At the start of each school year, students in the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture have to learn how to use the large-scale printers and plotters needed for their studio projects. Usually, these tutorials require an AAIT staff member to attend each introductory studio course to give a fifteen-minute introduction to the equipment. This year, Scott Lindsay, director of AAIT, and Nicole Cingolani, AAIT consultant, decided that creating a video tutorial with instructions for setting up a print account and printing would be a better and more efficient use of everyone’s time. However, in the College of Arts and Architecture, producing a tutorial video provided an opportunity for collaboration, humor, and paying homage to the HBO series Game of Thrones.
“I was dreading being on camera and making boring videos that no one would want to watch, and I mentioned this to my colleague, Stephanie Swindle Thomas. We decided that it didn’t have to be boring and that people might watch it, if we did something different,” explained Cingolani.
She and Thomas, public relations specialist for the College of Arts and Architecture and producer for the project, decided to make it a Game of Thrones themed tutorial after Thomas mentioned the successful Delta Airlines safety video campaign that used humorous video clips paired with informative narration. The pair spent time writing a script based on what Cingolani would typically say during her in-person tutorials and revised it with lines about the print charges being deducted from their student accounts at the iron bank of the Bursar’s Office and naming the printers after dragons from the famous show. Kyle Clark, AAIT helpdesk staff, advised on Game of Thrones language and imagery. Communications student and Arts and Architecture intern, Amanda Strassler, served as videographer and member of the student focus group on the video. A collaborative effort, Thomas built a throne out of recycled computer foam and boxes, Cingolani borrowed costumes from the School of Theatre’s Theatre and Production Studios (TAPS) with the assistance of Diane Toyos, costume shop supervisor and Amanda Ferg, draper, and the pair cast AAIT and Stuckeman staff members in the video.
“I’m ready for my close-up,” laughed Kyle Clark with colleague Sean Cain in costumes, as they prepared for their roles introducing the printers in the video.
Cingolani, the star of the video (Nicarys Plotter-Born, mother of printers, queen of the inkjets, provider of paper, swapper of toner, and remover of jams) recorded her footage from the foam throne while holding a scepter made from an endcap of a roll of paper and agreed with Clark that this was much more enjoyable than she expected the process to be.
“We’re the arts college!” explained Thomas, “We had to do something creative! The reason most of us work here is because we love the arts and are somehow involved in them even outside of work. Projects like this video give us a chance to be passionate about the arts and our jobs.”
AAIT members also hope that the video will humanize them to the students by sharing a common interest in a popular show and making the effort to go above and beyond for their tutorial video.
“Technology issues frustrate everyone,” acknowledge Cingolani. “We are on the front lines because people tend to only encounter us when there is a problem. It sometimes makes it difficult to have a respectful, personal interaction. If people watch the video, they may remember us better as people who care and who are there to help them. We’re on the same team.”
Kate Domico, assistant dean of administration and information technology, joined the college last year and is pleased with the comradery and empathy shown by her staff. This is not the AAIT staff’s first time onscreen either – they recently recorded a get-well music video for another staff member, a project that was also the brainchild of Cingolani and Thomas.
To watch the video, click on the link:
For more information about AAIT at Penn State, visit aait.psu.edu.