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Jasco implements broadcast learning studio at UFS Jasco Broadcast Solutions has implemented a broadcast learning studio at the University of the Free State (UFS) for its film and media students, rivalling any commercial operation. The studio provides the UFS’ arts, media, drama and film students with access to the latest equipment and technology in a broadcast working environment that is rapidly changing. Says Dr Pieter Venter of UFS’ film and visual media school: “This investment was driven by the need to provide a broader platform of opportunity to UFS students. With the emergence of digital technology, industries are converging and the lines between theatre, film, television, media, marketing and agency outputs are blurred. Even though these sectors and disciplines are now more integrated, their roles are also more specialised. “The 80m2 studio provides a ‘black box’ for our students to gain practical skills – from creating sitcoms to studio work or radio broadcasting. The studio will initially be tightly coupled with film and media honours studies, allowing students to produce a short film from start to finish, manage lighting, sound, editing and more. However, it will also be used by undergraduate students specialising in particular aspects of media production in their third year.” The UFS Film and Media centre

comprises a stage, a studio, video and audio control rooms, as well as a ‘cine’ hall for screenings. The equipment supplied by Jasco Broadcast Solutions includes four Sony PXW-X160 cameras for in-studio work; Shure audio equipment (microphones); Manfrotto tripods; a NewTek Tricaster Video Switcher for the control room; a Soundcraft Audio Mixer with JBL speakers for the audio control room; and a Panasonic Video Projector with a 7.1 Dolby surround processor with JBL speakers for the viewing room.

The UFS has also acquired four Sony HXR-NX3 Video cameras with accessories for field work. “The studio was completed in August 2015 and as such, we are still in the development stage. Students are just getting to grips with the equipment yet we are already seeing much higher standards in terms of output,” says Dr Venter. Jasco Broadcast Solutions played an important role in the specification of equipment. Adds Dr Venter: “The

co-operation of the Jasco team was outstanding. They brought all their working knowledge – expertise and experience gained with large and small commercial broadcasters in South Africa – to the project, helping us identify exactly what we require in terms of functionality while also gearing us to scale up or extend our capabilities in the future. “Jasco’s commitment and willingness to go the extra mile ensured a smooth implementation. We now have a strong foundation in place to support the re-alignment of our media, drama and related courses to accommodate new developments in the industry,” says Paul Divall, Managing Director of Broadcast Solutions at the Jasco Group. “It’s been a privilege to help the UFS design and set up its Film and Media Centre, assisting to nurture a new pool of broadcast skills for the industry. It will provide students with a practical head start in an industry that is becoming increasingly important as digital takes hold and more people consume visual media in every aspect of their daily lives. “Jasco’s 20 years’ experience with leading brands and technologies stood us in good stead with the design and commissioning of the UFS centre. We look forward to a long relationship with the UFS as it helps to develop new talent for the local industry.”

Encounters introduces 2016 line-up The Encounters South African International Film Festival held a press launch recently in Cape Town and offered an opportunity to meet the festival’s new director Darryl Els. It also introduced the first six films selected for screening at the event, which takes place from 2 to 12 June at the Labia in Cape Town and the Bioscope in Johannesburg. Portraits, human stories and activists are all part of the new-look Encounters and submissions include all kinds of topics from international arms dealing to the late great American poet /writer Maya Angelou. “We showed excerpts of some of the films at the launch,” says Els. “These included: Action Kommandant, Alison and Walking in My Shoes – a film which takes us to the heart of the current educational crisis. There were also international entries including Maya Angelou – And Still I Rise, Requiem for an American Dream and Shadow World (based on the best-selling book by Andrew Feinstein, who will be at the festival). It was great to talk about the six films and the new additions for the 2016 programme – and also to give insight into 4 | SCREENAFRICA | May 2016

where the festival is going. “I am very pleased with the quality of films we have been able to programme. We will be locking down the line-ups, and also moving into other areas, taking a more expanded approach to non-fiction storytelling. I am interested in exploring how documentaries can operate across different disciplines – as an example this year we have live music, a virtual reality (VR) exhibition and a live podcast event. “This year Encounters will be moving beyond the screen and will tap into different mediums. For me ‘the documentary’ is a malleable concept in a way, and the genre fits into different forms. I think this approach certainly makes for a more contemporary experience, and one that should attract a wide-ranging audience to the festival’s screenings and events.” As an audience-centric festival, Encounters is about people having that unique festival experience. “I valued this highly when I was an audience member attending Encounters,” says Els. “The festival is also about brokering new opportunities for filmmakers. We’ve seen new growth areas, for example the

NEW DIRECTOR: Darryl Els rise on popularity of short online documentaries – and so I think there is an interesting opportunity around shorter content that can be shared more widely and offer greater visibility and impact for filmmakers. “Similarly, we’ll be launching the Virtual Encounters exhibition at the festival and this will be a space dedicated to non-fiction VR and interactive documentaries. Ingrid Kopp (Tribeca) will be curating the programme and we’re really excited to have a dedicated space to new media at Encounters and we’re looking forward to growing and expanding this in the coming years,”

adds Els. Encounters will be bringing a VR producer to host a masterclass on producing VR content. “We’ll be screening a feature documentary that also has a VR aspect and will be premiering both at the festival this year. These are made by different producers working together.” He concludes: “I really like the idea of programming in this way as once again it offers up a range of new possibilities to both audiences and filmmakers in terms of watching and making documentaries.” – Andy Stead

Screen Africa May 2016  
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