Training the next generation of media chameleons
With the help of Blackmagic Design, Dutch media school Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam is teaching its students flexibility for the 21st century
With more than 4,000 students learning practical skills to help them launch a career in the creative professions, the Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam (GLR) puts hands on experience at the forefront of its curriculum.
For its AV and multimedia production courses, the college has always ensured that students have access to professional studio equipment. “Understanding how to create interesting and engaging programming is, of course, an important element of our courses. However our main priority is to help our students master the skills they need to work in a studio based production team,” explains Marc Schrader, GLR.
A location change for GLR’s production facilities was the perfect opportunity for the technical team to not only update its existing analog and SD kit and implement a future-proofed production workflow, but also enable students to deliver reports from venues across the campus. Working with Apple reseller and workflow experts The Future Store, Marc explains how Ultra HD broadcast equipment from Blackmagic Design enabled him to meet this brief.
“Our aim is that our teaching environment is always able to educate students on every aspect of the production process, and that meant installing individual desks for each function,” explains Marc. “Of course, we’re seeing the disciplines merging more and more in real life studios, thanks to the progression of technology, however for us, it’s important that students receive a solid foundation in their education, and then they can be much more flexible in their career and almost have a chameleon-type approach to studio production.”
GLR’s studio is primarily used to produce talk show style programming, with a class of around 16 to 20 students each taking a production role. The program mix is cut on an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K, paired with an ATEM 2 M/E Broadcast Panel, using six live feeds from pedestal mounted Blackmagic Studio Camera HD. When devising the multi-cam set up, Marc also wanted to ensure that the production kit was intuitive, to enable an auto-didactic teaching environment.
“We didn’t want students to be distracted or frustrated by the technology, which should ultimately be there to help them bring their ideas to life. The cameras have all of the professional features that our students need, such as talkback and tally as well as program return, while still being easy to set up and start working with. They learn as they work, and discover for themselves what makes the most effective productions, whether this is camera angles, or the effects they use when vision mixing.”
The video production desk also uses a Blackmagic MultiView 16, as well as SmartView preview monitors and a SmartScope Duo, to provide students with a comprehensive insight into the video signals being produced. Marc explains that the open integration in the ATEM switcher has also been useful in the studio build, as it has allowed the team to introduce additional functionality into the production workflow.
All of the content produced by the students is captured to SSD on a series of four HyperDeck Studio Pro broadcast decks. This enables a class to record four streams so that the whole multi-cam recording can be accessed after the fact, allowing students to to keep practising their vision mixing and editing effects, without needing camera operators and talent. “We do want to keep a record of what the students have produced, however. It is very much the practical skills required to produce the programming that will always be our main priority,” explains Marc.
As part of the production overhaul, GLR also wanted to be able to open up the school’s campus, to increase the variety of content the students are able to work with. “As a creative school, there is always some kind of performance going on, whether this is in the auditorium, or in classrooms or even outside,” explains Marc. “We installed fibre channels throughout the campus, so that students can produce live OBs, and deliver those through to the studio to be mixed.”
A Universal Videohub 72x72 manages all of the signal distribution for GLR, which gives the technical team the capacity to produce multi-cam, multi-location productions and allows students to also gain experience with infrastructure engineering alongside production skills.
“Basing the GLR studio on a Blackmagic workflow gave us a complete and open ecosystem to build with,” adds Daan Hermans, The Future Store. “For the ATEM line we could easily bring in a Skaarhoj controller for managing the camera shading, and make the right connections with part of the studio’s existing intercom systems. By routing all the connections via the Universal Videohub, we are able to virtually ‘patch’ any connection, so if needed we can bring in a camera from the complete other side of the building through to the monitors on the audio desk, if need be.”
“The new studio build has breathed new life into the course, and you can feel that the students are excited to get to work when they arrive for their classes,” concludes Marc. “The Blackmagic equipment helps to create the professional and practical environment that we wanted to create, to inspire the next generation of studio producers and technicians. The fact that we can now utilise activities that are going on around the campus transforms our facility from a training room, into a true production hub for the entire school.”