Tony and I visited the Epic studios in Norwich last Tuesday - one of the most advanced broadcast production facilities in Europe. We were primarily there to visit the teachers visual media fair but also to have a good look at their recent £1.5 million HD upgrade.

http://www.epic-tv.org/

We met Dave the head engineer, he gave us a tour of the very impressive facilities. The main studio is 6000 square feet and can accommodate up to 300 people in the audience, it has 4 dressing rooms and three viewing galleries. In the past it has hosted Trisha, Vanessa and Graham Norton - but not at the same time according to their website. Studio one is available for hire for 5k a day - a bit out of our budget but Epic do cater for colleges by offering a package of different experiences for learners. One that caught our eye was a full studio tour combined with a production exercise. Learners get assigned roles in the studio and actually get to create their show and take it away with them.

Dave offered the college some of their old equipment at what we were told was a very reasonable price - unfortunately the mixing desk he was pointing at would struggle to get through the doors of the college let alone fit into our compact gallery.

Later after a brief introduction to Epic's director we visited the fair in the main studio. Representatives from local creative and media industries were well represented. We spoke at length with the Creative & Media Diploma Employer Engagement team who said they'd been receiving some excellent feedback from students. They felt it gave them otherwise unavailable opportunities to build links with the creative industry and give them a taster of a variety of different creative areas. This was really helping them to make up their mind about where they want to go when they complete the course.

Donna Chessum of Tribe PR told us about the increase in demand for web video in the city of Norwich and how they have set up their own TV Channel online 'Tribe TV'. She also mentioned that they are working with the council on a film competition which is open to all ages - Create a 3 minute film on any device (stills camera, mobile, film camera) dispelling the myths of Norfolk, i.e. that you come here to retire and nothing ever happens. We're too late for this year but we spoke about SpringboardTV and we will keep in touch and crossover where appropriate.

The BBC where present and I was interviewed for their East community channel, again we spoke about Springboard and potential collaboration opportunities. Wendy (BBC) has invited the college to come to their studio sometime in the future, we also discussed the potential of Springboard feeding them content on local bands and news etc - real kudos for the channel if we can make it happen.

There were a number of independent filmmakers who are currently very busy involved in online video, they also spoke about real growth in this area. It was really encouraging to see that although some of Norwich's larger broadcasters have scaled back operations, smaller and more dynamic digital agencies were doing well. All in all a really worthwhile day out.