Studio Q, one year later

Gains and losses visible one year after amalgamation of three campus services

QTV, YDS, and Convocation Services amalgamated last year to form Studio Q.
QTV, YDS, and Convocation Services amalgamated last year to form Studio Q.
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Studio Q’s first year on campus “was a year for learning,” said Lauren Abramsky, the service’s head manager.

She’s spent the past year overseeing the amalgamation of Queen’s TV (QTV), Yearbook & Design Services (YDS) and Convocation Services under its new name, Studio Q.

The services were amalgamated late last year due to the overlap between YDS and QTV.  Since then, staff members have expressed both concern due to cuts to QTV’s news content and optimism about the direction of the service in the future.

Emma Fuller, ArtSci ’16, last year’s Executive Producer for QTV and the AMS’s current Media Services Director, was part of the team that spearheaded the merger. Fuller says they intended to create more content by combining two creative services under one roof.

Convocation Services’ operating expenses already included advertising services from QTV, so it also became part of the amalgamated service.

One of the largest changes that came out of the merger was the removal of mandated news content and broadcasting that QTV had previously offered. Prior to the amalgamation, QTV had four to five mandated news segments per week, according to Fuller.

“Videos take way more effort, so instead of weekly mandated content, the volunteers kind of got to choose what they wanted to focus on,” Abramsky said.

She said this year’s documentary on the Queen’s triathlon was an example of the new projects that have come out of the freedom offered to volunteers.

The 13-minute film, a joint effort of volunteers, staff and management, took months to film and produce. It went on to be screened at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival in February 2016.

Prior to the amalgamation, QTV had a team of six managers responsible for the production of videos under their specialized sections.

QTV produced around 58 videos last year. This year, Studio Q has produced between 10 and 15 videos.

“That’s a drastic number difference but since we weren’t mandating [them], it’s actually pretty impressive,” Abramsky said.

Aside from the triathlon documentary, this year’s videos have included a “Profs Read Mean USAT’s” video, coverage of Homecoming, St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day and segments on campus clubs like Queen’s varsity sailing and the varsity rowing team.

Last year, Fuller held a meeting to inform QTV staff that the service would be amalgamated into Studio Q and that mandated news content would be removed from the service.

“What I remember telling them is that the opportunity to make videos was still going to exist. It was just going to be more up to the volunteers to take that initiative,” Fuller said.

When the news first broke, QTV alumni were highly critical of the changes in an interview with The Journal last January. Eugene Michasiw, QTV’s Executive Producer in 2011-12, said he was “shocked” and “saddened” by the removal of mandated editorial content, while Daniel Szczepanek, QTV’s Executive Producer in 2010-11, said it would leave The Journal as the only “true media outlet on campus.”

Some staff also expressed concerns. Studio Q Video Factory staff member Madison Pincombe created a video “From QTV to Q,” where several staff members expressed discontent about the removal of news broadcasting from the service.

Travis Rhee, CompSci ’16, a current Video Factory Manager at Studio Q, was one of the employees featured in the video. He spoke with The Journal about his views on the merger.

“I was both intrigued and disappointed,” said Rhee, who served as the Business Manager for QTV from 2012-13 and Executive Producer in 2014.

He was surprised by how quickly the merger happened.

“[In] my year, we had a discussion with our Media Services Director at the time, and this is something that I actually almost envisioned maybe happening in five years,” he said.

Rhee said he and other students were most disappointed with the loss of news in QTV, which he called a “casualty” for the service.

“That was a good part of what Queen’s TV was. It wasn’t just, you know, corporate videos and the livestream,” he said.

While QTV had six managers with at least five volunteers underneath them producing structured content for their specific section, Rhee said such a system no longer exists.

“When Studio Q came in they got rid of all that and essentially just made, I think, one manager, as the Volunteer Video Manager ... it wasn’t news anymore. It was more kind of do-what-you-want.”

Despite this, he said he’s pleased that the service has become more accessible to volunteers and that Live Content Manager Sarah Muma has been proactive in getting people interested in volunteering.

“They did cut a lot of the resources that she had, but considering what she was given, she has been doing a really good job,” he said.

Those cuts weren’t necessarily as sweeping as Rhee suggests. Fuller said almost 90 per cent of film equipment remained with Studio Q, although two DSLR cameras were transferred to The Journal to allow the newspaper to expand its video content.

In the upcoming year, Studio Q will hire a video manager to build additional content. According to Abramsky, they’ll also be implementing feedback gathered throughout the year to improve the service in the future.

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