Spencer gets drafted for his dream job early in the game

Posted on: February 21, 2017

Jamal SpencerSometimes in order to pursue your dream, there comes a sacrifice. In recent journalism grad Jamal Spencer’s case, this meant making the decision to leave Michigan State University early, back in 2009, to pursue his aspiration of becoming a sports reporter through a once in a lifetime offer.

People ask him, “Was it worth it?” Following his dream meant giving up undergraduate experiences and prolonging the process of earning a bachelor’s degree.

“It was incredibly difficult,” said Spencer. “Only one man in my family had graduated from college and that was my father. So, attending MSU was a blessing and receiving my diploma was the goal, but as my academic career progressed I realized the importance of job experience and networking.”

As a Detroit native, Spencer jumpstarted his career by working as a sideline reporter and production assistant for Fox Sports Detroit. After this, in spring 2011, he was able to finish a couple more credits toward his degree before taking off for his next job in Fargo, North Dakota where he later became Sports Director. Years after, he reached a point where he wished to move closer to home. Fortunately for him, the perfect opportunity arrived. Spencer packed his bags and moved back to his home state as the newest Sports Director at WZZM 13 in Grand Rapids.

“I was granted a few career opportunities that I felt I couldn't pass up and I promised my parents I'd return to get my degree, which I did in the fall of 2016,” said Spencer. “My parents joke that it was like getting drafted into pro sports after your junior year.”

How it all started

Spencer said that his entire athletic background consisted of a strong passion for baseball. However, once he realized that he wasn’t going to grow up to be a major leaguer, he decided to drop his bat and pick up a career that still involved talking about them.

“My mother and I would visit my grandma often and she always watched the 6 p.m. news,” said Spencer. “Sitting there quietly, I figured that if she’s giving these news anchors this much respect then this might be a career path worth following. I’m glad I did.”

As the Sports Director of WZZM 13, Spencer is responsible for production, film and editing content daily for the local sportscast. He is also the anchor for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. sportscasts Monday through Friday. In addition, he takes the time to search for local stories that will appeal to the same target audience and engage them on a personal level through social platforms.

“I try to do as much as possible everyday.” said Spencer. “I went back to MSU in 2016 and took two classes in East Lansing during the summer, then finished with another class in the fall, all while working my full-time job as Sports Director in Grand Rapids.”

Forever a Spartan

Being a Spartan is more than just wearing green and white. Students and alumni take a pledge to remain passionate, devoted and have grit while earning their degree and using it to succeed in their fields. For Spencer, his undergraduate years at MSU were, without a doubt, the best years of his life thus far.

“It was amazing,” said Spencer. "The campus was changing and I made lifelong friends, many in the ComArtSci building. I lived in the Sparty’s on the first floor. My favorite JRN class was Ethics of Journalism taught by Manuel Chavez, who is a tremendous professor and made our class feel like a family for a semester.”

Spencer continued to discuss his highlights in ComArtSci. “The most helpful resource was without a doubt my professors. Geri Zeldes, Folu Ogundimu, Manuel Chavez, Bonnie Bucqueroux all cared about my well-being as well as my academic success. They stressed the importance of focus and L.A. Dickerson stressed the importance of internships, and both of mine led to jobs that got me to where I am today. The ComArtSci staff was by far the most helpful resource in helping me reach my goals.”

For more information about resources at ComArtSci that will assist you, click here.

By Emmy Virkus

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Michigan State School of Journalism Adds Reallusion Animation to growing strategic partnership group

Posted on: February 16, 2017

The Michigan State University School of Journalism is excited to announce a new strategic partnership with Reallusion, a Silicon Valley-based animation and software content developer. The company is helping outfit the new Immersive Media Studio, located in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, with their full production pipeline of 2D and 3D animation software and plug-ins for motion capture.

The MSU School of Journalism is the cutting-edge home students to learn non-fiction Augmented and Immersive storytelling. Students in the School of Journalism’s animation courses are blending reporting traditions with new digital tools, allowing them to capture motion, puppeteer facial expressions and lip-synching in real time to characters. The School of Journalism’s Animation and Comics Storytelling in Media courses and minor are open to all Michigan State undergraduates, with no prerequisites, to enable exposure and collaboration in the creative technology mediums.

