MTSU poised to be the among the first film schools to teach Extended Reality filmmaking

MTSU XR Reality Stage
Posted at 4:49 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 16:09:05-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — The next time you watch a movie, chances are, it'll use a brand new technique of filmmaking. It's so new, there aren't any schools that teach how to use this technology. That is, until now.

Middle Tennessee State University is in the process of building an XR Extended Reality Stage on campus. It's the type of technology that was used to make big box office flicks like Warner Brother's sci-fi epic "Dune" and Disney Plus's "The Mandalorian."

"You know how he wears shiny armor? And yet he’s in front of a digital set, so you get all of those natural reflections. It just shows how powerful it really is. It looks like he’s really there in those weird amazing scenes in 'The Mandalorian'," said Billy Pittard, MTSU's Department of Media Arts Chair.

By the time students return to campus this fall, a corner of MTSU's Studio 1 will be fully converted into an XR stage, that turns virtual reality into actual reality. But XR is more than just a wall of video screens.

"These lights are going to go up, and hit little reflectors on the ceiling," Pittard said.

Using infrared sensors, the background images shift, depending on the camera angle.

"It will bend the content based on which camera is live," said Mike Forbes, the incoming Director of Technical Systems for MTSU's Media Arts program.

It makes it possible for film students to shoot anything they can imagine, and for the performers, they won't have to.

"It really feels so much more like you're there instead of a green screen where you’re kind of having to use your imagination and think — I'm really hanging off a cliff here in the alps," said Pittard.

MTSU believes they're the first in the nation to make this part of its curriculum.

"We’re teaching students for what’s going to be happening five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now," said Pittard. "It can be real, it can be imaginary, it can be anything you can think of."

There are already several Nashville-based studios using XR technology, so MTSU hopes their graduates will be able to transition easily to local jobs.

To read more about the program,click here.