RJ Forbus: KWU’s Digital Media Protegé
Written by Victor Cascio on April 19, 2022
While most KWU students enjoy watching their peers compete at sporting events from the stands, one lone Coyote can be seen strolling up and down the sidelines with one of his many baseball jerseys on and his camera in hand. That lone, jersey-sporting Coyote is Senior RJ Forbus. While almost all of the student body is enjoying some time away from class, practice, etc to take in a game, Forbus has only begun his work. He remains busy throughout the game making sure to capture the highlight plays and the rowdiest crowd reactions throughout the contest so he can dive right into his next project once the game is over (whether that be a new photo album, a pregame intro, or a promotional hype video).
We’re used to seeing this kind of work at professional sporting events or NCAA Division-I college games, but NAIA schools don’t get to enjoy that luxury too, right? Wrong. Thanks to the Sin City native, KWU athletes and fans have been able to explore a whole new dimension of the student-athlete experience that a lot of other small schools cannot match, whether it be the aforementioned pre-game intros, photos of athletes’ in action, or promotional graphics/videos.
Given the high state of quality of Forbus’s work, it would make sense to assume that he’s spent the last several years of his life mastering his craft and becoming a content-creating wizard, right? You’d be wrong again. Despite the immense amount of professionalism that radiates from each of his creations, Forbus has only been at his practice for a handful of months. What started out as a newly discovered hobby a couple of years ago has now manifested itself into a brand new passion, which could have major implications following his graduation later this Spring.
A non-communication/digital media major, Forbus got his start in digital media during his days at College of the Siskiyous in Weed, CA, after buying his first camera from his old roommate. Forbus noted that he had always had an interest in the field, and this now gave him his first chance to go out and dabble around a little bit. After finishing up at junior college, Forbus and his camera landed at Kansas Wesleyan, where he has been ever since. After shooting some photos for KWU’s baseball team during the 2020 Fall World Series, his teammates began to take note of his then-hidden talent. His work even captured the attention of his parents, who took note of his abilities and encouraged him to dive a little bit deeper into the realm of photography. They even assisted in finalizing the purchase of his first high-quality camera, a Canon Rebel T3.
From there, he continued to experiment and gain experience, taking advantage of every opportunity to go out and snap some pics. One snowy evening during the early weeks of the Spring ‘21 semester, Forbus bundled up and headed into the elements to capture shots of students out in the snow, which he later uploaded to Instagram. This captured the attention of KWU’s MCSU (Multicultural Student Union), who in turn invited Forbus to photograph their first annual Fashion Show. This, in addition to working other events (JV basketball games, baseball games, etc), played a vital role in building his portfolio and securing him bigger roles like assembling pre-game introductions, which he began this past Fall.
It’s been a trial-and-error type process for Forbus the last handful of months as he has worked with various editing software, but he’s adjusted accordingly and picked up new tricks along the way. From editing videos on his smartphone to eventually graduating to utilizing the Mac lab on campus, he’s been able to unlock new resources and continue developing his skill set. Forbus remembers that his first experiences with editing platforms such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects were rigorous, and it took a great deal of time before he was able to finish his first couple of works.
“It took me a week and a half to get my first project done,” he recalls. “For basketball season I started using templates, but even that still took up a lot of time. It really is still all brand new to me.”
Learning the ins and outs has certainly not been easy, and Forbus will be the first to admit that he’s far from mastering his craft. The old adage says that everyone is their own worst critic, and the KWU pitcher and aspiring digital media expert is no different. However, he is also quick to acknowledge how much he has learned and how much progress he has made towards mastery in such a short amount of time.
“I know I’ve come a long way,” says Forbus. I’ll scroll through my old work at times and it’s like a timeline of my progress… I’ve learned a lot about things as far as what to look for when shooting clips and getting more creative angles with my shots. I think there are some things that need to be done a certain way with cool content, but I also try to do what I feel is right and not compare myself to others.”
For a Pre-Athletic training major who is still in his rookie year of content creation, most would certainly agree that Forbus is making great progress and has outrun the learning curve to this point; it’s especially impressive considering that Forbus has to manage a full class schedule and collegiate athletics, all while keeping up with the student demand for content. As far as the possibility of entering the digital media field after graduation, Forbus is optimistic that a chance to do so would allow him to have more time to devote to his work, without having to prioritize classwork and athletics. After initially planning to take a year away from school after completing his degree this May, he has since been trying to set up a way to return to KWU with a media production position.
“One thing I’ve been talking about behind the scenes is how to come back next year with a job position, either with the media department or with [David] Toelle while finishing up my MBA. That way I could have more time to create content.”
It’s a stressful endeavor that comes with a unique set of time management challenges as Forbus continues to learn the trade, but the support he garners from the student body and the appreciation they show to him makes it all worthwhile.
“It’s a real good feeling, getting that gratification of knowing you did something,” he says. “You don’t really get that a lot in general in life.”
Appreciation and gratification are just a couple of the intrinsic rewards that have come by way of this journey that Forbus embarked on years ago, unaware of where it would take him. As previously mentioned, there could soon be a job opportunity on the table for Forbus to return to his soon-to-be alma mater as a full-time media employee, all because he decided to finally pick up his roommate’s camera years ago. It’s an unlikely story, and Forbus is still taken aback at times by the bizarre nature of it all.
“It’s weird looking back and realizing how it all started with one small thing, and then just kind of snowballed,” Forbus says with a smile.
What the future holds for Forbus remains to be seen, whether it be in digital content creation, Physician’s Assistant position, or another avenue. But for now, KWU students can continue enjoying the work of their favorite media man, while he focuses on the snapshots that stand right in front of him.