A Look at D3TV Behind the Scenes in 2020

The Pulliam Center focuses media, housing the DePauw newspaper, WGRE radio, and D3TV. KEISUKE OHTANI

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the media industry has had to find creative ways to produce quality content. Such unthinkable tactics such as cardboard cut-out people to supplement real audience members on “Conan” and FaceTime photoshoots as the fashion industry’s replacement for in-person sessions have become the new normal. Through distance, new regulations, and time zone differences, DePauw’s D3TV has spent this semester experimenting to find their new normal.

New restrictions for D3TV have consisted of “figuring out how to use [their] facilities, [their] studio, and [their] resources, and still maintain social distance, while also sanitizing everything,” according to senior and D3TV’s General Manager Julia Sifferlen.

Sifferlen started at D3TV as a volunteer her freshman year, but decided to continue working with the team for three more years because, as she said, “it's just an incredible learning experience. There's so many alumni and different networks that have gone through and graduated from D3TV that are so willing to help, which we've seen a lot this semester. I can’t imagine not doing it.” 

While this year at D3TV looks different, the presence of alumni and other media industry experts has continued to be seen virtually.

“I just started a series called ‘D3TV Beyond the Studio’ and it's virtual sessions with a bunch of industry experts. We have a bunch of those lined up throughout the semester of people in news, marketing journalists, social media people. I think it helps make up for the fact that we can't necessarily learn and do as much as we usually would be able to,” Sifferlen said, adding that they recently had their first session with an expert from NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”

This year, D3TV has 12 shows, about half of which take place on campus and half which are filmed remotely. Some staff are working from across the globe––including China and Vietnam––while others are closer to campus in Illinois and Indiana. D3TV producer, Echo Wu, has a show called “Food Culture” in which she shows viewers how she cooks authentic Chinese food from her home in Shenyang, China.

“She's done the show before, but it's even cooler this semester, because she's always struggled with not being able to find authentic Chinese ingredients in Greencastle, Indiana and now she's able to use all of her resources and ingredients that she has at home,” Sifferlen said.

Other remote content creators have also made use of their resources at home.

Sifferlen said, “They've been killing it. They've been using iPhones, real cameras, cheap editing softwares, expensive editing softwares, like everything. And they've done a really great job of supplementing with cool edits and cool graphics to make up for the fact that we're not in the semi-professional studio anymore. But like, they're just in their bedroom.” 

One example of this is D3TV’s  “Candid Culture” where sophomore Brandise Newell tests out various pop culture trends from her bedroom at home. Her most recent episode used her iPhone camera and props from home to film herself trying trending TikTok transitions.

For those who are usually the face of the show, COVID-19 has forced them to learn other processes, like producing, editing, and marketing.

“People who have never edited before are editing their shows completely by themselves, which has been awesome. Also, because we have a marketing team, usually we send marketing associates to the show, and they'll film behind the scenes footage and get all this content from marketing. And now the producers are having to do that themselves, too, and then just send it to the marketing people,” Sifferlen said.

Even those who are on campus have inconsistent or limited access to the equipment and help of other staff members due to COVID-19 safety regulations.

Sophomore D3TV Producer and TDP Editor, Jack Woods, said, “If we want to use studio equipment, we have to use them during certain timeframes. We also have to schedule ahead when we’re coming in. I cannot edit the footage at any time during the day. I cannot film in the studio impromptu.”

However, D3TV remains committed to obeying safety restrictions.

“D3TV has been very adamant about following DePauw’s COVID-19 guidelines. I’m writing sketches that require as minimal people as possible. I’m asking that all those involved in my show wear masks during filming and we don’t film for more than an hour at a time. D3TV does not meet in person, so we all hop on a Zoom call,” Woods added.

With all the circumstances, D3TV continues to produce collaborative content.

“We have a really fresh lineup for this year, ranging from dramatic shorts to comedy sketches to long-standing shows like ‘TSN’ and ‘The Source’. This group is special because of how well we collaborate. We’re all on the same page. It still kind of amazes me how often we’re producing quality content considering the global pandemic and all circumstances therein,” Woods said.