“The students are so excited to work with the Reallusion software pipeline,” said Stacey Fox, MSU’s professor of animation, mixed realities and immersive journalism. “The tools give them the industry type of production experience they can use to move from initial storyboard to full animated film, as well as 360 degree film production, which also fits in with MSU Journalism’s Immersive initiatives. The additional plugins also allow for the students to utilize the motion capture hardware generously donated from Perception Neuron, one of our other strategic partners.”

The power of setting scenes, documenting emotion, and relaying information is one of the most ancient of human traditions, dating back to pre-historic petroglyphs drawn in caves. Technology has evolved, but the innate desire to share experiences and moments will always remain central to the human experience.

"Reallusion is honored to partner with the Michigan State University School of Journalism,” said Reallusion Vice President John Martin. “MSU Journalism’s progressive curriculum engages students with Reallusion's 2D & 3D real-time animation, motion capture, and production technologies that will equip students with vital industry experience.  The six courses currently offered at the School of Journalism leverage iClone, Character Creator, CrazyTalk Animator and popVideo as tools to learn and apply innovative media production skills that are at the forefront of television, film, virtual reality, and interactive media.”

For more information on the School of Journalism Animation and Comics storytelling in Media Minor: https://www.msuanimation.com

MSU JRN Students Live Motion Capture to Character with Reallusion and Perception Neuron: https://youtu.be/t0DdbNoY4Hg  

For more information on Reallusion: https://www.reallusion.com


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New Learning Spaces Up Experience and Professional Skills for ComArtSci Students

Posted on: February 13, 2017

JRn top photo
Immersive experiences within new spaces at the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences are empowering students with the acumen they'll need to excel in competitive, tech-driven media careers.

The college's new Spartan Newsroom and Immersive Media Studio invite students to collaborate, gain real-life experiences and build professional skills. The newsroom welcomed its first students in fall 2016 and went "live" during the General Election, while the immersive studio opened for classes in January 2017. The innovative, cross-functional spaces equip students for 21st century jobs by engaging them in the development and delivery of news, animation, game design and immersive interactive media content involving motion capture, augmented and virtual realities.

"Having the experience to work within a professional pipeline facility will make a student's transition into a real-world situation smoother and more successful," says Stacey Fox, professor of animation, mixed realities and immersive journalism in the MSU School of Journalism. "It also teaches students the importance of respecting a production space."

JRN_Motioncapturre_5The expansive learning spaces sit in the middle of the first floor of the ComArtSci building. Students and faculty are free to move seamlessly from one area to the next when producing or creating content, or when working on collaborative media projects. Many high-activity areas and broadcasting studios are viewable through glass walls, giving passers-by a Today Show experience.

Fox says students often remark on how lucky they feel to have such a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility in which to produce new works. She adds that the new space and studio places ComArtSci on the forefront alongside major universities like Arizona State University, California Institute of the Arts and New York University in offering curriculum and training in global media production.

"Our space is unique in that it has the latest in motion capture and learning technologies for classroom collaboration, production and immersion," says Fox. "Spartans and the general public are able to see the whole process in real time when they walk by and look through the floor to ceiling glass windows."

Learning by doing, learning with others
Julie Dunmire was in the initial group of students to experience the power of the new spaces. The broadcast journalism student worked in the newsroom on Election Day 2016, and was the first person to read a live report from the news anchor desk. Dunmire currently takes a class in the newsroom and sometimes interacts with students from other ComArtSci disciplines who are learning and working within the immersive spaces.

"News is not in 'silos' anymore," says Dunmire. "We have to stop thinking about ourselves as 'photojournalists' or 'writers' or 'anchors' because we will all have similar tasks and roles in a digital age."

Like Dunmire, other students believe that what you learn in a traditional classroom is far different than what you can learn in an immersive or real-world environment.

