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New PSTCC studio ‘first of its kind’

Pellissippi State Technical Community College had a lot to be proud of last fall with the opening of its new state-of-the-art Bagwell Center for Media and Art.

Now comes the proverbial icing on the cake: this semester, PSTCC christened a new high-definition video and sound studio in the Bagwell Center.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer this state-of-the-art instructional addition,” said Allen Edwards, president of PSTCC.

“The H-D studio is one more way we are helping prepare our students to succeed in the workplace,” he added.

The studio is one of the first of its kind in a Tennessee school.

Ron Bellamy, associate professor and program coordinator for Video Production Technology, said, “The new technology and equipment are expensive, but high-definition products are sweeping the market, so the upgrade is a necessary expenditure to help our students get ahead in the media industry.”

Bagwell Center and its equipment were made possible in part by a $1 million donation to the Pellissippi State Foundation from the foundation of Dee Bagwell Haslam and her husband, James Haslam III.

When the facility was in the development stage, a standard-definition studio was budgeted and designed by a consulting firm. However, another generous gift, this one from an alumna’s husband, changed things.

Dick Perin, a senior systems engineer for Turner Broadcasting who is married to a PSTCC graduate, offered to upgrade the design for the standard-definition studio to HD for free. Not only did he redesign the studio, but he also found ways to purchase HD equipment on a standard-definition budget.

“We appreciate the generosity of Dick Perin,” Edwards said. “By donating his time and technical expertise, he provided an invaluable service to the College and to the community.”

High definition is the future of video and audio production, and the changes are coming fast.

Starting next February, all traditional “analog” television signals will be discontinued, as digital takes over. Most local TV stations broadcast in digital standard definition, but other audiovisual media, such as the national networks, are already making the HD leap.

During this conversion period, the need still exists for both HD and standard. For example, students must know how to shoot or record in high definition and convert the product to standard definition, and vice versa, Bellamy said. For that reason, the new studio has maintained both analog and digital standard-definition equipment in addition to the new technology.

John Ajamie, senior vice president of broadcast operations and media logistics at Scripps Networks, recently toured the studio and the Bagwell Center and was impressed with the new technology.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Ajamie said. “It was refreshing seeing the facility and the state-of-the-art equipment. They really are using the leading equipment in the industry.”

Austin Webb, a VPT student, is already enjoying the high-tech addition to the college’s instructional toolbox.

Webb said he believes the new studio will give him a huge advantage when he enters the professional world.

“It brings [PSTCC] to a whole new level,” he added.

VPT graduates will have a leg up when job hunting, he said, because they are already using equipment that many companies haven’t even seen yet.

“We’ll probably be teaching our bosses,” Webb said.

He may be right.

Bellamy said some of the equipment is so new even PSTCC staff are still learning their way around it.

“We faculty have to embrace change,” he said. “Only by staying at the forefront of industry technology can we prepare our students to excel in the ‘real world.’”

To further prepare students for success, Bellamy and others are working closely with Scripps. The media giant is involved with almost all forms of media technology, he said.

“I’ve always been interested in helping colleges,” Ajamie said. “We want to give back, but we also want to participate in preparing students for the workplace in any way we can.”

To that end, Pellissippi State and Scripps Networks are pursuing new avenues of working together. One idea is sitting down with faculty and discussing the school’s curriculum.

“We want to hear the faculty’s side of the direction Pellissippi State is heading,” he said, “and we want to tell our side of where the industry and Scripps are headed to help develop curriculum.”

Another possibility is to establish a more extensive internship program between the two entities.


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