Full Sail continues to lead in virtual production education.
When news broke about the technology behind the renowned television series “The Mandalorian,” filmmakers around the globe scurried to incorporate virtual production technology into their repertoire. Filmmakers, artists, and technologists alike joined forces to educate themselves on the technology to make engaging art and content.
Local higher education institution, Full Sail University noticed the change in tide within the television and film industry and decided to get ahead of the wave and start educating the next generation of change-makers to help fill newly developed voids in the talent pipeline.
“It all started with an idea from Robert Sloan, one of our Course Directors.”Anne Russell, M.F.A., Program Director, Full Sail University’s Film Production Master of Fine Arts degree program
“He came to me with the idea of building a virtual production studio on Full Sail’s campus,” Anne Russell, M.F.A., Program Director, Full Sail University’s Film Production Master of Fine Arts degree program stated. “Since that day, his recommendation opened a floodgate of opportunities for our students within that space.”
Russell has been instrumental in bringing Studio V1: Virtual Production to life. After being presented with the idea, she conducted research and started the necessary conversations to move the needle on the new initiative.
“I’ve been involved from the start,” Russell said.
“I realized how vital it would be for our students to gain knowledge about this technology and wanted to make sure we stayed on the forefront of innovation.”Anne Russell, M.F.A., Program Director over Full Sail University’s Film Production Master of Fine Arts degree program
As a burgeoning technology within the film industry, Full Sail’s School of Film & Television educators worked alongside information technologists, visual artists, gaming, and emerging technologies professionals within the university’s domain to bring forth new opportunities for students.
Full Sail’s Rick Ramsey, the Education Director of Visual Arts, and Kyle Frazer, now Virtual Production Studio Manager, sought out the help and guidance of Full Sail University’s Game Art Bachelor of Science graduate, Marcella Willbanks who currently serves as the studio’s Virtual Production Systems Engineer. As a formally trained technical artist, Willbanks brought a unique technical skillset that allowed her to test, train, and solidify the ongoing success of Full Sail’s Studio V1: Virtual Production.
“Joining Full Sail’s virtual production team during its early stages has been an amazing opportunity for my career,” Willbanks said.
“Not only am I able to bring my existing expertise from the classroom, but I am also able to simultaneously learn about virtual production technology in general. I love every second of this opportunity.”Full Sail University’s Game Art Bachelor of Science graduate, Marcella Willbanks
With over $3 million direct capital investment to build the on-campus facility, the studio was formally launched during a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 8, 2022. Studio V1: Virtual Production uses Unreal Engine, a real-time 3D creation tool for photoreal visuals and immersive experiences.
To gain further guidance on the tool, and to integrate it into Studio V1: Virtual Production, they consulted Full Sail’s PhD Education Director Emerging Technologies, Dr. Haifa Maamar, With many years of experience in emerging technologies, her expertise continues to assist in creating greater intersectionality between emerging technologies and entertainment media across the numerous degree programs that will utilize the space.
“Unreal Engine is a tool we oftentimes use in the degree programs I oversee, especially within our gaming degrees,” Dr. Maamar said. “Much like the other educators here at Full Sail, I am always trying to find new ways to broaden the understanding and career opportunities of our students. Studio V1: Virtual Production will allow us to expand on those opportunities. This is an ongoing effort I look forward to taking part in.”
Collaboration has been a practice near and dear to Full Sail since its inception in 1979. Through the development of its on-campus virtual production studio, Studio V1: Virtual Production, Full Sail has further exhibited this practice.
“Our multi-decade investment in technology was not made possible by one person or one team exclusively. It was made possible by the collective understanding and knowledgebase of those at Full Sail.”Isis Jones, Chief Information Officer, and Executive Director of Education at Full Sail University
“We rely on the eyes and ears of our students, graduates, faculty, and staff in addition to listening to the industries in which our graduates serve, to help move the needle on educational opportunities here at Full Sail because no one person can do it alone. It takes a team, and that is who we will forever rely on, our team,” Isis Jones, Chief Information Officer, and Executive Director of Education at Full Sail University reiterated.
Throughout Jones’ nearly three-decades of servant leadership at the University, she has overseen and led many technology initiatives including the launch of one of the first-ever Digital Media degree program in the nation. Her passion for educating career driven individuals and helping them follow their dreams has afforded the over 85,000 university graduates with the educational resources to take their careers down the path they see fit.
The latest addition of Studio V1: Virtual Production is creating educational opportunities for Full Sail students across 10 different degree programs including Computer Animation BS, Digital Cinematography BS, Film BS, Film Production MFA, Game Art BS, Game Design BS, Game Design MS, Game Development BS, Show Production BS, and Simulation & Visualization BS.
Earlier this year, Studio V1 served as the location for external professional productions including the feature length suspense thriller “9 Windows” starring William Forsyth (of Raising Arizona and Dick Tracy) and Michael Paré (of Streets of Fire and The Philadelphia Experiment). Students, faculty, and alumni put their skills to work to help bring this film to life. Full Sail’s cutting-edge practices, innovative minds, and highly knowledgeable educators are helping shed light on the resources available to filmmakers globally and within the Central Florida region.
To learn more about Studio V1: Virtual Production, click here.