GUIDE – Hardware and Equipment for Working with New Media

Amy’s WRTG classes require students to compose projects using a variety of digital media, which means that students should have access to the following hardware equipment:

If you’re a student or faculty member at the University of Colorado, you can check out some of this equipment through the Digital Media Lab in ATLAS. Contact Tim Riggs for info.


You may use either:

  • a Windows PC running Windows 7
  • an Apple computer running Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or OS 10.7 (Lion)


You will use a microphone primarily to record your own voice, but you may also want to record others (such as for an interview). You may use either:

  • an internal mic (built-in to computer)
  • an external mic (plug in via microphone jack or USB – recommended)


You will use a still camera to take photos of yourself, other people, and/or anything interesting and relevant you come across. You will use a video camera to record your own video blog entries and possibly also to record other people, such as for interviews or mini-documentaries. In most cases you’ll be able to use the same camera for both still images and videos, but in some cases you may need to use two different cameras. Here are some options:

  • internal computer camera
  • external web-cam
  • portable digital camera
  • smart phone camera

Most PC laptops and all Mac laptops have cameras built in to the top of the screen. On a Mac, launch PhotoBooth to take still photos with the built-in camera and launch iMovie or QuickTime to record video.


Every year, I have at least three or four students who lose everything on their computers through events like theft, accidental damage, or software or hardware malfunction. Sometimes it takes the complete loss of all your computer files for the lesson to sink in that it’s important to make regular backups, but I hope most of you have learned from the experiences of others and are already in the habit of backing up.

The easiest method is to use an automated backup application with an external hard drive. Most external hard drives come with back up apps, and Macs also have Time Machine, which can back up to any drive. Automated backup apps typically backup the most recently changed files every hour or so.

Another easy method is to use a tool that synchs data on your computer with a corresponding account on the web and/or across other computers and mobile devices. The tool I use for this purpose is Dropbox, which allows me to specify certain folders on my hard drive to synch with the online version. I save current versions of any file I’m working on in a Dropbox folder, and that file is then synched to my Dropbox web account and also to my other computers as well as my iPhone and iPad. Not only is the file backed up regularly, it’s also always available to me no matter what device I’m using. If you’re a Mac user and have Mobile Me, you can also use this method with iDisk.

If you don’t use an automated tool, then at the very least you should get in the habit of manually backing up important files by sending them to yourself by email, uploading them to your Google Docs account, storing them in a synching notes app, like Evernote, or periodically copying them onto a USB thumb drive.


  • Tripod for digital camera or camcorder
  • Noise-canceling earphones
  • Document and image scanner