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MC Broadcasting Studio Upgrades to 4K

by RIKKILYNN SHIELDSAssistant Editor

In 2008, Manhattan College opened the doors of its broadcasting studio, as well as the doors to many broadcasting students’ futures.

Built by the Systems Group of Hoboken, New Jersey, the studio is spread between two levels in Leo Hall, and is equipped with state-of-the-art video cameras, editing equipment and so much more.

The first floor of the studio is a multimedia lab that focuses mainly on web design and digital print design. Each computer in the lab is fully equipped with all of the latest web tools, including industry-standard Pro Tools multi-track digital nonlinear software and the full Adobe Creative Suite.

The second floor of the studio focuses on studio television production, field and post-production, cooperate video and advanced television production. On this floor there are also video-editing labs which include multiple workstations that are networked into the TV studio.

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Manhattan College has installed 4k cameras in the studio, making it the first college in the New York City area to have a 4k studio. Lindsey Burns/The Quadrangle

Recently, Manhattan installed three Blackmagic Studio 4K cameras into the studio, making this the first huge upgrade since the studio was first built. Blackmagic Design is a rapidly growing company that has quickly become one of the world’s leading innovators and distributors of creative video technology.

“Blackmagic Design is dedicated to allowing the highest quality video to be affordable to everyone, so the post production and television industry can become a truly creative industry,” he CEO of Blackmagic Design, Grant Petty said, on Blackmagic’s website.

4K cameras mean that they are able to film four times the resolution of high definition quality, similar to 4K quality televisions that are also starting to pop up in stores.

The studio also purchased a pedestal for each of the new cameras. Pedestals are much more expensive than the tripods that were previously used in the studio, however, they are required standard equipment for the studio now, and will last for many years to come.

In addition to the three new cameras installed, Manhattan also installed a Blackmagic 4K 2-M/E video switcher, which will allow students to learn more modern filming techniques. This will also better prepare them for eventually working in a professional television studio.

The last thing purchased by Manhattan for the broadcasting studio was a Blackmagic Hyperdrive digital disk record, which allows the user to record and playback the videos taken on the 4K cameras in 4K-resolution right in the studio.

“We are right now the only institution of higher education in the greater New York metropolitan area to have such a facility. Not that other colleges and universities won’t eventually catch up with us. Surely they will within the next few years at least,” Thom Gencarelli, Ph.D., the Communication Department Chair, said. “However, because of the great work – and I’ll even say genius – of our consultant and engineer Jeff Anderson, who was part of the team that originally built the studio back in 2008, we’ve pretty much pulled off a miracle.”

“We are very excited to be the first college in the New York City area to have a 4K studio for our students to produce their projects,” associate professor Michael Grabowski, Ph.D. said. “Currently, there is only one professional city in Manhattan that advertises a 4K studio, Digital Arts NY, with many more about to upgrade this year. Many feature film and television productions are shooting work in 4K already in the field, so our students will be well prepared to work in that resolution, and they will have an edge over students at other colleges when they graduate and seek work in this competitive industry.”

This all sounds like an expensive upgrade, however, Grabowski was pleased with the expenses.  “I’m really happy to say that the move to 4K did not cost us any more money than it would have cost us to upgrade to HD,” Grabowski said. “Because of our timing, we now have the most current technology for less money than it would have cost two years ago.”

This upgrade to MC’s broadcasting studio does not just benefit the college and its faculty. It also benefits the students. Originally, broadcasting students were at a disadvantage because the studio was never upgraded to HD. “I am energized by this upgrade, and so happy for my students to be able to work in this environment,” Grabowski said. “Since I arrived in 2010, our students were producing work in the old standard, while other college had upgraded to HD. Our students were disadvantaged by the lower resolution, and I was not able to attract professional clients to work with our students in the space.”

However, because of the money saved and funds received last year, the Communication Department realized they had enough money to skip upgrading the studio to HD and upgrade directly to 4K.

“Our HD problem became a blessing in disguise, because we were able to leapfrog over HD and go directly to 4K, when other colleges had already spent their money a few years ago upgrading their studios to HD,” Grabowski said.

The recent installation of these new cameras in the studio is going to be a major selling point for the school when potential students tour the school. “Another ‘pro’ is that our students will be able to go out into the industry with this system and its equipment, and their experience with it, listed at the bottom of their resumes,” Gencarelli said. “In fact, some students who graduate this spring will go out to work in professional shops that haven’t even attained what we have. Our program is, and has always been about trying to prepare our students for an industry of the future, not the industry of today.”

With the installation of these new cameras, there is also the possibility of opening up the studio to outside broadcasting companies to use. “We will now be able to attract outside clients to come to us and use our facility and its equipment,” Gencarelli said. However, there are some conditions these companies will have to follow, such as hiring students as members of their professional production crew, offering internship positions for their productions, only using the facility at times when classes are not using it as well and paying a facilities fee.

“I arrived at Manhattan College with a plan to create a sort of apprentice system for our production students. You can learn only so much in the classroom or making projects, but the only real way to understand how a professional production operates is to be a part of one,” Grabowski said. “This is a way to jump-start our students’ careers.”

Grabowski is now encouraging his students to shoot more productions in the studio than ever before. “I encourage any students interested in working in production to become a part of MCTV and gain valuable experience in our studio,” he said.

Not only will these cameras benefit the college, bringing in more money from outside companies, it will also benefit students exponentially. “I’m really excited about the upgrade. I love learning how to use new equipment,” Hugh Geraghty, a junior broadcasting student, said. “This studio will definitely benefit students, because we will be able to record better quality footage, so we can have professional looking projects.”

Having the ability to work with technology that most major companies in the New York City area have yet to get ahold of gives the broadcasting students here at Manhattan College a great advantage in the professional world.

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