We are excited to share this special interview we did with Yari Rodas, Multimedia Production Specialist at CSULA. Yari is considered an expert in engaging faculty and students with creative video concepts. Goodsides' Co-Founder, Louis Easton, also attended CSULA and graduated with a degree in Television, Film, and Media Studies. We are happy to share some of Yari's expertise and explore how public institutions can benefit from high quality media.
Tell us about your background and position at CSULA.
I’ve been working at Cal State LA for 12 years as a Multimedia Production Specialist. I started as a student assistant working for the department of Information Technology Services (ITS) while I was pursuing my BA in TV and Film. I volunteered for the Multimedia office several times covering campus events (including Commencement) so when the position opened up, I already had the experience I needed for the position. I transferred to Cal State LA from the University of Puerto Rico in 2003. I was in my second year of college and was looking for internship opportunities in TV or Film, but Puerto Rico could only offer newspaper/magazine internships, so I came to California. With the help of some colleagues from Cal State LA, I found my first internship at Esparza/Katz Productions, one of the companies that produced Selena. I went on to work in many indie projects and completed my BA in TV and Film in 2006 and my MA in Media Studies in 2013, both at Cal State LA. I’m a proud Golden Eagle!
How have the last two years been producing media for CSULA?
The pandemic affected all of us. The transition was a bit smoother for those who had already worked remotely (prior to the pandemic), but for those who have jobs that are more hands-on or have never worked remotely, we had to adjust and find alternative ways to do our job. For us, we had the technology, but some of us had never used some of the remote tools. We had to quickly learn how to use most of the web applications that would allow us to stay connected. In multimedia, we had to reinvent the way we produced and edited our projects. We weren’t allowed to come to campus to conduct any recordings, so we were limited to using pre-recorded video, photos, and graphics in our videos.
Since the pandemic, we have produced more animations and used Zoom to record interviews, and Zoom webinars to conduct live events. Closed captioning has always been important for our media to meet accessibility standards, and with the pandemic we have seen an increase in captioning requests, including live captions for webinars and other virtual events. It took time and effort to adjust to these uncertain times, but it was worth it because now we have more tools we can use. It forced us to think outside the box and be even more creative with our resources.
How is media used to engage students, faculty, and staff?
There are many ways media is used to engage with students, faculty, and staff. Instructional videos and video tutorials are helpful to demonstrate processes or breakdown concepts that are difficult to visualize. Keeping an archive of campus events and guest speakers is also a good way to keep the campus community engaged. For those who cannot attend events or would like to revisit them, our YouTube channel holds many videos of campus events about topics relevant to our campus community and the world. This helps keep our community informed as well as engaged in conversations about topics that impact them.
How does media impact recruitment?
Our videos help build awareness of the school and services, and they help keep our campus community engaged. I believe that the more videos we publish, the more our community and adjacent communities learn about us and the services that we provide. This helps in our recruitment efforts.
We create videos that are viewed by people from all over the world, a lot of them are IT video tutorials that people find on YouTube. From YouTube, viewers visit our website and vice versa.
Online video, especially educational videos and content that people find useful, creates traction and helps brand awareness, which in return helps recruitment efforts.
Also, it is very important to us that the communities we serve are represented in our media. This is why we feature our students in our videos, and this hopefully shows those considering Cal State LA that they too belong on our campus.
How do you reach people from a different cultural or social demographic?
I have gained many skills throughout my career. I produce, shoot, and edit videos, as well as create graphic design and motion graphics. I also produce podcasts, record and edit audio, and I have experience creating closed captions and subtitles for video content. Yes, I am bilingual (fluent in English and Spanish) and often translate video content.
Considering that media travels far, it’s very important to translate content to reach diverse populations. Closed captioning makes video accessible also, for deaf and hard of hearing populations, who are otherwise left out of the digital media experience. At the end of the day, to me, it is about access. I want to make content that is accessible, and I want viewers to have a pleasant experience when they watch content that I have produced.
Why should educational institutions (K-12 and Higher Ed) source media from expert videographers?
Advancements in technology have impacted the way people, especially the younger generation, consume media. Technology is so accessible nowadays, that people are using it to create their own good quality content. Our students are used to this. Studies show that the younger generation has a shorter attention span, so when it comes to media production, it is imperative that schools keep up with the trends and meet our students where they are.
If we want to stand out and engage with the communities that we serve, we need to create content that is relevant, looks good, and sounds good.
The goal is not only to attract our audience, but to keep them engaged. I think school administrators see the value in hiring experts to take care of other aspects of their organization. In the same way, I think they should hire an expert to take care of such an important element as media making. They should consider it an investment.
When you have a strong media database, your entire community benefits from it.
Describe what makes a project feel final or complete.
To me, the project is final or complete when it fulfills its purpose, and you meet your client’s expectations. This is why to me it is very important to have a clear idea of what the message is from the beginning. What are you trying to convey with the video or media that you want to create? You and your client need to be on the same page about expectations and limitations. It is important that the project meets its purpose, looks good, sounds good, and that you know that you did your best with the resources that you had.
Why is digital media needed more than ever for public institutions?
As a state university, many of our students come from low-income communities of color, and a lot of them are first-generation college students. It is very important that we make our content easily accessible because our community is already at a disadvantage when it comes to access to information and resources. Also, many of them work multiple jobs and take care of their family, so they don’t have a lot of time to come to campus whenever they need something. Having access to digital archives and resources available remotely is very important to them. Public institutions are in place to serve the larger population and digital media helps us reach beyond our immediate communities.