The MediaLab: A space for audiovisual talent

@Roberto Arribas

At IE University’s MediaLab, students learn to how to plan, produce, and broadcast multimedia materials.

IE University is located in the former Convent of Santa Cruz la Real in Segovia, built in the thirteenth century and renovated in the fifteenth century during the time of the Catholic Monarchs. While maintaining absolute respect for the convent’s eight-hundred-year heritage, university leaders have sensitively adapted the different areas to develop a twenty-first-century learning environment. There is a harmonious blend of history, technology, cultural diversity, and academic innovation on the IE University campus.

An old chapel on the third floor of what was once the first Dominican convent in Spain offers one of the best examples of this peaceful coexistence between historical heritage and innovation. Today, only traces of the chapel remain, having been transformed into a modern television studio equipped with the latest technological resources. Not many universities in the world can boast such a unique space. Fitted with professional-grade equipment—including chroma, professional cameras, and modern LD lights—this impressive studio is part of the MediaLab, a set of diverse spaces where students can learn to plan, produce, and broadcast an endless number of multimedia materials in different formats.

In total, the MediaLab contains a television studio, production control room, digital-editing booths, and photography studios, among other resources. You can also find state-of-the-art digital audio, video, and photography equipment, all designed for university students to practice and produce audiovisual materials under the umbrella of the IE School of Human Sciences and Technology.

Photo by: Roberto Arribas

«At IE University, students have the opportunity to use modern audiovisual equipment and create multimedia material for their projects, presentations, or tasks,» explains David Álvarez, director of MediaLab, adding that «audiovisual professionals advise them on how to develop and structure their ideas, as well as how to organize their projects skillfully, enabling them as ‘producers’ to work both individually and collectively.»

Among other resources, MediaLab has a professional production control room and ten booths with the most sophisticated editing, post-production, graphic design, and animation software. It also has a photography studio and an analog lab, «so that students know what photography was like before digitalization,» adds Álvarez.

The “Oven-Room” provides a space for students to come together to brainstorm, promoting group work that helps produce innovative ideas and projects. A hub for unlimited inspiration and creativity, the “Oven-Room” room has, for example, a large seventy-inch screen for students to view and analyze the latest content from major audiovisual platforms such as HBO, Amazon Video, and Netflix.

TECHNOLOGY

It’s also worth highlighting the audiovisual material store, which all students have access to upon request. Some of its resources include professional cameras for taking photographs and for recording, as well as sliders, tripods, stabilizers, GoPros, and lighting equipment. The MediaLab also has 360-degree cameras and virtual reality equipment, such as the famous Oculus Quest wireless headset. «The latest acquisitions include the Sony a7 full-frame mirrorless digital cameras, commonly used by professionals,» says Alvarez, who insists that «not only do we provide students with cutting-edge equipment to create their work, but we also help them with absolutely everything they need, both technically and creatively speaking.”  To make all this happen, he recognizes the fundamental part of the two MediaLab technicians, Diana Gómez and Nuria Santana, play—»they are key in its daily running«.

Photo by: Roberto Arribas

The MediaLab also has a counterpart at the IE University campus located in Madrid, in the classroom E015 on María de Molina street. There, undergraduate and graduate students have access to a professional studio for the production of their audiovisual pieces. «The studio in Madrid has lighting equipment for recordings and photo sessions, consisting of two bi-color NanGuang CN-2000LC LED panels, from 3,200 to 5,600K with continuous variation, ideal for the general lighting of a scene, and four NanGuang CN-60F Fresnel spotlights, with an adjustable color temperature of 5,600K,” explains the director of MediaLab.

IE University’s audiovisual space is always full of activity. At any given moment, there are students developing their creative spirit in some of our facilities. «There really is a lot of demand from the students, they’re very creative and they’re always working, either on class assignments or personal projects,» says Alvarez. Focusing on this point, he says that students end up with a collection of the different pieces they produce throughout their degree, so that «when they graduate they already have a portfolio to show businesses. IE students leave university with a lot of work under their belt, and that makes it easier for them to enter the world of work anywhere across the globe.” In short, the MediaLab is a perfect space to fully develop the audiovisual talent of IE University students.

«The students have made good use of all that we have to offer, producing very high-quality short films and documentaries,” explains Álvarez, citing, for example, the documentary recently filmed by several students in the Sahara. This particular piece of work was aided by professional advice from the director of IE University’s Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media, Iona de Macedo, one of the most enthusiastic promoters of IE University’s MediaLab. The director of the MediaLab also highlights the active participation of students in the video and photography category of the IE Foundation Prizes in the Humanities, «Many of the works submitted for these awards were made at the MediaLab,» he adds proudly.

When classes end in May, the MediaLab remains open. Then the work of the Communication Lab, directed by Diana Gómez, begins—which carries out professional work for real clients. This lab has worked for likes of Talgo, the Royal Theatre, and the Thyssen Museum, among others.

David Álvarez

David Alvarez balances management of the MediaLab with his work as a documentary filmmaker, which he has been doing since 2003. The first project he participated in was a series for Grupo Vocento that dealt with forgotten conflicts such as the Movement for Socialism in Bolivia, the tragedy of anti-personnel mines, and child soldiers in Colombia. In 2009, after several years making video clips, short films, and working in television, he finished his first long documentary, Dios salve al rock de estadio (God save arena rock), which he worked on with Ivar Muñoz-Rojas. The film received awards at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. His latest audiovisual work is Lo que hicimos fue secreto (What we did was secret), a documentary that tells the story of Madrid’s punk since the late 1970s. It won the prize for the best national documentary at the In-Edit festival in Barcelona. He is also co-founder of the Eleventh Floor Studio cooperative.