Media Production

Welcome to Media Production at Communication Arts!

The advanced production course application deadline has passed. Further applications will be considered late.   Apply Here

In the digital age, media production permeates just about every professional field. And here in the Department of Communication Arts, the media production skills you gain in our courses will enhance the work you do in the Comm Arts major, other majors, and whatever career path you choose to pursue.

If you plan to work in the film or television industry, studying media production at UW-Madison places you in good company. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis graduated from Communication Arts and went on to write for Lost, and they co-created ABC's Once Upon a Time. Jill Soloway, another Comm Arts grad, was a writer/producer for HBO's Six Feet Under and recently won the Sundance 2013 Directing Award: U.S. Drama for her first feature film, Afternoon Delight. She is also receiving critical acclaim for her new show Transparent on Amazon Prime. The UW has a strong tradition of television producers and filmmakers, from Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, and Kevin Murphy to Walter Mirisch, Errol Morris, Michael Mann, and the Zucker Brothers. And most recently, Aaron Cohen and Gabe Gronli won Emmys for their writing on the Colbert Report.

    

All photos by Kate Feldt.

Comm Arts production welcomes both beginners and advanced individuals. We work hard to develop future filmmakers, but also support all aspects of Communication Arts. If you're studying rhetoric or communication science, or if you're a graduate student, Comm Arts production can bolster your technological understanding of media, or simply help you to use media to engage with your peers, instructors, or students.

Explore the other tabs for more information about our courses, facilities, and equipment.

Included below is a flowchart of the media production courses offered in Communication Arts. Students at UW-Madison are encouraged to enroll in production courses as soon as possible in order to take as many production courses as they can.

Tips for quick progression through the media production courses:

  1. Enroll in CA 155 during the first semester as an undergraduate student.
  2. With the CA 155 prerequisite fulfilled, enroll in CA 355 the following spring semester. Otherwise, CA 355 is available to sophomores. CA 355 is also a requirement for the Comm Arts major.
  3. After CA 355, the rest of the production courses are advanced and require an online application process. Instructors for editing, screenwriting, cinematography/sound, and adaptation screenwriting (offered once a year) select students based on their applications and previous coursework.
  4. CA 465, 466, 467, and 609 all work together to make a comprehensive production program. Learning editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and sound help students become better filmmakers and excel in the capstone course CA 659: Advanced Motion Picture Production Workshop.
  5. While all advanced production courses lead to CA 659, CA 467: Cinematography and Sound Recording is the prerequisite. CA 659 is only offered during spring semesters.  
  6. With these steps in mind, it is possible for an undergraduate student starting production courses in her/his first semester at UW-Madison to take CA 659 during the spring semester of her/his sophomore year: CA 155 -> CA 355 -> CA 467 -> CA 659. Keep in mind that enrollment is limited in the advanced production courses, so gaining access is competitive.

 

Equipment

The Communication Arts media production program features full HD digital capabilities and state-of-the-art cameras. Each Comm Arts production course has its own set of equipment, and as students reach more advanced courses, they gain access to a greater number of more advanced film tools.

CA 155 - Panasonic GH2 DSLR cameras, Manfrotto tripods, Tascam DR-100mkII recorders.

CA 355 - Sony HXR-NX5U camcorders, Manfrotto tripods, Tascam DR-100mkII recorders, Colortran light kits.

CA 467 - Canon EOS C300 Cinema Camera, Sachtler tripods, Sound Devices 702T recorders and 302 mixers, Sennheiser and Audix microphones, Mole-Richardson and Arri lights, and more.

CA 659 - Canon EOS C500 4K Cinema Camera, Sachtler tripods, Sound Devices 702T recorders and 302 mixers, Sennheiser and Audix microphones, Mole-Richardson and Arri lights, and more. 

Facilities

Vilas Communication Hall was built in 1972. The Instructional Media Center originally housed 16mm film equipment and had a back hallway dedicated to editing stations, where undergraduate students edited film by hand. Since then, as the industry has transitioned to digital videography, so has the media center. Thanks to generous support from the Hamel family, the editing hallway has been converted into dozens of computer editing stations, and new computer labs have been built for both classroom use and individual work with digital media. 

3153 - Class Room

This media classroom is one of the primary rooms for media production courses in the program. Here, cinematographer Jim Frohna (Afternoon Delight) meets with production students to discuss the film and his other work.

 

3155 - Mirisch Room

This seminar room was a gift from UW grad Walter Mirisch, the famous film producer who went on to make such classics as The Magnificent SevenIn the Heat of the Night, and West Side Story

 

3161 - Hamel Lab

A gift from UW grads George and Pamela Hamel led to the creation of this lab, which is the primary classroom for animation and editing courses.

 

Editing Suites

Private editing suites are also available, for students who wish to have less distractions while they work. Like the Hamel Lab, these suites have the latest Apple iMacs.

 

2050 and 2060 - Studios

These fully-equipped film production studios were once used for television broadcast courses. Now they are used for narrative film scenes. With dozens of moveable lighting batons and a stockpile of light fixtures, the studios are a little-known production gem in the heart of Madison.

 

4070 

This lecture hall and theater is the crown jewel of the Communication Arts department. It is used for large lectures, course screenings, semesterly UW Cinematheque screenings, and is one of the venues for the Wisconsin Film Festival. With its state-of-the-art expertly crafted sound system and 16mm, 35mm, and 4K DCP projectors, it is one of the best film screening facilities in the state.

Writer/Director David Koepp during a Q&A in 4070 Vilas Hall.