New Masters in Virtual Production boosting film industry

With Adelaide’s film industry seeking skilled screen effects creators to fill new roles in the booming sector, Flinders University is offering opportunities for the next generation of specialists with the launch of a postgraduate degree in Virtual Production.

Commencing in 2023, the Masters program covers everything from virtual production, motion capture, virtual reality, and visual effects, catering to the seismic change currently happening in the film and television landscape.

Bringing on board industry experience and a competitive edge, the program will be taught by practicing virtual production specialist Jason Bevan at Flinders’ purpose-built motion capture studio, The Void.

As the only studio of its kind in the state, many South Australian-based companies experiment and test new technologies in The Void, enabling students to use the same state-of-the-art technologies as Disney during their studies.

Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) Graduate, Brittany Gallasch in The Void.

Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) Graduate, Brittany Gallasch, is currently working in The Void on a partnership project with Helpmann Academy

“This new Masters in Virtual Production is so exciting for people wanting to get into the motion capture and virtual reality space. You always hear of amazing virtual productions happening overseas, not in Australia, so it’s exciting to be part of the movement here in Adelaide.

Motion-capture and virtual reality is opening up a lot more doors for creatives, it’s a real game-changer for the industry. To be able to learn at Flinders with the same technology as Disney and Pixar to build a career in virtual production is amazing.”

Instead of filming in live environments, The Void sees LED screens and game engine technology such as Unreal Engine used to create digital backgrounds behind physical sets. Significantly reducing the need for additional post-production work in comparison to green screen techniques, actors are filmed and lit by LED walls and panels surrounding them, and the integration takes place ‘in-camera.’

These virtual production processes were a key part of producing the Disney+ series, The Mandalorian.

Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Professor Peter Monteath says the new Master of Virtual Production ensures Flinders University students are developing skills at the forefront of an evolving film and screen effects industry.

“Learning from leading experts who will build creative portfolios and teach hands-on skills that are not only technical but will provide expertise in project management, industry standards, and financing, the Masters program is designed to ensure students have the skills to hit the ground running in an evolving industry with in-demand roles.

“The industry is continually shifting with the emergence of new technologies. Studying with a virtual production studio embedded in the program ensures students can make the most of our industry partnerships with global players such Facewear Tech, Unreal Engine, and Fika Entertainment.”

The launch of the Masters program coincides with Flinders University entering into a new partnership with global VFX studio Technicolor Creative Studios and their award-winning brand MPC (Moving Picture Company), the only deal of its kind in South Australia.

Understanding the importance of industry collaboration to embedding students in the industry, the two institutions are working together to achieve a shared goal of supporting graduates to thrive in one of the world’s fastest-growing, innovative sectors. This includes seeking local career opportunities within MPC’s Adelaide studios, whose recent creative credits include Spiderman: No Way Home and Finch.

The Academy-award-winning visual effects studio is planning to hire hundreds of local VFX graduates as it scales up its North Terrace studio, so students will have direct access to their training and recruiters will help ensure opportunities for roles.

Alexandra Daunt Watney, Head of Studio at MPC, says the studio has current artists on the creative team who studied at Flinders.

“Not only are they creatively talented, but genuinely lovely, well-rounded people,” she says. “At MPC Adelaide, we pride ourselves on the quality of the work we produce and our studio culture. Diversity and inclusion are a huge part of that culture, and at Flinders University, we know that we have found a partner that shares our core values. We can’t wait to welcome more Flinders alumni into our studio.”

Through the partnership with MPC and Technicolor Creative Studios, Flinders students will be able to access the Technicolor Creative Studios Academy, a training program that delivers hundreds of graduates into visual effects jobs all over the globe. The Academy not only supports hires at MPC in Adelaide but also provides career opportunities at Technicolor’s multiple creative studios around the world, including The Mill, Mikros Animation, and Technicolor Games.

With input from Technicolor Creative Studios, Flinders’ award-winning visual effects, entertainment design, and digital media courses give students the employability skills, experience, and industry understanding they need to succeed.

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