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Statewide and Online Sponsors Traverse City Film Festival, Jim Crow Museum, School of Digital Media Demonstrate Excellence

Ferris State University
PHOTO CAPTION (ABOVE): Prints from the David Levinthal collection, recently presented as a gift to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, were displayed Saturday, July 28 at the Open Space in Traverse City. This showing was made in conjunction with Ferris State University's Statewide and Online division's sponsorship of the 14th annual Traverse City Film Festival, at the TCFF Founder's Party.

Programs in the School of Digital Media and the Ferris Statewide and Online office of Extended and International Operations, under the university’s Office of Academic Affairs, gave glowing reports, following their participation in the Traverse City Film Festival from Saturday, July 28 through Saturday, Aug. 4.

Steven Reifert, dean of EIO, said Ferris Statewide and Online was an Opportunity Sponsor for the 14th annual TCFF, which reported attendance to be 122,000 for this year’s events.

“We are interested in building up community involvement in the Traverse City area in hopes that we might approach the level of programmatic and philanthropic support Ferris receives in greater Grand Rapids,” Reifert said. “All of the events we attended at the festival were jam-packed. I was so pleased to receive such a positive response to Ferris since I was wearing university gear in Traverse City while visiting festival venues.”

Ferris Statewide and Online had strong representation from a variety of university officials at the festival’s Founder’s Party on Saturday, July 28, which was held at the Open Space in Traverse City. Reifert said the Jim Crow Museum’s recent acquisition of prints from noted photographer David Levinthal were on display in their tent.

“This was the first public exhibition of any of the Levinthal prints,” Reifert said. “Since they are literally Polaroid images, there are concerns about possible damage through exposure to light, but we avoided any logistical challenges. The Levinthal prints we displayed were very well received.”

There were films produced by Ferris Television and Digital Media Production students exhibited that day at the Bijou Theatre by the Bay, according to TDMP Professor and Department Chair Glen Okonoski.

“This was a 22-minute compilation of TDMP student projects that were produced as coursework, which we thought demonstrated some of the excellence that our program Ferris State Universityexhibits,” Okonoski said. “All of the works we featured were quality productions, but, ‘Our Pain,’ Garret Morgan’s story of a teenage heroin addict’s life and recovery efforts with her mother’s help was very touching as was ‘Little Victor,’ Danielle Will’s presentation on Molly Baldwin’s battle against tumors on her optic nerve due to neurofibromatosis.”

The other student productions presented were “Beauty,” submitted by Megan DiLeo, and Sid Sabo and Andrew Waltman’s collaboration, “The Juicy Blade.” Okonoski said TDMP faculty have established a schedule of exhibitions for student projects throughout the calendar year.

“Our instructors consider a wide variety of submissions, which we exhibit each November, and there is another showing in February as part of the Big Rapids Festival of the Arts,” Okonoski said. “We are pleased to have so much quality material that an exhibition of short films was possible at the TCFF.”

Digital Animation and Game Design skills were front and center throughout the festival, with visitors to the Founder’s Day exhibition tents getting a chance to experience kayaking on the Grand River, thanks to a virtual reality display created by DAGD student Justin Evans.

“The virtual reality tent was a thrill for those who put on the VR goggles, along with those who watched the participants,” Reifert said. “We certainly had some laughs, observing the participant’s reactions to the display.”

DAGD students and program coordinator David Baker were presenters as part of the TCFF Film School on Friday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 5. Baker said the team who created RAD led a discussion session and demonstration of their 3D platforming game. RAD was a finalist entry in the Electronic Entertainment Expo’s College Game Competition in Los Angeles this past June.

“Our four main developers and members of the RAD support team all came to Traverse City for this seminar,” Baker said. “Each of them talked about their contributions to the design and production of the game, focusing on their individual aspect. I was very pleased to have them get a chance to speak about their experience this summer, and the entire university should be proud of the excellence that RAD represents.”

Baker also made a presentation Saturday afternoon, Aug. 5, entitled “Animation: Past, Present and Future.”

“It was amazing seeing what our students, faculty and university were able to offer the festival through their works,” Reifert said. “Bringing the message of Ferris and its mission to Traverse City will, we hope, only encourage more students to join us and lead to even greater accomplishments.”

PHOTO CAPTION: (Top row, against screen, from left) Tyler Burke of Shelbyville, Brandt Howard of Wayland, Tyler Nguyen, of Grand Rapids; and Paul Chamberlain, of Three Rivers; along with (Bottom Row, facing screen, from left) Mike Salegh, of Millers Falls, New York; Kenton Reynolds, of Grand Rapids; and Rachel Hughey, of Kalamazoo, were presenters on Friday, Aug. 3 at the Traverse City Film Festival's Film School. All these Ferris State University Digital Animation and Game Design students spoke about their participation in the Electronic Entertainment Expo College Game Competition, where their 3D platforming game, "RAD," was a Top 7 Finalist.