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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 28, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 27
J-Stream, Student Video Station, Provides Internet Showcase

J-Stream members, clockwise from left, Dan Morais, Alex Obie, Katie Gradowski and Vi Levy. They plan to officially launch their final Web site this week.

By Jessica Valdez
Special to The Gazette

They're the students behind the cameras, whether they're recording campus performances or chasing undergraduates trying to scoop inflated flamingos with lacrosse sticks at Fall Festival.

Since fall 2003, a handful of students have been watching Johns Hopkins through the lenses of their digital cameras. Now, they're launching their work online as part of the project J-Stream, the first student video station that provides an Internet showcase of student films and recordings of campus events.

"It gives the students a voice to express their creative ideas," said Joe Reinsel, digital audio specialist at the Homewood campus's Digital Media Center.

J-Stream is a Web-based streaming network that acts as an Internet video station so that Johns Hopkins films can be viewed online by the university community, with videos ranging from recordings of campus events to student video projects.

"Hopkins is really a disparate community; there are a lot of things happening, but you don't know about it," said Katie Gradowski, J-Stream vice president. "We're trying to make something where you can see it all."

Anyone with an Internet connection will be able to connect to the Web site — — and watch student films that include recordings of Witness Theater performances and a student-made cartoon featuring a prank-phone-calling squirrel. Students, faculty and staff members of Johns Hopkins can submit films without any restrictions except for the prohibition of sexually explicit content, according to university IT regulations.

The streaming media allows the videos to be viewed at any point without being downloaded onto a computer, which saves both time and computer memory, member Asheesh Laroia said.

The project started two years ago, when Digital Media Center director Joan Freedman and Reinsel advertised for students interested in starting a new streaming video Web site. Gradowski, who worked at the DMC, and Dan Morais jumped on the opportunity.

"Working with the students to develop a project like J-Stream is important because it helps the students develop entrepreneurial skills like project management, fund raising and marketing," Freedman said.

The students were awarded a Creative Use of Technology Grant — funding administered by the Digital Media Center to support new ideas in technology — to buy the equipment to make J-Stream possible. Freedman said this is a large computer with specialized hardware and software to enable video play in continuous stream. The group has about 150 gigabytes, which amounts to hundreds of hours of video time.

Only a handful of students are now involved, mainly the central board that includes Gradowski, president Morais, treasurer Vivian Levy and secretary Melissa Kim. They are contacting film classes and e-mailing film majors in an effort to find additional help. But they said anyone can get involved, even if they don't have film experience.

"The hope is that as we grow and as more people get involved, we will have the resources to have a more structured approach to it," Gradowski said. They also hope to eventually host regular television shows on the Web site.

The group has been recording events and planning the Web site since 2003, Morais said, and finally posted the preliminary Web site online this January. They plan to officially launch the final Web site March 31.

"Dan and Asheesh have put a lot of work into it to make it automated, to be easy for us to use it," Gradowski said. The automation will enable regular updates.

The Web site offers simple directions on how to use the video clips and, for submissions, on how to compress the digital files sent to J-Stream. In the process, the students have learned about video and programming. Gradowski knew nothing about video technology before she joined, and Morais said, "I've learned a lot of things I probably wouldn't have learned otherwise."

The group is working toward membership in the Student Activities Commission to be eligible for SAC funding so J-Stream can support itself once its grant runs out.

But without the Digital Media Center, the students agree they could never have even started up the project.

"The DMC," Gradowski said, "is the reason that this exists."

Students, faculty and staff can e-mail for more information about submitting videos. Information about the DMC is available at


Jessica Valdez, a senior majoring in English, is an intern in the Office of News and Information.


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