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Every month, we’ll bring you a collection of stories showcasing student life at Backstage Academy.

Volume 2: October 2019

Notch Masterclass with Alumni, Harrison Mead

BA (Hons) Live Visual Design & Production – 1st Years

Thursday 3rd October

At the start of October, we were fortunate enough to be visited by Harrison Mead, one of our BA (Hons) Live Visual Design & Production alumni.

Harrison was with us to deliver a masterclass on Notch vfx to our 1st year Live Visual Design & Production students before he jets off to LA to deliver the session to a group of industry professionals.

It's great to see Harrison doing so well in the industry!

Working With Electricity

BA (Hons) Live Events Production – 1st Years 

Monday 7th October

A group of Live Events Production Students had their first Working with Electricity lecture. 

During the session they became electrons flowing through a circuit allowing them to visualise and experience the way that electricity flows. Lecturer Frazer Gall said,

"The session is designed to teach students the way electricity flows and how to work with it safely. This allows for effective and efficient planning of live events when selecting cable type and evaluating power supply. The students are progressing from understanding how to use a 10m extension cable to using 300m of three-way cable running through an arena".

Introduction to Trussing and Hoists

BA (Hons) Live Events Production – 1st Years 

Thursday 10th October

1st year Live Events Production students had their introduction to trussing and hoists. 

Delivered by Technical Director, Gareth Welbourn, students learnt how to safely unload and prepare hoists provided by KRS Rigging. Students were then tasked with building a box truss to understand how pieces of truss can connect and be orientated. The truss was then attached to the hoists and flown in one of our studios. 

Gareth said, 

"Knowing how to work safely with and around truss is imperative when working in the live events industry and one of the reasons that our students are so well respected in the Industry."

Sound Mixing a Drum Kit

BA (Hons) Live Events Production – 2nd Years 

Thursday 10th October

Drummer and Sound Engineer, Aron Bicksey, came in to give the students a masterclass in live sound engineering and mixing with a drum kit. During the session, Aron ran through a series of different music genres and the way that a sound engineer can adapt the mix depending on the desired sound. They then focused on how to work with a professional drummer and the way they need communicate with them during a sound check in order to achieve the best sound possible from the instrument. 

Students were using a range of microphones and loudspeakers from our partners Shure and d&b audiotechnic.

Graduation 2019 Set-up

Student Production Team - All Years 

Thursday 24th October

With just one day to go until Graduation 2019, preparations were underway to make Wakefield Cathedral an even more perfect venue for such a special day. 

Current Backstage Academy students had been working for the previous few days on creating a state-of-the-art production to celebrate the success of their peers. 

In true Backstage Academy fashion, Graduation 2019 was a fantastic spectacle.

Crew Skills 2

All Courses - 1st Years 

Tuesday 29th October

1st year students from all degree courses had their second session in a series of workshops in their Academic and Professional Skills module. 

The session was aimed at working safely with ratchet straps and ropes. The first part of the class was lead by Technical Director, Gareth Welbourn, and focused on the safe operation and safe inspection of ratchet straps and truss. The students had to consider the placement of these straps to ensure access to the ratchet itself at all times. 

The second part of the workshop was delivered by our Director of Operations & Student Services, Matt Bate. This section was an introduction to knots where the students learnt a range of knots including figure of eight, reef, sheet bend, clove hitch and bowline. At the end of the class, the students were given a five minute task to use the skills they had learnt to hoist some truss safely. 

We are very lucky that Matt is a Sub Lieutenant with HMS Ceres in the Royal Navy Reserves and willing to share some of the things that he has learnt during his initial training.

Decking Practical

BA (Hons) Live Events Production – 1st Years  

Wednesday 30th October

1st year Live Events Production students had a decking practical led by Gareth Welbourn, our Technical Director. 

Students learnt how to safely secure and remove decks from a much larger stage than they have been able to work on so far. The size of the stage tested the way the students could work as a team to ensure safe working practice. 

The session was held in Production Park’s Studio 001. It is hugely inspirational for the students to build a stage in the same space as Hugh Jackman, Sam Smith and many more have rehearsed. 

The opportunity for our students to have access to these kinds of spaces and to build links with the live events industry is something that we feel we can offer like no other educational institution. 


  • 1st year Live Events Production students will be increasing their experience with lighting
  • 2nd year Live Visual Design & Production students will be delving into the possibilities of projection mapping  
  • We will be capturing the load out of our Digital Dimensions Exhibition from EUREKA!
  • 2nd year Stage & Production Management students will also have a festival practical.

Stay tuned for all this and more!

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