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Robert E. Scott

Specialist Professor


Department
Communication
Office
Plangere Center 231
Phone
732-571-4430
Email
rescott@monmouth.edu

Robert E. Scott

Additional Information

Listen to Professor Scott’s episode of the Department of Communication’s Professor Profiles Podcast:

Transcript

Nick:

Welcome back to another edition of again, I still don’t think we’ve come up with a formal name for this yet, but I’ve been referring to it as a professorial profiles. I like the alliteration. I’m Nick Messina specialist professor here at Monmouth university in the department of communication. And today I’m here with fellow special specialist professor editor and writer entertainment technology center at USC advisor for Hawk TV news, the program director for media studies and production concentration, former managing editor at the Walt Disney company, an avid fishermen. Rob Scott, thanks for joining us today, Rob. Thanks for having me now. It’s it’s always, it’s always good to be able to get, to have a little bit of a sit down and and get to know us a little bit more. All right. Again, along with our with our colleague, Matt Harmon, we realized that some of us don’t know each other nearly as much as we probably should, you know, for working together and molding the minds of the future generations, God help us all. So, so Rob again, being an editor and writer with with etc at USC, I want to be fancy and, and utilize the, the acronyms as well. You’ve been working with them now for,

Rob:

Oh boy, it’s been in different capacities about eight or nine years now, actually a little bit longer. It was an extension of the work I had done with Disney at one point part of the kind of corporate communication responsibilities included attending trade shows and conferences and screenings and industry events and reporting back to the company. So sometimes it was for small groups or specific groups. Sometimes it was producing a video that we ran on an in-house cable channel that I ran from my office. Sometimes it was doing presentations to different business units and sometimes it was more company-wide. So we ran a wikis, we had websites, we had internet sites, we had newsletters and we served, we were one of the few departments that serve the entire company. So it opened up a lot of opportunities for me.

Rob:

One of the things that I did was what we called virtual trade show. So to try and conserve some of the time and money of executives attending the consumer electronic show or national association of broadcasters or the myriad of events I’d go and shoot interviews with on video sometimes just, you know, write them as a report and share them in different capacities with, with the company. So we could hopefully cut back a little bit on the number of people who would attend or at least service the folks who had you know, difficult schedules. So CES was our big show consumer electronic show and there were a couple of others, but that one extended after I left Disney to include studios such as Warner brothers Disney as well. And then I started doing work with, with etc which is a fantastic organization and that started with doing some coverage of CES and then led to technical writing when they were spearheading initiatives like digital cinema post-production standards, things like that.

Rob:

And the etc for those who don’t know is it’s housed at the, the school of cinematic arts in California at USC, but it’s, co-sponsored by a majority of the studios, a number of consumer electronics manufacturers. Some of the people who get my daily alerts when I’m publishing every every day includes the cinematographer’s Guild. So it’s a, it’s a wide range of folks. It was an organization started by a filmmaker, George Lucas. Oh yeah. And a number of creative execs at the studios who really wanted to launch a think tank, you know, launch a kind of neutral location where politics and company barriers didn’t matter. It was all about the industry. It was always, it was about propelling you know, the art of storytelling forward by using different technologies and different formats. And over time that’s evolved into a wide range of things right now etc is focusing on artificial intelligence on blockchain on, on bots on AR and VR.

Rob:

So they’re, they’re doing a lot of interesting things. I’m handling the publishing arm for them, meaning we have a an app and a website and an email alert that goes out daily, Monday through Friday. And then when we’re doing videos we’ll have things where students come in and they’re asked questions about their consumer, use the studio, execs love that. We have meetings and demos and presentations and white papers that evolve out of this group. And we publish them on different parts of the of the two sites. So one is just the, the entertainment technology center site. And the other one is called ITI centric, which is something that was created by me in concert with a number of mostly former Disney executives. And we talked about it weekly for a year on Skype calls and, and finally said, you know what, we’re never going to build this. So we, we took it to a gentleman named David Wertheimer who was running etc at the time. And he went on to be president of digital at Fox. And he built it and I think in a couple of weeks and, and put, he said, would you stay on and be the, you know, be the publisher just for a little while to get this thing off the ground. And that was we’re in our sixth season now. Yeah. That was that ITI centric, I think was six years ago, six, seven years ago. Yeah.

