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Mass Media Students Visit Vū Production Studio

Written by Senior Luke Reeves, Communication Major

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Students from Florida College’s Communication with a specialization in Mass Media degree recently took a tour of nearby Vū Studios for a unique learning experience. This opportunity is an example of how Florida College strives to offer experiential learning for its students and augment classroom understanding.

Located minutes away from campus, Vū Studios is an Emmy award-winning network of virtual production studios that started here in Tampa Bay and is rapidly expanding to other major cities around the U.S. The centerpiece of Vū Studios’ technology is a state-of-the-art backdrop, known as, “The Volume.” With 270 degrees of coverage, volumes are a continuous circular wall of LED panels capable of generating photo-realistic environments—the same technology used in Disney’s hit show, “The Mandalorian.”

Production crews can choose from either video game engines or real-life footage to place subjects in sweltering deserts or on frigid mountaintops in minutes. The convenience of this technology has made Vū Studios the production company of choice for the Atlanta Braves, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mercedes-Benz, and the band Twenty-One Pilots, just to name a few.

Students from the Advanced Video Production class, taught by Professor Zac McCray, experienced this technology first-hand. The tour of the vast space was led by the studio’s Creative Director, Daniel Mallek. The tour culminated with stepping into, “The Volume” itself. Seeing the virtual set in pictures is one thing—being surrounded by the massive LED wall is another. Students were mesmerized by vibrant scenes of forests and sunsets. They were equally impressed with the computing power these images required.

The value of this experience was not limited to seeing cool tech. It extended to understanding current trends driving entertainment. Mallek explained how technology and the recent pandemic are shaping the entertainment industry. Where productions once spent 90 percent of their time on location, the advent of virtual production cuts that time in half. In short, advancements in technology make locations more logistically and financially accessible to production teams.

Experiential learning opportunities like this one go a long way towards solidifying the knowledge students acquire in the classroom.

“There’s only so much a great teacher can teach you. Getting out into the field and being able to see how these terms and techniques are actually used takes everything to the next level of understanding and practicality,”

– Anna Stringer, Junior

This form of learning also instills confidence in students who have invested a lot of time into their current degree.

“This experience helped solidify my future plans and aspirations and reassured me that this is the perfect career path for me,” said student Stephanie Kittleson.

Seeing the possibilities of virtual production at Vū Studios also raises our students’ excitement about the newly renovated Chatlos Library’s media lab. The lab will be the hub of student content creation. Our students will benefit from a variety of video production gear for their projects.

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