Students Help With Production of WSO Commercial

Published 10.13.2004


Penn College students%2Fstaff on the set are, from left, student Steven J. Morrison%3B student Joseph C. Hersh%3B staff member (and alumnus) Christopher J. Legarski%3B and student David N. Hull. The cameras in the photo were provided by the College.Pennsylvania College of Technology students played a large role in the production of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra's latest television commercial to promote the symphony's Oct. 12 performance.

The 59-second spot aired locally on 21 channels including CNN, TLC, Nickelodeon, MTV and ESPN from Oct. 1-11. Thirteen students helped with its production. Their titles included writer, editor, production assistant, camera operator and technical director.

"They really had their hands in almost every single department of the production," said Carlos Saldivia, executive producer.

"I've heard wonderful reviews and even the term 'rapturous,'" John J. Blair, marketing coordinator for the WSO, said of the commercial.

Blair said the quality of the television commercial is "like a quantum leap" compared to the symphony's previous television presence.

Saldivia, the owner and operator of First Contact in Williamsport, provided the work without charge to the WSO. The crew totaled about 50 people, who also volunteered their work.

Many of the Penn College students who helped with the production were students in the College's Digital Media Editing class, taught by Bruce E. Huffman, instructor of media arts/video production. Others live near Saldivia in Williamsport.

The students who volunteered are: Tabitha K. Beaver, production (writing), New Columbia; Michael J. Blakeslee, production assistant, New Cumberland; Jean P. Chargois, lead editor, Annville; Matthew A. Demick, production assistant, Reston, Va.; Elke S. Geis, camera operator, Elsenfeld, Germany; Joseph C. Hersh, camera operator, Mountain Top; Andrea C. Herziger, camera operator, Donauwoerth, Germany; Jacob R. Hoover, editor, Williamsport, David N. Hull, camera operator, Annville; Brian E. Kehoe, production assistant, Jacobus; Asa E. Kelley, technical director, Jersey Shore; Daniel N. McKim, production assistant, Hanover; and Steven J. Morrison, production, Howard.

The commercial was shot at the Community Arts Center in two days and was produced from the immediate pre-production planning to post-production editing in two weeks. Penn College students executed all of the editing.

But, Saldivia said: "It's not just a production of students. It's really professional-grade."

He explained that he tried to give the students and other community volunteers a parallel to what happens in the real world.

"I ran the set to mirror, as close as possible, a union set," he said.

Saldivia said he was impressed with the students' enthusiasm, willingness and expertise. "I can't emphasize enough the absolute treasure the students were," he said.

Penn College staff also volunteered to help with the production, including Jason M. Hopple, maitre d'hotel at the College's Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, who was in charge of food supply; Kevin W. Johnson, an environmental specialist who served as a production assistant; and Christopher J. Legarski, a part-time lab assistant in media arts, who worked extensively on the project as producer.

Huffman was the senior production consultant. Video and lighting equipment also was provided by Penn College.

Saldivia said the commercial benefited the WSO, the students and the Community Arts Center, a wholly owned subsidiary of the College.

"There was just no downside to integrating all these great resources and all these willing participants who want to make the town better," Saldivia said.

Saldivia, who lived and worked in Hollywood for four years, as well as in the New York City suburbs, moved to Williamsport about 10 months ago. He and the WSO will shoot another commercial next month, and they expect students to again be involved in the production.

For more information about the WSO, visit the symphony's Web page . For more information about Penn College, call toll-free, 1-800-367-9222, send e-mail or visit the College online .