Media and Information undergraduate Michael Grassi focuses on 3D animation studies and is applying his craft through the immersive studio. His big take-away, he says, is learning to operate advanced motion capture systems and apply motion capture files to 3D animation.

"The new systems we have access to are professional grade equipment, and the products professionals use to make a living," says Grassi. "Knowing how to operate them and having access to their benefits as a college student preparing for the professional workplace gives us invaluable experience. It shortens the learning curve potential employers would face if they were to hire us."

JRN_Motion_CaptureCreative Advertising undergraduate Michael Cagney echoes the sentiment. Cagney is continuing to learn the ins and outs of the studio's motion capture system, and has begun to integrate motion capture skills into his other animation abilities. Those experiences, he says, have strengthened his confidence, and are shaping the direction he will take when he graduates in May.

"I've learned how to operate the motion capture system for myself and for others in a professional setting," he says. "I would like to pursue a job in animation and possibly mocap."

In addition to applying their skills in news, animation and motion capture arenas, students and faculty can design and produce virtual reality broadcasts and 360 animation renderings for immersive storytelling. The center opens up possibilities for cross-campus collaborations in almost any area, including those underway in athletics, health and medicine and theatre.

"Along with offering our courses in the space, we will also be utilizing the immersive media studio to host events such as game design jams, animation festivals and this February the Cultural Digi Summit in partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center. We will have industry leaders in technology and culture in residence for two days utilizing the new spaces," says Fox. "It's a very exciting time to be at the MSU School of Journalism and ComArtSci."

By Ann Kammerer

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Award-winning MSU film student pursues passion in New York City

Posted on: February 9, 2017

livLiv Larsen had an extraordinary senior year at Michigan State University — to say the least. The former journalism student, with a minor in documentary film studies, along with her crew produced a documentary called “From Flint” that won a student academy award in 2016.

In May, Larsen moved to New York City to fulfill her passion of working for a production company at 4th Row Films. As a production intern, she was assigned three documentaries to work on. She came up with different ideas for the director and tried to put her spin on the little details when she saw an opportunity. She even got to attend a few of the shoots.

“I really got to see first hand how different people interview,” Larsen said. “The director’s style was different from my style and I was able to see how to set up the whole production in the real world.”

She excels at the logistics behind the shoot, “Whether it’s applying for grants, setting up the location or making sure everyone’s on the same page; I really enjoy these aspects,” said Larsen.

Larsen claims that her favorite part of the internship was collaborating with other interns.

“The interns pretty much got free reign to give ideas,” Larsen said. “It was great to have that group and connection, in case we wanted to collaborate on future projects together.”

To her surprise, after completing her internship in New York City, Larsen found herself wanting to try her hand in independent filmmaking. After completing her award-winning documentary in Professor Bob Albers’ class, she thought she wanted to work for a large production company, shooting films, but realized that she had a desire to pursue her own personal film style.

“I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for my student film,” Larsen said. “After it won a Student Academy Award, our crew filed to work with an actual distribution company, which is amazing.”

Larsen said no member of her crew had actually been to Flint before creating this film. The main task of the film was to see how they could get involved with the community of Flint and make an impact.

“After doing basic internet research, we met with a few people, which turned into more people,” Larsen said. “The film started to unfold and the community of Flint embraced us with open arms. Our crew just took it one step at a time. The whole thing was a puzzle we put together, since we only had a semester to do it. It was so rewarding at the end.”

Currently, Larsen is still living in New York City, pursuing her dream of independent filmmaking. She's doing freelance work, which involved working on a project for Netflix, and currently producing another independent documentary film.

Her interest in documentary filmmaking evolved over time as she added new skills and learned more about the field.

“I have always been involved in the arts as a kid,” Larsen said. “Then I came to MSU and I had my journalism major, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with just that. After joining Telecasters and SideShow, I wanted to get more involved.”

Larsen always liked documentaries because they went further into telling stories and resonated with people a little more. She enjoys how one documentary can cover so much and bring out the layers of an issue.

