MTSU building a new extended reality filmmaking studio

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MURFRESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) – The next time you watch a movie, chances are it’s using a whole new filmmaking technique. It’s so new that there are no schools that teach how to use this technology. That is, until now.

Middle Tennessee State University is building an XR extended reality stage on campus. It’s the kind of technology that’s been used to make big box office movies like Warner Brother’s sci-fi epic “Dune” and Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian.”

“You know how he wears shiny armor? And yet he’s in front of a digital set, so you get all these natural highlights. It shows how powerful that really is. It looks like he’s really there in those scenes weird and amazing in ‘The Mandalorian,'” said Billy Pittard, director of MTSU’s media arts department.

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As students return to campus this fall, a corner of MTSU’s Studio 1 will be fully converted into an XR stage, which turns virtual reality into real reality. But XR is more than just a video wall.

“These lights will come on and hit little reflectors on the ceiling,” Pittard said.

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

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“It will change the content based on the live camera,” said Mike Forbes, the new technical systems manager for MTSU’s Media Arts program.

This allows film students to film anything they can imagine, and performers won’t have to.

“It’s really more like you’re out there instead of a green screen where you kind of have to use your imagination and think – I’m really clinging to a cliff here in the Alps,” Pittard said.

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MTSU believes they are the first in the country to integrate this part of their program.

“We teach students what’s going to happen in five years, 10 years, 15 years,” Pittard said. “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 can easily transition into local jobs.

To learn more about the program, click here.

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