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Digital Ideas: Georgia State's digital aquarium

a> Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2002

Updated: Saturday, October 10, 2009 11:10

Digital Aquarium? What does Georgia State need a fish tank for?" No, despite the name, there are no fish to be found at the Digital Aquarium. The Digital Aquarium is a multimedia lab, and it's the best-kept secret at GSU. The Digital Aquarium sits on the third floor of the Student Center and is on the cutting edge of digital technology.

DJ Ritz, in the soundproof studio, stands in front of his turntables and cues up his next track to scratch on. Sitting in front of two flat-panel displays, the producer MDA starts up the track as the DJ starts spinning his records. DJ Ritz and his producer have been in the studio several times to create a demo CD for their band "Redstar." They didn't have to pay for expensive studio time or travel a great distance to get there.

Two guys sit in front of a Macintosh and put the last touches on their music video by rewinding the footage on a small screen next to the computer and cutting out the blown takes. With Eminem's latest song blasting in the background, the music video is almost done.

A film student creates an original movie for a school projects without having to pay for an instructor to learn the tricks of the trade. All three groups of people are taking the easy and smart path to creating professional quality product. What do they have in common? They are all Georgia State students and they are getting it done right here at GSU.

Walking into the dimly lit room, fully equipped with trendy interior design, you might think you've left Georgia State's campus. This is nothing like anything you have seen in the General Classroom Building, Kell Hall or anywhere else for that matter. The room is tucked away in the far corners of the Student Center, and this multimedia fortress of solitude is the home to dozens of video cameras, computers, microphones and editing equipment.

The Digital Aquarium is a multimedia computer lab but offers more than most of the computers you have seen around campus. Quietly, Georgia State students are creating studio quality music, perfectly edited movies, and finely crafted still photography.

For all things digital and digitally related, the Digital Aquarium is packed wall to wall with some of the most impressive displays of technology available on the market today. Those affiliated with the Digital Aquarium are calling the equipment within its confines "high-end workstations."

The computers system come equipped with dual processors, 17" flat panel displays, DVD and CD burners, hard drives, loads of programs and more RAM than you can shake a stick at. A veritable Mecca for the computer geek in all of us, these computers are fast enough to blow your hair back.

As an industry standard, the Macintosh computers in the Digital Aquarium are better suited to edit and arrange video and pictures. For the die-hard PC fan, though, the Dell computers are still set up to handle your basic editing tasks.

Don't let all the big-time editing talk and expensive equipment scare you away from the Digital Aquarium. Don't know how to work these crazy things? No problem; there are seminars all the time on how to operate the equipment and learn new tricks that you might not have known about before you started. If you can't make it on a seminar date, there is an open library of books, videos and DVDs that can teach you how to perform your basic cut on one of the film editing programs.

Seminars are conducted almost everyday to teach a variety of useful programs to use with the equipment. "We're providing the workshops to support the resources," said Nathan Reetz, the coordinator of the Digital Aquarium. Some of the most popular workshops are the audio workshop and the video camera workshop. These two programs are required if you are interested in checking out a video camera or working in the music studio. All of the seminars are taught by students and are open to any student interested in learning. There is also a conference room for workshops.

Okay if it comes to computers and that whole "thing" you just don't get it. There's hope for you yet. Even if you can't get the hang of editing your home video or burning a CD, the whole staff is trained to help you.

The pro-level recording studio is the star of the Digital Aquarium. The soundproof room is set up with a computer with all the editing programs you could use for music and two screens to facilitate the full use of music editing programs. The studio has a keyboard and two microphones already there, but if you and your garage band are getting ready to go big, be sure to bring your own equipment.

The studio has been an asset to students of all sorts. Aside from just producing music, students have been getting creative with other uses for the music studio. Some people come to create their own sound effects; others have edited their video and added music to their films in the studio. Even people at Album 88, the radio station on campus, come to the Digital Aquarium to make use of the facilities.

The Digital Aquarium is a pretty free-form place to hang out; just come ready to exercise that right side of your brain. You should probably come ready to get to work as well, though. During its peak hours, the Digital Aquarium can get pretty packed. For those on a mission with a deadline, any part of the Digital Aquarium can be reserved for up to eight hours. Even if you are a film fiend or an audiophile, that can be a long time. Coming in for an eight-hour stint can get tedious so drink your coffee before you head to the office.

Professional quality video cameras are up to be rented. There are 12 cameras that you can check out. There are three different size cameras to use designed for different tasks, so choose wisely.

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