By Linda Lockhart
EMMIE day at Ohio University-Southern is a red carpet event.
Complete with award winners, a flashy multimedia presentation, hundreds of enthusiastic audience members and media professionals, the annual event was started nine years ago by the Southern campus electronic media program to recognize high school-level video production and computer animation excellence.
The EMMIE awards -- Electronic Media Moving Image Excellence -- event is planned and staffed by students in the electronic media program and Southern campus employees, but the day belongs to the nearly 400 high school students and chaperones who attend. The competition, held this year in late April, has grown from a handful of entries to 220 submitted by 21 high schools this year; 17 of those schools sent students to the event. The competition is open to all regional high schools that have a video/TV/computer animation production class and to individual students who are exploring these fields on their own.
"Kids who are into media don't usually have competitions that they get involved with, they don't have a cheering section," said Brad Bear, who works in the electronic media program and is a program alum and 2001 EMMIE winner. "We wanted to create an environment for that as well as bring them onto campus and show them that they could do this (type of work) in the future."
The awards ceremony is always the highlight of the day, with etched glass trophies awarded in 15 categories. But the event also includes multiple workshops, providing opportunities for students to interact with professionals, talk about college logistics, experience what it's like to work with equipment from satellite trucks to chromakey technology (green screen), meet electronic media faculty and visit the Southern campus.
"This (event) builds relationships between the professors and the future," said Ernie Hall, a videographer at WOWK-TV and alumnus of Southern's electronic media program who shared with students how his technical skills help tell a story. "It helps to open up the world to these students."
No presentation this year embodied that better than Howard Miller's. A director for ESPN, Miller lives in Ironton and travels across the country covering sporting events of all kinds, including NBA finals, the Kentucky Derby, NFL games and Major League Baseball.
"You can do these things and live here," said Miller, an Ohio University alumnus. "Don't let anyone hold you back. If you let them, you hold yourself back."
Miller compared his start in the business to the work of students in his sessions, saying he began in high school as a television camera operator. "The outlets for your video are everywhere now," he told them, citing examples of Web, TV and YouTube.
Students from Southeastern Local High School in South Charleston, Ohio, and their teacher, Kim Mitten, have submitted entries and attended the EMMIEs for three years. Mitten said her students get a lot of inspiration from the event. This year, for the first time, they took home something else -- two EMMIEs, for digital photography and multimedia Web design.
"It was great to hear the guy from ESPN," said Ashli Cooper, a junior from Southeastern. "You know that you can come from here and do this kind of work."
See a list of awards and winners.