Nick:

You know what, I dug back a little bit and I think the first the first publication that I saw with your name was actually from 2011. So it’s older than I, yeah. I’m terrible with dates and it’s wild because actually one of the first one was in reference to the iPad to saying it would never off it was, but I guess, you know, what, what struck me more than anything else is that, you know, not only are we in the seventh generation of iPad, you know, since then, but all of the technological changes and how that seems to have impacted, you know the media industry overall. I mean, you know, anybody, quote unquote, anybody with a Mac book, you know, can go ahead and all of a sudden, again, they’re a writer and they’re, they’re a producer, they’re a filmmaker, they’re a musician. How do you think, you know, technology has always has been at the forefront of innovation in the industry. How do you think that some of the more quote unquote, perhaps like user-friendly or the accessibility to some of this technology has impacted the industry and subsequently impacted the, the dynamic in the classroom then?

Rob:

I think, well, there’s a lot of levels to that in terms of industry. I think that it’s really threefold right now, if you’re talking production right. P pre production and production, how are you telling stories? How are you taking these tools you know, these, these different you know, things that are supposed to be making it more convenient and more collaborative and more artistic, how are you using them intelligently, you know, efficiently how are you actually saving time and energy and, and reaching your audience better? So you’ve got pre-production production, and then you’ve got, you know, post-production, which is a whole different animal with technology, of course, and then distribution and our distribution has dramatically changed in recent years and our consumption has drastically changed. So everything’s trying to catch up to that. I think when you talk about apps, when you talk about the creation of touch screens of you know cloud-based content, cloud-based sharing, cloud-based editing, video and film and now you’ve got you know, things being streamed on personal devices the expectations and the bands of consumers.

Rob:

This is shifting things weekly. I mean, it’s really difficult to keep up with at this point. So for me, anyway, I’m really fortunate to work with some of the top thinkers in this field. I’m certainly never credit myself as one of them. I I’ve been historically terrible at, at identifying what’s, you know I can identify what’s trending and I can take the information from these great thinkers and distill it and present it to an audience. So they understand tech speak and regular language, but I’ve never been good at saying, all right, here’s the video iPod, you know, that, that, that Steve jobs wants to release in six months. Yeah. So let’s review it, which was a big part of our jobs. I, that Disney new technology and new media, I wrote a whole memo to my boss and the CEO. I said, this thing has never taken off. So,

Nick:

So essentially we’re not going to go to you to ask, what should we invest in? I’ve got a couple, I’ve got some money I’m cashing in. I want to go play the markets. Don’t go to Rob Scott for that.

Rob:

I would run away as quickly as possible to someone else. Yeah, I, I didn’t imagine that people would have a small personal device at the time and iPod. Now, our phones where people would play movies would play TV shows would watch sports. I just did not see that. And of course I was wrong, but working with this group and having access to them and their forward thinking and having my finger on the pulse of what’s important to the people, developing films and television shows and streaming series and using all these great technologies affords me the luxury of bringing that information into the classroom. So that’s what I meant by there were multiple layers. I think that having access to that information and those thinkers is really beneficial to courses where you’re talking about storytelling, you’re talking about a message and you’re using a foundation of knowledge that, you know, you can get anywhere and from an educational standpoint, but then taking it to the next level.

Rob:

What, you know, what does this have to do with your consumption? How are you going to create content that’s different and compelling to accommodate Quimby or, you know, some other short form delivery system. What is the audience for that? How do you identify that audience and meet the demands and expectations of that audience? So in theory, in pitching and constructing and distributing, you know, and coming up with fresh new ideas for what’s next, I mean, really, if you look at the balance of what’s played out in the last 20 years, consumers have driven so much, right.

Nick:

Significantly more than, than we probably even realize absolute much, much more than we even realize.

