UK’s National Film and Television School launches virtual production course

WarnerMedia Access and StoryFutures Academy (a centre for immersive storytelling run by NFTS and Royal Holloway, University of London) will lead charge in training participants.

The NFTS Virtual Production Certificate is a six- month course. Participants will be introduced to the core technical and filmmaking required to work on virtual production projects using Unreal Engine (software developed by Epic Games offering a suite of development tools), aimed at creatives from varied technical and creative backgrounds including games, VFX, 3D animation, graphic design and those from camera department backgrounds.

To encourage diversity and inclusion, scholarship funding will be made available, with WarnerMedia and WarnerMedia Access underwriting 75% of the course fee. Additionally, the NTFS will provide further financial assistance to successful applicants from diverse groups who may require the hardware or software upgrades required to participate. Travel grants will also be made available so students will be able to participate, regardless of where they are based in the UK.

Made up of six modules, the course will be delivered via weekly online seminars, with six face to face weekend workshops taking place at the NFTS in Beaconsfield, home to a newly installed virtual production LED Stage.

The first intake of the 24- week certificate will start at the end of January 2022.

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Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, ranked eighth nationally by The Hollywood Reporter, provides students with knowledge of traditional as well as current and innovative technological approaches to TV and film production. In addition to transformative industry connections, LMU SFTV’s small class sizes and cutting-edge technology affords students opportunities few university programs can match.

The Walter and Grace Lantz Undergraduate Animation program, ranked seventh in the nation by Animation Career Review, offers students the essentials for success in film, television, video game design, and evolving media forms. Students explore their artistic visions while gaining hands-on experience in visual effects, stop-motion, motion-capture, 3D filmmaking, and more. Interdisciplinary endeavors are a watchword at LMU, bringing together computer science majors with animation students to create capstone projects that rival professional undertakings.

According to Adriana Jaroszewicz, associate professor and chair of the Animation Department, a big part of the LMU SFTV “secret sauce” is how adaptable the program is: Students have ongoing flexibility to change and pursue specializations within animation as they progress in their degree. “We’ve had students who specialize in storyboarding, visual effects, games, virtual production, and character animation, to name a few areas,” said Jaroszewicz, an accomplished visual effects artist and animator who served as the senior digital trainer at Sony Pictures Imageworks before joining the LMU faculty in 2009. “The great thing is they don’t need to change majors when they change directions.”

Increasingly, SFTV’s animation alumni who hold successful industry positions come to campus to teach upper-division elective courses. “These elective courses reflect cohort interests and we can vary those courses to address career goals from year to year. That specialization is then reflected in [students’] thesis projects,” Jaroszewicz explained.

Courses such as “Theory of AR Production” deliver a hands-on laboratory experience focused on the study and exploration of the tools available to conceptualize, design and develop complex and cohesive immersive experiences utilizing augmented and mixed reality. Practical exercises, screenings, workshops and tutorials are aimed to facilitate world building and familiarize the students with the technical tools available to create AR experiences. Students are encouraged to develop their own creative direction and explore new aesthetics. The final project is a prototype for a larger AR experience expanded on a production booklet.

And this semester, immersive designer Ana Carolina Estarita-Guerrero joins the faculty as the Cosgrove Family Distinguished Visiting Artist in the Animation Department, bringing immersive media into the curriculum, with innovative technologies and aesthetics that had not previously been offered at SFTV. Her focus coincides with the department’s new joint minor in Interactive, Gaming, and Immersive Media with the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander, Interim Dean of the LMU School of Film and Television and sitting Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts (CFA) concurs the bountiful possibilities that exist in SFTV with histories of collaborative engagements with the studio arts disciplines in CFA and the LMU Seaver College.

The LMU Gaming Center is the hub for the on-campus gaming community. The gaming space is home to the LMU Esports teams, open to all levels of casual gamers and host to ongoing programs, events and activities focused on creating a space where students can gather in community for their love of gaming.

Fall 2021 saw the opening of the Howard B. Fitzpatrick Pavilion, an outstanding addition to SFTV’s already industry-leading facilities. With the addition of the Pavilion, LMU deepens its ability to nurture students’ digital learning experiences and will continue to enthusiastically pursue resources that support those endeavors. Designed by world-renowned architecture firm SOM, the new pavilion features flexible classroom spaces, screening rooms, immersive media lab, post-production studio, camera-directing stage, flexible stop-motion area, and a state-of-the-art, 86-seat theater with 4k projection.