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Saint Vincent College Faculty Blog

The Monastery Run Improvement Project Video Project

Posted by David Safin on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 @ 15:11 PM
This morning, we hosted an educational symposium celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Monastery Run Improvement Project.  

One of the symposium's coordinators was Dr. Caryl Fish, associate professor of  chemistry, and she opened up the festivities with a brief history of the project. As part of her presentation, she showed a video that I put together at her request. 

This style of video is my preferred style because the story telling is born in the editing. We didn't start with a traditional script. Dr. Fish gave me an outline that I used when I conducted the interviews. Then, once all of the interviews were complete, I was able to weave a narrative from their answers. A professor of mine once dubbed this style of editing as "organic editing" because the content dictates the flow of the story telling. 

This style can be more difficult to put together because it can't fall back on a voiceover. I have to find the story in the subjects' words. That is where I benefit from being the interviewer. I know what I need, and I can continue to ask questions until the interviewers fill in the gaps. 

In this case, I chose to interview Br. Norman last. That way, I could use his interview as the contextual glue for the others. (Learn about the origin of this painting of Br. Norman at the wetlands in the video.) 

Very early on in the video, Dr. Cynthia Walter, professor of  biology, says that the MRIP was a "great story about how students initiate and foster projects at Saint Vincent." The same could be said for a good portion of this video. 

I relied on footage taken from two student-produced documentaries produced about our wetlands. The first was When the Water Ran Orange, which was produced in 2005 by students, Brandi Lux and Becki Polaski. The cutaways to participants, Bob Hedin, Greg Phillips and Wes Gordon were taken from that project, along with some graphs and charts. 

The second was from Where Are We? The Wetlands produced in 2007 by students, Jared Bundy and Alex Byers. They shot remarkable nature footage at the wetlands in the summer of 2007, and it is footage that I could not have shot myself because of I produced this later version in the fall. 

Watch their version to see what shots of theirs I used.

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Topics: communication, digital media, broadcasting, filmmaking, degrees in communication, communication degrees, video, videos, documentary, science, nature, wetlands, students

Communication Careers | Tessa Winkler

Posted by David Safin on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 @ 09:09 AM
Continuing the series of successful Communication alumni, I had the chance to catch up with 2008 graduate, Tessa Winkler, a student I never saw without a smile on her face.

Tessa double-majored in Communication and Spanish, then went on to American University where she received a Master's Degree in International Communication. Currently, she is the  Communications Officer/Web Content Coordinator for The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. in Washington, D.C. 

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Topics: communication, degrees in communication, communication degrees, media, spanish, international communications, washington d.c., study abroad, public relations

Communication Careers | Jared Bundy

Posted by David Safin on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 @ 11:07 AM
Recently, I corresponded with 2008 graduate Jared Bundy about his life and career. Jared was one of my top students both inside and outside of the classroom. His body of work in media at Saint Vincent is unparalleled. In this blog, we discuss what he is doing now, how he got there, and how Saint Vincent guided him along the way. 

Jared and me circa 2007.

So, what are you up to these days?
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Topics: college, communication, digital media, broadcasting, filmmaking, degrees in communication, communication degrees, video, videos, media, media studies, public relations, social media

Training Camp Preparations | Media Events

Posted by David Safin on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 @ 09:07 AM
It's that time of the year when we begin preparing for the arrival of the Steelers and the tens of thousands of fans who come from all of the country to watch practices

It is for that reason that we invite members of the media to campus so we can brief them on what we are doing to prepare for this massive influx of people. 


President Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B. (above) leads the press conference. Behind him (from the left) are...
  • Mr. Steve Brown, Director of public safety 
  • Fr. Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B., executive vice president 
  • Fr. Anthony Grossi, O.S.B., bookstore manager 
  • Mr. Larry Hendrick, director of facility management 
  • Mr. Dan Keeley, executive chef 
  • Ms. Julia Molnar-Bish, catering director 

Of course, I was there recording the comments made by Br. Norman. Fr. Paul (below right) was also kind of enough to do an interview with me and my volunteer assistant for the day, Luke Fetkovich (below middle).  


Here is the video I put together from the two clips.

For the complete camp schedule, visit the Steelers official website.

Photos taken by Jack Krall. Visit Flickr to see more from this set.  
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Topics: communication, digital media, broadcasting, public relations, Saint Vincent events, Steelers, Pittsburgh

Follow-up on Eddie Coughlan

Posted by David Safin on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 @ 09:07 AM
In April, I wrote a blog about Eddie Coughlan of the Baltimore Ravens, who came and spoke to a group my Communication students. 