She said the difference between her crew’s coverage of Flint and every other major news outlet was their angle. The networks were covering the city of Flint based on the government. Larsen and her crew covered Flint based on the people.

“Everybody can relate to someone else,” Larsen said. “You can emphasize with someone and try to understand their tragedy. Everyone has a story worth telling. So to me, it’s a mission to find these stories that are untold and tell them in a way that’s never been done before.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Journalism alumnus shares stories of adventure and inspiration in his latest book

Posted on: February 8, 2017

51AHBfJ+4+L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Some people wait their entire lives to do the things they said they always wanted to try – like fly a plane, canoe through the Everglades, or ride in a hot air balloon. Michigan State University journalism alumnus Chuck Werle (‘58) wants to help people check off goals on their bucket list and encourage them to add new ones they’d never thought about before.

In between life as an award-winning public relations professional, Werle made the time to travel. He’s visited all 50 states and 11 countries, where he shared unique experiences with family and friends, and even attended local events, like the World Chicken Plucking Championship in Spring Hill, Fla.

In 2015, the seasoned traveler released his book A Lifetime in Reverse: What’s on YOUR bucket list?  Werle said his goal is to inspire people to think about their bucket list in a new way by inviting people to read about a few of his adventures, including some he took with his wife and sons.

The book is divided into two parts: “Mine” and “Yours.”

“The first part of the book is all about my experiences over 30-some years, and then the second part of the book is briefer,” said Werle.

The second part lists 70 events or experiences that a person could have done, and can still do, in their life. The list includes five different categories – personal, humor, adventure travel, career/occupation, sports and hobbies – with goals like stage a surprise party, donate blood and more.

Werle’s inspiration for the book came from the well-known film “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Released in 2008, the movie tells the story of two dying men who set out to accomplish the things they never got around to doing before they were diagnosed with cancer.

“It was all about, from their standpoint, (the) crazy things that they wanted to do that were really dangerous and they just had a great time, so they just kept adding to the list, so to speak,” said Werle. “I thought for years about that and I said, ‘You know, it’s a shame they only wanted to do all that stuff down the road instead of all the things that might have happened to them during their lifetime’.”

The more he thought about it, the more his thoughts gelled into a book idea. Werle submitted a pitch to Amazon Create Space and was offered a deal. One year later, the book was complete.

Today, Werle lives in North Carolina, where he’s been for the last 17 years. He helps other authors and writers by editing and promoting their work. He is also writing his third nonfiction book, this one is about crisis communication – his area of specialty in the field of public relations. In fact, the last time Werle visited East Lansing, he had been invited to speak to public relations and journalism students about his work in crisis communication.

Are you trying to find the motivation to take chances and seize extraordinary opportunities? Check out Werle’s book and more on his website.

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Grad credits full-time position in LA to MSU experiences and AWSM

Posted on: February 2, 2017

hannaHanna Sprague ran out to her car after work one day during the fall of her senior year to complete a phone interview with PRO Sports Communications in Los Angeles. In just a matter of weeks, she was offered an internship with the company and enthusiastically accepted.

“I knew, sitting in my car, only 5 minutes into the conversation that this company embodied everything I wanted in a career,” Sprague said.

Sprague was the president of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) group at Michigan State University and said joining the organization gave her so many opportunities in college for her future career.

Every year, there is an internship pool for AWSM. Sprague applied in the public relations category in the fall of 2015, which is how she got connected with PRO Sports Communications.

“The process went by quickly, but also seamlessly,” Sprague said. “I remember I just kept thinking, this is going to be my path.”

She moved out to Los Angeles the second week of August 2016, after graduating in May and spending the early part of the summer participating in the School of Journalism’s first-ever sports journalism study abroad program in Europe. At PRO Sports, she was told right away that she would never have an intern title.

“My internship actually turned into a full time job and I already have a manager title,” Sprague said. “To see how far I’ve come both personally and professionally is just absolutely incredible.”

Before Sprague moved out to LA for her internship with PRO Sports Communications and prior to being promoted to, now, a senior manager, she worked for the athletic office at MSU – a position she was offered even before starting her freshman year.

