Inform. Entertain. Inspire: A progressive Indian approach to audio education
The Audio Guys Institute’s hands-on | immersive | cutting-edge training model.
Mumbai, India – Based in the most populous city of India, Mumbai, aka “The City of Dreams”, formerly known as Bombay until 1995, and home to the country’s most prolific film production industry, Bollywood, is the home of The Audio Guys Institute. Positioned in the most cosmopolitan and culturally rich place in “Bharat” (India) – known too as the nation’s fashion powerhouse and financial capital – we asked our Indian distributor Ansata (Ansata Computer Systems Pvt. Ltd.) to speak with Omkar Tamhan, a founding director of TAG, and pose the following series of questions to him …
TAG, Founders, Staff & Students: Is TAG a 100% privately-owned institute or supported in part or whole by the State or Central government? Who are its Founders? Are the diploma and advanced certificate courses nationally accredited? Where do the TAG students come from? What is TAG’s mantra ?
The Audio Guys Institute (TAG) is a completely privately-owned entity with its courses certified by official government bodies in India. TAG has three founders at its core: Omkar Tamhan, Anupam Sathe, and Jayakrishnan Nalinkumar (JK). Omkar at 25, is the youngest of the three directors, and is an active member of the Indian film industry. He heads multiple film companies that specialize in audio post services such as sound designing, editing, and re-recording dub stages. Omkar has completed over 110+ films in the last four years, also working as a consultant for audio studios – providing technical and business support in the industry. A graduate of SAE Institute Byron Bay, Australia, he soon realised that despite India having some very good equipment, it was lacking in structure and innovation in the audio education space. This was the ideology that brought all 3 directors together.
JK is also an alumni of SAE Byron Bay and has worked with artists such as Atif Aslam, Sir Zakir Hussain, Kaushiki Chakraborty, and many more. Anupam Sathe completes this trio with his deep roots in Hindustani Classical Music and education in India. Anupam also has completed notable works with artists like Fazal Qureshi, Mehul Surti and others. JK and Anupam collectively bring about 15+ years of teaching experience on the table. When the 3 of them met the idea was simple. Create a state-of-the-art space with affordable fees and cutting-edge curriculum design. With the integration of technologies like Dolby Atmos, Ambisonics Mixing (Mixing for VR), and Game Audio Middle-wares, TAG provides the best of audio education there is in this country. This simple idea attracted students from all part of the country and even beyond. Now in its third year, TAG has 200+ students who either have completed the course or are currently enrolled.
Mumbai & India Entertainment Industry: The world knows “Bollywood” and the prolific output of India’s entertainment, but how difficult is it to break into the business? Are careers within the industry on graduation from TAG plentiful? Is the trend of graduates to set up independent operations or work for a company? How do you assist graduates with employment?
The Industry in India is more like a giant family. New members are always welcome, but when its coupled with release deadlines and sensitive data, it’s sometimes hard for people to break in. With TAG, we extensively train students with hands-on lectures and arrange unlimited access to studios for them. These types of education practices are unheard of in India. It allows our students to experience cutting edge technologies and have ample time to get comfortable with them before they enter the industry. Once they are ready to venture out in the real world, TAG helps students find their right place in the industry with its vast profile of faculty staff who maintain a very active role in the industry.
However, we also understand the trend in the industry that has been shifting to freelance culture for a while now – which is why at TAG, units like business studies and digital marketing are also an important part of the curriculum. This equips them to explore the world with skills to support independent operations. A student’s credibility is only as good as its teachers, and TAG “leads” in that. At any given time, TAG’s faculty is professionally associated with 30~40 industry projects.
Facilities & Gear: With three studios, teaching rooms and labs, the TAG institute is well set up, and covers all entertainment segments. Aside from during instructor-led training in these spaces, do students have access to the studios and equipment outside of scheduled training times? Is this part of the learning expectation? If so, how have they responded, and what types of projects do they do?
It’s not just about access, though TAG has a mandatory minimum-studio-hours policy for any course. On average, a student is required to complete 150~200 studio-hours and complete associated tasks. At first, students are overwhelmed, as they think it involves a lot of hours with an intensive assignment load. But once they start settling into their course, after a few weeks they understood that the education itself is completely hands-on, and hence clocking the studios-hours is the logical/effective approach to learning at TAG.
Online & Face-To-Face Learning: While the pandemic affected the education/training systems of all nations, how did TAG cope with the challenges of course delivery during intermittent or extended shutdowns and lockdowns ? Did audio engineering and music production training work well in LMS or VLE platforms ? How hard was it to retool your courses in such a short time after opening in 2020 ?
Even with the initial plans of TAG, we were heavily invested in the ecosystem of e-Learning with partners like Microsoft Education and Class Pro. The entire back-end of the academics – from their test scores to weekly quizzes – are hosted digitally for students to complete. The pandemic really didn’t affect our students much on that front. Though studio sssignments and sessions were halted, we made sure each student completed all practical criteria as originally planned – irrespective of the pandemic.
Mentors & Working Professional Lecturers: The profiles/accomplishments of TAG’s instructor-base, both full-time faculty and visiting-faculty (W.P.L.s), are staggering. How were you able to attract such a wealth of local talent to join TAG? Were they instrumental in shaping the training curriculum? How has the student cohort responded to them?
TAG was never a college to begin with, but rather a ‘community’. We like to think of it an idea-change. All we three wanted to do was to change audio education for the better, and start a positive, like-minded community around this. The campus is just a proof-of-concept. So when the initial spark of TAG happened, pretty much all our professional friends wanted to be a part of it and help us out. This group of people has now grown to over 20 professionals, and we will always be happy to welcome more.
TAG & Amphion: You’ve integrated a selection of Amphion gear in your studios. What were your reasons for selecting our brand? What monitor models do you currently use? How have staff and students reacted to their sonic delivery merits? You have other monitor brands at TAG, but what are Amphion’s points-of-difference?
Amphions were first introduced to TAG by me (Omkar Tamhan). I had been using the Amphions as a personal pair in my studio for a few years. The best part about Amphion is its design idea. In the era of digital DSP and flashy marketing, Amphion has managed to provide us a great sounding pair of analog monitors with a complete focus on high quality components and a solid build. Unlike other manufacturers, Amphion’s technology doesn’t come in between the engineer and the sound. Instead, it becomes this invisible thing in your studio that provides you with the most detailed, flat, and power-packed monitoring there is.
More information on: Amphion One18
The Audio Guys Institute – Mumbai, INDIA: www.tagmumbai.com
Ansata Computer Systems Pvt. Ltd. – Bengaluru, INDIA: www.ansata.net