Dordt College News

Media students get a local gig

May 18, 2011

Gary Huitsing, Brett Leyendekker, and Aaron Yoder figure they made about 34 cents an hour on a video project this year, but if asked whether the experience was worth it?


The three digital media majors created a nearly hour-long video for the Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee to showcase Sioux County farming.

The Chamber’s agriculture committee and, in particular, local veterinarian and Chamber member Dr. Fred Sick have been dreaming about something like this for a long time. Sick regularly gets asked about Sioux County agriculture, has taken numerous visitors on tours, and even recalls taking a busload of people from Ireland around the county to show the variety and quality of local agriculture.

“With modern practices, it is becoming harder and harder to get on farms today,” he says. Farmers are afraid of spreading contamination from one farm to another. So he began thinking of other ways to show what Sioux County has to offer.

“Because Sioux County is known for its agriculture, many people want to know more about us,” says Tricia (Fynaardt, ’08) Schreier, who works for the Chamber. “We’re doing something that others think they may want to be part of.”

The video captures visits to eight different farming operations in Sioux County. Episodes include beef, goats, dairy, crops, sheep, eggs (laying hens), chickens (broilers), and pigs. Touring all of these farms would take six to eight hours; the video gives an engaging and informative virtual tour in 52 minutes.

Sick and Schreier are both pleased with the result.

Huitsing, Leyendekker, and Yoder are pleased too, both with the final result and with what they learned. Yoder served as the producer, Huitsing and Leyendekker as cameramen and editors.

“This project let me combine my agriculture-business major and digital media production minor,” says Leyendekker, the first person enlisted for the project. “Ever since my first semester, I’ve wondered how my major and minor could come together.”  He adds that he learned more about both agriculture and about film production as a result of the video.

“We learned a lot more than we would have only in a classroom,” says Huitsing, acknowledging that they put a lot more time into it than a class normally would require.

The team began by determining when the video needed to be completed and then carefully scheduled shooting and editing to be able to make their deadline, writing weekly reports to keep themselves accountable.

“We basically worked the schedule backward,” says Huitsing.

All three students say they expanded and polished their filming and editing skills, and they learned a great deal about working with clients.

“People don’t really understand how much is involved in setting up for a shoot,” says Yoder. He and his teammates came to understand why professionals might charge for cancelled filming time and changes following the final screening. Every session had to be carefully scheduled and planned. Equipment had to be reserved, decisions made about cues and questions to ask, and attention paid to when they would shoot so there would be continuity in the setting and lighting. This was especially important since they filmed the eight farms on eight consecutive Mondays—fortunately on eight sunny fall days.

“I came to understand that the sooner you realize that problems will likely arise, the better you can prepare yourself for them when they do occur,” says Leyendekker about the valuable lessons he learned doing the project.

The students give credit to both tour host Andy Schuttinga’s on-camera hosting and Professor Mark Volkers’ mentoring for their success.

“Andy made everyone comfortable. He asked good and natural questions, was witty, and kept things moving,” say the students.

They also credit the work environment in the digital media lab, where Volkers is usually available to help and answer questions and where students help each other solve problems and come up with creative solutions.

“It’s a sweet little place to hang out if you like media,” says Huitsing. “When I think about what I know now and what I knew coming into the program, it’s unbelievable.”

Reflecting on what they’re learning and looking to the future, Yoder says, “I’m excited to see what Dordt digital media graduates will be able to do in the next 15 years.” He and his fellow students take very seriously Volkers’ oft-used admonition to “create content worth consuming.”


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