“This shaped every experience I had at MSU,” Sprague said. “There were some amazing opportunities that I was lucky enough to be exposed to.”

She also had a job with the Detroit Tigers Foundation event staff.

“At MSU, I worked more on the PR side and being the liaison between entities,” Sprague said. “With the Detroit Tigers, I was raising money for certain causes and tasks similar to that. So, in a way, they were the same experiences, just a different skillset.”

Now, Sprague works a lot on the social and digital side of public relations.

“It’s great using social media to promote change and using it for a bigger purpose than I am used to,” Sprague said.

One of the great aspects about working at her company is that PRO Sports Communications emphasized that titles don’t matter in regards to responsibilities and open communication.

“From day one, I have sat in on every meeting and phone call,” Sprague said. “I never felt like an intern. I knew at that point I wanted to be a part of this company, because of how their management team ran internal processes.”

Half of her responsibilities include client work and the other half working on new sales pitches.

“We try to set up meetings with places we can help create an impact with,” Sprague said. “Working with different athletes and organizations has been incredibly beneficial to me.”

Sprague’s advice is to focus on getting experience in college, and not so much on the paycheck, even though sometimes it can be hard to do.

“The paycheck doesn’t matter as much at this point in your life, so focus on doing everything you can to get that great experience,” Sprague said. “Treating people right is also so important. Stay in touch with people and get to know who they are, and don’t only reach out when you need something.”

Sprague also discussed how being a Spartan gives you connections and friends all over the world, which helps when moving to new places.

“When I moved out to LA, I didn’t know a single person,” Sprague said. “But for the first football game, I thought, I am going to go to an alumni restaurant. I walk inside to the fight song playing and it was all decorated in green and white. Not too long after, a few fellow Spartans invited me to their table – it was incredible.”

By Meg Dedyne





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Publishing internship leads to full time job in San Francisco

Posted on: January 13, 2017

courtney fullCourtney Kendler always knew that she wanted to go into publishing, so when she was offered a publicity and marketing internship with North Atlantic Books in San Francisco, she jumped at the opportunity to pursue her passion.

In the spring of 2016, Kendler would spend hours at a local bookstore in Lansing, going down the many rows of books and writing down every publishing house she could find. Afterward, she went to their websites and applied to every summer internship she could find. North Atlantic Books gave her the offer she’d been waiting for.

“I was really proactive,” Kendler said. “There is just so much research that goes into finding an internship and it’s so time-heavy. I think I spent an accumulation of days applying.”

At North Atlantic Books, Kendler worked on monitoring and analyzing social media trends and strategies, went to book fairs and wrote blog posts for the company. She also researched media outlets to find the best approaches for pitching books and worked on the company’s marketing campaign.

“I learned so much,” Kendler said. “I learned about social media and that there is so much more that goes into marketing behind the scenes, especially with social media. This internship really opened up my eyes.”

Kendler said she was always interested in the editorial track.

“I always had an interest in editing,” Kendler said. “I love to read. Publishing just seemed like a great fit for me.”

When looking for internships or jobs out of state, Kendler recommends using universities or colleges in the area as a resource.

“I think it’s always tough having to start over in a new place, but having resources like college campuses helps,” Kendler said. “When I interned in New York, I stayed at NYU and now in San Francisco, I am staying on the University of California, Berkeley campus. This has helped me in so many ways.”

Kendler encourages people to not let fear of starting over discourage them from moving out of state.

“This experience has been a great learning opportunity for me,” Kendler said. “And if people are nervous, there are so many alumni associations you can join just about anywhere. There are so many people to reach out to and get to know.”

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in May of 2016, but prior to that, she  received a bachelor’s degree in digital media arts and technology in 2012.

She waited to do her internship requirement for her journalism degree until this past summer just in case there was an opportunity for her to continue at the company after her internship.

When her internship at North Atlantic Books came to an end, an opportunity actually came up just down the road in San Francisco at New Harbinger Publications, where she is currently doing marketing and event coordination.