Rob:

So the, the people that were teaching the young adults that we’re teaching right now are potentially the next producers, whether they recognize that or not, I mean, they may be steering it just as consumers in one degree. So it, it, it’s, it’s critical, I think, in the classroom to kind of open up those doors and say, what do you think what’s next? Where, you know, you tell me what you think should be, you know, here’s how you’re streaming your music now, what do you want? You know, what do you imagine you want to do with this 10 years from now? I mean, if these students can walk into an interview and sell themselves as an expert on social media, not a user of social media, but walk into an interview and say, here’s why you should be using Snapchat to reach your customers or address or address customer service or HR issues or whatever they’re going to get hired. Right. I mean, it’s, it’s the next step,

Nick:

Right? Cause, cause there’s this, you know it seems to manifest this idea that if I bring someone into my company that is younger, they’ll be good. And getting my message out on social media. When a lot of times it’s quite the contrary. If I’m dealing with, you know, dealing with a personal account and building that personal brand, as opposed to them being brought on as an employee needing to construct content for a specific audience, that’s completely different set of skills that hopefully, you know, we’re trying to, to

Rob:

It’s, it’s a challenge, right? As you know, because it’s, it’s evolving so quickly trying to create curriculum and classroom experiences that reflect what’s next is really challenging when, when sometimes you can see it coming and sometimes you can’t. I love taking the we do a post show report. We do live reporting multiple times during the day. While I have a team of reporters in Las Vegas for the consumer electronics show, I’m sitting in my basement in Manasquan doing all the editing and formatting and distribution. And it’s a rough couple of weeks, but then we do a post-show report that has a kind of a overview of the show for our specific audience. Right. And that there’s, in-house presentations at Warner brothers for that. There’s some stuff at ECE, etc. And then we have this actual report that gets published with an executive summary and the whole deal. And I look at it in the years past, always when we get to the next one, because I forget the time that goes by and looking at just a couple of years ago where it was all about 3d, right. That immersive experience.

Nick:

It’s funny. Cause one of the articles you had written early on was about one of these execs talking about how 3d was not going to work, which is interesting, you know, at the time that it was published, it was like, come on, this is the future. Everyone knows that we’re all going to be in 3d and we seem to have blew right past it. Yeah.

Rob:

It’s, it’s another case of the consumers didn’t bite, you know, it’s they created wonderful experiences. They did some great production and experimentation. They, they kept making better and better screens. You know, once we got to the point where there was auto stereoscopic where you didn’t have to be sitting somewhere with a bunch of people watching, wearing goofy glasses. And but I think it was, you know, it’s like when you look at the the iPod or, or an early form of, you know, a personal digital assistant yeah. It’s clunky. Yes. It seems antiquated by today’s standards. But if you didn’t introduce the flywheel, if you didn’t introduce you lead to a touchscreen, if you didn’t create apps that responded to the touch screen. I mean, if you’re sitting in a classroom 100 years from now and they say, you know, what was important?

Rob:

What, what changed the world? I think it’s things that we tend to not think of today. You know, the touch screen, the apps that, I mean, you could say social media and you could appoint to all the obvious, but a lot of those are things that go away rather quickly. 3D was one of them. And I did a great, I had a lot of fun on a project for Disney and Warner brothers. That was really a tribute to a gentleman named Charles Schwartz. And he was one of the th the, the heads of etc. And he was a filmmaker and he had a really interesting career and the folks that worked on digital cinema praised him left and right, the filmmakers, the studio execs, because of all the, the steps he took to bring everyone together and break down those political boundaries and business boundaries, and really propel the technology to a new age of, of theatrical storytelling.

Rob:

And I got to interview James Cameron and Michael Mann, and yeah, it was a great little, like we did like a 30 minute version of this video and then a shorter versions for it to be screened at NAB. But sitting down with James Cameron and talking to him about 3d technology, I mean, this is when it was happening and he was such a major proponent and it you know, he loves technology. So he’s really passionate champion for, for, for change like that. And now it’s all, you know, eight K and HDR and all these other technologies, it’s that quick, right? It’s that quick. So when something that they worked on and championed and really supported falls apart, they go onto the next thing. They’re still telling stories.

