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AFTRS revives broadcast training with Sony

The Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) has revived its television broadcast training program with the launch in Sydney of Studio 2, a dedicated studio refurbished with a full complement of Sony HD equipment.

The initiative for broadcast training arose from research conducted by AFTRS within the industry to see if there was a role for training.

"We researched over 40 production companies and broadcasters to understand their requirements and the resounding response was that they wanted us to provide broadcast training," said Tim Sadler, director, technology and infrastructure at AFTRS.

"We were told that existing training schemes ensured there was no shortage of people who could push buttons but the big challenge was finding people who could craft using broadcast tools and elevate the quality of the finished product, which is what AFTRS is about. At all levels we teach students how to tell stories."

To respond appropriately, the AFTRS decided to upgrade parts of its television system as the vision side had older, standard definition equipment that was still working but was no longer relevant in today's industry."

AFTRS put the challenge to competitive tender and selected Sony to supply and install a full range of studio and control room equipment.

"To be relevant AFTRS needs equipment that is recognised by the industry and there are only a few players in the high-end broadcast equipment market," explained Sadler.

The existing AFTRS studio infrastructure was based on triax cabling and Sony was able to fully utilize this using the HSC-300 cameras, which feature digital triax operation.

"Flexibility is the name of game for AFTRS as we literally want to be able to do any type of program in any format," added Sadler. "Primarily our TV training is aimed at factual projects which broadly cover magazine, panel, interview and game shows but we want to be able to juggle our operations to suit the type of show the students are working on. We want to be able to grow the system and be able to use it in new ways that the industry isn't doing now. We encourage risk taking from a creative perspective so students can try out new ideas. So the more flexible I can make the infrastructure and technology, the more I can support any idea that comes up as opposed to enforcing a particular way of working.

"The main control room is physically attached to Studio 2 but it's fully integrated with all of our studio facilities so we can put anything anywhere and run it all from the control room. We could feasibly put a chamber orchestra recording in Studio 1, a live audience with a television magazine set in Studio 2, and sports in Studios 3 and 4 and pipe it all into the control room and mix it live."

Sadler is delighted AFTRS has been able to obtain Sony's new MVS-7000X production switcher. The school is one of the first Australian sites for the new generation switcher and students can take advantage of its ability to reconfigure a single processor board to provide multiple mix/effects rows.

Additional flexibility is provided by the MCS-8M compact switcher in the Web streaming control room. The all-in-one high-performance switcher can be used to control or stream sound and vision from Studio 2 or it can easily be moved on location for outside broadcast training.

The AFTRS have used Studio 2 to run a TV Presenting: Advanced Skills course, and due to the excellent response it received, this course has been scheduled again in August. It will also run its first multicamera studio director course in September.

"The new studio has also been used for green screen and chroma keying workshops as part of our regular award courses. The response has been very positive and everyone is enjoying using the new equipment."