Behind the Scenes of the NFTS Sports Production Diploma: Part I – Course Objectives

Students at the National Film & Television School in Buckinghamshire.

Students at the National Film & Television School in Buckinghamshire.

Although the number of scheduled sports broadcasting hours continues to rise, the lack of specialist sports production training in the UK has been a growing concern for the industry. To redress the balance, and meet demand from prospective students, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) has launched a dedicated Sports Production diploma. SVG Europe and key project technology supplier Blackmagic Design will explore the course in a series of reports over the next week.

NFTS Head Engineer Steve Holdsworth outlined the school’s decision to start the specialist course and outlines how the institution is aiming to equip students with all of the editorial and technical skills necessary to deliver good quality sports and live event coverage.

“From the outset, we knew that for the diploma to be a success, we would need to partner with leaders in sports production, who could help us to develop a curriculum that was capable of addressing the growing skills shortfall. That partner was IMG, one of the world’s largest independent sports producers.

“In developing the course framework, we also had to choose the infrastructure products that we’d build our core systems around, and ultimately opted to do so around a Blackmagic workflow spanning everything from acquisition through to switching, through to signal management and monitoring as well as recording.

“Over the course of a year students spend a significant amount of time working on standalone sports features, and their efforts culminate in a live outside broadcast (OB) and graduation film that we assess. Alongside the practical elements, we also undertake some studio exercises and classroom sessions where students are encouraged to critically analyse live coverage and develop camera plans before they are allowed to be involved in a production.

“As part of the curriculum, we’ve also incorporated a four-week work placement into the course, which students undertake over the summer with IMG, and at least one student is guaranteed a job with them after graduation. The course also ties in closely with our Broadcast Production Diploma, providing us access to technical trainees that can support television production.

“We were aware that there was a real demand for a practical course in this area of programme-making, so at every stage of planning, we took great pains to make sure the curriculum is as close as possible to what content producers and broadcasters out in the market are currently producing. Our inaugural intake is already producing some fantastic content, and have loved getting to grips with their first practical assignments.”

In the next installment, Holdsworth will take us through the technical provisions of the course and outlines why the NFTS build courses’ technical infrastructure around Blackmagic Design.


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