Nick:

One of the things just to jump off that, and I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but one of the things just to kind of, again, work off of that. So I had covered one of your classes, you know last semester real quick, and the students were they were watching or they were screening up planes, trains, and automobiles. So I’m wondering that, you know, if we’re kind of playing a little bit of this catch up game, when it comes to some of the technology in media, in construction, in, in production, in distribution, how, how then are we able to bring in some of these older examples then this where this content might seem potentially, I mean, that’s one of those films where you put it on, I’ll watch it from, you know, no matter where it’s at, but working with this, you know, with a newer generation where you’re right.

Nick:

You know, we’re all trying to keep up with the latest trends and technology. What is the challenge in, you know, introducing some of these older pieces of content that, you know, two or three generations hold so close to themselves, and yet, you know, there seems to be then, you know, almost, maybe I just turned 30, so maybe I’m, I’m, I’m pretending like I’m older than I am all of a sudden, but what seems to be all of a sudden, a really stark gap in knowledge of what we would deem to be like when to central content to now?

Rob:

I think one of the things that’s difficult to teach someone when they’re 20 and I didn’t grasp this when I was that age, I didn’t grasp it when I was older and I was in grad school for film. You have to experience it. I think you have to live it as part of that industry. And I worked in music videos and infomercials and commercials and a little television and some film when I made it to LA. That foundation is critical and an understanding of the history and knowledge of what came before is critical to the art of storytelling, to the pacing, to the, the layers, the richness, the, the, the the capture of emotion, right? Understanding, pauses, understanding when not to speak, when to react to something understanding how difficult comedy can be, you know, comedic timing.

Rob:

Those are things that when you’re watching, you know, vines or you know vine went away and then we had, you know, things that were two, three, four minutes, which we’re all trying to figure out what that is. Exactly. And now we’ve got things coming back to that are replicating vine again, where they’re going to be, you know, six, 10 seconds long. So I think attention span is a challenge. I also think it’s hard for, you know, you’re only 30, but I’m an old timer. I think it’s hard for some of us to realize that our students aren’t watching television largely they might be watching TV shows and series made for streaming and things that you cannot predict them liking on Netflix or another platform such as the office or friends, or, you know, things that they didn’t watch. Even in some cases in syndication, they’re, they’re, they’re finding these new audiences.

Rob:

So on one hand, you’re showing them something that’s 10, 15 years old, and they’re looking at you with a blank expression or something that’s currently airing on broadcast television. And they’re looking at you with a blank expression, whereas they’re still watching things that they don’t consider old because they’re seeing it for the first time. So it’s, it’s a challenge. It also depends on the context. That class was a first-year seminar. It was about John Hughes films. You have to show the John Hughes films. They also, a lot of them, despite the age distinction grew up with John Hughes films because he’s iconic and because their parents watch them. So they, you know, and they re air every year. Right. So they understand that for some reason, I find that a lot of students, and this was different from my film school experience. A lot of the students here want to watch things they’ve already seen and they enjoy.

Rob:

So there’s, sometimes there’s a hesitation with things that are, that they haven’t seen. The other hesitation is there’s not with all students, but with some students there’s a hesitation regarding they, they consider some things that are old, especially content that’s in black and white. Yeah. They equate that with boring. They equate that with it’s too slow. It’s too out of touch. It’s too old. They’re not using my language. They’re, you know I don’t understand what’s being said, and I think more importantly, they’re too quick to go to their phones or to drift off somewhere else. Right. And that’s, nobody’s fault. I, you know, they’re bombarded with media messages all day long. And they’ve got these, you know, personal devices that I didn’t grow up with. So how do you address that? You know, in the context of a history of film class, you know, you’re going to watch some German expressionism, you’re going to, you know, you’re going to watch some, some film or you’re going to watch some French new wave.

