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Student films mass, works with NDtv

Courtney Eckerle | Monday, April 4, 2011

Saint Mary’s junior Stephanie Cherpak spends many Sunday mornings at Mass like her Catholic peers. What distinguishes her, however, is that she is usually watching the Mass behind the lens of a camera.

Cherpak works for Pentavision, a company that helps stream the Basilica Mass live each week on www.NDprayercast.org, and also archives it on an iTunesU podcast.

“At the beginning of the year, one of my co-workers from NDtv, Erin Zacek, was talking about the lack of workers at her Sunday morning job filming Mass at the Basilica,” Cherpak said. “I asked her how I could get involved because, as a Mass Communications and Religious Studies double-major, I thought the job fit in well with my interests.”

The website, started by Folk Choir director Steve Warner, includes weekly reflection and sacred music, according to Daniel Skendzel, who hires students to work the technical production of the Mass.

“There are three positions required to stream the Mass: a camera operator, an audio specialist and a director,” he said.

Camera operators, like Cherpak, control six robotic cameras in the Basilica, while the audio specialist ensures proper audio levels and the director calls the sequence of video shots and the associated audio.

Cherpak said that besides merging both of her majors, the job also provides her a great opportunity to get experience shooting live shows. In addition to this film experience, Cherpak is in the third semester of producing “Dining In,” a cooking show on NDtv, and also produced a video journal and documentary called “NDtv Abroad: Italy.” The journal showcased the Saint Mary’s College Rome Program and allowed her to capture her own experiences, including attending a Mass presided over by Pope Benedict XIV in Vatican City on Easter Sunday.

Cherpak is exploring a career in religious broadcasting.

“I would like to utilize and expand upon my knowledge and experience with both my Religious Studies and Mass Communications majors,” she said.