Updated Campus Center Theater Makes Its Debut
Issue   |   Wed, 02/26/2014 - 01:03

This Friday, students will have the opportunity to experience a newly upgraded Keefe Campus Center theater, as the Amherst College Film Society hosts its first film screening of the semester. After five days of installations and several months of planning, the IT department recently completed updating the projection and sound systems in the basement theater in Keefe. With the new technological upgrades, the theater will accommodate both movie screenings and classes.

The new features include a high-resolution projector, two new speakers and a new subwoofer. In the front of the room, volume and lighting controls and a laptop cable have been installed as well. The theater also includes a new Blu-ray player.

Currently there are plans to adjust the door jambs and latches so that the doors close more quietly.

“Keefe Theater has stadium seating, is quiet and has no windows so it’s a great space for showing films,” Chief Information Officer Gayle Barton, one of the administrators involved in the project, said in an email.

Installation of the new technology started at the end of the spring of last year. Multimedia Services Manager John Kunhardt collaborated with Film and Media Studies chair Amelie Hastie and Wassmann Audio Visual on the installation plans. Once plans and finances were approved, Wassmann installed the machinery later in the summer.

According to Kunhardt, inspiration for the renovations began in the spring of 2012, when faculty and administrators were discussing design plans for a new building to replace Merrill Science Center. Although the plans to raze Merrill were eventually scrapped, the discussions sparked an interest among the Amherst faculty who wanted to expand the number of screening spaces available on campus.

The Film and Media Studies Department expressed the strongest encouragement for the changes at Keefe. Professors from the Film and Media Studies department voiced interest in using the space to conduct classes but complained about the theater’s inconveniences that hindered instruction.

“Before, there was no way for an instructor to control the movie from the front of the room,” Kunhardt said. “Someone would have had to send someone over to the back room to stop the movie or change the volume.”

After hearing complaints regarding the theater, Barton and Associate Dean of Faculty Jack Cheney decided to make updating Keefe Theater a priority for 2013.

“The combination of possible use for classes and the desire to ensure that our student activity spaces are in good shape made this project be a priority this year,” Barton said.

In the hope of providing more student activities on campus, the IT department has been working with the newly active Amherst College Film Society to host a movie series at the theater.

“We started checking into the costs of providing a film series to campus when we learned that the Amherst Film Society, which had been pretty inactive of late, was talking about starting up again,” Barton said. “We think that’s a great idea, and we can provide support if it’s needed.”

The Amherst Film Society started working with the IT department the end of the fall semester. Film Society president Pike Goldschmidt talked to members of IT about plans to diversify the movie showings. The IT department has helped suggest movie selections for the film screening series and is now sponsoring projection training for interested students.

“IT has been really helpful,” Goldschmidt said. “IT has been sort of a second faculty to help us run everything smoothly.”

The club is currently showing mainstream films. Although future plans are still in flux, there are plans to potentially show films made by Amherst students.

The Amherst College Film Society will show its first film of the semester, “Captain Phillips,” this Friday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Corrections: An earlier version of this article contained several errors.

The article misstated the amount of time spent on installations. Although IT began to discuss upgrading the theater several months ago, the actual installation took only five days, beginning on Feb. 10 of this year. The article also incorrectly stated that the doors of the theater are being replaced. The doors will stay the same, but the latches and door jambs will be adjusted so that the doors close more quietly. Finally, the article incorrectly stated that the theater will provide a laptop for users. The theater will not provide a laptop, but it will provide a laptop cable.

John Kunhardt (not verified) says:
Thu, 02/27/2014 - 13:38

Corrections to the above:
1. while discussions regarding the theater began last year, the actual installation only took one week: it was started Feb 10th 2014 and completed Feb 14th 2014.
2. The doors are not going to be replaced, but the latches and door jambs will be altered so they will close more quietly.
3. a laptop has not been added: only the cables for laptops have been provided.