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Solutions: Anglia Ruskin University studio upgrade

A leading film and media studies school has re-equipped its TV studio and gallery to HD, with a 4K upgrade path, as part of a major upgrade programme – to give its students the chance to work with industry-standard equipment.

The Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University teaches film and television production courses and film and media studies to undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as offering research degrees.

The purpose-built studio and gallery are 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. Among 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.

Anglia Ruskin has invested over £122 million in its campuses over the past five years and will be adding a further £98 million to keep pace with innovation. As part of this mission, the university decided to upgrade its television facility. After a rigorous tender process, UK systems integrator Megahertz was selected to upgrade the SD studio and gallery to HD, with provision for a future move to 4K.

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 a future-proof upgrade path. The system integrator also provided implementation guidance for the creation of a UHD/4K workflow.

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, which Megahertz delivered in under six months.

Broadcast industry standards

“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,” explains Daniel Jagger, technical manager at the 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 reconfigure 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 includes an Allen & 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.

Graduates with an edge

“There is definite excitement within the student body, they are enjoying using this equipment,” continues 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,” concludes 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.”