Newhouse Students Capture Excitement and Intensity of Empire State Winter Games

It was a tiring yet rewarding weekend for the nearly two dozen Newhouse School students who covered the Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) in Lake Placid, New York in early February. ESWG is the largest Olympic-style multi-sport winter event for amateur athletes. 

Twenty-two undergraduate and graduate students traversed the slopes of Whiteface Mountain, took in sled hockey games in Tupper Lake and worked early mornings and late nights to provide comprehensive coverage of the Games and its nearly 2,500 athletes through photography, videography, social media posts and website management. 

a photographer stands on a snowy mountain and takes a picture during a ski competition
Photography junior Arthur Maiorella photographs alpine skiers at Whiteface Mountain. (Photo by Justin Dalaba)
a photographer stands above a luge track and captures a an athlete going down the track
BDJ junior Robbie Munch films luge racers at the Mt Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center. (Photo by Seth Gitner)
a photographer takes pictures of the opening ceremony of the empire state winter games in a hockey area full of people
MVJ student Theoplis Stewart II (center) photographs the Empire State Winter Games opening ceremony while PR graduate student Abbie Kludt (left) captures video for the Games’ social media channels. (Photo by Justin Dalaba)

Picture Perfect Games 

With SONY-sponsored cameras in hand, 11 photographers captured everything from bobsledders barreling down the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center tracks to the championship hockey games at the Herb Brooks Arena where the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” event transpired four decades ago.

two people in winter gear hug each other and smile
Nordic skiers Talia and Reid pose for a portrait during the 2024 Empire State Winter Games In Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Surya Vaidy)

The staff edited and captioned hundreds of photos daily before uploading them to the ESWG media website to be picked up by news outlets throughout the Northeast. 

“It was just so nice to be back in such a beautiful place like Lake Placid,” said Surya Vaidy, a graduate student in the multimedia, photography and design program who was participating for the second year. “The best part was just getting the chance to photograph future championship athletes.” 

In between sporting events, Vaidy found time for his side project called “Faces of the Games,” that captured athletes and their families between games, races and events. 

“I got a great set of photos that I think were evocative,” Vaidy said. “And I hope that the athletes and other people will think so, too.” 

A luge racer prepares to head down a track
A luge racer prepares to head down the track at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center. (Photo by Nina Gerzema)
Athletes race to the finish line of a Biathlon competition
Athletes race to the finish line of the Biathlon Super Sprint Final at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. (Photo by Sadie Jones)
a person lights a cauldron at the empire state winter games opening ceremony
The cauldron is lit during the 2024 Empire State Winter Games Opening Ceremony in 1980 Herb Brooks Arena. (Photo by Matt Hofmann)

Nonstop Action

Working alongside the photographers, four videographers had the task of capturing ESWG athletes in motion.  

Patrick Smith, a graduate student in broadcast and digital journalism and part of the sports media and communications track, rose before the sun to get video of daily skiing competitions. 

“Going up there was so much fun,” Smith said. “I learned a whole lot that I didn’t know about videography. Whether you’re a photographer, videographer, content creator, or producer, you gain so much from this experience.”  

a participant in a biathlon shoots a gun
The 2024 Empire State Winter Games Biathlon. (Photo by Theoplis Stewart II)
people mountain bike in a snowy forest
Winter bikers race across the Dewey Mountain Recreation Center course. (Photo by Joohee Na)
a cross country skier skis at night
Sharon Crawford skis the nighttime orienteering event at the Cascade Welcome Center. (Photo by Justin Dalaba)

Keeping Things Running

Once the opening ceremony concluded on Thursday night, there was non-stop action on the slopes, snow and ice. Five public relations majors kept up with the results, posting on the ESWG and Newhouse Sports Media Center social media accounts while also writing press releases and daily newsletters for the games. 

“For someone like me who wants to go into sports and social media, this experience has been really great,” said public relations graduate student Katie Miller. “I just feel like the immersive part of this trip is going to lead to a lot of growth.” 

With the students getting to put time into writing and social media, the three days served as a great taste of what a career in sports and public relations will be like. 

an ice skater twirls in the air
Abigail Marlow from Niagara University Skating Club performs her figure skating routine. (Photo by Diana Valdivia)
a hockey player gets fired up
A Saugerties player gets fired up for 10U Squirt hockey game. (Photo by Cole Meredith)
two skiers race down a mountain
William Swain leads Gabriel Kean during a snowcross race at Whiteface Mountain. (Photo by Arthur Maiorella)

Traversing Mediums

As a digital producer for this trip, I  witnessed firsthand just how hard all of these students worked as I constantly shuffled their edited footage and photos onto our ESWGMedia.com website nightly. 

