For 25 years, Manchester's School of Sound Recording (SSR) has delivered technical training and education for the music and A/V industries. It has a comprehensive set of courses on offer, the shortest being only an hour, the longest a three year BSc in Sound Engineering.
The school has a number of the industry's leading companies playing an active role in its development and this October saw DiGiCo join those ranks by opening the DiGiCo Room, equipped with a DS-00 console.
As well as the official launch of the DiGiCo room, the company also took the opportunity to provide a further look at its latest console, the SD8, at two open days held in conjunction with Wigwam. Four SD8s, hooked up to a multi track package utilising RME's MADIcard and MADIface, were set up along with D5s running V3 and V4 software and an SD7 previewing its future software release. The DiGiCo team was on hand throughout for demos and questions.
“I've been to SSR several times,” says DiGiCo's managing director, James Gordon. “It's refreshing to see the energy and enthusiasm that's there. We wanted to put something back into that, hence the reason we decided to get involved in setting up the DiGiCo Room. There's a real shortage of young talent in the industry and it's great to see so many good students coming out of here.”
“SSR is a massive project for Wigwam,” says the company's managing director, Mick Spratt. “Chris Hill, who is my partner in Wigwam, has pushed this project on behalf of both SSR and Wigwam with various manufacturers, with DiGiCo being the latest addition.”
Wigwam originally got involved two years ago when Charlie Jones, one of its engineers, died. The company wanted to do something of lasting value to remember him by. “Charlie was a great engineer and was just starting to teach young people and pass on his skills to future generations,” recalls Spratt. “The Charlie Jones Scholarship at SSR helps to carry this on. The help of manufacturers is essential for the school.”
“We are very honoured and privileged that DiGiCo agreed to be a creative partner with us,” adds Wendy Breakell, director of SSR. “Our links with the industry are very important. It's through them that we ensure what we do here is what is needed in the real world. This state of the art console means we can ensure the training we provide will take place on industry standard equipment in SSR facilities - and that's something our students really appreciate.”
“With the DS-00, complete with expanders, walking into the DiGiCo room is like walking into a West End facility,” says DiGiCo's Tim Shaxson. “The team at SSR, especially Tom Aston, has completed the installation very well indeed and we're proud to be involved.”
“Having a school such as SSR is a massive change for the industry,” says Spratt. “Previously, about one out of ten students that we took on for work experience at Wigwam might turn out to be OK. But we're finding that eight out of ten of the SSR students can come and help us earn a living and in return, they earn a living themselves.”
“SSR and Wigwam have been working together for a number of years,” explains Bill Devon, operational director at SSR. “Chris Hill, Alex Hadjigeorgiou, Les Martin and the team are so involved with us they are like staff - Chris even has a set of his own keys! Chris and Alex designed and installed the PA for the Charlie Jones venue and have put the scholarship together with ourselves. Not only that, they have teamed up with our head of live sound, Jay Beard (ex live engineer for Snow Patrol, Elbow, Cherry Ghost), to create one of the most comprehensive live sound training courses in Europe. We have had two full runs and 34 graduates. Out of those, 28 have gone into paid employment in the live sound industry, which is a current record for SSR at 82% - we should all be very proud of this achievement and I can say that SSR feels privileged to be working with leaders in the industry like Wigwam and DiGiCo.”
“Being involved with SSR is a win/win situation,” concludes Spratt. “We have already employed two members of staff from SSR and we have three students in the warehouse at the moment. The calibre of people coming out of the school is excellent and the DiGiCo room is a great addition to the facility.”
Other participants at the open day were Medialease, Bob Kelly, the BBC, who helped with cabling, and RME recording solutions.