Every year, the prestigious Blanquerna School for Communication and International Relations in Barcelona prepares 1800 Spanish and international students for a professional career in Cinema and Television, Advertising, Communication, Journalism and International Relations. And they all work with Macs and Final Cut Pro X.
We are going through one of the most fundamental changes in the media industry ever, as the new media are overtaking the traditional media as the preferred distribution channel of information and entertainment. Audiovisual content is everywhere these days, and creating high quality content is more accessible to everyone than ever before.
Many film schools have already adapted to this changing world. So have the young people who aspire to become the next generation of media and entertainment professionals. Their ambitions are not limited anymore to only movie or television production. Audiovisual Communication is the new black, and it opens tremendous new opportunities for these youngsters.
The Blanquerna School for Communication and International Relations is a perfect example of this. The school is part of the famous Ramon Llull University and it is located in the center of Barcelona, one of the most vital and exciting cities of Europe. The school was started in 1994, since then they have educated and trained thousands of media professionals.
Joan Bosch is a Film & Television Degree Professor at Blanquerna. He is also the Coordinator of the Postgraduate Diploma in Postproduction and the Coordinator of Equipment of the school.
Joan kindly accepted to guide us through the impressive building and answer any questions we had. Of course we were very interested to find out why this major school has decided to only teach their students Final Cut Pro X. But during our visit we also got a very clear view on how much the media landscape has really changed these days.
You train more than only film and television students, correct?
We train audiovisual professionals and content creators for all the areas in communication that speak the audiovisual language: Film and Television, Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing, Corporate Communication, Journalism and International Relations.
It’s a 4 year course, and after this you can do a Master’s degree that will allow you to specialize in a particular field of audiovisual communication such as Art Direction in Advertising, Advanced Journalism, Film and Television Fiction, Production, Script and Realization etc.
With 1800 students you must have a very busy schedule
Because of the number of students we have, we split the courses in morning and afternoon sessions. We have 14 larger classrooms on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor of the building. The 4th floor is special because this floor has 15 smaller seminar classrooms.
One of the pillars of our training, which we call the “Blanquerna Style”, is that we organize seminar classes. Students are divided into groups of a maximum of twelve, and spend 6 hours a week with an outstanding professional in the audiovisual sector acting as their tutor.
Thanks to this method, the tutor can personally follow up each student’s progress, and students have direct access to the communications industry from the very first year.
In the first year our students learn general subjects that are common for the different degrees. This general training helps them get familiar with all aspects of communication. During this first year they can discover certain aspects that they particularly like, and they can choose to go into that direction during the second year.
In the second year they also start doing subjects that are more specific for the direction they have chosen. They do so by carrying out audiovisual projects they create, develop and present periodically.
Does the school provide in-house facilities to create these projects?
I think our school offers more facilities to the students than any other school. During the week, and also in the weekends, they have access to last-generation equipment and facilities in our building.
We have two state-of-the-art HD television studios, one for fiction and entertainment and one for news and information.
Both studios are sound proof and they have professional lighting equipment, 3 professional HD cameras, on set reference monitoring, high-end digital switchers and keyers, intercom and professional audio equipment. The news studio has an infinite green key background and teleprompters.
We also have a smaller studio called “The Incubator” where our students can develop and try out their ideas. It has a small set, cameras, lights, computers and two large blackboards.
Besides the television studios we have 2 digital radio studios, 15 professional cameras with lighting, grip and audio sets for on location shooting, 12 editing rooms, 3 computer rooms, a multimedia laboratory, a digital writing laboratory, and an art direction laboratory.
The Equipment division of the school is operated by the students. We think it’s essential that students understand right from the beginning how to use the tools they will need in the future. By doing so they quickly adapt to the rhythms and habits required in the field of audiovisual communication, and they can enter the labour market with stronger foundations.
The division is supported by our technical staff: Audio/Video technicians Miguel Garcia, Belén Ochoa, Enric Sendra and Javi Cordón, IT Technicians Alfons Ventura, Toni Segura, Eduard Janué and Víctor García, Audio/Video technicians Miguel Garcia and Belén Ochoa, and IT Manager Alfons Ventura.
What kind of software do you teach the students?
We teach Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign in our design classes.
We also teach DaVinci Resolve for grading, and we use ProTools for audio. We are not very happy with ProTools though because the software is too difficult to manage, so I think we will change to Logic Pro X next year.
