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While the rest of Dubai’s schools focus on academic instruction, one school attempts to go beyond the norm by offering vocational courses to its students. As part of those efforts, Wellington International School in Dubai has invested in a state-of-the-art production facility that will train its students in TV and radio broadcast. Digital Studio reports.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  April 3, 2006

I|~|well1.jpg|~|Chris Wright, executive principal of Wellington International School is confident that not many schools in the United Kingdom boast such facilities either.|~|As part of its efforts to offer its students a course that is out of the norm and unique, Wellington International School (WIS), one of the newest schools to be launched in Dubai, has recently put together a million dollar broadcast production facility at its premises. The facility will be used to train the school’s media students in TV and radio production as well as broadcasting. The school claims to be the only one in Dubai to currently boast such a facility, which was put together by Oasis Enterprises LLC, a Dubai-based systems integration company. In fact, the principal of the school claims that not even schools in the UK have such a sophisticated production unit. “I used to work as a principal in the United Kingdom for 13 years before I came to Dubai, and I can say with confidence that not many schools there have such a complete suite like this for students to operate,” says Chris Wright, executive principal, Wellington International School. “In fact, I had gone to a radio station in Dubai the other day for an interview and I was rather surprised to see that we had a much larger facility than them,” he adds. The facility is said to be so comprehensive that a DJ, who works with one of the FM stations in Dubai, offered to run his breakfast show from the school. The production and post unit has been built in such a way that it can accommodate 24 students at any given time. “Here, many schools offer high academics and that is their focus. But then, not all students want only that. What we wanted to do was offer students to excel not only in academics but also in sport and performing arts such as music, dance and drama. As part of that, we also offer media studies. A small part of the media studies is filmmaking and editing, and this facility is meant to cater to that need,” says Wright. The broadcast facility at the school has separate TV and radio studios, an audio production suite, a HDV edit suite, a master control room and a Mac editing lab. The two-camera TV studio, which is 7x5 ms in size, is equipped with a fully retractable lighting grid system. It is equipped with Desisiti luminaries that have been designed to give different lighting levels and ambience depending on the mood the school would like to create. All studio lights are dimmed using ETC’s Smart pack and controlled using ETC’s Smart Fade consoles. The console is a small 12-channel ETC console that can be expanded to 48. The studio comprises one JVC HDV camcorder — the GY-HD100E, which the students use to film programmes either in the studio or in other areas of the school, and a studio camera from JVC’s new range of studio level KY-560 cameras. This is fitted with a studio kit that includes a 15” LCD teleprompter system. Both cameras are wired to Datavideo’s four-channel production mixer, which is used to mix as well as add effects to the component signals. The final video is recorded onto JVC’s HDV recorder. This is one of the few projects in which a CCU cable has been converted into CAT 5. “Usually, the CCU cable goes straight into a CCU unit. The reason for having this is to enable flexibility,” explains K C Rajiv, project engineer, Oasis Enterprises. “If there is a function in the school, the studio camera can be taken to that area for recording. We have installed a fair number of network points throughout the building. So all one needs to do is take this camera to the area, shoot, connect it to a point in that area, which is pre-marked. These, in turn, are connected to the production facility. People can then sit in this area, do appropriate editing and from here, send it to the digital signage system across the school. This is not common here but is often done in the US.” The audio bit again is impressive. In the audio section of the TV studio, the studio microphones are mixed through Yamaha’s digital mixer and are recorded onto a hard disc drive as well as to a HDV recorder. The footage is then edited with Solitaire from Macro System, a HDV standalone system. The radio section comprises a radio production studio as well as an on-air studio. The radio production studio consists of a Yamaha 02R 96-V2, which works like an extended Digital audio workstation when integrated with Steinberg’s Nuendo and IZ technologies-Radar 24, a broadcast hard disc recorder that is built to record at sampling rates as high as 192 kHz. The on-air studio comprises a two-channel on-air mixer from Air lab as well as radio automation software from DRS Technologies. The studio is capable of hosting live interviews as well as taking music requests from students through telephones that are placed in different areas of the school. ||**||II|~|well2.jpg|~|Wellington International School’s students make their first attempt at producing a programme.|~|The content is then mixed with the production mixers and are recorded on the Radar 24 located in the radio production studio. The content can also be internally broadcast through the Public Address (PA) system or streamed to the school’s website through Real Media. As part of this entire project, the school has also invested in a Digital signage system, which includes 26 37” LCD monitors from JVC that are distributed across the school. The system can be controlled from the studio as well as from any remote location. The monitors transmit video signals through CAT 6 cables thereby reducing signal loss and the cost of cabling. Wellington has also made the effort to invest in a signage system that is capable of screen segmentation. This means each LCD screen can display multiple screens — video, text etc. which can be controlled individually. “Also, video media can be integrated with the internet, powerpoint, DVD, Macromedia Director, live TV, images, text and sound. Most organisations would probably go for something more basic but this school has made a genuine effort to put in place a sophisticated digital signage system that allows them to do multiple things,” adds Rajiv. Wellington International School itself has several ideas on how it can capitalise on this project and make the most of it. The school is already exploring the possibility of partnerships with radio stations and audio production schools in an effort to provide its students with a meaningful course. “We have some sophisticated equipment in there. Now, the big challenge is the training and the education itself and to make sure that our students are genuinely benefiting from such a facility, says Wright. “We are open to partnerships. In fact, recently, one of our teachers went to help an RJ run his morning programme, and in return, he offered to take a couple of classes for our students on radio broadcast. We are expecting some of our students to go in for further education in this field and also expect to give our students hands-on experience of running their own radio station from this school. We are looking to develop and are working with an outside accreditation agent to be able to offer courses in filmmaking, sound engineering and animation. We are also in talks with the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) in Dubai Media City to see if they can help us develop some our training courses and in return us enable their students to come here and use our facility. All of this is tentative right now but in a few months, when the facility is up and running without any issues, our plans will be more concrete,” adds Wright. Right now, classrooms at the school have been equipped with speakers so that the older children who run the radio station can play song requests. However, in a few years, when the facility becomes operational and a more sophisticated course is in place, Dubai will see several potential broadcast engineers emerge from one of its schools. ||**||

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