For Webster University School of Communications students, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating new worlds. Literally.
Recent remodeling of Webster University’s 66,000-square-foot Sverdrup Complex now provides students with access to the latest equipment and innovative technology used by many of the top professionals in the film, television, gaming and commercial video production industries.
The facility now includes a sound stage with a virtual cinema LED video wall, state-of-the-art recording studio suite with three sound studios, workshop space, photography studio and updated classrooms, as well as animation, game design and video post-production labs. Students benefit immediately by working with the new equipment starting as early as their freshman year.
“What we’re doing is giving students the ability to interact with the medium as the medium exists in the real world, in production, in a real job setting,” said Caleb Sawyer, adjunct professor of Game Design. “The rapid change of technology requires changing skill sets. For example, filmmakers will need to learn game design software to work in virtual cinema production. We are preparing students with experience so that when they get in that environment, they know what they are doing.”
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The virtual cinema system is installed in a fully-equipped standard sound stage and allows students to record actors and props in front of virtual environments projected on the LED wall. Currently used by major motion picture and gaming companies, Sawyer said the technology allows any location to be simulated and shot in the studio environment.
A film requiring scenes in multiple locations, for example, can be created in the studio, on the same day, without the need for a crew to travel to either location. The system also allows actors to actually see the backdrops they are performing in front of, as opposed to the traditional green screen technology in which the backing scene is added in post-production.
“The LED wall, in my opinion, is the future of studio production,” said Aaron Aubuchon, associate dean of the School of Communications. “Our students can now produce the kinds of film they dream of, full of new possibilities, collaborating in ways they’ve never been able to.
“Right now, we have students who know more about how to use these technologies than some of the professionals already out there,” Aubuchon said. “The consequence of this is gigantic for our students. Our students have the first access of anyone to this technology, and in future years, everyone will be looking to hire that knowledge.”
In addition, the state-of-the-art audio suites teach students the ins and outs of acoustics in fully professional spaces. The Dolby Atmos suite, for example, allows students to mix audio for an immersive sound field, matching the action on screen, making it seem like the sound is coming from all directions, just like one experiences at the cinema.
The university’s new computer labs and classrooms for gaming, animation and post-production work, along with photography and graphics, provide students and faculty plenty of open meeting and teaching spaces that encourage teamwork and creative collaboration.
“Webster’s focus on multi-disciplinary collaboration alongside the hands-on experience with emerging technology prepares our graduates for today’s climate and the jobs of the future,” said Eric Rothenbuhler, dean of the School of Communications.
For more information about Webster University’s School of Communications, please visit webster.edu/communications.