Studio Focus: SAE Melbourne Opens Up
The first day of school can be rough; no friends, unfamiliar surroundings. It’s easy to just duck your head, go to class, and keep the interaction to a minimum. SAE’s Melbourne campus used to be a little like that. Cosy, sure, but light on the breakout areas. It was very much a come-and-go kind of place full of small studios and classrooms attached to a rabbit warren of corridors.
But over the last couple of years, SAE has been rebuilding its campus and rethinking the way SAE students learn, with a focus on facilitating collaboration.
After securing the adjoining building, it not only allowed the campus to double in size, but rethink the layout to add more space as well as new facilities. Corridors are wider, ceilings are higher, breakout areas are everywhere, the library study area has grown considerably, and permanent outdoor seating links to a large cafeteria hangout. It’s a place you want to spend time in, which is crucial if the goal is to get students talking to each other.
So far so good, we talked to a couple of students who are loving the new facilities. We caught Becki Whitton — a singing teacher enrolled to develop her production chops — as she was heading to the airport to coach a Canberra-based student through her album recording. She’s been getting a bit of extra-curricular tutelage herself from a ‘drum programming guru’ in her class.
Charles Mann is in his second year and starting to feel his mixes clicking into gear. He’s especially looking forward to running live shows in the new soundstage, seeing live engineering as a key part of his future.
That new soundstage is pretty impressive, big enough to house an orchestra, but the plan is to use it primarily as a live venue and filming stage. It’s a double-storey (commercial height) 360ft² space with a separate loading bay and hydraulically operated lighting rig. Curtains can be pulled around the space to take the edge off, but there’s also some fixed baffling on the walls.
Back in Issue 104, AT got the hardhat tour of the new premises, which was little more than a basic concrete structure at the time. You could see it taking shape, but now it’s a professional soundstage completely isolated from its industrial surroundings.
In the upstairs bio box is a new Avid S6 control console. While the existing Neve Genesys is still the flagship analogue console at the campus, the S6 lets students get their hands on professional level digital control. With 5.1 Focal monitoring, it can serve as a post-production mix down facility, a standard mix room, or as an interface to the soundstage for live broadcasts. To broaden its use even further, SAE’s technical department opted to install a Focusrite Rednet system, which can connect inputs from anywhere in the campus into the S6 room via ethernet. Downstairs on the soundstage floor, an Avid S3L compact live system lets students get experience mixing on a current touring rig.
Like most facilities on the SAE campus, the soundstage is designed to be multi-disciplinary, but also bolsters the live component of SAE’s curriculum. And, of course, it’s a great place for students to collaborate.
You can check out our tour of the new facilities at: