Production Park
6 June 2023

BBC Radio Leeds goes behind the scenes at Production Park

Getting under the bonnet of all things Production Park, the BBC’s Richard Stead took a tour of our campus last week, chatting to staff and students the Academy of Live Technology, and taking a peek in Studio 001 and the XPLOR Centre for Virtual Production.

Airing as a three-part feature on BBC Radio Leeds on May 31st, June 1st and 2nd, Richard first spoke to Rachel Nicholson, head of the Academy of Live Technology about careers in the creative industries, asking – “Are many people thinking that they can make a career in this industry at the moment?” 

“I think one thing is that that we’re our own worst enemy. Because the whole point of being backstage is that most of the time we’re not supposed to be seen, so a lot of people aren’t aware of the huge industry that goes behind putting on those shows. So actually, some people are really surprised that if you’re interested in computer design, in IT technology, art, music and engineering, actually there’s a career for you in live industry.”

Richard asked about the demand for live industry jobs, and whether it was currently outweighing supply.

“Hugely, I’m always receiving phone calls and emails from industry partners, several of them asking – have you got a graduate or a student, because we’ve got this job going… do you know anyone who could fill that? At the moment, that’s the thing holding the sector back – talent.”

Richard then made his way to Production Park’s Studio 001, which had just the day before had packed an arena show down ahead of a world tour. Meeting up with Sam Wilkinson, Production Park’s Sales and Business Development Manager, Sam gave radio listeners a visual of the kind of scale of the studios on our campus:

“The roof is of this studio is currently capable of holding around 120 tonnes, which is more than enough for an average arena show. And our brand-new studio just across the campus, Studio 005, has a roof capacity of 500 tonnes – that’s like having two Boeing 747s hanging from the roof.”

After this Richard and Rachel joined a couple of ALT students in the XPLOR Centre for Virtual Production, which as Rachel explained:

“XPLOR is our innovation and research centre, which is a department of the academy. Here we have a cutting-edge virtual production studio which, if you imagine a wall of LED panels, is fondly called ‘The Big TV’. What this is used for is the crossover between the live industry and the film and TV industry.”

The studio was set up with visuals from Oscar and Jamie, two third year students at ALT, working on their final major project:

“The guys are working on a project that they’ve designed, not one that we’ve set them,” explained Rachel.

“That’s what we want to do, we want to produce students who are going to innovate the industry, who are going to work in jobs that maybe don’t even exist yet. To see what these guys are coming up with is fantastic. It’s really exciting – my favourite part of the year.”

You can listen back to each day of the tour for 30 days on BBC Sounds here.