Showcase Cinemas and an HD Control Room
New Building for the Munich University of Television and Film
HFF Munich is one of the most important film schools in the German-speaking countries. Graduates include not only the late, great Bernd Eichinger but also Academy Award winners Caroline Link and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. More recent graduates such as movie director Tim Fehlbaum from Switzerland and his cameraman Markus Förderer, winner of the Deutscher Kamerapreis 2012 awards, have also become successful and much talked about. For this to continue, current and future students need to develop all the skills necessary for their career. When the University was founded back in 1967, film and TV productions were much less complex technically than they are today. Moreover, both industries have experienced the change to the digital domain. While the classic analogue 35-mm film is not yet out of the picture completely, the digital competition is overwhelming. Obviously, the new HFF Munich building must provide the tools modern productions require. Furthermore, these tools should match the highest production standards available to ensure proper training for the students.
Ready for 3G
In order to recreate a realistic TV production scenario the new HFF Munich building is equipped with an HD-enabled video control room. Gerhard Reichart, the Systems Integrator Salzbrenner project manager for this contract, compares its technical equipment to a broadcast digital TV-production environment. “All the components we supplied – from the digital video mixer to video servers, character generator, video wall, and an AURATUS audio mixer including a NEXUS router – could just as easily be found in a recently upgraded broadcast studio!” Video and audio are either produced live in the studios, or are pre-recorded. HFF Munich chose XDCAM HD422 as the source format since it is very popular with German public broadcasters, and has purchased two player units. An alternative possibility is a Venice video server, which also exchanges data with the server system in the post-production department. In this way, the students can become familiar with purely file-based production methods from acquisition to delivery. Today, there are a variety of approaches to monitoring video. HFF Munich, opted for separate TFT monitors where each video signal is assigned to an individual screen. This approach has the advantage, in comparison with screen splitter solutions, that it is easier for students to understand how a TV control room operates. Therefore, the HD broadcast control room was equipped with a TFT wall made up of over 20 individual monitors. The technology in the video control room is ready for 3G but is operated at present in the current 1080i broadcast standard at 1.485 Gbps. In the future, when 1080p at a data rate of 2.97 Gbps has come into common use, the HFF Munich operation will be able to upgrade seamlessly.
Just Like the Movies
The film equipment is also right up to date. The new HFF Munich building houses two cinemas plus a smaller video theatre and a lecture auditorium which can act as a fully fledged cinema for film and Digital Cinema formats as well as for video. The intention behind this was that these spaces should be used not only for presenting student productions but also for showing shorts and film features at internal or public film festivals. Therefore, the three main facilities – the two large cinemas and the main auditorium – were equipped with standard screen systems including a main curtain, horizontal as well as vertical masking, a sound system including the indispensable Dolby processors and, in addition to the internal wiring, comprehensive cross-cabling to the production systems. Similar equipment was installed in the Dolby-enabled dubbing theatre control room used for mixing films. This facility required a creative solution so that the loudspeakers mounted in the THX wall behind the screen could remain accessible for servicing. Space is an issue due to the stringent requirements for Dolby certification, so no servicing aisle exists behind the screen.
Long Cable Runs
The move to the new 9200 square metres building, meant that the University could enlarge its studio area significantly. Both departments, film and video-production, can now each access a large and a small studio. All four studios are connected to the in-house infrastructure by wall boxes providing SMPTE 311, CAT, audio, fibre-optic and/or coax ports depending on the intended use. Systems Integrator Salzbrenner installed all the wiring in the audio/video post-production facility – more than 60 kilometres of cable. The technical equipment was part of a different tender. The new HFF Munich building is located in the Kunstareal, a museum quarter in Munich city centre, and shares premises with the State Museum of Egyptian Art. From the city planner's point of view, this approach will add to the desirability of the area together with the many museums. From the film school’s perspective, HFF Munich is now closer to urban life and the area will become the focus of the city.