The Media and Emerging Technology Lab (METL) in the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has created a new immersive storytelling residency. The program will highlight a collaborative approach to creating virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) content, all emerging and growing fields in the media space.
Three residents – a software engineer, a technical artist and a storyteller – will work together for six months to create immersive content that furthers the artistic medium of storytelling. The team will collaborate to generate, develop, iterate and refine one concept. The residency culminates in a product ready to be launched into the world of immersive art and technology via submission to film festivals and online platforms. Applications are intended for professionals and students from undergraduate or graduate programs, although all can apply.
“UNCSA’s new immersive storytelling residency is perfect for filmmakers and creative technologists who have a bold spirit of innovation and want to work in a collaborative environment to explore the boundaries of storytelling through advanced technologies,” said Ryan Schmaltz, director of METL and a former technology executive, speaker, adviser and entrepreneur who was executive vice president at Blippar.
“With our top-notch facilities and equipment and the expertise of our faculty, UNCSA is able to offer a rare opportunity for collaboration,” said Henry Grillo, interim Dean of the School of Filmmaking. “We are powering new expressions of creativity, training the next generation of innovators who will tell their stories using advanced technologies. METL’s Immersive Storytelling Residents will pool their complimentary skills and talents to blaze a new trail in the immersive entertainment industry. That is the hallmark of a 21st century arts conservatory.”
METL’s team of residents will be mentored by award-winning industry leaders and talented UNCSA School of Filmmaking faculty including Bob Keen, who is the chair of visual effects and immersive media at UNCSA. Keen was a special and visual effects designer and supervisor with credits that include “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “The Dark Crystal ”and “Hellraiser.”
“James Cameron and Christopher Nolan are incredible filmmakers who are on the pulse of the latest technology. But what they have in common is they know how to tell a good story,” Keen said. “The narrative is crucial to the content, but how we tell the story is evolving and how consumers experience the story is evolving. At UNCSA the story always comes first, but we are nurturing the innovators who will explore and create endless methods for telling it.”
The METL was established in 2017. It boasts a primary production space in a 3,600-square-foot facility equipped with advanced technologies including motion capture, real-time visualization pipeline and green screen. Residents will also have access to the school’s full-scale backlot, editing suites, sound/score recording, Foley stage, and makerspaces for prop and set design and special effects.