May 4, 2012

Michael Fink Goes Virtual

SCA Teaches Class in Advanced Digital Effects

From explosions, car chases and outer space, the use of green screen in production can be an excellent way to create a visual world. However, this task is hardly an easy one; it requires meticulous detail and technical knowledge to bring these stories and environments to life. For Professors Mike Fink and Peter Sollett, teaching students how to direct with a green screen and advanced visual effects while creating a world grounded in storytelling is top priority.

The Green Screen at the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts for Michael
Fink's class

Of the detail work that goes into designing a visual landscape, Fink notes, “All of those things have to be anticipated, as well as all of the things that come from live-action photography and everything on the set. [Through this course,] in the end, students gain a real appreciation for the granularity of the thinking that goes in to putting these kinds of sequences and shots together.

The class is CTPR 599 “Directing in a Virtual World,” which blends the concepts of directing and creating a story with filming in front of a green screen or through the creation of shots that rely heavily on visual effects. It is a graduate level course that is open to third and fourth year undergrads with a particular emphasis in animation/DADA and production.

“The class has one major goal,” Fink explains, “which is to get students to start thinking in ways of directing that make use of visual effects, because it’s so much a part of what directing is today. The goal of this class isn’t to make Hollywood-ready composite scenes with perfect attention to detail. This is about all of the things they have to bring together to have a shot that feels like it has focus, is part of a story, that you get a sense of the characters, and so on. We really try to mesh the storytelling with the technical skills. Every single shot has a story in it, and we want to make sure they understand that, and that’s what this class is about.”

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