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Experience from behind the lens
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jun 21, 2013 | 1168 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo -- Alejandro Girardot, Sparks High School senior, gets some experience with professional video equipment during the 10-day Smallwood Foundation Multimedia Boot Camp at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Courtesy photo -- Alejandro Girardot, Sparks High School senior, gets some experience with professional video equipment during the 10-day Smallwood Foundation Multimedia Boot Camp at the University of Nevada, Reno.
On the final day of the Smallwood Foundation Multimedia Boot Camp, Sparks High School student Alejandro Girardot felt a nervousness in his stomach as he prepared to present his final project. Its presentation was the culmination of 10 days spent in multimedia training.

Girardot was not alone, however. Every student inside the @One lab at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University of University, Reno showed a sense of urgency Thursday, crowding around computers while watching other students prepare their projects. The 10-day boot camp gave students a chance to experiment with professional audio, video and photographic equipment and software at UNR.

Girardot understood early on that he was in a new crowd of students, but he said the opportunity to learn from them, and his instructor, was an unforgettable opportunity.

“It was really cool because I am the only kid from Sparks,” he said, “Which I thought was interesting because there were three people from Reno and two people from another school, and it was really cool to find out what they knew about multimedia. Some people are really good at Photoshop and others are really good at web design and things like that so it was really cool finding out the different things that we could do.”

Girardot picked up some completely new skills when working with programs like Photoshop, InDesign and similar programs; and he said the chance to use professional-grade equipment only reaffirmed his passion for multimedia. Girardot found the experience enlightening given his background in sound and video editing, which actually punched his ticket into the Smallwood Foundation program among nine other students.

“In my junior year I started writing a script for this movie I was going to make, but I never got a chance to actually make it even though I finished the script,” Girardot said. “I had a couple videos I made before and a radio sound edit I did for a school project. I used those along with my application and letter of recommendation for the program.

“When I was first coming in, I was really nervous and I didn’t really know what to expect. When I read about it, it said rigorous training of multimedia sorts, and I thought I wouldn’t know how to handle it because I don’t really know how to do some of the stuff.”

Girardot spent his days in boot camp practicing multimedia skills, filming, editing and arranging his projects, which included trips to various computer labs around UNR. He said the payoff will benefit his future as he follows filmmaking and film editing.

“I can’t believe I never knew anything about Photoshop and so I was so excited to learn how to do all that and when I did it was so cool,” Girardot said. “We were able to make this poster and it was just amazing the things I got to learn about everything. I think it is really going to help me out and it really broadened my horizon on what I can do with multimedia.

“It would have to be the film (that inspires him). I did films with my friends, telling them what to do and getting it right and being able to go back and edit it and fix it up to make it look good and put your name on it and say ‘I did this.’ That was probably the best part about doing it and why I like doing it so much.”

Sparks High French teacher Sasha Mereu wrote Girardot’s letter of recommendation and informed him about the multimedia boot camp. Mereu said he saw Girardot’s motivation and skill while managing the after-school drama program where Girardot helped manage the soundboard and arrangements for productions.

“I showed him what I wanted him to do then I got out of the way,” Mereu said. “He really got to learn by doing, which is my whole philosophy on that. He made a bunch of mistakes, and when it came time for the fall production, he didn’t make the same mistakes because he had learned by doing the previous show. He came to me really excited a couple of times and said ‘Check this out. I was thinking about this.’ He would throw an idea at me and it was great.”

Mereu said the multimedia boot camp suited Girardot’s abilities and would allow him to refine and master the skills he possessed.

“A boot camp like Smallwood provides focus and direction for someone who has a lot of experience or someone who does not,” Mereu said. “Those people can give you the tips and tricks to make things easier so a medium of knowledge disappears and you can use it to communicate your vision.”

Mereu proved to be right as Girardot said the chance to apply and participate in the boot camp was a great decision. The Sparks High student will enter his senior year in the fall and said he is looking at UNR or UNLV for his undergraduate education.

“This multimedia camp was really the greatest thing I have done in my high school career,” Girardot said. “It was probably the greatest decision to put in an application and try to get into this.”
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