From a public relations perspective, it was impressive how the entire team was prepared to write or post on social media at a moment’s notice while also helping to tell the stories of participants involved in the games. 

I — along with professors Seth Gitner, Jon Glass, and Jordan Kligerman — just tried to keep it all going. In the end, I think we earned a spot atop the medalist podium when it comes to making the most of the Newhouse School experience.  

three young skiers cheer on a teammate
Super G alpine skiers cheer on their teammate Piper Dock of West Mountain Racing at Whiteface Mountain. (Photo by Ania Johnston)

Jonathan Kinane is graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Photo Gallery: Pixels & Print Design Workshop

The Pixels & Print Design Workshop at the Newhouse School always has the same mission: Teach the power of designing for good. Beginning on Feb. 22, which marked the 10th year of the fully intensive workshop, 65 visual communications students came together for 48 hours to collaboratively provide a design makeover for a deserving organization.

In past years, the students have shown how the power of design can combat mental illness, support grieving children and more. This year’s client was The Baldwin Fund, which has taken on a new $50 million campaign initiative to help fund cancer research and establish a National Cancer Institute in Syracuse.

Broken up into teams, students helped The Baldwin Fund spread the word about this huge initiative by re-designing their website, designing a social media campaign, creating a variety of promotional materials, designing new merch and more. To aid students in this design challenge, the visual communications department brought in top industry professionals who led the teams as art directors and coaches. 

two people stand behind a camera and look into it
Sadie Jones and Jess Van work as part of the Video Team capturing the workshop.
a large room full of people seated at tables
Pixels & Print’s opening night included a Brainstorm Sprint session to decide on the client’s logo approach.
a person films with a camera
Molly Mellinger works as part of the Video Team capturing the workshop.
a person stands at the front of a room and talks to people
Workshop director Renee Stevens introduces the client during the Pixels & Print opening session.
people applaud while seated in a room
 Workshop students applaud during the coach introductions.
a person hangs something on a wall
A student hangs her logo concept alongside others suggested for The Baldwin Fund.
a large room full of people seated at tables
Students brainstorm to decide on the client’s logo approach.
people look at images hung on a wall
Workshop coach and Newhouse alumna G Williams shares her thoughts on a logo concept with students.
a person stands at the front of a room and talks to people
Workshop director Renee Stevens speaks to the full workshop team during the opening night brainstorming session.
a person is interviewed and filmed
Graphic design sophomore Ethan Rujak is interviewed by the Video Team.
people stand and talk to each other in a room
Workshop coaches (from left): Amanda McCoy Best, G Williams and Scott McNanny chat during the brainstorming session.
two people look at their laptop computers
An Immersive Team member works with visual communications assistant professor Jason Webb on an interactive version of a cardinal that is integral to the Baldwin Fund brand.
two people look at a laptop computer
Students review design work during the workshop.
four people give a presentation to a room
UI/UX Team members present a website prototype during a client presentation.
5 people sit and look at something on a laptop
Print Team members review design mockups during the second day of the workshop.
a hand points to an image on a laptop screen
An iteration of the logo concept for The Baldwin Fund.
two people sit and watch a screen
Visual communications adjunct professor Claudia Strong (left) and The Baldwin Fund executive director Elizabeth Baldwin (right) watch design prototypes during the client presentation.
a person looks at images on a wall
Alex Ryberg Gonzalez reviews the product design concepts for The Baldwin Fund prior to the final client presentation.
a large group of people stand on a staircase and pose for a photo
Pixels & Print faculty and students pose for an official group photo in Newhouse 3.

All photos by:

Kelsey Leary
Jess Van
Sadie Jones
Molly Mellinger
Sise Deng
Cassandra Roshu

Designing for Good: Newhouse Alumna Creates Mindful Work in Cape Town Internship

Shannon Kirkpatrick ‘23 wants her designs to make a difference. 

Shannon Kirkpatrick portrait
Kirkpatrick

From high school art enthusiast to visual communications major to graphic designer at the Kolisi Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, her journey encapsulates a narrative of continuous learning, evolving interests and the pursuit of meaningful design anchored in social impact.  

