Students unleash creativity with Studio Dynamix

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Wed., Jun. 1, 2011
Rob Lamagna reminds student Gabriella Maloni to say 'Action' as she directs a movie she wrote for Studio Dynamix, an afterschool class through Educational Resources for Children. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.
Rob Lamagna reminds student Gabriella Maloni to say 'Action' as she directs a movie she wrote for Studio Dynamix, an afterschool class through Educational Resources for Children. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.

Where can middle school students use state-of-the-art equipment to create movies, music videos, commercials, public service announcements and animations? At JFK Middle School in Enfield. Through Educational Resources for Children’s after-school program, JFK students have the opportunity to participate in a class called Studio Dynamix.

The class is taught by Rob Lamagna whose background is in movies. As an electrical engineer, Lamagna implemented equipment for movie studios and worked with companies including Disney and Universal Studios. He initially developed a program for ERFC called The Making of Technology, but later expanded it to include Studio Dynamix.

“Studio Dynamix is unique,” said Claire Hall, executive director at ERFC. “The kinds of equipment we have are often not available to students, even in college.” The program began five years ago, and the studio was built a year later. Hall said it was all made possible through funding from Mass Mutual, the Connecticut Department of Education and Cox Charities.

Students rotate through various jobs, learning to work video cameras, microphones, lighting and audio and mixing boards. They also work on computers, using a 3-D rendering software called Poser to create their own avatars and other animated projects.

What Hall and Lamagna love most about the class is that students are learning without realizing it. “They read, write and socialize,” Hall said. “They have no idea they are truly learning because it’s project-based.”

In writing their own scripts and storyboards, students hone language arts skills. Lamagna incorporates science by taking apart microphones and other equipment to show students how the technology actually works.

Studio Dynamix is also a way for students to let loose and use their imaginations. Gabriella Maloni, a seventh-grader who is working on a film she wrote called “Twisted Revenge,” said the class is “a way to get energy and creativity out.”

“They’re able to use the studio to voice things,” Hall said. When students come in after school, she said you can see the stresses from the day and watch them interpret those into their work.

Deanna Capp, a special education aide, works with students to create PSAs. The most recent one was related to bullying. Capp takes time to discuss the focus with students and allow them to share experiences related to the subject. She said many of the issues she worried about in middle school are still present in her students.

Hall and Lamagna have plans to develop Studio Dynamix even further. They want to bring back high school students who are interested in volunteering, tie the current newspaper club into the studio and also get the middle school students out into the community. If transportation can be found, students have ideas to do news reporting on community events, as well as create and film commercials for local businesses.

Much of the work created in Studio Dynamix can be viewed on ERFC’s website, www.erfc.us, via the link for Studio Dynamix. Lamagna plans to rework the site in the near future for easier access to students’ work.


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