Brushstrokes of enlightenment: A rare journey through a broadcast studio

By Rehema Okeno
As the early morning sun cast its golden rays across the numerous trees at the parking lot of the university, there was a general feeling of anticipation in the air. For weeks, we, a group of eager animation students, had eagerly awaited this moment: the day when Professor Sheila Mulinya, who has been teaching us the Cinema and Television equipment workshop course would lead us on a journey beyond the confines of our usual classrooms and animation labs and into the heart of the broadcasting world. The much-awaited day, February 16, had finally arrived. I stood pensively among my classmates outside the university’s transport office, our excitement palpable as we waited to embark on a field trip unlike any other. Promptly at 9:30 a.m., our adventure began as we boarded the van, our hearts racing with the promise of newfound knowledge and unforgettable experiences that were awaiting us at the Switch Media studios. I did not know exactly what to expect, but I was open to learn as much as I could on this trip.

As the university van navigated through the busy Thika Road traffic, each minute seemed to stretch into eternity, and our anticipation was mounting with every passing moment. With a collective sigh of relief, we finally merged onto the Nairobi expressway, our journey smoothing out as we neared our destination. Arriving at the Kenya Red Cross premises in South C with just minutes to spare before our scheduled visit, a sense of exhilaration washed over us.

As we stepped out of the van, we were greeted by Mr. Wellington Nyangweso, whose warm smile and welcoming demeanor instantly put us at ease. He shared some pleasantries with Prof. Mulinya and without wasting any moment, he led us briskly through the premises and into the heart of the studio. As we entered the studio, we were instructed to leave our bags and water bottles at the entrance, a small sacrifice in exchange for the privilege of stepping into this hallowed space. With bated breath, we followed Mr. Nyangweso, into the studio, where we were met with a breathtaking sight: a symphony of lights, cameras and microphones meticulously arranged in a dazzling display of technological prowess. It was a moment of pure awe as we stood face to face with the very tools of trade that bring our favorite television shows and films to life in the professional world.

Under the expert guidance of Mr. Nyangweso, who we were amazed by his rare grasp of all the functionalities of the studio, our journey into the world of broadcasting took on a new depth and clarity. “I am not a teacher, so my lesson today will be guided fully by your questions,’’ he quipped.

With a passion for his craft evident in every word he spoke, he led us through an intensive session, separating the mysteries behind each piece of equipment with an enthusiasm that was both infectious and affable. With patience and kindness, he fielded each question that arose from our curious minds, taking the time to ensure that none of our queries went unanswered.

His dedication to our learning was palpable as he meticulously attended to each one of us, encouraging interaction and fostering an environment where knowledge flourished with ease. Despite the technical complexity of the subject matter, Mr. Nyangweso’s explanations were clear and concise. He made even the most daunting concepts accessible to our eager minds. As we absorbed his teachings with rapt attention, it became evident that this was more than just a tour of a professional broadcast studio, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn from a master of the craft.

We soon learned that the studio, is no longer in active broadcast as it was undergoing a transformation of its own. Mr. Nyangweso revealed that it would soon re-open its doors as a media school, poised to nurture the next generation of storytellers and technicians. With plans to launch in early March 2024, the studio was on the brink of a new chapter. We felt privileged to have been granted a glimpse into its illustrious past and the promising future that its prospects hold.

Our journey of discovery continued as Mr. Nyangweso delved into the intricacies of the studio’s setup. With a sweep of his hand, he gestured towards the array of studio lights, each meticulously positioned to capture every shade of the action unfolding before them. Moving on, he guided us through the forest of multi-cameras including robotic ones, each one a sentinel poised to capture a different angle of the story being told. As we traversed the various studio sets, from the newsrooms, the green-screen, all the way to talk show stages, we marveled at the attention to detail that brought each scene to life. But it was when we stood before the myriad microphones, each waiting to amplify the voices of those who would stand before them, that the true scope of the studio’s capabilities began to dawn on us.

The studio gallery was part of the many highlights of the day. Even with it not running live, we felt the busy and enriching atmosphere as we were guided through how the schedule in a 24-hr studio runs. We were giddy as we were shown how the gallery runs the broadcasting schedule with it being the heart of the studio. With deft hands, Mr. Nyangweso led us through the labyrinth of major connections that linked each piece of equipment, a complex web of wires and cables that formed the backbone of the studio’s infrastructure. And as we ventured into the gallery, a hallowed space where the magic of live broadcasting truly came to life, we were granted a glimpse into the director’s domain. Here, amidst a sea of monitors and control panels, we witnessed firsthand the orchestration of a live broadcast, where the director’s commands reverberate through the room, guiding each member of the technical team in perfect synchrony.

In that moment, we were awestruck by the sheer magnitude of just what it took to not only install such a studio but to also operationalize it. Behind the glitz and glamour of the broadcast world lies a meticulous choreography of technical expertise and artistic vision, a delicate dance that requires skill, dedication and an unwavering commitment to excellence. As we stood on the threshold of this brave new world, we knew that our journey was far from over. But armed with the knowledge and insight gleaned from our time in the studio, we were more determined than ever to embark on the path that lay ahead, ready to make our mark on the world of broadcast media.
As our unforgettable journey drew to a close, gratitude filled our hearts like a warm embrace. Mr. Nyangweso extended an invitation that filled us with pride and excitement: that our role as future film and animation practitioners holds a significant place in the world of live studio broadcasts. He even welcomed us to not only visit again but also participate in the workshops that they occasionally offer at the studios.
Commending us for our high level of discipline and curiosity to learn, this day was a validation of our passion and a recognition of the valuable contributions we could make to this dynamic industry. With heartfelt appreciation, one of us (Perry Oduor) stepped forward to offer a heartfelt vote of thanks, expressing our gratitude to Mr. Kibisu the head of Switch Media Studios, Mr. Wellington Nyangweso, Dr. Serede, the Dean, School of Communication, Cinematics and Creative Arts, Dr. Mutua, the Department Chair, Prof. Mulinya, and the entire USIU-Africa management for coordinating this unforgettable experience for us. With our hearts full and our minds buzzing with newfound inspiration, we bid farewell to the Switch Media studios and boarded the van back to campus. As we journeyed homeward, the memories of this extraordinary day danced in our minds, each moment forever etched into our memories. It was a day that will linger in our hearts for years to come, a demonstration of the power of curiosity, collaboration and the boundless possibilities that await us in the days to come as we continue with our pursuit for success as Film Production and Directing and Animation students.

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