For Kirkpatrick, creativity in art has been a passion since childhood. Growing up in Syracuse, she leaned into her inclination towards visual modes of expression through printmaking, drawing and painting in high school. After her acceptance to the Newhouse School, she initially pursued a degree in television, radio and film, but the film industry didn’t feel like the right fit, she said.  

She attended a presentation about the power of design in storytelling by Bruce Strong, a visual communications associate professor, and “it sparked something deep down,” she said.  

Following a recommendation from Strong, Kirkpatrick met with Claudia Strong, a visual communications adjunct professor. The meeting steered her towards the realm of graphic design—a pivot that felt more aligned with her evolving interests. 

five people stand and smile together
Kirkpatrick (far left) with friends during her Kolisi Foundation internship. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

“I walked into Professor Claudia Strong’s office hours the same day, and she must have given a compelling case to join the vis department because I switched my entire career path shortly after,” Kirkpatrick said. 

She found the graphic design program in the visual communications department wasn’t just about aesthetics; it was about narrating stories, articulating ideas and creating a dialogue through design. As she delved deeper into the program, Kirkpatrick found a platform to hone her skills as a designer for The Daily Orange, a student-run campus newspaper. 

three people pose and smile with their hands in the air
“This three-month experience in South Africa broadened my creative horizon—I know what it’s like to design with heart and see the tangible results, and now there’s no turning back.” (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

“The opportunity to apply my design and art direction skills to a fully functional, award-winning newspaper like The Daily Orange was an incredibly unique opportunity that you don’t get in other, more traditional design schools,” she said. “Being a part of the DO shaped the designer I am today.” 

In spring 2023, an exciting opportunity arose: a graphic design internship with the Kolisi Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to combat inequality in South Africa, with initiatives focused on food security, education, gender-based violence and access to sports. 

a person sits at a desk and works on a laptop
“I decided to strive towards this career theme: creating designs that make a tangible difference,” Kirkpatrick said. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

“From the first moment I heard about the internship, to the following meetings and interview, I was feeling a mixture of disbelief, excitement and curiosity,” Kirkpatrick said.  

She graduated from Syracuse University in May 2023 and quickly moved to a new continent, living and working in Cape Town for 10 weeks that summer. As a member of the foundation’s graphic design team, Kirkpatrick assisted with a variety of print and digital design projects, including an annual report, promotional materials and animated social media graphics.  

“Working with the Kolisi Foundation team had that real-world connection I sought,” she said. “The work I made mattered, and I could see the communities where my designs went first-hand. I’m happy to know those designs will continue impacting people there, every day.” 

The initial days of living in Cape Town were challenging as she navigated through cultural changes, but an adventurous hike with newfound friends at sunrise to Lion’s Head—a mountain overlooking Cape Town—marked a shift.  

“At this point, about halfway through my time in South Africa, I was finally starting to feel at home,” she said. “I had established strong friendships, felt comfortable with my host family and started finding my favorite hikes and cafes in Cape Town.” 

a person stands at the top of Lion's Head mountain in Cape Town, South Africa
Kirkpatrick hiking Lion’s Head in Cape Town. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

As the internship came to a close, Kirkpatrick found that the designs she was producing, the intention behind them and her future were irrevocably changed. 

“Combining a new cultural experience with a design internship had a profound impact on me—I saw the true meaning behind ‘designing for good,’ where my designs would help this incredible nonprofit tell its stories,” she said.  

“Afterwards, I decided to strive towards this career theme: creating designs that make a tangible difference.” 

a person points to a sign pointing towards New York on the top of a mountain
Kirkpatrick on a hike in Cape Town. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)
a person hangs out of a safari vehicle on a game reserve
On a safari on Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Kirkpatrick)

Now back in the United States, Kirkpatrick remains committed to designing purpose-driven work that creates positive change. She still designs for the Kolisi Foundation remotely and continues to shape the trajectory of her career as she blends her passions for art and social impact. 

“This three-month experience in South Africa broadened my creative horizon—I know what it’s like to design with heart and see the tangible results, and now there’s no turning back.”

Allen Huang is a graduate student in the media studies program at the Newhouse School.

Student Spotlight: Malcolm Taylor

Malcolm Taylor, a sophomore in the visual communications program, arrived at Newhouse in 2022 from his hometown of Chicago. A student in the editorial photojournalism track with a minor in art photography, Taylor has been able to take what he’s learned in the classroom to experiences working at The Daily Orange student-run newspaper, as well as The Renegade Magazine, Syracuse University’s first and only Black general interest magazine.  