“Everyone says it’s who you know, but it really is,” Kendler said. “A woman I worked with at North Atlantic told me that her husband worked at New Harbinger. After getting in contact with him, he interviewed me for the position I currently have. It couldn’t have worked out better.”

Kendler learned that networking is more than just something you hear about in your classes.

“Someone that you meet through an internship, or college or anywhere could have an impact on your life,” Kendler said. “The woman who helped me get the job I have now was someone I didn’t talk to that much, but ultimately helped define my future. Definitely get to know people you work with.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Michigan State Journalism School Creates Strategic Motion Capture Partnership with Noitom Ltd.

Posted on: January 4, 2017


We are surrounded by body language, in every moment of every day. From passing the time people watching at the airport, or observing how co-workers are reacting during a meeting, we are being perceptive – and possibly reactive – to our reading of body language.

The Michigan State School of Journalism is leading by globally pushing the boundaries of fact-based storytelling, from multimedia to the visuals of photography and video. The newest frontier of powerful journalistic storytelling is Motion Capture, helping journalists document and produce layered stories. Motion Capture reads and documents body language, pairing state-of-the-art professional technology with one of the oldest forms of communication in all species on our planet.

The addition of Motion Capture technology, and the new Immersive Media newsroom, brings MSU’s J-School to the forefront of innovating newsgathering. Noitom’s Perception Motion Capture system will be part of MSU’s program, thanks to a groundbreaking partnership reached with the China-based company in early December.

“We are extremely excited about this opportunity working with you and anticipate all of the innovative possibilities that lie ahead,” said Susy Ferrer of Noitom.

MSU’s JRN 492, Motion Capture for Storytelling, course and the Animation and Comics in Storytelling Media minor, open to all undergraduates at MSU, will use Noitom’s systems.

“Our students in MSU Journalism’s animation and motion capture courses are already utilizing the Perception Neuron technology and suits and have been excited to watch their characters come to life in real time,” said lead Motion Capture/Immersive Journalism Professor Stacey Fox. “We are excited to partner with Noitom Perception Neuron as we increase our motion capture technology offerings for students and build our animation, sports and immersive journalism programs.”

Motion capture comes in many forms. The basic principle has a subject’s movement recorded within 3-D space, such as MSU’s new Immersive Media room, using Perception Neuron’s 32 inertial sensors (called “neurons”) placed at specific joints on a body.  The information is transmitted to a computer, where the animator works to render the 3-D image into a dynamic format for different platforms of journalism.

“There are so many exciting and intriguing possibilities with this technology,” said Professor Joanne C. Gerstner, the Michigan State’s Sports Journalist in Residence. “Having the Perception Neuron as a storytelling tool allows us to teach students to be even more revelatory in their storytelling. Instead of simply describing a big sports play, we can take it to the level of showing the bio-mechanics to take the audience truly inside.”

For more information contact Professor Stacey Fox sfox@msu.edu or visit https://msuanimation.com

By Savannah Swix

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Michigan State Journalism School Creates Strategic Partnership with Viar360 Virtual Reality Platform

Posted on: December 14, 2016

Imagine picking up your mobile phone and tapping a link.

With one click, you are immersed into the past, drawn to the present, or flown forward to the predicted future. Your smartphone transforms into a nuanced storytelling tool, providing a 360-degree view - under your power – to choose how the story unfolds.

The Michigan State University School of Journalism is in the global forefront of teaching and using 360-immersive technology to enhance storytelling. The next evolution of Michigan State’s leading Immersive Journalism program will happen in Spring 2017, as the school will partner with the new Viar360 platform to create interactive stories for mobile platforms.

Students will be creating immersive content packages for animation, news and sports, through the innovative Viar360 platform. Michigan State Journalism students already have started using the platform, producing content for the MI First Election, the school’s 2016 election cycle multimedia website.

Scheduled Spring 2017 semester journalism courses will have students authoring content using the Viar360 platform for interactive immersive experiences for the public.

