SJSU iSchool Student Earns Blue Ribbon at International Conference for Machinima


MLIS student Marie Vans recently won first place at the 2015 International Society for Technology in Education conference for her machinima production originally created for her INFO 287 Virtual Worlds: The Birth of the Renaissance in Florence course.

When San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) student Marie Vans chose an infamous event in the life of Catherine de Medici as the subject of a video created for her INFO 287 Virtual Worlds: The Birth of the Renaissance in Florence course, she hoped she would do well on the assignment.  Her hope was realized not only in the classroom, but also in an international conference.  

Van’s video was recently awarded a first place prize in the category of curriculum content at the 2015 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2015 Edu Machinima Fest, which took place in Philadelphia during ISTE’s annual conference in June 2015. The video was also given an honorable mention for dialogue. Vans’ winning video, “Catherine de Medici – St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre,” can be viewed on YouTube.

Dr. Patricia Franks, professor at the iSchool and coordinator of the Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program, explained that machinima is “cinema created combining video, computer graphics, and sound” and noted that other machinima productions created by Vans are on display in the Virtual Center for Archives and Records Administration (VCARA) on the iSchool’s island in SecondLife.

According to Vans, who is currently a graduate student in the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, the project itself was “challenging, rewarding, and a great way to express my creativity.” In addition to portraying Catherine de Medici and telling the story of the massacre, Vans also portrayed other historical figures for the assignment, including Catherine’s daughter Margot, Queen of Navarre, and her son, the King of France.

“The technical aspects of creating this 20-plus minute film taxed my abilities as a technologist,” admitted Vans, “but it was well worth the effort. As a research scientist in computer science, I rarely get to apply my technical skills to a project requiring so much creativity, and that is the aspect that made the project so fulfilling.”

In addition to studying virtual worlds in INFO 287, Vans has also been serving as the VCARA estate manager. “Marie is a creative, enthusiastic and organized individual who has contributed greatly to the success of VCARA,” stated Franks. “Marie’s service as the VCARA estate manager has been invaluable.”

The sixth annual VCARA conference in April 2015 featured a number of machinima, which are available for viewing on the VCARA YouTube channel. Additional information about other VCARA events and exhibits can be found on the VCARA website.