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Without technology, stories cannot be told

With talent shortages being one of the big issues of IBC, it will be interesting to see how the new Production Technology MA course offered by the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) is received by both the industry and wider academia. It runs for two years and offers 20 places.

John Maxwell Hobbs (left), NFTS head of production technology and former BBC Scotland head of technology, said: “Basically everyone is behind in training. In Europe there wasn’t a major effort made in training or even encouraging new engineers because it was assumed they would automatically come out of the public service broadcasters.

Not now.

“The film schools and their academic institutions haven’t been training engineers either. Basically it’s all been focused on film studies and the creative side of the industry,” he added. “It is a major step for the NFTS to move to start training the people who are supporting the cameraman and director. We are looking at schools to step up to fill this void.”

The NFTS wanted a practitioner. They got a man who knows from experience that a high percentage of broadcast engineers are near retirement. His passion is “fusing art and creativity with technology”, so how will the relationship between the artist and engineer evolve?

“A camera still looks pretty much like a camera always has, but now it is a complex computer with a piece of glass on the end of it. And if you don’t know the complex inner workings of it you are in big trouble,” said Hobbs.

“One of the things I hope to get across at my (Rising Stars) talk to students is the way the engineer/artist relationship works in music production. Engineers have always been viewed as part of the creative team. Without technology, the stories can’t be told.”