New WNMU-TV Control Room Helps CAPS Students


WNMU-TV has a new, all-digital production room in the lower level of the Learning Resources Center and recently obtained a portable audio/video field production unit for use at campus activities, including commencement.


The state-of-the-art facility in the LRC was designed by Grant Guston (Learning Resources Division), pictured standing behind Mike Lakenen (WNMU-TV). Guston spec’d out equipment from broadcast vendors and even some unconventional sources such as eBay. The new production facility has enhanced the quality of local programs originating at the station. It also is being used for the studio component of a television production class, providing hands-on experience with equipment in use at many TV stations and large venues such as Lambeau Field.


“Northern students can familiarize themselves with the latest digital technology and in high definition (HD), which will help them learn the 16x9 widescreen format versus the traditional 4x3 format,” said Eric Smith (Broadcast and Audio Visual Services). “There are so many variants and it’s important students become fluent in digital language so they can start a career knowing what concepts such as letterbox and windowbox mean. For years, I thought it would be cool if some classes were taught in WNMU’s great studio facilities. Working with Communications and Performance Studies (CAPS) we can offer students learning opportunities on equipment that would be expensive for that department to replicate. This allows the campus to maximize the financial investment in its production facilities and it is a direct response to President Wong’s call for more inter-departmental collaboration.”


Lakenen is teaching the course. After his own learning curve on the new audio equipment, he will be able to demonstrate the components. The audio board offers 5.1 surround sound, Pro Tools software that handles editing/mixing and an interconnected audio/video server accessible from multiple points, which provides program storage and file transfer capabilities.


“We also have the ability to save and recall equalizer and effects settings so the sound is consistent,” said Lakenen. “That works well for our show hosts or for guests who appear regularly.”


The room is completed with a high-end graphics unit and a Ross Carbonite switcher (left), which mixes all video sources, facilitates transitions such as cuts, dissolves and wipes and creates digital effects.

“When we installed the switcher, we noticed signatures on the bottom, including company president Doug Ross,” said Smith. “They typically sign the first one off the line, which means we have serial number 1. Ross is very interested in the education market. We’re in discussions about becoming a training facility for the switcher, which means students could become certified in the Ross Carbonite system and have an edge getting into the business.”


The control room project and portable audio/video unit were funded by a $633,000 Rural Utilities Service grant through the U.S. Agriculture Department.



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Updated: January 19, 2012

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