Sydney-based Macquarie University has a growing international reputation for innovative and interdisciplinary programs, and the school’s Department of Media, Music, Communication, and Cultural Studies offers the best media and production facilities of any Australian university. The department’s media hub features cutting-edge screen, radio, performance and music production facilities, with faculty that includes multi-award winning researchers, film and documentary makers, musicians, producers, and novelists.
Macquarie understands the importance of mirroring the platforms and systems in use by major broadcasters and online media outlets internationally. That’s why the school recently built a state-of-the-art teaching and broadcast facility for its Master of Creative Media and Master of Future Journalism programs. The new “Futures Lab” represents the most significant investment in online media production to date by an Australian university.
The school is focused on helping graduates secure their careers as the next generation of media professionals. To meet this goal, Macquarie University recently embraced the Avid Everywhere™ vision for education by outfitting the facility with an end-to-end workflow built upon the Avid MediaCentral platform—the industry’s most open and extensible platform. Now, students can learn using the same industry-standard tools and technology used by leading organizations.
Teaching students "real-world" production
Designed in consultation with various broadcasters and a team of Avid experts, the Futures Lab includes a training classroom, an open plan newsroom area, a green screen studio, a control room, and an equipment room. Although each area requires a vast array of specialized equipment, all of the university’s production systems are linked to the Avid MediaCentral Platform with iNEWS and ISIS 5500 shared storage.
“It was essential for the new facility to function as a hub for the university’s other production areas, including music and radio studios, a video editing facility, and a screen production studio,” says Mike Baber, Futures Lab Technical Officer at Macquarie University. “The Avid Global Services team was critical in ensuring this connectivity.”
It was essential for the new facility to function as a hub for the university’s other production areas, including music and radio studios, a video editing facility, and a screen production studio.
MIKE BABER, FUTURES LAB TECHNICAL OFFICER, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY
In the classroom space, students learn to use Media Composer, Pro Tools, iNEWS and MediaCentral | UX, which allows students and faculty to access and edit media from practically any device—and from any location. The open plan newsroom area is comprised of six workstations—two equipped with Media Composer | NewsCutter Option with NRCS tool integration, and with Media Composer. It also includes a hot desk where students can use any laptop to wirelessly access MediaCentral | UX to make quick edits and update scripts for final production.
“This powerful system allows students to experience life in the real world,” says Baber. “It is not only important for them to understand the theories and philosophies of journalism, but if they can use the same advanced toolsets in the learning environment, they will be one step ahead of the competition when it comes time to join the highly competitive world news media.”
We now have a fully-fledged system where students can learn to use iNEWS, Media Composer and Pro Tools | Software in order to create small productions and news bulletins.
PETER RING, FACILITIES MANAGER, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY
Looking towards the future
While the Lab features many ENG (electronic news gathering) cameras and other field gear, there’s also a modern green screen news studio that utilizes robotic cameras. A good portion of the content used for the courses is shot in the green screen studio, mirroring the workflow of modern television news.
Interplay | Production brings the whole system together, combining the ISIS 5500 storage system with MediaCentral | UX, iNEWS, and AirSpeed 5000 for baseband ingest and output—along with a host of other Avid solutions that enable the Futures Lab to compete on the world stage. Students can now produce content for broadcast and distribution to various social media portals such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.
In addition to the Futures Lab, the new Avid workflow allows unparalleled collaboration and connectivity with other areas of the university—students and researchers alike can now work on projects and share their resources from any location worldwide with MediaCentral | UX. As Macquarie University continues to push the boundaries of media education, Baber says the university will partner with Avid every step of the way.
“Avid has long been committed to supporting learning institutions through its industry-leading training programs, and Macquarie University is proud to be an Avid Learning Partner in Australia,” concludes Baber. “With this qualification, we are able to impart industry standard training for the Avid products that will allow the students and end users alike to benefit from the depth of the training scheme available. We are looking forward to an ongoing and prosperous relationship with Avid as they continue to expand the boundaries of electronic news and post production.”