Follow William Street westward for a little more than a mile off campus. Go past Beer Depot and the noisy bus stop. Keep straight even when the bustle of Main Street dissolves into quiet residential houses with lawns buried in fallen leaves. Stay on William until it ends in front of a low, unassuming brick building. As the blue sign out front proclaims, this is the home of “Argus TV Studio II.”

The Argus building itself has been here for many years. Before World War II, it was a factory for the Argus Camera Company, known in photography history for mass-producing the 35 mm camera. After the war, the building was converted into a TV studio for a production company.

“The film industry has been in Michigan for a while. I think the building’s history demonstrates that,” said Terri Sarris, a senior lecturer who teaches the classes in the studio. “At the time, (the production company) was fairly successful in terms of television in Michigan. They did some stuff for PBS.”

But luckily for Sarris and her students, the company wasn’t successful enough and had a bit of difficulty with an uneven floor.

“The first time they poured the cement in for the floor, it was uneven,” said Rob Hoffman, the chief media engineer at the studio. “It was really expensive to redo so they lost a lot of money. Actually, the floor is still kind of uneven today.”

By the late 1980s, according to Sarris, the University bought it — uneven floors and all — and started to use it as an educational facility.

Today, only those who take the Screen Arts and Cultures studio classes — which include SAC 290 (Introduction to Film, Video and Television Production) and Sarris’s sitcom class in the winter — seem to be aware of the studio’s existence.

“The whole point of the classes is to teach students how to work in the studio, and how to handle the equipment. It requires expertise,” Sarris said.

Despite the building’s distance from campus, the studio is buzzing. There are four permanent sets standing in various corners of the room — an office; a kitchen with a granite countertop, stove and sink; a living room of what appears to be a very comfortable apartment; and a talk show set with a dusty potted plant and leather chairs. The sets are their own little worlds, complete with characters played by students in acting classes and captured by the three cameras rumbling by on wheels.

Looking into the room, it’s easy to forget the piles of tangled wires on the floor or the boom mic swinging overhead. Students hustle in and out of the control room, which looks like something straight out of the Millennium Falcon with its flashing lights, buttons and mysterious levers. They mumble directions into their headsets until, suddenly, a hush falls over the set: “Let’s slate this scene,” someone in the control room says. “Ready? And, action.” Class has started.

“This isn’t a typical studio here,” Hoffman said. “If you were to go out to L.A., you’d see that they have whole stages for a show. What we try to do here is mimic that.”

The students work with the cameras and have to find a way to bring the different shots together in a way that viewers will find believable. This is harder than it seems — sometimes shirts show up as different colors in different shots, sometimes people aren’t in focus.

“It’s overwhelming to look at the screen and make choices about a shot, but there’s a lot of practice and it’s rewarding to see how much better (my students) get,” Sarris said. “When you watch a show on television, it’s easy to forget how much of it can be illusion. Like here on this set, that wall is just held up by some weights and that staircase goes nowhere.”

However, what students learn in class might be a bit like that staircase that goes nowhere. The students do a lot of live-action work in the studio, something that isn’t really used in the world of television today. Most modern shows are edited in post-production rather than filmed live. Students still value the experience, though.

“I like it. It’s very hands-on, there’s a lot of action on the set. It’s not a traditional classroom experience. We aren’t just being lectured,” LSA junior Tracey Zane said.

“The students in the class all have different interests,” Sarris said. “While live camera may not really be practiced, what the students learn is broad enough that it’s relevant to anyone. It’s a stepping stone to another medium. Here, students can get their feet wet, get creative and then move on to what interests them.”

University alum Alex Ebel, who currently works as a writing assistant on NBC’s upcoming “The Paul Reiser Show,” agrees with Sarris.

“It was always fun to see my peers’ talents,” Ebel said. “You can really get a sense of how much work it is. There is definitely an art to multi-camera work that doesn’t get much recognition these days. There’s a stigma that television is a less-quality medium, compared to film. But there is an art to it that a lot of people don’t recognize and that’s important to have today.”

Ebel acknowledged that the studio helped her, as a writer, appreciate what the director does.

“I did my thesis about television and single-camera work and I filmed a pilot in the studio,” Ebel said. “It was a great creative (outlet) and a way to think of TV as ‘writery’ and to get to see that reflected in the content and aesthetic of a show is important — you can definitely see it with Tina Fey on ‘30 Rock.’ ”

The Argus studio has a pull on the students who have worked there. ‘U’ alum Mark Cendrowski, director of the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” recently came back to work with students.

“Our program has been reasonably supported over the years. We have a good budget, and I’ve learned how to get a few more years out of the equipment than most people do,” Hoffman said.

Still, some feel that the studio deserves more visibility on campus. For these individuals, the studio’s planned relocation to North Quad may boost its profile.

“It’s a really incredible place, and I really wish it was given more credit,” Heider said.

“Hopefully the move will help us get the name out there, to make students more aware of the incredible work their peers are doing here,” Sarris added.

But there is something sad about leaving a building with so much history and character.

“I personally will feel I’ve lost something in the move,” Hoffman said. “But it’ll be nice to be in a place where the floors are even.”

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