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Membership growing; new software for streaming meetings

[caption id="attachment_28769" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Dan Villalva"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – Santa Rosa’s community media center is expanding both its geographic reach and its offerings with new bylaws and a name change.

Wider coverage for the Community Media Center of the North Bay now includes a contract with Rohnert Park for production service, just like the contracts it has with the city of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to record and air meetings.

But, said Dan Villalva, executive director of the center, “We want to do more.”

Since changing its bylaws to include members from more cities than just Santa Rosa, the center, which used to have roughly 225 members at a given time, has seen about 10 percent membership growth.

“We have people from Graton, Sebastopol, even Marin come in and make use of the facilities,” Mr. Villalva said.

In addition to working with cities and counties, the center works with nonprofits and in the educational setting for production contracts. The center has developed its own software to record and stream meetings for remote viewing. The meetings are then archived, and if a viewer clicks on an agenda item, the video will advance to that spot on the recording.

“We offer the same services for educational departments and nonprofits as we do government,” Mr. Villalva said. “It is a very cost-effective way these days of shrinking budget to offer a lot to not just the public but education and government.”

The board of public utilities is currently working with the new software being developed, and according to Mr. Villalva, the school board may be next to utilize the technology.

In addition to its contract services, many of its members simply come in to work on a project.

“Sometimes a producer will come in and use the edit suite for weeks. It can be a huge cost savings,” he said.

Josh Staples, a Santa Rosa resident and musician, had made a number of videos with a group of friends in high school. After a death of a friend, he wanted to put them all together as a full-length video, edit them down, add music and make a cohesive piece. At the time he joined the center for $40 and put together an hour-long movie.

“At the time the classes were free,” Mr. Staples said. “I took a class on editing and camera work. Everything there was industry standard. I learned Final Cut Express, and it was pretty much all I needed to get started.”

He said he would recommend the center to anyone who was interested in working on a film project.

The center is funded through a combination of the city’s cable franchise agreement, production income and grants and donations.

The center runs on an annual budget of roughly $880,000. The franchise agreement says that when rate payers sign up with cable, part of the agreement with the cable companies is they pay to support public access channels and centers.

However, in 2007, a state law changed the landscape and required that cities have an ordinance regarding funding for community media centers, which should go into effect in June when the franchise agreement is over in Santa Rosa.

The center has been serving the community for 20 years. It currently has a staff of 14 with six part-time employees. There are six instructors and a crew of three who do playback and engineering.

For more information about the center and its offerings, visit www.communitymedia.org.