of all faculty in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, of which the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts is a part.

The director will aggressively recruit seven new permanent faculty members who are at the vanguard of film and emerging media. These new hires will augment the current four faculty members in the existing film and new media program. A focus on emerging media should attract faculty who are leading the creative and research developments in the field. The director will select and appoint Carson Professors, Fellows and Guest Artists who will provide additional instructional support.

The new faculty will have an array of expertise from cinematography, screenwriting and sound editing, to augmented and virtual reality, interactive media, game engines, visual effects, creative coding, virtual production design, writing for emerging media and animation. Faculty will be selected for their expertise in their selected fields and may or may not have an advanced degree. Ideally, most faculty will be able to teach in both the Foundational Curriculum and in the certificate programs.

The Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will begin hiring new faculty beginning in 2017, before the new facility is complete, and will continue hiring over a five-year period of time as student enrollment grows. The new faculty should be able to accommodate a total student enrollment of 160 or more.

Professional Faculty

Professionals from the film and emerging media industry will play a critically important role in expanding the expertise of the faculty. These professionals—spending a year, a semester or shorter periods of time on campus—will bring the most current expertise in targeted areas of study in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. This “star power” will attract top students and faculty, create connections to the industry and the private sector and build special interdisciplinary expertise. Online courses and telecommuting will enable working professionals from out-of-state to teach classes.

Carson Professors

Accomplished Industry professionals will be brought to campus for up to a year or more in residence as Carson Professors. This long-term arrangement will enable the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts to add the expertise of well-known working professionals in key areas. Carson Professors will develop relationships with the students and faculty and become ambassadors for the school as well as spread the word about its programs nationally.

Guest Artists and Instructors

These working professionals will spend a semester or less in residence at the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts teaching master classes and bringing their specialized skills, knowledge and connections to the industry.

Carson Fellows

Faculty from across disciplines at UNL or other universities may become Carson Fellows, a special appointment in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts funded by the Chancellor’s Challenge Grants to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations. Carson Fellows will bring transdisciplinary expertise to projects undertaken in the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. A Carson Fellow might be a computer scientist teaching creative coding or an anthropologist working with a student to design a virtual 12th century pueblo.

Staff

The Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will hire staff for both their technical skills and their ability to work closely with students as part-time instructors and advisers. Some staff duties, where the roles overlap, will be shared with the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film or Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts. Others will be full-time employees of the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts will manage all of the college media labs centrally for better efficiency and security; therefore, the cost to the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts for an IT/Media Technologies Technician reflects its apportionment of IT needs. All staff will be hired by Year 5 of the implementation plan in anticipation of student needs and in advance of major enrollment growth, which will begin that year. The director will further examine staff needs as the program evolves.

The following staff list is a reasonable estimate of staffing needs at this time:

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Business Manager/Fiscal Coordinator
  • Internship Coordinator and Student Adviser
  • Equipment Coordinator
  • Facility Coordinator
  • IT/Media Technologies Technician
  • Fabrication Space Coordinator
  • Hourly Technology support staff

Student Enrollment

The Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts expects to increase enrollments in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film to 160 after 10 years. There are several factors that will attract students and drive student enrollment growth while maintaining high admission standards:

  • The new facility with a capacity to hold over 200 students with extra room to grow graduate or expanded undergraduate programs in the future
  • An Ideal Student to Faculty Ratio of 13:1
  • Carson Opportunity Scholarships totaling $2.25 million in endowment funds that assist students in paying for college
  • A Five-Year Marketing Campaign paid for by the college to advertise the program, scheduled to begin in Year 3 of the implementation plan
  • Tuition Costs at UNL, which are among the best values in the country
  • And, of course, a progressive and innovative curriculum in film and emerging media that will allow students to start taking film and virtual production related courses in their freshman year

Students applying to the current Film and New Media program in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film must complete a rigorous application and vetting process for admission. Students accepted into the program have an average 28.2 ACT score and must maintain a 3.0 GPA to stay in the program. The current student-to-faculty ration is 12:1.

Several factors are expected to drive enrollment growth toward the expected target of 160 students, by Year 10, the most important being marketing. Up to this point in time, the film and new media program has been able attract 60 applicants each year from which it accepts 15. This is with minimal advertising and none that is distinct from that of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film as a whole. For at least five years beginning in Year 3 of the implementation plan, the College will committ to a special marketing campaign for the new film and emerging program and the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

The faculty also plays a crucial role in recruitment. By enlarging the size of the faculty, the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film has more people to help recruit students. Likewise, faculty are expected to spread “word-of-mouth” about the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts in a way that will better attract the contemporary student. Both the increased marketing campaign and more effective outreach by the faculty are expected to increase the number of applicants to the program while still maintaining selective admissions standards.

The Carson Opportunity Scholarships generously provided by gifts from the Johnny Carson Foundation now totalling $2.25 million, will be a positive difference maker for many students qualified but unable to afford study in the Carson School and Carson Center.

Certificates

After completing the Foundational Curriculum, students will select at least two certificate programs in virtual production that will develop mastery in emerging media, virtual production and design. Each certificate will include a three-course sequence that will build expertise beyond foundational study. Through these certificate programs, each student will customize his or her own advanced specialization in emerging media, identify potential collaborators and develop the interdisciplinary skills to complete a required final project in the Center’s Innovation Studio.

Acceptance into all Virtual Production Certificate programs will be limited to students completing the Foundational Curriculum in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. Students will need to apply to each certificate program and take courses sequentially. This will enable the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts to predict enrollments and how often to offer classes. Students from other departments working on projects in collaboration with the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts will add a benefit to Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film students. They will be admitted to individual courses by permission only.

Virtual Production Certificates will be offered in:

  • Mediated Mixed Reality Design and narrative structures for augmented and virtual reality environments
  • Interactive Media Design: Design and creation of interactive stories and games in multimodal environments: consoles, mobile devices and computers
  • Virtual Production Design and Visual Effects: Designing for virtual environments and special effects for film, video and broadcast media
  • Writing for Emerging Media: Writing across the spectrum of emerging media such as gaming environments and interactive stories
  • Performance for Film and Virtual Production
  • Performing across the spectrum of virtual production from film acting to motion capture for control of virtual actors and animated characters