Television & Film Studio – Published Article in Interface Magazine

This article was published in the July Edition of the Interface Magazine and is reproduced with permission.


St Andrew’s College has been running the only professional television studio in a New Zealand school for almost 20 years, writes Simon Williams.

Professional? Well yes, in that we use TV industry equipment and systems, it’s run by two people who have a background in the industry, and professional people look after it in a technical and production sense.

Of all the classes who use it, the Year 8 and 9 students are the ones I enjoy most. They’re so full of energy, they learn fast, nothing’s impossible, and they run a show just like the pros.

When a class of Year 9 performing arts students bounce though the door three times a week to make live television shows, they’re using the same sort of gear and systems that the industry uses. The studio has recently updated its cameras, while film classes have almost new Sony NX-Cam cameras, professional sound and lighting gear, with Adobe Premiere CS5 and CS6 to edit with.

The Year 9s spend a term in the TV studio and a term in drama, just as the Year 10 performing arts students do. The younger group makes live shows that will include three or four live musical items, an interview or two, perhaps six recorded items all introduced by hosts or presenters. The shows run live – in other words without stopping. The Year 10s also make short films to run in their studio shows.

Teaching professionalism and performance

3The whole idea is to teach team work, leadership, discipline, problem solving, the safe and effective use of professional gear, and, of course, on-camera performance. To watch a 13-year-old director driving a show, with her or his vision switcher, sound, lighting and videotape operators, floor manager, and four camera operators, plus performers, is one of the reasons I enjoy the role.

We recently had a delightful young director who understood that a performance in a studio is far more than
the performers – that it’s about the whole
team. I watched this young boy speaking

to the camera ops before the how, telling them exactly what he wanted them to do, getting them to show him, before thanking them. This boy had the crew in the palm of his hand. They wanted to do whatever he asked of them.

It’s like watching the Key Competencies from the New Zealand Curriculum in action.

Command and collaboration

2A cover of Colbie Caillat’s song ‘Bubbly’ ( shows one of the 11 items in the live unrehearsed show. Just look at the way the cameras are moving, the way the vision switcher is mixing at just the right speed, all under the command of a director who is only 13!

Senior NCEA media classes also use the facility. This year the Year 12 TV class made a children’s show in collaboration with the St Andrew’s Preparatory School, using the studio linked to a second facility set up there, all linked by an outside broadcast truck.

The Year 13 TV classes produced a show called ‘Christchurch 2030’, which was a look at the way the city could be 20 years on from the first of the earthquakes. We again used two facilities and the OB truck, screening four documentaries produced by the students with five panelists discussing issues, hosted by presenters.

The shows made by the facility are normally used only for the classes, although some do get uploaded to the College’s YouTube channel and promoted through the marketing department to both current parents and the wider College community.

Going on to media careers

The fact the TV facility creates a ‘real’ working environment has influenced a number of students to go on to media careers. Alumni return regularly to support me and the team. Tim Murdoch, Technical and Studio Manager at Whitebait TV, makers of ‘What Now’ and ‘The 4.30 Show’ works with the Year 9 group on Mondays and Senior Audio Engineer Stave Hartley is also a regular visitor. The students love the opportunity to learn from industry professionals and it adds a real point of difference to the programme.

1A TV studio is not necessary for NCEA but I believe we’re here for more than grades or credits; we are about giving a rich media experience, it’s about education in a wider sense.




1 thought on “Television & Film Studio – Published Article in Interface Magazine

  1. Pingback: Making Great Television to Reinforce Social Studies Learning | StAC e-Learning Stories

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