Lights, Camera, Action!

Posted: April 21, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryann Doyle

A full-time news editor and cameraman at one of the largest television networks, NBC, Don Stumpo still finds time to bring his knowledge and experience to Mason as a part-time communication faculty member.

In the spring, he teaches COMM 399 Electronic News Gathering and Editing, and in the fall, he teaches COMM 399 Videography II.

Students taking Electronic News Gathering and Editing develop the practical skills needed to cover a news assignment with video and audio. Working in groups, students create a 1.5- to 2-minute feature suitable for a webcast or broadcast news program. All completed features are posted on YouTube and on the Mason web.

Don Stumpo
Don Stumpo
Photo courtesy of Don Stumpo

At the beginning of the semester, Stumpo teaches the class how to shoot interviews, cover footage and put feature pieces together. After students grasp the technique, Stumpo allows groups to use class time to work on their project because he understands that students have tight schedules and it is difficult to meet outside the classroom.

Students can choose from popular topics such as Mason Day, the circus and parking issues, or they can submit their own idea.

Videography II teaches students the techniques and theories that enable them to use a camera, lighting and set design to shoot quality video productions. Additionally, students learn how to edit the camera and shoot with the final edited project in mind, as well as how to capture a standard situation on video with quality and effect.

The class creates three group “preparatory projects” to teach students how to produce different sections of a larger project. The final project is one large and comprehensive full-scale production that involves the class as a whole.

“I come up with a master script and assign different sections to different groups. Everyone shoots a part and then puts it together,” explains Stumpo. “They find their own setting and actors and come up with their own interpretation of it.”

Stumpo, who joined Mason in the spring of 2007, enjoys teaching both sections of COMM 399.

“It is fun for me to wear both hats. There are interesting things you can discover when you are doing news, but you can let your mind run free when you are doing scripted work,” says Stumpo.

While the classes are based in the Communication Department, Stumpo opened them up to students from any major because he feels they teach skills that can be useful to everyone.

“It [videography] is something that pops up in your life. At some time you will probably be asked to review, shoot or be a part of a video, and it is a nice skill to have learned. It is also very beneficial to learn how to authenticate and put together information as learned in the Electronic News Gathering and Editing class,” says Stumpo.

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