His visit was the subject of a feature in our most recent magazine.

The following is posted with permission of the editor of our magazine and was written by Simon Stuchlik.

Saint Vincent College may be known as the summer home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it also set the groundwork for a member of one of the Steelers’ fiercest rivals. Eddie Coughlan, C 08, spent four years learning and refining his video capabilities as a student at Saint Vincent before joining the Baltimore Ravens as a production coordinator after his senior year. On April 12, he was back on campus to talk to David Safin’s Field Production video class about his path to being on the sidelines during Baltimore’s Super Bowl win this February.

Coughlan, who was offered the job upon completing an internship with the Ravens, stressed that it takes hard work and dedication to excel in a career in video. “You have to love what you do,” he told the students. “In this field, only people that want to make themselves better at all times and constantly look to gain experience can truly shine.” Two Emmy awards from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, won for features he produced for the Ravens’ broadcasting department RaveTV, reveal his dedication.

But beyond the determination to get better, Coughlan acknowledged that his college experience laid an important foundation for his success. He credits two people in particular. “Dave Safin gave me the tools and vision to do what I do,” he said, “while (sports information director) Jeff Zidek gave me the opportunity to execute them.” Working as a student for Zidek allowed him to gain experience in videotaping sports games, which he calls “invaluable” for excelling in his career.

Coughlan’s work, which consists of seven-day work weeks with 12-14 hour days during the NFL season, is not always glamorous, but the rewards are fulfilling. Responsible for shooting sideline footage during games and a member of the broadcast team that produces, shoots and edits five TV shows per week, Coughlan interacts with players and coaches on a regular basis. He travels all over the country. And in June, he will receive a Super Bowl ring with his name on it.

(Bloggers note: He got his ring. I saw a photo, and it was impressive. Eddie also visited the White House.)

Telling Ravens stories to a roomful of Steelers fans may be a difficult task, but the students walked away with a deeper understanding of how classes and internships contribute to a successful career. “It was great to get a perspective about where to go in life after college and how to get there,” Eric Arbore, a senior multimedia student, said. “It really made me hopeful for my personal future."

See what else was in the magazine by clicking below.
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Topics: communication, digital media, broadcasting, filmmaking, degrees in communication, communication degrees

My Year in Video

Posted by David Safin on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 @ 16:06 PM
Last year, I did a recap of my year in video, and I see no reason why I shouldn't do it again. Being that I work in academia, a year for me begins when an academic year ends, so for the purposes of this blog, I will be recapping videos that I made from July 2012 until now. 

In September of 2009, we hosted internationally-acclaimed poet Jose Kozer, and in one of his talks, he said that he "measures his life in poems."  That makes me think I should start measuring my life in videos. You'll start to see why as you progress through the blog.

I will begin with a video that concluded a series begun the previous year, and that was actor Phillip Winters discussing his role as Art Rooney, Sr. in our summer theatre's production of The Chief.  

The next video I'd like to highlight also has a Steelers theme to it. It was the video that played on the big screen at Heinz Field during all home games. This ranks as one of the coolest videos I have ever had the honor making, especially when I saw it play at a Steelers pre-season game.

Once the semester begins, I start documenting many of the campus events that take place, such as...
  • Freshmen Move-In Day
  • Service to the Community Day
  • Homecoming
  • Founders' Day
  • December Commencement 

This brings me to the winter of 2012-13, which goes down as one of the most productive and rewarding of my entire video-producing career (professionally and personally).

It begins with a road trip to York, PA, to report on our Wimmer Scholarship Recipient.

All the while, I was producing this informational video about our Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP).

And finally, Fire and Ice: The Saint Vincent Fire of 1963. I can say with all humility that this is the video I will most be remembered for. It was a daunting project that involved collaboration of the highest level with Jerome Oetgen, Albert Oetgen, Jordan Hainsey and Kim Metzgar. 

And as I was wrapping production on the fire documentary, I began production on my thesis film for my Master of Fine Arts degree from Chatham University - The Birthday Present.  

On evenings and weekends in February and March, I worked diligently on my thesis, while at work, I continued producing videos for...
  • Threshold Lecture
  • Academic Conference
  • Honors Convocation
  • Commencement
  • Summer Theatre
Even as I write this, I cannot believe how fast this year went by, and how many videos I have made.

