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State-of-the-art studios for East Africa
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Thu, 03 Oct 2013 15:12
 M-net, Kenya, Supersport
MILESTONE FOR KENYA: Studio 1, the new SuperSport studio in Nairobi

Continental pay-TV operator MultiChoice officially opened its brand new state-of-the- art SuperSport and M-Net studios in Nairobi, Kenya, at a glamourous marquee event held at the Jamhuri Polo Grounds at the end of August.

Kenyan sporting greats, including running legend, Dr Kipchoge Keino, were among the glitterati who gathered to witness the launch of the SuperSport and M-Net studios in Nairobi.

Alongside the two-time Olympic champion and chairman of the National Olympics Committee-Kenya, was Pauline Konga, the first Kenyan female Olympics medallist and football icon Joe Kandege.

The KES500m MultiChoice investment in the new studios affirms the company’s commitment to the region to generate content, mainly targeting audiences in the East African community.
Said SuperSport East Africa general manager Auka Gicheo: “This new facility will enable us to produce more content and work with local film producers to generate more appealing programmes for our viewers.”

The move comes as the Kenyan government intends to increase local content from 40% to 60%. This means broadcasters will be required to invest heavily in local production infrastructure ahead of the now confirmed switchover to digital broadcasting in December 2013.

The M-Net studios are already in full production with the just-launched local Kenyan telenovela production, Kona, which is being aired on the AfricaMagic channel, while the SuperSport facility has made it possible to air Tusker Premium League soccer live.

Infrastructure

C2S Systems, the broadcast system integration arm of WTS Group in the UK, completed installation of the new studio complex. The high-end four-studio complex was designed for flexibility and rank among the most advanced production facilities on the continent.

Positioned over two buildings (originally the Kenya Film Studios), the new M-Net and SuperSport content hub comprises four full high definition (HD) studios, supported by two control rooms, nine post-production suites, two QC (Quality Control) suites and ICR (International Control Room) central distribution, alongside MCR (Main Control Room) and uplink facilities, to take television production in the region into a new age.

The two control rooms were carefully designed to provide both flexibility and suitability for the different types of productions, ranging from live sporting events to recording scenes for narrative series.

Twelve camera channels were installed across the studios: eight for the SuperSport studios and four for Kona, with provision for an additional four in the future.

Challenging integration

With completely file-based production workflows in two different and separate production environments, there were some considerable technical challenges in the integration. The two control rooms were carefully designed to provide both flexibility and suitability for the different types of production.

The editing platforms are Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro and Pro Tools for audio. EVS IP Director is used to provide asset control, and the C2S-designed touch- screen router control helps to simplify routing operations for studio staff while allowing instant status of all paths.

Control One includes a tiered layout for a production team of up to 18 people, working with five VTR / SSD decks, eight HD Sony camera channels, an eight-channel EVS XT3 with two EVS IP Director production positions, two channels of production graphics, separate audio control area and work stations for two producers.

From this location, studios 1, 2 and 3B can be controlled, depending on requirements of the production. Control Two is the main control area for Kona and controls studios 3A, 3B and the exterior sets. The space was designed specifically for a drama team and split into three areas for production, vision and audio. It includes control of three VTR/SSD decks, four HD camera channels, a four-channel EVS NANO XS with two EVS IP Director production positions.

Pre-built

The facilities were pre-built and tested in C2S’s Leeds workshop in the UK, before final installation on site, while the studio buildings were being refurbished. C2S provided systems design, installation, equipment supply and custom-made technical furniture for the project, as well as on-site IT infrastructure. The company also supplied technical support contracts and provided remote support capabilities to allow access to, and management of, all technical networks by both C2S Systems and manufacturer technical support staff.

“This is an emphatic move into the top-end world of TV production,” commented Andrι Venter, head of SuperSport in Africa. “East Africa has a great appetite for high- quality viewing and we intend delivering. Our teams have been training and the equipment couldn’t be more modern. We hope that this reaffirms our confidence in the region.”

The studios have already provided employment for over 150 Kenyans.
“We are not only looking at the number of local content programmes as we will be able to produce the whole ecosystem. This includes skills transfer and building fresh talent which is key to sustain the industry and meet demand,” stated Rispa Muthamia, regional manager of M-Net.

MultiChoice Eastern Africa regional director Stephen Isaboke added: “This is a milestone event – not only for the MultiChoice Group, but also for the creative and production industries in Kenya. It confirms the group’s enormous investment in the region and is testament to our emphasis on technological excellence.”


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