“We are excited to have Viar360 as one of our strategic partners in our ever-growing Immersive Journalism initiative at Michigan State University,” said School of Journalism faculty member Professor Stacey Fox, who heads the Immersive Journalism initiative. “Our students are enthusiastically crafting on a platform that allows them to create deep-dive, interactive 360-degree stories for the world.”

Professor Joanne C. Gerstner, the School of Journalism’s Sports Journalist in Residence, added. “Having our sports journalism students working with Viar360’s innovative technology enables us to teach them new storytelling techniques. Our goal is to deepen the interactive experience of strong journalism. We’re all very excited for this opportunity to create dynamic, layered projects.”

Viar Inc. is a content management system company for virtual reality, based in Slovenia and Seattle. Their new Viar360 platform allows the storyteller to create 360-degree cinematic virtual reality interactive experiences for mobile platforms.

“VIAR is incredibly excited to partner with a prestigious journalistic school such as Michigan State University’s School of Journalism. We wish to enable storytellers to tell their stories through the powerful new medium with ease. Together we will build a tool for creating powerful stories even better than ever before,” said Dejan Gajsek, Product Manager & CMO, VIAR, Inc.

For information on Viar360: http://www.viar360.com/

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Journalism senior finds passion in creativity and traveling through MSU department

Posted on: December 2, 2016

When journalism senior Haywood Liggett started as the communications assistant for MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, he was responsible for writing stories and creating content for other communications materials. Now, he does everything from writing stories and creating videos for their YouTube channel to designing graphics.

How did he acquire all of these skills? Persistence and self-teaching.

“I realized I’m capable of more than I initially thought,” Liggett said. “I was originally hired as a writer, but then they needed someone with video experience. They asked me if I had any experience with Adobe Premiere. I didn’t, but I just kind of learned.”

Liggett said a similar situation occurred when the graphic design intern, who was working in the office, went on a study abroad and Liggett’s co-workers were asking who was going to take on that role. He didn’t have experience with graphic design, but the need in his office inspired him to learn, starting by taking classes studying Adobe InDesign and Illustrator.

“I think I enjoy design the most, which really surprised me,” Liggett said. “I didn’t think of myself as an artistic person, but lately I have really been diving into design.”

The stories Liggett writes for the department contain topics that have to do with facilities on campus, such as new buildings or ongoing construction.

He found the position on MySpartanCareer, which has been replaced with Handshake: a tool to help MSU students find internship, part-time and full time jobs. He interviewed for the position and was hired on last March. Later, Liggett’s supervisor told him that what stood out in his interview was his strong work ethic and the fact that he said he was ready to dig in and improve his skills, while benefitting their department at MSU.

“I’m not that special, but I work really hard and always hope that stands out,” Liggett said.

Last month, the Adobe MAX Conference, an event focused on creativity and inspiration, was in San Diego. Liggett was able to attend on behalf of the department because of the initiative he showed as an intern to learn how to use the Adobe Creative Suite. At the conference, he sat in on breakout classes where he learned how to enhance his creative skills.

“I learned so much from that conference and met people from all over the world,” Liggett said. “I’ve always been kind of awkward and felt like I didn’t fit in certain places, but at that conference, there were a bunch of people that were just like me. They were all creative people that were willing to learn and think outside of the box.”

Liggett said he spoke with others at the conference and he learned that it’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do. He advises students not to stress about having the perfect plan figured out.

“I honestly don’t know exactly what I want to do after graduation. Some days I like writing, some days I like video and some days I really like design. I love interviewing people,” said Liggett. “I learned it’s okay not to know. I learned it’s important to develop yourself and see where life takes you. The conference really showed me how big the world is, with meeting new people.”

He said he wants to explore different career options and to travel abroad.

“I love meeting people and really want to see what else is out there career wise,” Liggett said.

His advice is to not be afraid to be yourself and to find something you enjoy or something you are good at and pursue it.

“I think if you enjoy what you are doing everyday, you will be happier in the long run,” Liggett said. “Following your passion is extremely important.”

By Meg Dedyne

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