Malcolm Taylor

Why did you choose visual communications at Newhouse?  

Getting into Newhouse was a challenge for me that I wanted to overcome because I knew that if I did that, I would have a really good education. I chose to major in visual communications because throughout my whole life, I have always been behind the viewfinder of a camera.  

I have always just loved the idea of framing something and picking out a moment in time that means something to you or just looks beautiful. 

How did your interest in photography and visual communications develop? 

When I was five years old, my father (an artist and sculptor) gave me a camera to photograph one of the shows he was having at a local museum, and because of my height-I was so small-I was looking up at these sculptures that he built. I was able to be published in the local newspaper because my perspective, being so small, was so different from all the other photojournalists who were photographing the event, so I get to say I was published since I was five!  

Name a Newhouse professor who has influenced you. 

Professor Greg Heisler. I met him in November 2021 when I talked to him while here for a tour (as a high school student). I think we talked for about five minutes but in that time alone my whole mind was expanded about photography. I thought there was so much more I needed to learn, so I knew I had to get into this program. I define that as one of the moments that completely shifted my perspective on photography. Right away, I thought that I needed to be at a place where I can keep learning from this man.  

Malcolm Taylor talks with fellow students in Studio B at the Newhouse School while someone films him. 
Malcolm Taylor talks with fellow students in Studio B at the Newhouse School. 

What is one of your favorite experiences that you’ve had so far at Newhouse?  

I love the Alexia Fall Workshop because no matter what you’re doing, no matter where you are, you really can’t go wrong. The Fall Workshop in 2022 was just absolutely amazing for me because I got to work closely with a bunch of professional photographers. That experience made me rethink every second that I was holding my camera, and it still does.  

What has stood out to you so far about your Newhouse experience?  

Every day I’m excited to get up and go to a class, especially if it’s a Newhouse class. Because I know that no matter what, I’m going to learn something that shifts my perspective. In the visual communications program, it’s really satisfying to be able to share ideas and learn something from someone who is in a similar field but is working with different software, working with different resources and just sharing ideas and learning from that person. 

Another big part of being in Newhouse is I get to learn and collaborate with writers, and broadcast journalism and magazine, news and digital journalism students, but also feel at home with my fellow photography majors in visual communications. It just really feels like family.  

Photo Gallery: Alexia Fall Workshop

The Alexia Fall Workshop is a space for Newhouse visual communications students to identify, observe and communicate multimedia stories while strengthening their skills in still photography, audio, video, motion graphics, design and more. The annual workshop, held this year from Oct. 12-15, brought in top professionals—including Pulitzer Prize and award-winning photographers and visual editors from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post—to coach students through their projects.

Take a look back at students, faculty and coaches at work during an inspiring weekend.


a person looks through a camera on a tripod
Student Amy Luo takes photos. (Photo by Erica Cheng)
four people gather together and talk in a meeting
Freelance photographer and workshop coach Louie Palu discusses photo techniques with Calysta Lee, Kate Warren, and Son Nguygn. (Photo by Gianna Lanfrank)
students photograph objects in a computer lab
Workshop coaches David Sutherland, AJ Chavar and Michelle McLoughlin work with students Lars Jendruschewitz, Gianna Lanfrank and Megan Radakovich on composition and project ideas. (Photo by Jack Henry)
a man speaks
Newhouse professor and workshop coach David Sutherland is interviewed about his experiences at past Fall Workshops and at Newhouse. (Photo by Jack Henry)
a woman stands
Visual communications department chair and workshop design coach Renée Stevens helps a student edit their designs. (Photo by Gianna Lanfrank)
a man demonstrates how to use artificial light on a subject with his iPhone.
Newhouse teaching fellow and workshop coach AJ Chavar demonstrates to Amy Luo and other students how to use artificial light on a subject. (Photo by Jack Henry)
a person talks to students
Workshop coach Eric Jackson meets with his team after the workshop kick-off on Thursday night. (Photo by Jack Henry)
two people hold cameras
Student photographers Molly Mellinger and Gianna Lanfrank take photos. (Photo by Megan Radakovich)
a person coaches another person sitting at a computer
Tracy Demarco talks to student Ella Chan during the workshop. (Photo by Erica Cheng)
two people talk to each other
Workshop coach Mylz Blake and Newhouse professor of practice Jon Glass take a break to watch a football game. (Photo by Gianna Lanfrank)
a person looks at a computer while another person sits in a chair and waits
Visual communications professor Gregory Heisler reviews lighting techniques with sophomore Malcolm Taylor during a mini-workshop. (Photo by Kamali Lewis)
a person smiles
Kate Warren, a workshop coach, smiles during a meeting. (Photo by Erica Cheng)
three people film a person while they're being interviewed
Students Diana Valdivia, Sky Zhuang and Amy Luo interview workshop coach Josh Ives. (Photo by Patrick Firrell)
a person poses for a portrait
First-year visual communications student Kamali Lewis stands for a portrait. (Photo by Megan Radakovich)
two people work at a computer
Students Diana Valdivia (left) and Reed Granger (right) work on a project. (Photo by Patrick Firrell)
a person works at a computer
Ella Chan works on a project. (Photo by Kamali Lewis)
a person sits for a portrait while a person behind them photobombs
Coach Marilu Lopez Fretts poses for an instructional portrait as Mark DiOrio photobombs. (Photo by Gianna Lanfrank)

