Studio Focus: SAE Perth
Two years ago, SAE Perth relocated to Northbridge at the upper end of the CBD, placing it in close proximity to two important things — the hub of the city’s live music scene, and a train station. The new spot replaced SAE’s original location on Bennett St in East Perth — a tired campus that was in desperate need of an upgrade to accomodate higher intake numbers and the growing number of animation, film, design and web students.
Audio lecturer Shane Pillai showed me through the new campus which is significantly larger than before. Hallways are lit with a classy blue glow, the kitchen and lounge areas are spacious, the main lecture space has an integrated AV system and much nicer chairs.
Zak Franklin is a Course Advisor at SAE who came across to Perth from the Byron Bay campus.
“The build was close to $6m,” says Zak, commenting on the new Northbridge facility. “This place was completely redone to suit what we needed it to be. We actually had lecturers onboard who helped during the design phase — different types of soundproofing — so it would be up to the industry standard and what our students needed.”
Just like the recent renovations of SAE’s Melbourne and Sydney campuses, the global institute hasn’t skimped when it came to decking out these studios. While there’s a handful of carryovers from Bennett St, the studios are laden with mostly new equipment — the highlights reel includes a Custom Series 75 console with a two-inch 24-track Studer, Avid S6 and Genelec monitoring in the 5.1 mixing room, an Audient ASP8024, and a couple of Audient 4816s. The mastering studio is home to a pair of Focal Twin6 Be monitors, plus a set of custom-made reference speakers brought over from the Bennett St location. Outboard includes a Neve 8816 summing mixer, Buzz Audio Resonance EQ, and fine pieces from Dangerous Audio. Elsewhere you’ll uncover enviable racks loaded with outboard from Warm Audio, Lexicon, dbx, Drawmer, TC Electronics, SPL, and more.
WA’s creative industry is growing rapidly. While the eastern states offer plenty of education options and institutions where creatives and audio engineers can cut their teeth, choices are limited out west. Which explains why every intake at SAE Perth has shown steady growth.
“We’re utilising as much space as we can but we’re expanding yearly,” says Zak. “Currently we have nearly 500 students on campus and three big intakes per year. It’s been massive how much we’ve grown from what we started with in this campus. We’re the only creative media school in Perth really, especially when it comes to the technical side of things, so we’ve definitely got a niche market here.”
Film and animation numbers are on the rise, but it’s evident audio remains SAE’s main attractant. “Audio will always dominate, it’s where our roots are,” Zak says. Having said that, film students can enjoy a beautiful cyclorama room, C|24-equipped post production studio, and cutting-edge edit suites.
“I love my job,” enthuses Zak. “I literally get to watch people that have similar passions to me everyday. The coolest part is getting to watch people come in here — sometimes they’re straight out of high school, sometimes they’re in their 50s — and you get to watch them go from knowing just the bare minimum to going out there and being industry-ready. Or just watching their portfolio build up. Or listening to beats they’ve made that I want to listen to on repeat.”