Creative Maker Studio provides tools for student creators

Rows of computers filled with software at the CSUN University Library Creative Maker Studio on Sept. 30, 2022, in Northridge, Calif.

Matthew Arat, Reporter

Hidden inside the CSUN University Library’s Learning Commons is a bright, blue room full of gadgets and gizmos galore.

In the Creative Maker Studio, a wall of 3D printers work their magic to create little cartoon figures adorning the shelves of the room. A recording room houses audio equipment, with speakers and microphones spread out among the computers dedicated to sound editing. Across the room, there are virtual reality headsets ready to take students to new universes and explore their own.

The CMS, a newly renovated section of the CSUN library, gives students opportunities to learn new technology or take advantage of what they know to craft what they want.

A celebration was held for the reopening of the Creative Media Studio, now rebranded as the Creative Maker Studio, in September. The name change was to distinguish from the old focus of media production to include creative works like virtual reality, vinyl and sewing.

The studio was paid for using the Campus Quality Fee, a fee that comes out of student tuition, which is why students are able to use the equipment free of charge.

A 3D-printed penholder sits next to the device loan agreement form at the CSUN University Library Creative Maker Studio on Oct. 4, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Matthew Arat)

“Students get to vote on what that money gets put toward, and our department is one of those places,” said Learning Commons lead Eva Cohen. “Staff and faculty cannot use our services. It is exclusively for students because they are the ones paying for it, and that’s why everything is free.”

Learning Commons coordinator Tim Bochen has noticed that the service students use most are the 3D printers. Students can create or download files that, when taken to the CMS with a reservation, can be printed out on one of the eight studio printers. The CMS also offers one-on-one consultation on the weight of the printed figure, its color and other factors.

The equipment checkout is also popular among students, according to Bochen.

Students are allowed two-week loans on camcorders, tripods, lighting equipment and other video production hardware, and three-hour loans for in-library use of equipment like headphones, SD card readers and drawing tablets.

Another resource available to students is the audio recording room. Students have access to a sound-treated room with three microphones and headphones. They can make podcasts, produce music, record voice-overs or just mess around with the tools at their disposal when they make a three-hour reservation.

“There’s a wide range of students who come by and use it, just for fun or for their classes,” Bochen said.

The production room ready for filming at the CSUN University Library Creative Maker Studio on Sept. 30, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Matthew Arat)

New to the CMS are the production room, virtual reality room and the sewing machine room.

The production room is a small, multimedia space available where stools and audio equipment can be set up to record interviews, podcasts, voice-overs and more for a maximum of three hours. Rolls of blue, green and black are provided for backgrounds. Sound blankets are also provided to improve recordings. In the virtual reality room, students can use Oculus Quest headsets for three-hour reservations to play VR games or watch 360-degree videos on YouTube.

Finally, students can bring their own materials and use the bobbins, needles and scissors to craft inside the sewing machine room. Using the studio’s sewing machine, students can thread their own quilts and blankets, or mend ripped ones. The CMS also offers take-home sewing machine kit loans for using sewing machines at home if students don’t have one.

Cohen said that extra additions to the VR room are still coming. The CMS hopes to add new equipment and services by the end of the fall semester.

“The ultimate goal for that room is that we’re going to have a game development computer, which isn’t ready right now,” Cohen said. Future plans for the virtual reality room include game development tools like Unity on a specially designed computer to handle them, along with the game-focused VR headset HTC Vive for students to play around with.

The CMS staff offers workshops for students who want to use these tools, but might feel intimidated by them. For more information, and to reserve equipment and rooms, students can find the Creative Media Studio online.