Photo Gallery, Panel Discussion Among Newhouse Events Shining Light on Trauma-Informed Journalism 

Preparing aspiring journalists at Newhouse to cover traumatic events in a moral and ethical way is the focus of “Trauma-Informed Journalism in a Time of Chaos,” a series of events that start Thursday at the school.  

The series, which includes a photo gallery opening, interactive panel discussion and workshops, is meant to help empower journalists with the tools to be both professional and ethical when working with vulnerable populations, while being resilient and supporting their peers, said Ken Harper, an associate professor of visual communications who created the program. 

a soldier cries while holding onto a tree trunk
The sole survivor of a massacre finds his home in ruins after the Bosnian army recaptured his village from Serb forces in the fall of 1995. He is standing on what is believed to be a mass grave of 69 people, including his family. (Photo by Ron Haviv / VII / Redux)

The field of journalism requires journalists to write articles on numerous pressing and traumatic topics, which can take a toll on one’s mental health, Harper said, though it’s hard to cover a story consumed by hardship without experiencing it yourself.   

Ken Harper
Ken Harper

“How do you do the work that is needed to be done as a journalist and still be kind, and not come out of it a wreck yourself?” said Harper, who is also the director of Newhouse’s Center for Global Engagement. “If you are going to shooting after shooting, fire after fire, conflict after conflict, decades long poverty and marginalized people, how do you still function?” 

The events, which are the beginning of an ongoing series sponsored by the nonprofit organization Trust for Trauma Journalism, were created to give students the tools they need to enter the field of journalism. Harper has been working on this for about the last five years with Amy Putman, a member on the Interim Board of Trustees for the Trust For Trauma Journalism, but progress was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newhouse Dean Mark J. Lodato, Julia Pierson, vice chair and treasurer of the Interim Board of Trustees for the Trust For Trauma Journalism, as well as Aileen Gallagher, chair of Newhouse’s magazine, news and digital journalism department and Anthony Adornato, chair of the broadcast and digital journalism department, were also involved in helping to plan the series.  

Musician Justin Brady at his burnt home in Mallacoota, a small town in the East Gippsland region in the state of Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Rachel Mounsey/Oculi)

The “Trauma” series consists of three events over two days. All events take place in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium. 

The hope is that attendees come away with techniques to cope and report on tough or emotional situations.  

“We are really excited to provide students with the tools they need to go out into the world and do good work,” Harper said.

Alix Berman is a sophomore in the magazine, news and digital journalism program in the Newhouse School.

In Sight: Newhouse Visual Communications Assistant Professor Works with Canon to Develop Camera Tech for Cinematography Class

Students in Milton Santiago’s cinematography class got an up-close look at cutting-edge technology.  

They watched as Santiago, an assistant professor of visual communications, and engineers from Canon demonstrated a revolutionary camera-and-software tech called Activate My Line of Sight (AMLOS), which was fully customized just for the Newhouse class last fall.  

Almost a year later, there is so much promise for the future. 

Milton Santiago
Santiago

AMLOS was originally designed to streamline hybrid meetings, making them more interactive and intimate by having a single camera filming multiple parts of a meeting room at the same time. This allows remote users to customize the interface and select their preferred views to see different people, objects and areas in an in-person meeting.  

Santiago encountered the tech at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show in April 2022. 