But the main software that everyone uses, starting from the second year, is Final Cut Pro X. Before 2000 we had linear editing rooms with Betacam machines, and we also used a software called Edits for awhile. In 2000 we started using Final Cut Pro, and we stayed with Final Cut when it was replaced with Final Cut Pro X.
How did that transition go?
At the beginning we had some doubts because the change was very abrupt and the software was not complete enough for our needs. Some of the teachers did not like it at all.
So we started trying other NLEs. But we found they did not offer anything new and we stayed with FCP X. Seeing how the old Final Cut had evolved over the years, we were pretty confident that Apple would do the same thing with Final Cut Pro X. And today I am very happy to see that we have made the right decision.
What do you particularly like about FCP X?
It has been our experience that students learn FCP X much faster than any other NLE. The user interface is simple and intuitive, while the underlying technology is extremely powerful and deep. This offers us a big advantage as teachers. We don’t need to spend much time to get our students up and running with the software, and consequently we can focus much more on what is really important: teaching them the art of editing.
A second advantage is that the students can do their media management, video and audio editing, graphics, animation, color correction and finishing in one and the same tool without even needing to switch interfaces. This makes it a lot easier for them to concentrate on the story they create.
Finally, it is very important for us to get our students familiar with the tools that are commonly used in the industry they will be working in. And FCP X has become very popular both in the traditional and in the new media industry.
Who comes to study at the Blanquerna school of Communication?
Young people who come here are obviously interested in audiovisual media. Our students come from all around Spain, but we also have students from different countries in the world. Our classes are taught in Catalan, Spanish and English.
Not all our students are familiar with the Mac platform. But we see that they make the switch very easily and they don’t look back. Actually, the most requested item on our student’s Christmas-gift lists in the first year is a MacBook Pro.
Every student comes here with a different background and different aspirations. During the classes they discover every aspect of communication. And during their task projects they learn how to work together with students of other disciplines, just like they will have to do in the real world:
And how do you lead them towards an actual job in the industry?
We have a Job Placement Service, and we have agreements for internships with more than 300 major companies in the field of communication. Internships are carried out in the third year, they are compulsory and last 6 months. In the fourth year the students can choose to do another 6 months of internship if they wish.
During their internships, the students have the opportunity to work alongside the top professionals in the country.
The Final Degree Project (FDP) in the 4th year is done outside teaching hours and is coordinated by a professor. It is one of the most important subjects that students take because once completed, they are in a position to work on any national or international audiovisual production.
In this “making of” video you can see how students from Audiovisual Communication and from Journalism join forces to set up an online tv channel for the famous 080 Barcelona Fashion Week, creating all their content with Final Cut Pro X:
Final question: what are the chances of success for your students?
We are happy to see that the vast majority of our students succeed in fulfilling their dreams. Their academic background combined with the extensive practical training gives them a solid basis to start a successful career as a media professional, or to get a leading job in any industry that uses audiovisual communication: film and television, journalism, advertising, public relations, marketing, corporate communication, international relations etc.
Our Audiovisual Communication classes have delivered quite some prominent names in film and television during the past few years including Emmy Award winners, Goya (Spanish Academy Awards) winners and Gaudí (Catalan Academy Awards) winners.
Our alumni regularly come back to our auditorium to share their working knowledge with the new students. And as their teachers, we are very happy to be part of the Blanquerna success story.
A huge thank you to Joan Bosch and Jaume Benet (left and right) for the warm welcome we have received at the school, and to my dear friend Jesús Pérez-Miranda (middle) for getting us in touch.
Media and Communication schools are the fundament of our digital society because they craft the next generations of media professionals. That’s why it is very encouraging to see that some of the largest film schools in Europe have already adapted to the huge changes that are occurring in the media landscape. In many of these schools in Europe, FCP X has an important place in this process of change.
Each year, 1800 new media professionals are trained at the Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations. They will become the next generation of producers, directors, writers, production managers, marketing managers, public relations officers, advertising wizards, journalists, editors, digital effects specialists etc.
They may be your next collaborator, client or employer... And they all will know how to work with Final Cut Pro X.
If you want to learn more about the Blanquerna School, they have a website in Spanish, Catalan and English.
® 2017 FCP.co/Ronny Courtens