The second all-HDTV facility in Ireland opened this week at the new National Film School building, part of the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT).
The equipment was given a baptism of fire at the official launch ceremony on November 26th when students used it to capture the official opening by Irish president Michael D. Higgins. It’s hoped that the ultra-modern 5-camera HDTV facility will be fully available to students from January, once training is complete.
Broadcast services specialist Gearhouse Broadcast won the contract for the design, supply, install and support of the two-studio campus located in South Dublin. The project was awarded in an open tender process.
The larger of the two studios, with a circumference of approximately 50m, is equipped with five Hitachi SK-HD1200 multi-format 1080p/3G HDTV broadcast cameras channels that come with Fujinon HA23 x 7.3BERD HD studio lenses. These cameras are hot-swappable between the two studios as needed.
The second smaller studio features a FOR-A VRCAM2 sensor-less virtual studio system, including an HVS-390HS 2 M/E mixer with the option of accepting data from a Vinten 430i and Quattro SE encoded head and pedestal. Gearhouse Broadcast is also supplying an ARRI ALEXA camera with ARRI Alura 35mm zoom lenses and three Sony CineAlta 4K Prime lenses.
The production gallery consists of a Sony MVS 6520 2 ME Vision Mixer, a Grass Valley K2 Dyno Replay System, Harris routing and Glue, and multi-viewers. The audio control area houses a Studer Vista 1, 32 channel audio mixer and an edit station utilising Avid Nitris DX. The audio workstation will be handled by an Avid Pro Tools|HDX system.
File-based transfers of files are possible from the gallery down to five editing suites, a colour matching suite and other post production stations. At the heart of the facility is a centralized 63Tb ddp server that supports the entire system. Also built as part of the project were two radio studios, one regular and one self-op.
An investment of over €8 million
Excluding the costs incurred as a result of the loss of a contractor early in the project, the total project is expected to reach €8.5 million, according to Bernard Mullarkey, secretary and financial controller at the IADT Dun Laoghaire who said the funding for the project came from the reserves of the institute.
“The Department of Education paid for the building, which includes some structural elements like the grid or hoist for example,” he explained. “But we got no government funding for the rest of the installation, it came out of the budget of the school. We have also received some support from some external sponsors we are approaching.”
The deadlines for the project were extremely tight. Gearhouse Broadcast said the project took about a month to design and 8 weeks to complete on-site from early September, with the radio studios being transferred from their old location in just 2 and a half weeks from the decommissioning of the old radio studios. The older TV equipment will still be available to students, to help them familiarise themselves with the process before graduating to the new installation.
The IADT wants students to have a working knowledge of what the real world looks like. “We need to be really clear that it’s primarily an academic space and needs to be available to our students during the year,” said Mullarkey. He added that the studio should facilitate the collaboration of the various specialisations at the school: film and television, animation, design for stage and screen, costume design, make-up and prosthetics, production (set) design as well as radio broadcast production, graphic design.
Facility for hire
The facility was designed like a full working studio and is fully wired to support external connections to OB vans or uplink trucks, which the school hopes will make it attractive to outside users during academic downtime.
“International students, local TV producers who may need to pitch pilots already made, other broadcasters who may need additional facilities for election times and of course, with the recent news that UTV is coming to Dublin, perhaps the studio can be of interest there,” added Mullarkey. “It’s an hour from here to London and we are roughly the same distance from New York as L.A. We won’t be able to run a very large scale X Factor or a Voice of Ireland but there are many other possibilities."
By Monica Heck