Located in Waxahachie, TX, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) began as a regional bible school and later, added a junior college program. The university has experienced phenomenal enrollment increases from 596 students in 1991 to approximately 2,200 today. In 2013, the academic divisions of the university realigned into three colleges: the College of Bible & Church Ministries, the College of Business and Education, and the College of Music and Communication Arts. All colleges maintain Bible-based curriculum to fulfill the mission of SAGU. Since 2000, SAGU has added 24 new academic programs, bringing the total to more than 60 programs.
Recently, SAGU added a 48-Fader Yamaha NUAGE Advanced Production DAW System, purchased through Audio DAWG of Irving, Texas. The system is installed in a dedicated studio for commercial production that is available for rental and an academic learning lab for Digital Media Arts students. Internships are being offered for students in the program, but they will also have to complete at least one major audio project using the studio, with staff engineer assistance.
“I started using Nuendo 2.0 in 2003 as an upgrade from Cubase SX which I was strictly using for MIDI programming, states John Cookman, Chief Engineer and Director of Media Services and Production. My DAW at the time was a PARIS system that had been discontinued, and I needed a DAW that could keep up with where I was leaving off. Wow! Nuendo really did that and more.”
Cookman purchased NUAGE primarily because he had grown tired of recording/editing/mixing with a mouse and keyboard. “I always sensed that my creativity was being stifled due to the inefficient ways of keyboard and mouse work flow, Cookman says. I had originally planned to purchase a Euphonix system because of its acclaimed integration with Nuendo, but once I demoed the NUAGE at NAB 2013, I decided it was much more practical to buy a console that was specifically made for the Nuendo platform and would also be supported by Nuendo’s parent company, Yamaha. From the first minute I sat down with the NUAGE, I have felt at home.”
The Digital Media Arts BA degree is the path for all of SAGU media students, and the department is moving toward an audio recording degree path. They do offer an audio recording class that is mandatory for all DMA students. Each student will be doing at least one project on the NUAGE. SAGU averages roughly 20 students in the audio recording class per semester.
Technically, SAGU is not a house of worship but they do have daily chapel services. “My department has started up a live and on-demand outlet to view and listen to services (www.SAGU.tv chapel channel), notes Cookman. This is a multi-camera and multi channel audio mix for broadcast TV using our DMA students as student workers. We also do sports broadcasting as well.”
Two main facilities are used for broadcasting, the largest auditorium seats approximately 2,300. During the school year the auditorium is occupied mostly by students. The other auditorium is a new performing arts theater seating 625. “Our NUAGE system is directly integrated to this room so that we can use it as a sound stage to record from,” adds Cookman.
Cookman appreciates the NUAGE state-of-the-art approach adding in the elements of the analog workflow to a digital non-linear workflow. “Now I am able to access the best of both worlds concerning work flow. Yamaha has done an outstanding job at connecting the user to efficient workflow systems. The way they have integrated NUAGE with the DAW (especially Nuendo) has empowered the engineer with hands-on tools that are unprecedented in our industry.”
Specific features that were attractive in SAGU’s decision process were the motorized faders, one-touch navigation to any parameter, and the ability to edit each parameter microscopically with professional grade encoders. “Faders and buttons impact our work environment everyday. Being able to reach over and instantly access channel data makes workflow so efficient. Now, I don’t have to spend time scrolling with my mouse and keyboard keeping me from really getting into that creative zone. The NUAGE is a “Must Have” for every DAW.”
John Cookman has been in the industry for 30 years, and 18 of those were spent in the non-linear DAW world. “Since I started working with NUAGE, I finally feel like I am tapping into the top layer of my potential as a engineer and producer. In May, we released a Christian music project for an outside artist (I was hired to produce and record/edit/mix). Within 45 days, we charted at #10 on the Billboard Hot Christian charts and the next week, we topped out at #8. The artist was the only independent artist in the top 100 at that time. I attribute a lot of that to the flexibility the NUAGE brought us to use more of our creative brain rather than engineering brain.”
Cookman says he is budgeting for a smaller NUAGE setup for broadcast remix in SAGU’s master control room currently using Nuendo.
For more information on SAGU, visit www.sagu.edu.
For more information on Audio DAWg, visit www.audiodawg.com.
For more information on NUAGE, visit www.yamahaca.com.