Al Jazeera and KidZania develop kids' studio

KidZania sets up full production facility for kids in London
A boy learns how to use a studio camera at KidZania London.
A boy learns how to use a studio camera at KidZania London.


Al Jazeera Media Network and KidZania have developed a purpose built television studio at KidZania London, an educational entertainment centre for children.

As KidZania’s broadcast partner in London, Al Jazeera Media Network built the studio and developed a series of training modules tailored for children.

The optical fibre-based multicam 4K studio workflow features broadcast infrastructure from Blackmagic Design.

The studio is made up of three distinct components, all designed to be operated by children under the supervision of KidZania staff: the studio floor where the presenter delivers a news cast to three camera heads; a production gallery where children can control various aspects of the production process; and a colour separation overlay or green screen setup.

On the studio floor are three Blackmagic 4K studio camera providing a live feed over optical fibre, which is run via an ATEM Studio Converter and patched via SDI into a smart video hub 12x12 video router.

The same optical fibre provides talkback and tally, with each camera operator having their own set of noise cancelling headsets, enabling them to take direction from the gallery.

Anil Chaman, manager of technology, Europe, Al Jazeera Media Network, lead the project. “Our aim was to replicate the broadcast experience as closely as we could, without all of the complexity,” Chaman said. “KidZania has very strict guidelines for partners like ourselves and ease of use was chief among them. What I liked about Blackmagic’s offering was its physical packaging. It’s naturally very user friendly and intuitive to use, whilst still providing us with all the functionality we’d expect of our own studios.”

He added that more complex roles such as vision mixing and audio are handled by a KidZania supervisor.

Newscasts are produced on Blackmagic’s ATEM 1 M/E 4K production studio 4K with the ATEM 1 M/E Broadcast Panel. The production “staff” can then monitor everything from a series of preview monitors, while simultaneously recording to a HyperDeck Studio Pro. A secondary broadcast deck is used for VTs, Chaman explained.

Al Jazeera Media Network cut no corners in making the studio realistic for the children who will be using it. “We even went as far as building a replica version of the same desk used in our own news broadcasts. It had to feel real in every aspect of its design and operation or it was never going to work, even down to the training modules themselves, which, were developed with our editorial team.”

KidZania has more than 23 locations worldwide, each of which allows children to learn about numerous different professions. Al Jazeera Media Network has previously worked with KidZania on similar projects in the UAE and Qatar.


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