Thursday, March 15, 2018
Recent upgrades to Northern Michigan University's audio recording studio are aligning with new demands in emerging areas of digital media production. Mark Shevy, professor of Communication and Performance Studies, said the project is being made possible “due to a perfect storm—in a good way.”
“It started with a senior citizen who wishes to go by the anonymous name ‘Mike Lima Bravo,'” said Shevy.
The man learned about the studio while taking Shevy's audio production course and decided to give the recording facility a boost by donating nearly a dozen new microphones and other equipment.
“The prospect of donations was exciting,” Shevy said. "But we also needed someone who had the time and expertise to help develop a comprehensive plan. Fortunately, Dan Zini, a graduate student with professional experience in this area, was doing an independent study with me. We made the studio upgrade his semester project.”
Additionally, Zini worked with CAPS Department Head Jim Cantrill to get funds to repurpose unused equipment and double the studio's recording capabilities. Zini also coordinated with the Music Department and theater program to develop a network system that enables high-quality recording and broadcasting from locations such as Reynolds Recital Hall and Forest Roberts Theatre.
Another main element in the storm is NMU alumnus Mike Picotte. Picotte is a senior sales engineer at Sweetwater, a leading music technology and instrument retailer, and talented audio engineer on the side (see a related feature on Picotte here). He provides qualified guidance about media production industry and technology trends. His input helped take the studio to a higher professional level, and he is helping NMU become one of very first universities to have a teaching studio for 360/VR audio production.
The studio is used for audio production classes and other campus projects. Thanks to the upgrades, students have been able to produce professional recordings of NMU music ensembles such as the jazz band and choral groups for broadcast on WNMU radio and online streaming. They have also produced recordings for theater performances, NMU Marketing and Communications and others. This summer, the Native American Studies department will use a grant it received to bring in a professional audio engineer to record an album of the on-campus Native American drumming group, Morning Thunder.
“I don't know that all of this would have happened so quickly if we hadn't had these people in the right place at the right time.” Shevy said. “This collaboration has positioned the studio well for the future.”
Shevy also commented on the importance of seeing these enhancements occur following the sudden death of his colleague, Chuck Ganzert, in 2015.
“Chuck invested a lot of his life into this studio, and it is good to see current and former students breathing new life into it.”