Rob:

And if you don’t like that style, and or if you have a preconceived notion regarding black and white film, then you probably shouldn’t be in the class. Now, if you’re doing John Hughes as a first year, you know, it’s a lot lighter. If you’re taking one of our film studies and film classes topics and phone classes where it’s a specific genre or a specific filmmaker or something like that, you can show the movies and you can feed off of what they like, what they don’t like a lot of times I’ll show clips. Whereas I used to show more full screen, you know, full features. Yeah. So it depends on what I want them to get from things. I try to mix it up as much as possible get as much of their feedback as possible. So I think there’s ways to address that.

Rob:

There’s also ways to use the tools that they use on a daily basis. Youtube. Right? Yeah. So they’re all using YouTube. And if they’re familiar with something that’s more short form on YouTube, and if it’s relating to Billy Wilder or some other filmmaker that you’re addressing, take an interview with Billy Wilder, it takes something from the American film Institute take something from one of their favorite influencers who love film and see what they have to say. So there are ways to do that to, to, to get it back to them where they’re more interested. But there’s also classes I, you know, I’m going to stand by it. I think you have to watch know,

Nick:

You need to watch citizen Kane, you know, you’re going to have to sit through it and the entire thing, parts of it, know the entire. Yeah.

Rob:

So, yeah. And it’s, there’s also a challenge with the length of the classes. So if you have a movie that’s three hours long, you know, do you break it up into two classes or do you give it to them as an assignment? I mean, there’s, there are challenges inherent with the structure of the system, but I gotta say, I love film. I love film. I love television. I love moving images. And I love, absolutely love talking with students who are also passionate about it. So when you look at students like we have with the screen studies minor, for example, or just some students I’ve, I’ve met here, who they walk into their mom, if experience with, I don’t know if it comes from their parents or their high schools, they just have an appreciation and understanding of what came before them. And they’re so excited. And then they give me great ideas for what we should be doing. So I try to listen, I try to pay attention to that, but it’s, it’s, it’s difficult with a lot of them, you know, no one’s fault,

Nick:

Different world. They I had someone actually in my office and they were talking about all the newer films that were out again, just before Oscar you know, Oscar, Oscar season. And I’m sitting there, I’m listening, I’m gone. Oh God, I haven’t seen, I don’t know a majority of these, I haven’t seen a lot of these until I started making references to older movies, all of a sudden, and they didn’t know the French connection and they didn’t. And I was like, Oh, and I actually said it. I was like, thank God, because I thought that I was just a loser at this point in time. But now I know that I know a little something that you don’t know too.

Rob:

This is, this is good. That’s why they should, that’s one of the reasons they should be here. Right. They should be learning from someone who has some experience and knowledge in that area. But I’m finding a bigger challenge. My wife is experiencing this as well, and she’s a teacher. It’s not even going back to the seventies to reference French connection. They don’t know who George Clooney is. And so you’re looking at someone who’s like contemporary a Lister and you’re having trouble getting a response from that. So you have to, or I have to anyway, regularly remind myself that I can’t rely the things I was just relying on five years ago. It’s a, it’s a different type of student with different expectations and that’s fine. You just have to find ways to accommodate that. And that’s where I faced the most challenges.

Rob:

My wife produced animation, TV, animation, and online animation. And she worked at Sony and Warner brothers when she was in LA and a place here called automation collective in the city, in New York. And she stepped from that into teaching middle school. So she’s, yeah, she often says it’s much like working with young animators, but at the same time, she has a student body of seventh and eighth graders in English or what do they call it? That language arts and social studies who don’t watch any television. So she’s using contemporary pop culture references, but they’re not getting it right. They get the music a little bit more than they do television, but they’re watching Netflix and YouTube. They don’t see any, you know, any broadcast TV. So it’s it’s and, and a lot of them don’t watch movies, you know? So that makes it, that makes it a challenge. When, when you’re referring to pop culture,

Nick:

Oh, boy, make me have to like reevaluate my entire Approach for the rest of the semester now, which I knew, I guess two semesters ago, I made a reference to Saved by the Bell and no one knew it and I died a little inside,

Rob:

But you know what, there’s, I keep getting surprised by what they do know. So saved by the bell is one that some do know and really, you know, with affection.

Nick:

Oh, very much so

Rob:

Uh golden girls, I,

Nick:

That just got to like a resurgence a couple of years ago, all stuff.

