The right tools for a future in TV

Newly upgraded Moore Hall Television studio means more opportunities for students

| Author: Emily Stulz

When broadcast and cinematic arts students return to Central Michigan University this fall, they'll see a newly upgraded Moore Hall Television studio and control room.

Aaron Jones — BCA video facilities manager, MHTV operations manager and BCA instructor — led the renovation with the assistance of BCA senior Sean Kusch and BCA contract engineer Robert Johns.

"The most important part is the students getting what they deserve. They do phenomenal work," Jones said. "As a former student and knowing how this studio prepared me for my career, it's really critical the students have functioning equipment."

What to know about the new gear

  • The MHTV studio has switched from traditional baseband video to Internet Protocol (IP) video and audio technology. This allows for everything to run through internet lines, resulting in less physical equipment, new opportunities in production and less costly repairs
  • The facility now has pan-tilt-zoom cameras for live simulcast radio-television shows and a master clock system to synchronize live productions.
  • A new graphics system will deliver more accurate visuals that can be controlled by the news anchors right from their desk. This will come in handy for graphics-driven news such as election periods, when infographics and images of candidates are crucial.
  • The new teleprompter system allows news anchors to see the video they are referencing, which makes their voice-overs more accurate and synchronized with the images. The teleprompter can also now be run by foot pedal, giving news anchors direct control over the speed of their script.

The road to greatness

Prior to renovation, the MHTV studio was often pushed beyond its capabilities. Executing the one-hour music show "Summit Sessions Live" during the spring 2018 semester was a miracle, according to Jones.

Major studio equipment was past the 10-year period where manufacturers can provide support or repair parts for products.

"Nearly 120 students use the studio for academic purposes every week, and a device failure could have interrupted all of that," Jones said.

After almost a year of researching equipment and preparing a budget, Jones received the green light to move forward on the upgrades in March 2019. Janet Hethorn, dean of the College of the Arts and Media, and Ray Christie, senior vice provost of academic administration, granted funding.

Around that same time, Jones tapped Kusch to assist with the studio upgrades. Kusch had experience in TV, audio and recording equipment installation and came to CMU with a focus on TV engineering. By completing the studio upgrades with Jones as an independent study, Kusch added to his resume.

In early May 2019, Jones and Kusch went to work removing current equipment. Their first tasks: extracting legacy wires and cables underneath the control room floor and compiling a list of all the wires in the studio that needed to be replaced.

Experience beyond the classroom

When Jones graduated from CMU in 2006, he quickly learned how much the broadcast and cinematic arts program had prepared him for his career. He says the university has great technology and facilities, and often alumni work in the field with older equipment than what CMU has. When they get into a larger market, students will already have experience on the type of equipment they are likely to encounter.

"This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. It's the first time I'm working with IP technology, and that's what the industry is moving toward," said Kusch, who will continue working in the studio until he graduates in December.

By upgrading this facility, Jones knows he's created an environment that students can thrive in and will lead to securing good jobs.

"I've seen what students can do in an outdated facility. It's going to be amazing to see what they can do in a futuristic facility," Jones said.

University Communications intern Rachael Thomas assisted with this story.

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