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Wednesday 17 December 2014

20 years of media at Solent celebrated with alumni

Southampton Solent  celebrated 20 years of media technology in December with an event that saw movers and shakers in the media world – all alumni from the University – returning to share their experiences with current students.

Sean Lancastle, Head of Media Technology said: “It is good for our existing students to see the enormous influence that we as a University have in media technology. Graduates from Southampton Solent are well-respected within the industry and most leave here with jobs already lined up.”

One notable alumnus who graduated in 1999 and came along to the event is Richard Welsh. Awarded an honorary doctorate of technology from Southampton Solent in 2012, Richard has undertaken pioneering work on advanced techniques for 3D and, together with former colleague Chris Ralph, has been named joint inventor on an international patent.


Building on successful appointments as Director of Digital Cinema Services for Dolby and then Head of Operations, Digital Cinema at Technicolor Creative Services, Richard has now set up a successful cloud-based business with Chris, Sundog Media Toolkit, so the sky really is the limit.

“The knowledge that I gained during my time at Southampton Solent underpins everything I do now” said Richard “and I firmly believe it has got me to where I am today. I count myself lucky to have studied here and lucky to have been taught by amazing staff.”

Another successful alumnus keen to share his experiences with students is now living life in the fast lane in every sense of the world. Responsible for the enjoyment of millions, Joel James has been following the glamour of F1 all over the globe since April 2012 and, as Digital Media Engineer F1 Management, has full responsibility for signing off all F1 footage prior to broadcast.


“My time at Solent provided a good foundation knowledge for the technologies and processes used in the broadcasting industry” Joel confirms. “Additionally, Solent provides opportunities for students to get relevant experience with well-established companies (BBC Children in Need, Glastonbury, Bestival, IBC). This experience was invaluable when it came to writing a CV, interviewing and getting the job.”

Celebrating the milestone provides a good excuse to take stock of how far the University has come in terms of its media technology over the last twenty years, a journey that began with a single course, taught in one room with borrowed and donated equipment. Today the University’s students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities which include the only student-run cinema in Europe to feature a full active-3D digital projection system and a Dolby-specified sound system.

“The secret for us is to keep moving forward” concludes Lancastle, “and to ensure our graduates are equipped with the skills that will ensure they are successful. Our close links with the industry has identified skills gaps in certain areas and, as a result, we have expanded our portfolio. In 2015 this will translate to new courses available in audio engineering and acoustics.

“Graduates will leave with all the skills they need to enter a high-tech, knowledge-intensive sector with a robust job market and sustained demand for a specialist workforce. As always we welcome the challenge of providing this and look forward with renewed anticipation to the next 20 years.”