Al Futtaim Technologies has built a state-of-the-art HD studio for the American University of Sharjah. BroadcastPro ME has the details Last month, the American University of Sharjah unveiled a new studio at its campus. The 14x10m studio comprises an editing room, an audio room and a control room. The studio was made with a budget […]
Al Futtaim Technologies has built a state-of-the-art HD studio for the American University of Sharjah. BroadcastPro ME has the details
Last month, the American University of Sharjah unveiled a new studio at its campus. The 14x10m studio comprises an editing room, an audio room and a control room. The studio was made with a budget of nearly USD 500,000 to provide an education and training platform for Mass Communication students at the university.
The facility will be used by all students taking video-based courses in their degree programme, explains Dr Mohammad I. Ayish, Head of Department of Mass Communication, College of Arts and Sciences.
Students associated with broadcast journalism, advertising and public relations will use the studio to do video assignments in news anchoring, interviewing, talk shows, on-camera performances, green-screen taping and many other things.
The university wanted to establish an audio-visual facility incorporating components of mass communication training and production that an academic institution would require. Al Futtaim Technologies, which has a vast repertoire of educational projects, was contracted to set up a broadcast training facility with state-of-the-art infrastructure to prepare students for jobs in the broadcast sector.
The American University of Sharjah stipulated conditions for the SI; for example, the studio had to be close to the Department of Mass Communication for convenient student and faculty access.
We wanted the studio floor to accommodate multiple performances with different design sets, in addition to having digital studio cameras that matched those in industry workplaces, explains Dr Ayish.
The studio also needed to be acoustically handled in a proper way to ensure an appropriate production environment. With the studio being on campus, it was important that outside noise should not hamper work inside the studio.
The audio and video mixers had to be the latest models, following the latest industry standards, and the university also directed the SI to use LED lights.
It was also important to have an audio facility for sound recording and production.
We also thought a post-production space was necessary, to allow students to carry on their post-production work. A student lounge within the studio facility was also made available, to enable students to discuss ideas and projects before they go on actual production, adds Dr Ayish.
Its extensive portfolio of building studios and broadcast training facilities for educational institutes was the main reason the American University of Sharjah decided to award the project to Al Futtaim Technologies, the key systems integrator for the project. The SI was involved in converting a classroom into a professional studio for educational training and handled the entire civil works as well as equipment procurement and installation for the project.
The studio features three full HD Panasonic cameras with a full chain of camera control units and viewfinder. The studio also features a switcher and router from Blackmagic, a Panasonic audio mixer, Nevion glue equipment, studio cool lights, a railing system and lighting pantograph from T-RED Italy. Other elements include a broadcast-grade communication system and a Chroma Curtain with railing.
We handled the project right from start to finish, says PV Prakash, Project Account Manager at Al Futtaim Technologies.
A key part of the project was undertaking complete acoustical treatment of the studio, final shifting of the air conditioning units and training.
The project was carried out in five phases, which posed a challenge, he adds.
The studio has a standard studio workflow. Inputs from the three cameras, computer graphics, VTRs and other sources go to the patch panels. These are then signalled to the glue equipment, from where they are routed to the switcher, the router and the audio mixer.
We had to use some of the existing equipment, such as the audio mixer, speakers and the communication system, and ensure that the workflow of the studio integrated seamlessly with the existing equipment. A Blackmagic recorder was deployed to avoid the hassle of removing and reconnecting cables. We advised the customer to include glue equipment and routers in the system, adds Prakash.
He also explains the specific challenges of educational projects. In most cases, the studio has to be built in an existing building. This may involve demolishing the structure and rebuilding it. There is a considerable amount of civil works involved in such projects.
Hassan Ali, Technical Sales Manager at Al Futtaim Technologies, says that the companys experience in educational projects was useful in handling the challenges of such a project.
Unlike most other end users, academic institutions often work with limited budgets and limited space. In most projects, we have to build a studio in existing premises, and this immediately poses several restrictions. The project was awarded to us in May 2014, but only the first phase. The second phase followed, which involved starting from scratch, and we had to go through the rigmarole of approving the budgets and buying equipment again.
This is the main reason this studios design and build took more than a year.
Acoustically treating the studio was another important aspect of the project.
We carried out some acoustic calculations at the beginning of the project. Although the client wanted to redo the acoustics, we assured them that the treatment earmarked at the start would suffice. We also gave them a written assurance that should they not be satisfied with the service, we would rectify it, explains Ali.
Al Futtaim Technologies also provided training for staff and faculty on the operation of the studio.
Dr Ayish says that this training will be transferred to students and other faculty.
We have been trained in camera operation, lighting management, control room functions and audio production.
As for post-production, he explains that the students have full access to Adobe Creative Cloud. They use the full range of Adobe applications including Premier Pro and After Effects in addition to Photoshop and Illustrator. Avid Media Composer is also available. The university has four dedicated Macs for video editing.
This studio will enable students to acquire the necessary video skills on campus in order to be able to effectively deal with market challenges in visual communications, adds Dr Ayish.