New equipment enhances education

Mass Communication welcomed a new, innovative production van into the department last week and the prospect of additional equipment investments.

“This is one of the first production vans like this at any nearby university,” said Steve Sandlin, Chief Engineer for the department. “It’s something to be proud of.”

The van, including all of the internal equipment, cost $100,000, bringing the total cost of new investments to roughly $300,000.

“It speaks highly of our administration that they decided to fund our department so heavily,” Sandlin said.

According to Sandlin, the department has wanted a remote production van for the last eight years, but had little budget to purchase one.

He said the school finally saw enough justification to buy one this year.

Sandlin said that he solicited input from various Mass Communication professors and professionals to help him design the van before ordering it from a company that specializes in production trucks.

“It’s the first 2007 Dodge Sprinter to go into service as a production truck,” he said.

Sandlin said the department ordered the van rack-ready, complete with equipment racks, a diesel engine and air conditioning. He just has to install the new and old audio and visual equipment – a process that will take the next six to eight weeks – and write the operation manual.

Sandlin said the van was built to be upgradeable, so if the department was to find the funding, new equipment and technology could be added to the van at a later date.

“The van is comparable to vans used in production at smaller broadcasting stations,” he said.

The van will mostly be used for the Multi-Camera Field Production class and various news events.

The class – MCM 379 – will be held next semester and taught by SHSU professor Mel Strait.

“It will let students have experience in the type of equipment they will handle in the field,” Sandlin said.

According to the class description, the course “emphasizes the techniques and approaches to multi-camera directions and production. MCM 379 will train students to adapt to varied projects and circumstances of out-of-studio production including sports, dance, music and special events coverage.”

Professor Strait said that the van gives the class more options.

“We could cover a wider variety of events since we don’t have to tether to electricity,” he said.

Sandlin said Channel 7 News and broadcast news classes could also use the van to cover various sporting events, etc.

“It gives us the ability to go out on the road and tape out-of-town events,” he said.

The old van, which Sandlin said was a former TDCJ van outfitted with equipment, will be retired to the surplus property department. Sandlin said instead of buying all new equipment and technology for the van, he will recycle what the department already has and mix it with new additions.

Sandlin said that besides the van, there will be future upgrades in technology in other areas of the department.

He said the radio station is expected to convert to digital technology, instead of just analog.

He also said that the department will also receive new camcorders, high-definition camcorders and editing suites.

For more information, contact Steve Sandlin at

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