VCU Students Master the Art of Digital Media Production at In Your Ear Studios

by | Dec 18, 2017 | COMMUNITY

In today’s ever-evolving, fast-paced digital media world, those interested in getting into the field, or even keeping up with it, are expected to know nearly every aspect of the production process. From set design, lighting, photography, to storytelling, and more, producers have to hone, sharpen, and constantly work on their skills to adapt with the rapidly-changing technology.

Luckily, VCU and a local longtime production studio have teamed up to help students, and those interested in seeking out a career in those fields.

VCUarts and Richmond-based production studio In Your Ear have designed a new post-baccalaureate certificate, AMPT (Advanced Media Production Technology), a program to connect graduate students with opportunities in the vast digital media production world. Based in the heart of Shockoe Bottom, aspiring producers are becoming new-age digital media masters at the studio, which was founded by Carlos Chafin and Robbin Thompson in 1990.

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The 24-credit hour program is designed by VCU faculty, industry professionals, and In Your Ear staff, drawing on years of professional studio and production experience to create an immersive hands-on experience, blending creativity and technical skills needed for jobs in the industry.

AMPT is intended to benefit a variety of students of different backgrounds, interests, goals and skill levels, open to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree in any field, but the program only accepts up to 20 students per semester. For Fall, the 12-credit curriculum goes over audio production, editorial storytelling (video post-production), emerging digital cinema (video production), and light/image. For the upcoming spring semester, AMPT students can take a variety of electives including motion graphics, audio for gaming, and mobile application development. In addition to learning or advancing their own skill-sets, students enrolled in the classes also learn from each other during the process, through collaboration on projects. 

“Our AMPT students are exposed to so much, so quickly, it’s a wild ride, but a great one,” said Chafin, President, and Owner of In Your Ear and co-director and founder of AMPT. “Some students want to break into the business, while others want to pivot or supplement their careers with a new skill set.”

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VCU Music Alumnus Alberto Yapur is a current AMPT student looking to advance his creative skills. “I wanted to learn the other side of music, especially how to produce my own songs, videos,” he said. “There is so much to learn aside from just one skill. I think every artist should know how to turn their art into a marketable product.”

For others, the program has instilled a desire to grow Richmond’s influence in the digital media market. “My dream is to put Richmond on the map for film,” said fellow student Kevin Sweeney. “I am staggered to understand how there isn’t already a major company here producing content for Netflix, Amazon, or other big medians. I am hoping to tell big, beautiful, engaging stories, and execute them so that everyone who works on them receives due recognition. Between the evolution of technology, and dropping costs of production, we have studied in the AMPT program how smaller more agile companies are taking on big projects.” 

The East Broad Street studio reach has gone beyond working with students in its long history here, it has worked with some of the biggest names in the world. R&B singer Chris Brown recorded his 2012 Grammy-awarding winning album F.A.M.E. there, and TVand film producers for “The Help”, “Family Guy”, and “Gladiator”  have utilized the studio for dialogue production. In Your Ear has also recorded and scored TV and radio spots for companies like McDonald’s and Coke.

The program will evolve as Chafin and his team see fit, with plans to include more virtual reality-based courses in the future. And VCUarts Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Matt Woolman is hoping to keep growing the program as well. 

“In Your Ear’s real-world industry experience makes for a perfect partnership,” he said. “The talent and results that have already come out of AMPT are impressive. We’re thrilled to be working with Carlos and his team again this year to continue offering such an innovative program through VCUarts.”

Tuition for the full-time program costs $14,500 and $605 per credit for part-time. Students looking to enroll in the program can apply here. 

Photo Credits: In Your Ear 


Arianna Rose

Arianna Rose

Arianna Rose is a VCU graduate, skilled in Public Relations & Music (Vocal Performance). When she’s not writing here, she enjoys taking in all the wonderful art & culture RVA has to offer, working as a makeup artist, singing, & volunteering at the VMFA. Find her on Instagram: @the_rose_show

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