Academic Technology - Florida State College at Jacksonville

Academic Technology


Taking Better Selfies!

Photos, Student ContentRobyn Reese

In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, taking flattering selfies seems like an important life (or even career) skill. Each day, when scrolling through my social feeds, I see well-composed photos of people at the springs, in front of famous monuments, or snuggling with their super adorable pets. I have to admit that this annoys me slightly because I am HORRIBLE at taking selfies. In fact, I sometimes feel like I am the only Millenial who cannot manage to hold my phone out at the right angle and compose my face so I look gently happy and in possession of the right number of chins. Granted, I am kind of an old Millenial, but I refuse to believe that I am as old as I look in my selfies.  

When discussing this with my coworkers, who are depicted in the lovely images below, I was told that awesome selfie-taking is not some sort of crazy voodoo magic, but rather is a skill that can be learned through practice and the application of a few simple principles, as explained below. 

  1. Know your Angles It turns out that "your good side" isn't really a myth! Take some time to look at yourself in the mirror (or on your camera's screen) to determine how to hold your face in a way that you think is most flattering. Generally, people who take good selfies are making the same face, at the same angle, in all of their photos. They are not necessarily naturally photogenic, they have just figured out how to work what they have. You have "it", too, you just need to find "it".  
  2. Camera Placement This is somewhat of a controversial issue. Many people believe that holding the camera out and slightly up can keep you from exhibiting the dreaded five chins. It can also produce odd shadows on your face, though, and it can look a bit forced. Alternatively, holding the camera on the same level as your face, and within two feet of it, can produce a nice look. To keep your face sharp while snapping an image, poke your chin out and down while shoving your shoulders down into your back and away from your ears (remember, beauty is pain).
  3. Lighting is Everything  Proper lighting can change the look of the planes of your face, the texture of your hair, and the quality of your skin. Natural lighting is best for photography, and especially flattering is the "Golden Hour" around sunrise and sunset. If taking a photo in the middle of the day, try to keep the harsh sun behind you, but use your head as a natural block of the actual sun to avoid overexposure. Avoid fluorescent or harsh lighting at all costs--if taking photos inside, try to find a window or skylight with slightly filtered natural lighting.
  4. Background Choice Your background should reflect the purpose of the shot and should be thoughtfully chosen. If you want to document your visit to a fabulous location, focus on making that the focal point of the photo by holding the camera further away from you and experimenting with different viewpoints until you find something that looks interesting. If you just want to show off your outfit or a new haircut, keep background distractions to a minimum.
  5. Take a Million Shots Great photos don't happen by accident. Usually, that perfect image seen on your friend's Instagram is just one of twenty slightly different takes on the same subject. The burst feature on your phone's camera can really come in handy here, as it will allow your phone to take a series of photos while you focus on voguing.  Try moving the camera up and down, or rotating the phone and your body on an axis.  Be experimental! This is supposed to be fun (at least, that's what I hear).
  6. When All Else Fails, Filter!  Postproduction is always important! Instagram and Snapchat come with tons of built in filters to change the coloring of an image, or to blur it to mask tiny imperfections. I am also a big fan of the Adobe Photoshop Fix mobile app, which allows you to adjust color, fix blemishes, cut out backgrounds, and even use a clone stamp tool to remove tiny distractions. 

Good luck, happy selfie-ing, and don't forget to smize! 


Behind the Scenes of 2017's Commencement Livestream!

DMP, On Location, Photos, Student ContentRobyn Reese

Digital Media Productions (with a little bit of help from Educational Technology) was responsible for live streaming FSCJ's annual Commencement exercises, held at the Veterans' Memorial Arena on May 11, 2017. Live streaming enables students' families and support systems to watch the commencement from anywhere in the world via or Facebook live. This year's stream was viewed by over 3,500 people in 38 different countries! 

Live streaming requires the use of ten people, three cameras, several computers, yards of cables, and hours of preparation! View the carousel of images below to get a look behind the scenes at the process of setup and filming. 

Future Digital Media students

DMP, PhotosRobin Herriff

Today the Digital Media Productions studio was full of excitement as magnet TV Production students from the Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology came to visit and talk about their futures, FSCJ's program offerings, and possible careers.  The students asked great questions and even got a chance to get in front of the cameras for a change.  We're looking forward to seeing many of them back in our studios as FSCJ students in the near future!

DMP Behind the Scenes: Diversity videos

DMP, PhotosMark Hubbard

When the client asks to have four of the same person on screen at once and your cloning machine is in the shop, what do you do? Use a green screen of course! 

We started off by filming each person 4 times. After each "actor" would read their line, we would read out the other lines to give the talent a sense of timing and direct them to look left and right to sell the effect of them all being there with each other.

After filming was complete I uploaded the clips into Adobe After Effects and composited them into the scene together. From there is was just a matter of matching the timing between the clips and animating a virtual camera to move between each character.

The final touch was making them look like paper cut-outs. This actually took me a while to figure out. I tried so many different things but they all looked bad. Then I realized it was actually a super easy solution! I won't bore you with the nitty gritty on that, but it's always good to remember when you're banging your head against the wall and coming up empty, take a step back. Go for a quick walk and clear your head. Then Google the correct answer and realize how easy it actually was. ;)

Click here to see the finished videos.

In Focus LIVE - Behind the Scenes...

In Focus, PhotosRobin Herriff

There's a lot more that goes into a live show than you'd probably expect.  That includes a whole team that works hard to make Marc and Brandi look so good!  In addition to a lot of pre-planning, the "day of" studio crew includes camera and teleprompter operators, a producer, engineer and the show's technical director who calls the shots.  Once the show's done, an editor cleans up the recorded copy and adds captions to make sure the information is accessible to all of our faculty and staff.  We're planning more LIVE In Focus shows this summer, so if you've got suggestions or ideas for topics you'd like us to cover, please let us know at

Bosnia List productions

Photos, NewsRobin Herriff

The Academic Technology team was proud to be a part of the College's 2016 Author Series this year.  Projects included coordinating and recording an interview with a local survivor of the Bosnian War, and profiling the Escape Room, a gamified look into author Kenan Trebincevic's journey back to his homeland, created by Professor Amy Baskin.