“I immediately thought: ‘What if I took this tech and brought it into the classroom?’” Santiago said in recounting his initial look at AMLOS. 

Santiago had always wanted to show his cinematography students how different camera lenses work in real time. But, he said, “very rarely are you able to show the before and after, or the side by side, of what one person looks like with two different kinds of lenses locked in on them without the introduction of some post-production process.”  

In the past, when demonstrating how lenses change the perspective or shape of an actor’s face, Santiago showed his students disparate images, one at a time, using one camera. That method required students to compare how different lenses changed how an actor’s face looked just by memory. 

Two men look at a laptop computer screen
Santiago and a Canon engineer work together during the demonstration. (Photo by Leigh Vo)

“It’s difficult for a trained eye to be able to see those nuanced differences, so it’s even harder for beginners or someone who doesn’t know what to look for,” he said. 

He viewed AMLOS as the solution.  

With “pan, tilt and zoom” camera functionality and facial and gesture recognition, the award-winning tech can display multiple live images side by side using only one camera. It was exactly what Santiago needed for his lensing lessons. Canon was willing to help and collaborated with him to make new coding adjustments in AMLOS’s interface, essentially tailoring the technology for the lessons.

A global debut

In November 2022, Newhouse students experienced the first, global academic use case of this customized AMLOS technology.  

During the demonstration in the Newhouse School’s state-of-the-art Dick Clark Studios, students watched the powerful AMLOS camera as it filmed a fellow classmate who was seated in the front of the studio surrounded by lights and monitors. The single camera focused on a close-up of the student’s face, filming them with different lenses or lighting setups, and placed the images side by side on monitors. The student watching got an almost instantaneous view of the differences that resulted from these different lens focal lengths or shapes.  

students look at their laptops in a dark photo studio
Students look at their laptops during the AMLOS demonstration. (Photo by Arthur Maiorella)

“Students very quickly were able to start making the associations between these nuanced optical changes and the lenses just based on being able to see things in real time,” Santiago said. 

Visual communications senior Murphy McFarlane recalled how students were able compare the images and take screenshots of images on the monitors for reference in the future. For McFarlane, the AMLOS lesson felt different than others she experienced at Newhouse.  

“It felt different for two main reasons: the AMLOS demonstration was innovative and collaborative. It was a really cool experience to be some of the first students to test the software with Canon,” she said. “In the end, the Canon reps asked for our feedback on how to improve and fine-tune the user experience, which made it clear that our input was important.” 

a student is filmed by a camera
A student is filmed by the AMLOS camera as his image appears on the monitor in the background. (Photo by Arthur Maiorella)

Watching the demonstration remotely on a computer, 2023 photography graduate Xinning Li saw the same nuances as students in the classroom. 

“Using technology to achieve a higher level of creativity, AMLOS fulfills the purpose of assisting students and fueling their passion for filmmaking,” Li said. “It’s about the tools, and it’s also about how we use them and what we use them for.” 

More than just a lens 

Students in Santiago’s class have an advocate for their education and future in the film industry.  Santiago said he is “always looking for ways to use technology to accelerate the growth curve of a student cinematographer. … How can we use this plethora of amazing new technologies to still teach traditional visual storytelling but give students a leg up?”  

a professor teachers while standing next to seated students on their laptops
Santiago had always wanted to show his cinematography students how different camera lenses work in real time. Canon’s AMLOS technology was the solution. (Photo by Leigh Vo)

He had Canon engineers train instructional assistant Collin Bell and research assistant Jason Lozada on the AMLOS tech, allowing the multimedia, photography and design graduate students to teach a class on their own using AMLOS and develop those skills. 

“The biggest thing I will take into my future career from the AMLOS training is the ability to solve problems with new technology,” Bell said. “We were basically using technology that I had never seen before. There was a learning curve for sure, but it was also fun to solve the problems that AMLOS had to offer.” 

Students in the class walked away from this demonstration with a better understanding of cinematic storytelling and how lighting and differently shaped lenses bring about “little nuanced changes” in a character onscreen.  

For McFarlane, the experience was unforgettable.  

“Overall, I think the whole demo was a very unique experience. It was really exciting to be a part of something so innovative,” she said. 

Santiago and Canon continue to look at ways to customize the AMLOS software for more interactive learning experiences, even hoping to partner with international universities and collaborate with students on creative projects. 

“There’s still a lot of room to explore,” Santiago said. “It’s just like experimenting and seeing what other kind of ground we can break with the tech.”