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Michael Sankey and Jeffrey Black discuss the media production facilities at USQ

Michael:
Thanks for joining us. I am joined by Jeff Black, who is the Manager of Digital Media Services. So Jeff, you have a few services to offer – video, audio, all kinds of things. What exactly can you offer teaching staff here at USQ?

Jeff:
We offer the academic within the university the opportunity to access our services to produce audio, video content that will enhance the student learning journey. So video materials, audio materials, off air recordings, format shifting, those technical type services that enable academics to enrich the course with av media.

Michael:
So, does it have to be a big recording? Small recording?

Jeff:
No. we try very hard here Michael to make sure we don’t’ impact upon the academic’s day negatively because I know that everyone is time poor. We have systems and services in place here that push the material through quite quickly. No great amounts of additional time are asked of academics. So, for example, a studio recording, and we are working in a studio here at the moment, for a studio recording we encourage the academics to just hold their lecture or tutorial or presentation in the studio with a guest, or with a special presenter. We don’t encourage just a normal suite of lectures that you would encounter through the semester. We like to think of them as special lectures or master lectures or master recordings.

Michael:
You can have an audience too, can’t you?

Jeff:
That’s right. We can have an audience of up to 80 students listening in. We also have the capacity for that lecture to go live. And not only that, Michael, the student watching live on line can tweet or email back into the studio with questions as well. We pride ourselves on having the link to the finished material available before the academic gets back to their office and in many instances, we achieve that. We do have some new systems where we are putting our content on to external hosts which gives us mobile device compliance, which is terrific. But that is a little bit more involved so our back to the office mantra doesn’t quite work there however.

Michael:
You also do not just do stuff in the studio – you also do field work as well?

Jeff:
That’s correct. Audio and video field work as well. We’ll take cameras out in and around Toowoomba and the Darling Downs to record activities, processes, things that students need to see that can’t be bought to the university. Lots of engineering things, lots of nursing things that we have been doing. And I might say too there Michael, that the cost to produce course support material – there is no cost, other than to say, things like vehicles or overnight accommodation. The cost of labour and the equipment we use comes at no charge,

Michael:
You are telling me that if a lecturer wants to put something in their course that involves a couple or hours of video, it doesn’t cost them anything?

Jeff:
Yes, that’s correct. There is no charge, unless, for example, they wanted us to drive to Brisbane and stay overnight in Brisbane. We would just ask to recoup the cost of the vehicle and the accommodation. We don’t have a budget for that.

Michael:
And how would a lecturer request this work of you.

Jeff:
We encourage the academics through their faculty and through their faculty programs to contact the LRDOs, the Learning Resources Development Officers in the first instance and provide the LRDO with a background of what they want done. The LRDO would then initiate a request to our section and we would then throw resources at the production of that media. Now that could involve assistance with scripting, pre-production, looking at venues to film in. All of the little gotchas that sometimes can conspire against you when you are making a video – bad weather is a beauty!

Michael:
What type of time lines does somebody have to plan?

Jeff:
That is a difficult question because if it may be a complicated shoot involving lots of locations, reliant on people being there, a process being demonstrated, moving to the next one, it could be quite a few months. I can think of a project where we had to film a heavy rain water on drains. Now that was a difficult shoot and we got a window of opportunity and away we went. Others can be finished very, very quickly because they involve very little in terms of planning – a lecture, for example, is very much an on the fly production. So those issues and those time lines are set during the course of the pre-production meetings that our clients have with our staff.

Michael:
You mentioned before off-air recordings. What does that involve?

Jeff:
USQ has a campus-wide screen rights licence which enables us to record radio and television programs that are transmitted through the air. So the commercial providers, the ABC, SBS and we also have a number of PayTV providers. So if it has been broadcast terrestrially within Australia, we are able to record it and make it available in a streaming only (not download), streaming only capacity.

Michael:
That’s great information – thank you Jeff.

Jeff:
Thank you Michael.