Rob:

Certainly they weren’t the target demographic when that child is produced yet. I don’t know if it’s a connection they make with their family or their grandparents, or they just like, the show is cool again. And she is a universal talent, right. So and, and boy meets world and girlfriend’s world and boy meets girl and all those, you know, and the cul you know, the, the, the, the the, the spinoffs and the spinoffs and the new versions, and it’s really surprising to me. So I’ll often kind of pull them and I’ll put it in core surveys. I’ll ask in the beginning for, I’m doing a class on romantic comedies right now. And I gave them like four sheets of paper with a list. And I’m like, what’d you say, just circle them. You know, what do you want to watch in class? I’m trying to get a sense of what they know and what they don’t know, and that steers what I’ll watch. I have more flexibility in that than I would a history of the motion picture, for example. Right.

Nick:

Thank you. Rob Scott, going to the students to learn what to teach back. It makes sense. It makes sense. Before we leave. As I mentioned in the, in the beginning, avid fishermen. Hmm. Best catch best place for the Rob. Scott’s off of the Scott for the summer emails, you know away messages on where are you, where are you going and, and drop in line?

Rob:

How do I do this in a short response?

Nick:

God really, I didn’t. I thought this was going to be the, no, this is I have such an

Rob:

Attachment and love of, of water and the ocean and the opportunities I’ve had in my life to work on boats and private boats and charter boats, and actually started out at the coast guard Academy in college, spent a couple of years there and then transferred to Monmouth. I got my undergrad at Monmouth and history, poly psy before going to Miami for film school, after I worked on boats full time for a number of years, I didn’t go to grad school till I was 27 or 28. You know, if I looked at my dream memories, you know, the, the, the ones that if I could repeat them giant tuna fishing, just there’s something about what you can see and watching those beautiful animals swim out from underneath the boat when you’re fishing for them, or seeing them jump while they’re chasing fish.

Rob:

You know, there’s something about a tuna that’s seven, 800 pounds. That’s yeah, it’s just indescribable. It’s so beautiful and majestic and fun. And and I love that part of my fishing, but I also love, you know, inshore fishing for smaller species and I, and my older age developed an appreciation for fly fishing. And yeah, and, and my kid is you know, I, didn’t got late, late to the game with raising a family is I’ve got a seven year old. And he caught his first striped bass from done in secret in the beach this past summer. And that’s now one of my favorite memories watching his excitement, catching that fish all on his own. That’s the first one he caught where he cast the loser by himself. He hooked it by himself. He reeled it in by himself. So to hear him talk about that, you know, that level of pride is so reminiscent of the opportunities I had with my dad growing up fishing. If I could do one thing, if that we retooled the question a little bit. Yeah. It would definitely be great barrier reef of, of all the traveling I did and fishing I did around different spots of the world. I never got down to Australia.

Nick:

Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. You never did. You haven’t gotten there yet.

Rob:

And I have friends who did it professionally to get used to, you know, working a cockpit with a thousand pound fish on a more regular basis. So they could come back here and tuna fish and things like that, but I just never made it down there. And I fished both coasts of the U S and Mexico and inland, and just really had some great opportunities of fish, The Bahamas quite a bit. And new England love the fishing and knowing what but I haven’t, haven’t made it to Australia yet. That’s hopefully, maybe my son will get hooked on this. Excuse the fun. And we’ll do a family trip down to Australia.

Nick:

Very nice. Very nice, Rob, thank you very much for sitting down. I really do appreciate it. It’s always always good to have these moments. If you guys want to go ahead and check out, monitor, check out, I guess, listen to more of our stories and more of our sit downs with our professors. You can go ahead and just click on over to everybody else’s profile and thank you for your time.

Courses

Frequently Taught Classes

  • Broadcast News Operation (CO 352)
  • First Year Seminar (FY 101)
  • Introduction to Communication (CO 100)
  • Introduction to Mass Communication (CO 224)
  • Professional Media Writing (CO 409)
  • Project Greenlight (CO 412)
  • Topics in Film (CO 318)