Because the end product of my work lives on the internet, there is no physical product that I can stack on a shelf, so it is a blog like this that lets me document what I have done. 

In putting them all in one place like this, I hope all who helped me can appreciate how much they have done as well. 

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Topics: college, communication, digital media, filmmaking, degrees in communication, communication degrees, video, videos, screenwriting, commencement

Bearcat on the Street 3.0 | Advanced Multimedia Production

Posted by David Safin on Mon, May 13, 2013 @ 14:05 PM
No doubt you have probably seen one of the several Bearcat on the Street videos either embedded on our homepage or on our (or other) Facebook pages. These videos were produced by students in the Communication course, Advanced Multimedia Production.

The students "on the street" were Carly Marsh, Eric Arbore, Charlie Kurtz, Nick Higgins, Pete McGee, Dillon Monier, Max Schrenk, Krissy Mazzenga, Rory Mitrik, Josh Spellman and DP Harris. 

Here is a playlist featuring the series in its entirety.

I call this series version 3.0, because it is the third iteration of the Bearcat on the Street videos. 

The series was originally produced in 2009 by students such as Ale Muzika and Sarah Ralutz. Here is one of the more popular episodes produced by them.

The series was revived the following year by students such as Sadie Stresky, Jeremy Smith and Rob DiVincenzo. Take a look back at some of their work. 

I hope to continue producing this series as part of my Advanced Multimedia Production course. The videos are at their best when they are made for student by students.

What was your favorite episode?
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Topics: college, communication, digital media, broadcasting, filmmaking, degrees in communication, communication degrees, video, videos, media, pennsylvania, media studies, internet marketing, public relations

Communication Careers | Eddie Coughlan

Posted by David Safin on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 09:04 AM

On Friday, April 12, I hosted former student Eddie Coughlan, Broadcast Coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. On game days, he shoots bench audio and game action and is part of the broadcast team that travels with the Ravens and produces, shoots and edits five TV shows per week. 

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Topics: communication, digital media, broadcasting, degrees in communication, communication degrees, video, videos, media, media studies

An Introduction to Screenwriting | The Steeltown Writers' Pitch

Posted by David Safin on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:03 AM
Saturday, March 23rd was the Steeltown Film Factory Writers' Pitch. As their website indicates, Steeltown is "a nationally recognized screenwriting/filmmaking competition which strives to locate and connect emerging talent with top industry professionals."

The Writers' Pitch is the first of three events that culminate with the awarding of up to $30,000 in funding for one or more of these scripts.

I was fortunate to be a presenter last year, which was a very exciting and nerve-wracking experience. And even though the script I submitted this year was not selected, I will admit, it was a far more relaxing experience to just be in the audience.

(The image above is from last year's presentation. The presenter is Nathan Hollabaugh, who recently wrapped production on the film based on the script he pitched. I am hidden behind the curtain stage right.)

Not being selected is always disappointing, but this year, it was a bit of relief since I don't know how prepared I could have been for the pitch because I am currently wrapping production on the script I submitted last year: The Birthday Present.

My experience in the audience was relaxed, but also a bit on the surreal side. Worlds were colliding as I sat in between classmates from Chatham and a Communication student from here at Saint Vincent. Also in the crowd was Randy Kovitz, a professor of mine at Chatham, and Kris Veenis, a fellow Bearcat videographer. I had a hard time figuring out who I was - student, teacher, classmate, colleague, writer, filmmaker.

And that was the best part of the experience; the coming together of all of these worlds for the common purpose of a mutual love of filmmaking. 

Anna, the student who made the trip out with me, hopes to enter next year, and used the experience to learn how to better craft her ideas into a script. My hope is that next year, I will be there with more students watching her give her pitch. 

The Producers' Pitch is on April 20th, and I am looking forward to it because they will be screening a trailer for my film! Hope to see you all there.

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Topics: communication, digital media, filmmaking, media, media studies, screenwriting, Pittsburgh

Wimmer Scholarship | Media Events

Posted by David Safin on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

One of my favorite videos is the Wimmer Scholarship Prize Patrol. In my time here at Saint Vincent, I have been a part of four of them. Below you'll see our own Shawn Gouch awarding a full scholarship to Alexander Pawlikowski, a senior at York Catholic high school two weeks ago.

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Topics: college, communication, digital media, broadcasting, viral, video, videos, media, news, scholarship, pennsylvania

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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