By DONOVAN HARRELL
The minds behind the new Pitt Studios envision the facility as a multi-purpose space — both for athletics and education. The first broadcast classes are set for spring 2019.
The facility, roughly 6,000 square feet, includes three broadcast control rooms, five editing suites and a studio in the lobby of the Petersen Events Center, according to Pitt Athletics. Footage from the Petersen Sports Complex, the Petersen Events Center, Fitzgerald Field House and Trees Pool can be captured.
The broadcast control rooms are designed with educational spaces for students to be able shadow and interact with the equipment. Pitt Studios can support five independent productions at once, according to Kelly Z. Hammonds, assistant athletic director of broadcast and video production.
She said multiple students have already begun using the facilities to cover men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball. The people operating Pitt Studios during the productions include a mixture of Pitt students, recent Pitt graduates, students from other local schools, local professional freelancers, and full-time staff from Pitt Athletics.
All live broadcasts are available on the WatchESPN App, said Paul Barto, associate athletic director for broadcast and video production. And in fall 2019, the ACC network’s channel will be launched, and select broadcasts will be available there as well, Hammonds added.
Talks of building the facility began in summer 2016 soon after the ACC and ESPN signed a contract for the ACC network. This spurred the schools to evaluate how to produce content for the network.
Pitt Athletics partnered up with NEP, the world’s largest outsourced production partner supporting live sports, entertainment and more, according to Pitt Athletics. NEP will allow its broadcast engineers to use Pitt’s facilities for hands-on experience during broadcasts
Barto said he and Hammonds saw this as an opportunity to fill a void at Pitt in terms of a broadcast curriculum.
“You can look at it in two pieces,” Barto said. “One, we needed to be able to grow a student workforce and get kids involved in what we're doing because of the number of events. And two, I think we both wanted to give back to the University in some way and create something meaningful in the profession that we work and live in every day.”
He added that he and Hammonds reached out to as many academic units as possible to gather input on how each department wanted students to interact with it.
So far, a partnership with the Film and Media Studies department will allow for the first broadcast classes to take place at the studio in January, taught by Kevin Smith, Hammond said. Students will spend one day studying via textbooks, while the other day will allow students to apply their lessons with hands-on experience at the facilities.
Hammonds added that she and Barto have been in talks with other schools as part of an ongoing effort to produce a broadcast engineering program.
Barto said he envisions the facility being used for more than athletics sometime in the future.
“Long-term, we want to try and find ways to benefit the entire campus,” Barto said. “I mean, we can't certainly do every single thing that everyone wants to do. But we want to try and ... provide connectivity and be able to do the things that matter the most.”
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-383-9905.