Coming from a family of dedicated Tarheels, Associate Producer Todd Buker never thought he would work at NC State.
Buker grew up in Durham with his plans set on attending UNC Chapel Hill, but graduated from UNC Greensboro in 2000 with a degree in filmmaking. After graduation, he spent several years working in graphic design and the print industry.
Following his passion for directing, he started working part time for the Durham Arts Council managing the PSI theater while simultaneously holding a part-time position with DELTA. He joined the team full time in 2013 as a Video Communication Services (VCS) classroom support technician then transitioned into the role of media production technician in 2014. In 2015, he became an associate producer with DELTA’s Instructional Media Production (IMP) team.
Buker uses his directing and digital media skills to produce various kinds of video content for DELTA and NC State faculty.
In 2016, Buker won the Cinema in Industry (CINDY) award for a video he created with the NC State Department of Statistics called “Knowing Everything.”
Buker was also part of the 2018 Gertrude Cox award winning Cosco team. He made an on-camera appearance in one of the videos for an interactive map tool for landscape architecture students to explore urban environments.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
“We create video content to support online and distance education for any department on campus,” said Buker. “Most of what we create are video modules for classes.” Because of the large variety of programs available at NC State, Buker often has to conduct his own research for each project before he can create video content.
Since every project is unique, there is never a boring day for Buker. Depending on the project, he may direct actors, conduct interviews, handle audio, operate cameras and more. The work varies depending on the learning objectives faculty are trying to tackle.
Buker spends a lot of time talking with professors and staff members to understand the processes they want to teach. Occasionally he also records live events with guest speakers and creates faculty portrait videos that introduce students to their online course professors.
Currently, he is working on creating content for a new online Sports and Entertainment Venue Management graduate certificate program, including promotional materials and learning modules. The program will show students what it takes to host an event at Raleigh’s PNC Arena. “We are trying to convey to people what all goes into that,” said Buker. “When you go to a basketball game there you don’t know very much about what’s going on behind the scenes.”
Buker interviewed the head of each department, operation managers, security personnel, parking personnel and food and beverage services employees. “That’s what we have to learn for a video like that,” he said.
Do you work closely with your team?
As part of the IMP team Buker works with Assistant Director John Gordon, Instructional Media Producer Arthur Earnest, Mobile Media Producer Jeff Robinson and Technology Support Technician Michael Castro.
Their work involves a lot of cross-collaboration because each person brings a different skill set to the team. “We all help each other out,” said Buker. “We’re always trying to push ourselves to make better quality videos.”
What has been one of your favorite projects/experiences at DELTA?
One of Buker’s favorite projects, which he co-directed, was for Global Training Initiative (GTI) and involved using 360° video to teach cultural competency in a business setting. The project required the use of actors to play individuals from different countries and cultural backgrounds, emulating how they might interact in a business meeting. Each actor was equipped with a 360° camera rig in front of their face, allowing students to become each person in the room using a virtual reality headset, hearing their thoughts and understanding their point of view.
“The first video was like a fly-on-the-wall video where you’re sitting in the room with the people having this meeting and they start to talk about the project and it introduces you to the situation,” said Buker. “Then you have the opportunity to choose which person you’re going to be.” Students enjoyed the training so much that GTI hopes to create more 360° projects in the future.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Buker is interested in theater production. He first joined the theater company Bare Theatre in 2005 producing musical scores for their shows, later dabbling in acting and directing. He eventually became their artistic director. However, Buker has taken a break from the company since his daughter Luna was born last summer. “I stepped out of that role recently so I could have more time with my family,” said Buker.
What’s something people may not know about yourself?
Buker has met a lot of talented people through his work with in theater production. After directing a couple shows with his company Bare Theatre and Cirque de Vol studios at Raleigh Little Theatre, he learned a few tricks from the circus performers. Now he knows how to spin a fire staff.
Another interesting story is how Buker met his wife, Laura. They discovered each other online, and after talking for a while he learned she was a graduate student at NC State. She was doing civil engineering work in Daniels and Mann halls, two buildings away from where he worked in Ricks Hall. “We realized we were probably walking by each other every day,” said Buker. They met in-person during the Spring 2015 semester and got married in 2016.