Hidden inside the Learning Commons of CSUN University Library is a bright, blue room full of gadgets and gadgets galore.
In the Creative Maker Studio, a wall of 3D printers work their magic to create little cartoon characters adorning the room’s shelves. A recording room houses the audio equipment, with speakers and microphones distributed among the computers dedicated to sound editing. On the other side of the room, virtual reality headsets are ready to take students to new worlds and explore their own.
The CMS, a newly renovated section of the CSUN Library, gives students the opportunity to learn new technologies or leverage what they know to create whatever they want.
A celebration was held for the reopening of Creative Media Studio, now renamed Creative Maker Studio, in September. The name change was intended to distinguish itself from the former focus of media production to include creative works like virtual reality, vinyl, and couture.
The studio was paid to use the Campus Quality Feea fee that comes from student tuition, which is why students can use the equipment for free.
“Students can vote on where that money goes, and our department is one of those places,” said Learning Commons manager Eva Cohen. “Staff and teachers cannot use our services. It’s exclusively for students because they are the ones who pay, and that’s why everything is free.
Learning Commons coordinator Tim Bochen noted that the services most used by students are the 3D printers. Students can create or upload files which, once transferred to the CMS with a reservation, can be printed on any of the studio’s eight printers. The CMS also offers individual consultation on the weight of the printed figure, its color and other factors.
The material box is also popular among students, according to Bochen.
Students are entitled to two-week loans of camcorders, tripods, lighting equipment and other video production equipment, and three-hour loans for library use of equipment such as headphones, SD card readers and graphics tablets.
Another resource available to students is the audio recording room. Students have access to a soundproof room with three microphones and headphones. They can create podcasts, produce music, record voiceovers, or just play around with the tools available to them when they make a three-hour reservation.
“There’s a wide range of students who come in and use it, just for fun or for their lessons,” Bochen said.
The new features of the CMS are the production room, the virtual reality room and the sewing machine room.
The manufacturing room is a small multimedia space available where stools and audio equipment can be set up to record interviews, podcasts, voiceovers and more for up to three hours. Rolls of blue, green and black are provided for backgrounds. Sound covers are also provided to enhance the recordings. In the virtual reality roomstudents can use Oculus Quest headsets for three-hour reservations to play VR games or watch 360-degree videos on YouTube.
Finally, students can bring their own materials and use bobbins, needles and scissors to craft inside the sewing machine room. Using the studio’s sewing machine, students can thread their own quilts and blankets, or mend torn ones. CMS also offers take-home sewing machine kit loans to use sewing machines at home if students do not have one.
Cohen said more additions to the VR room are still to come. The CMS hopes to add new equipment and services by the end of the fall semester.
“The ultimate goal for this room is that we’re going to have a game development computer, which isn’t ready right now,” Cohen said. Future plans for the virtual reality room include game development tools like Unity on a computer specifically designed to handle them, as well as the HTC Vive game-focused VR headset that students can play with.
CMS staff provide workshops for students who want to use these tools, but might feel intimidated by them. For more information, and to book materials and rooms, students can find the Creative Media Studio on line.