says Michel Beerens, Head of TU Delft’s NewMedia Centre. Photo credit: Maik Helger
Michel Beerens, Head of TU Delft’s NewMedia Centre: “We were extremely busy during Covid and we are still very busy because Covid also gave us more customers.” (Photo: Maik Helgers)

Michel Beerens and his team spend their days supporting TU Delft people with media technology. “If it has to do with visual content production, we can help.”

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“The NewMedia Centre has been on campus for a long time already but under different names. It used to be the audio-visual department, and we did photography, hung beamers on the ceiling, but that was 40 years ago. Then we got more and more into video, but when video became very expensive, we dropped it and went more into graphic design. About 10 or 15 years ago, when MOOCs started to come up, video became more and more important so we took it up again and since then we are called the NewMedia Centre.

We are a big playground of media production. We have a green screen studio and we produce more than 1,000 videos a year in this studio alone. It’s mostly online education, but anything can happen here. We had a scientist once who wanted to explain how his machine worked and there were all kinds of lasers shooting through the machine. Of course, we could not record that because they were not visible so we had to move in a fog machine to turn the whole studio into a cloud so you could see the laser beams.

We also do live shows, talk shows, and webinars. During Covid we even held live scientific conferences for global audiences to follow. We have a video production team that runs around campus to record interviews, video tours of new laboratories, buildings or whatever is needed. We have a VR Zone where we make virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) productions for science and education. And something interesting happens there because since we also started creating VR content, we not only became a partner in education but we also became a partner in science. For example, there are scientists that use VR as a means to gather data. Our role shifted a bit and I think that’s fascinating that suddenly we’re a partner in research.

There is a media lab where we experiment with media technology like holographic productions. In September there will be a lecturer from a university in Monterrey, Mexico standing as a holographic projection in a lecture hall in Delft. And the other way around, a professor from the Faculty of Architecture will be live streamed as a holographic projection to a lecture hall in Mexico.

‘We just created a DIY video recording booth for students in the TU Library’

And when students in the Department of Maritime Technology (Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering) were not allowed to go to a real shipyard any more due to insurance and safety regulations, we made a virtual shipyard. Students should actually wear safety shoes and walk around to perform some exercises to show their understanding of the construction of a ship.

We just created a DIY video recording booth for students in the Library that we hope will be ready to use in the second half of October. We have a podcast booth which can be booked online free of charge for students. And in the VR Zone, students are supported with all of their VR needs - they can participate in workshops, learn how to create their own VR environments, or we can support their thesis if VR is involved. We are also setting up a 3D scanning service that can be used by anyone on campus. If it has to do with visual content production, we can help. Most of our services are for lecturers, researchers or other employees, but we are entering more into the world of students and their needs.

The nice thing about this job and this department is that everybody experiences it as a big playground. We are now a team of 24 people and we all come to work with fun in mind. We were extremely busy during Covid and we are still very busy because Covid also gave us more customers. We worked overtime almost every day but nobody complained and everyone is still up and running. It’s a passionate team and that makes it a lot of fun to work with each other. It’s about the people, but also the technology, which changes quickly. There is always a new technology that we do not know and we want to experiment with, and find a way to use it at TU Delft. It’s the playfulness of the surrounding that makes this job fun.”

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