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Equipping Broadcasters And Filmmakers Of The Future

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Investing in UHD/4K
Anglia Ruskin University's Cambridge School of Art teaches Film & Television Production courses and Film and Media Studies to undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as offering research degrees. Its purpose-built facility is designed to equip the courses' students with the craftsmanship and skills to begin a career in the ever-diversifying film and television industry, from drama to documentary, and music promos to moving image projects. Amongst other practical creative endeavours, the students shoot on film and video, from high definition to 16mm film, and learn post-production skills in editing, sound and grading.

Over the past five years, Anglia Ruskin has invested over £122 million in its campuses and will be adding a further £98 million to keep pace with innovation. As part of this mission, the university decided to upgrade its SD television studio and gallery with brand new UHD-capable equipment and turned to UK systems integrator, Megahertz, for support following a rigorous tender process.

Megahertz provided consultation services and designed, installed and commissioned the art school's studio upgrade, advising on equipment selection with a focus on interoperability across multi-vendor systems and future-proof upgrade path. The system integrator, which is renowned for working with emerging technologies to simplify operations, also provided implementation guidance for the creation of a UHD/4K workflow.

With this installation, Anglia Ruskin was one of the first users of the new Panasonic AK-UC3000 4K camera. This cutting-edge upgrade ensures that Anglia Ruskin students hit the ground running when they join the film and broadcast industry on graduation.

"It's a pleasure to be involved with an educational facility that is pioneering some of the key new 4K technology. With such installations, we are effectively contributing to the future of the broadcast industry, which will certainly involve graduates from Anglia Ruskin University," said Jon Flay, Managing Director, Megahertz.

The new UHD capable 60sqm TV studio replaces an in-house analogue solution that the university had installed 10 years ago. The project also involved the entire redesign of the existing 20sqm gallery layout, all of which Megahertz managed to deliver in under six months.

"Although we had invested in equipment regularly over the years, the students were still working with older technology which wasn't really a match for what is available in the wider broadcast industry," explained Daniel Jagger, Technical Manager at Anglia Ruskin University's Cambridge School of Art. "We were looking to create a highly proficient learning environment, built to broadcast industry standards. Now, not only is the system 4K ready, it also offers major operational efficiencies, for example, we can now re-configure and monitor cameras from the gallery with the flick of a switch rather than manually swapping leads around."

With three Panasonic AK-UC3000 4K cameras and AK-UCU500 Camera Control Units positioned in the studio, Anglia Ruskin University was one of the very first customers in the UK to purchase this state of the art camera equipment. An AW-UE70 Panasonic remote PTZ camera, AJA UHD VTR and HD graphics/character generator are also installed.

All UHD feeds are generated from a Ross Carbonite Black 2ME vision mixer for programme/transmission and preview monitoring. HD streaming is possible from HD sources or down-converted UHD sources, such as the programme output from the vision mixer. Other key equipment installed at the studio include an Allan & Heath QU16 audio mixing desk. The equipment is all installed within a single 19in rack in the gallery, while the two control desks are located on the studio floor.

'Real world' skills
"There is definite excitement within the student body, they are enjoying using this equipment," continued Jagger. "This Megahertz design gives our students access to a facility that is as close as possible to a 'real world' operational TV studio while offering them a simple yet flexible system on which to learn. Ultimately this will give our graduates an 'edge' when it comes to future employment in the broadcast industry."

The biggest challenge from a systems integration perspective was that Anglia Ruskin has a very specific internal working process, to which Megahertz adapted flexibly and responsively. "Megahertz were reliable and efficient," concluded Jagger. "They stuck to deadlines and from the beginning, we felt confident in their ability to assist with the design and the installation of this project."

Recent Anglia Ruskin graduates are now working for the likes of the BBC, Ridley Scott Associates and Marmalade Productions, as well as on feature films such as Pride, The Theory of Everything, Kick-Ass 2, and Berberian Sound Studio, and TV productions such as 24: Live Another Day, EastEnders, Holby City and Fortitude.

In 2016 Anglia Ruskin was ranked in the top 350 institutions in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, featured in a list of the 20 "rising stars" in global Higher Education compiled by strategy consultants Firetail, and were named as one of the top 20 UK universities for teaching quality in The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Image: Anglia Ruskin TV Gallery.

This article also features in the January edition of Broadcast Film & Video.

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