CJP Broadcast Service Solutions, systems integration, production and content digitisation specialist, took a leading role in the design, engineering and implementation of the practical facilities at the School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester Met). The project embraced the complete range of creative facilities from studios and motion capture to post production.

SODA is a new building at the heart of the Manchester Met campus in the centre of Manchester. CJP was involved from the beginning, working with Project Lead, ATG Danmon, and consultancy Drama by Design on the specification of the facilities and infrastructure. In phase 1 of the project, CJP was responsible for all the specialist cabling and infrastructure best installed during construction. This included routers, talkback and SPGs as well as lighting supports and DMX dimmer equipment.

In phase 2, CJP, working with overall system integrator ATG Danmon, engineered and installed the technical facilities and furniture in all the new technical areas. This included two greenscreen studios and a film studio (equipped with a 12k digital cinematography camera from Blackmagic Design). There is also a multi-purpose production studio and a stop motion stage. All studios include Kinoflo LED lighting installed by Cirrolite for minimal environmental impact.

The project also included two motion capture studios, designed for animation and game design students. To ensure the broadest possible experiences, one studio is equipped with a Vicon motion capture system, the other with Xsens technology. For virtual production, CJP also supplied a 3 Camera StarTracker Studio from Mo-Sys, which provides extremely accurate camera positioning data and realtime virtual graphics based on the Unreal engine. The StarTracker Studio system is designed to be flexible, with both greenscreen studios and one of the motion capture stages able to access it when required.

CJP also designed and engineered a number of post production suites, including editing and colour grading, capable of running the user’s choice of professional software platforms.

“We conceived SODA as a home for creativity and innovation, where our students can harness the latest technology to tell extraordinary stories,” said Damon Reid, Technical Specialist in Immersive Technologies at SODA at Manchester Met. “Andy Stone at Drama by Design and the team at CJP have realised our vision, putting the best tools at the hands of our students and preparing them for their futures in whatever part of the media industry they choose.”

Christopher Phillips, managing director of CJP Broadcast Service Solutions, added “This has been a long but very satisfying project. Working with Andy at Drama by Design was a pleasure, with our team providing the engineering to deliver his expectations. From pulling in the first cables in the construction phase – which had the added challenge of Covid restrictions – to commissioning and handing over the sophisticated facilities, we have achieved every goal and timeline set.

Howard Dixon, ATG Danmon project manager worked extremely closely with our team to deliver this project. Our long standing relationship with Howard and the ATG team was a fundamental factor, combining the strengths of both our organisations, to achieving the goals of the project.

“The result is a facility that brings everything into one building, allowing students the freedom to follow their interests and develop their skills,” Phillips said. “We are proud to have been involved in major projects in studios and virtual production for a number of universities around the UK, ensuring that there is a good stream of new talent, at all levels, coming into our industry.”

CJP is an independent systems integrator, and has strong partnerships with key suppliers including Mo-Sys, Xsens and others. For more information on the company and its capabilities, see www.cjp-bss.co.uk.