NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nic Dugger wanted to do something to give back to his alma mater. And so the president of the Nashville-based company TNDV: Television recently donated production equipment to the Department of Media Arts at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The equipment package included drone technology as well as a virtual reality system — specifically, two DJI Inspire Series quadcopter drone systems that are capable of transmitting 4K/HD video feeds from close to 1,000 feet in the air as well as an Oculus Rift virtual reality system.
MTSU recently invested $1.7 million to build the new 40-foot Mobile Production Lab that students regularly use to learn about producing live TV shows around MTSU athletics, music concerts and other special events.
Dugger is a class of 2000 graduate of MTSU’s Media Arts Program and said he believes that today’s students must learn to utilize live drone video feeds effectively to adequately prepare for today’s real-world remote production and truck jobs.
“As the owner of a mobile production company, we are frequently working with drone video feeds,” Dugger said. “I recognized that having this equipment on MTSU’s truck would give the students an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and hands-on experience they need to be more attractive candidates for entry-level broadcast production positions.”
Dugger donated the drones specifically to expand the mobile unit’s live production capabilities, including the capture and transmission of live aerials and beauty shots that can be combined with conventional tripod- and shoulder-mounted camera shots, and other live sources.
While a student at MTSU, Dugger worked on the school’s previous HD truck, and has since built a career running a mobile production truck business of his own. TNDV has amassed a fleet of eight HD and 4K trucks, including MTSU’s original mobile unit dubbed “TNDV: Inspiration” as well as a new 4K-capable 53-foot flagship unit called “TNDV: Exclamation.”
“I observed that MTSU did not have drone capability on their HD truck. So, to really give back to the program that benefited me, I wanted to give them not one, but two drone systems to future-proof their curriculum,” Dugger said. “And since the department is also developing a new virtual reality program, I included the Oculus Rift VR gear as a little icing on the cake.”
The DJI Inspire drone system integrates a live HD camera, multiple remote controllers, battery charging devices and video transmission. With a flight time of about 25 minutes, the quadcopter drone flies at speeds of about 90–100 kph/55–62 mph, while relaying 4K/HD 30fps (H.265) encoded video in real-time. The Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Platform includes all hardware and software necessary to create an immersive VR experience.
Dugger presented the equipment to MTSU Chief Engineer Marc Parrish and MTSU Assistant Chief Engineer Mike Forbes at the end of the spring semester in May 2018. His goal was to give faculty members ample time to become familiar with their operation before the students returned for the fall semester.