School of Film/Video
The school’s Equipment Cage offers a comprehensive range of film and video equipment for student use, encompassing technologies from the cutting-edge to the obscure, from underwater camera systems to portable digital stop-motion kits. This gear allows students to shoot on the school’s production stages, in front of a green screen, at home, or anywhere on location, providing them with a versatile set of tools with which to pursue any number of traditional and experimental approaches. The Equipment Cage features a wide assortment of video and film cameras, lighting kits, microphones, digital sound recorders, stereoscopic systems, and a host of video installation equipment.
Animation Computer Labs
The School of Film/Video has several Macintosh-based computer labs, each one comprehensively outfitted with an array of industry-standard hardware and software. The Animation Computer Labs provide equipment for students to produce films using 2-D and 3-D computer graphics as well as traditional animation techniques.
Labs are structured around powerful computer graphic workstations featuring Wacom Cintiq graphics tablets, and applications such as the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, TVPaint, Maya, ZBrush, Pro Tools, and other related software.
A PhaseSpace motion capture system and Oculus Rift DK2 HMD are available for use with Autodesk MotionBuilder and Unity software for real-time performance animation. There also is a dedicated stereoscopic editing system using a Blackmagic 4K Ultrastudio with live 3D display.
Students can scan hand-drawn animation on high-speed, large-format scanners, or draw or create their animation directly in the computer. From initial concept through production including digital painting, compositing and special effects, sound design, audio and video editing, and final output as digital files suitable for digital distribution or film festivals, these labs can meet the demands of virtually any animation project.
Courses and production time enable students to gain mastery of core computer skills applicable to a diverse set of traditional and experimental approaches to the art of creating animated films.
The Multimedia Lab serves as a versatile technological hub by furnishing hardware and software for a wide range of media works, ranging from narrative, documentary and experimental pieces to installation, new genres and hybrid forms, developed for galleries, public spaces, live cinematic performance, and theatrical presentation. Much of the work carried out in this lab involves programming and the use of sensors and other hardware.
Students combine traditional fine art techniques with modern digital tools to create visually distinctive stop-motion animations using clay, sand, 2-D cut-outs and puppets, among other materials. The school provides three stop-motion shooting studios with lighting grids, a studio equipped with a computerized motion-control camera stand and two additional stages to do some quick table-top animation or films tests.
The school’s animation facilities also include pencil test systems for shooting quick animation tests. Most of these are Mac based workstations connected to video camera stands with a couple of systems using the Video LunchBox digital frame buffers for quick testing of drawings for immediate feedback for motion and timing. Tests can be backed up as digital files on personal hard drives or transmitted via network connection to other workstations for further work.
Some of these computers also have most of the same production software as in the animation computer labs, as well as word processing and scriptwriting software, so class work and production can also be done on them.
Other key facilities include downshooters with attached DSLRs cameras and two Oxberry camera stands for single-frame shooting, equipped with DSLR, 16mm, 35mm or camera bodies.
Video Studio, Videographics Lab and Telecine
The Video Studio combines a multiple camera soundstage with light grid and a control room for video mixing and production monitoring. It features a 40-foot by 45 foot live shooting space with digital key green and black cycloramas and, when needed for full green-screen work, portable green flooring. Equipment includes digital broadcast-quality cameras with remote camera control units enabling digital signals to be recorded directly to hard drives. Legacy supported videotape formats include Digital Betacam, Betacam SP, DV/DVCAM. In addition to lights hung from the grid, there are Fresnel lens and Softlight instruments on rolling stands, and an array of grip equipment.
The Video Studio’s production control room is built around a Grass Valley video switcher and a Soundcraft audio mixer, while the master control room houses an audio/video router, electronics for the switcher, and patch bays for system flexibility. In addition, an independent Videographics Lab featuring both analog and digital video synthesizers, a Grass Valley switcher, digital video effects units, and industrial video cameras can be integrated via the patch bays.
Multiple Macintosh workstations support ingest, output and processing of full resolution video files in a variety of formats. Available software includes Final Cut Pro X, Adobe CC suite, Avid Media Composer, DaVinci Resolve and others. Calibrated monitors are available to check color and compression quality for delivery to a variety of final formats. Files can be shared among networked workstations throughout the School of Film/Video.
The Telecine Room in this facility can be used to make non-sync scan transfers from 16mm film to a variety of digital video formats. Also included is a digital optical printer that supports 16mm and 35mm film formats.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association Digital Labs (HFPADL) comprise the School’s non-linear editing center. These facilities include classrooms and individual editing suites for working with an extensive range of digital editing, compositing, sound design, and color correction tools including Adobe Creative Cloud, Final Cut Pro X, Pro Tools, DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer. Students receive intensive hands-on training integrating both theory and professional craftsmanship into their creative work. Students use these facilities each year to complete hundreds of professional-quality works, many of which are selected by international festivals and student competitions.
In summer 2015, CalArts received a generous $58,672 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) to help create a new “creative post-production” lab in the School of Film/Video. The new lab, housed in room E105, encourages cross-discipline collaboration within the School. The grant from HFPA funded the purchase of 16 new, state-of-the-art computers for the lab. Read more.
The School of Film/Video is committed to the art of moving image and sound as existing within a field of hybrid forms and technologies. To that end, we continue to support 16mm film post-production with a dedicated room for hand-processing 16mm film; an optical printer for rephotographing and compositing images onto 16mm and 35mm film, a digital optical printer for rephotographing 16mm film to digital files, a negative cutting room, as well as several film flatbed editors.
The School of Film/Video offers state-of-the-art sound equipment and facilities to meet all recording, editing and mixing needs. All rooms are Pro Tools based and mixing rooms have a large complement of advanced signal processing tools. All systems have access to students’ server accounts and online storage, as well as the school’s online sound effects library, which contains
about 45,000 digital sound files, and over 60 hours of production music.
The school’s Pro Tools systems allow acquisition, editing and pre-mixing of film and video projects. Systems can be found in various facilities within the School of Film/Video including the sound area, digital editing labs, and some animation labs. After sound editing, projects normally are opened in one of the mixing rooms for a final mix.
Digital Cinema Surround Mixing Theater
A large theater-sized space for mixing 5.1 surround sound for film and video projects, the facility includes a fully-automated Avid S6 control surface, a large Pro Tools HD system with extensive signal processing plug-ins and calibrated JBL cinema monitors. Mixing is performed while watching film or video images on a NEC 2k digital cinema projector.
Recording Studio/Video Surround Mixing
The Recording Studio is utilized for recording narration, dialogue replacement, foley and sound effects, as well as for music scoring. It features vintage and contemporary microphone preamps, and a Pro Tools HD system with an Avid S6 control surface. Most sessions are engineered by trained sound student assistants.The Recording Studio’s Control Room is also used for 5.1 surround sound video mixes using calibrated Genelec monitors.
Basic Sound Preview and Edit Rooms
There are several acoustically treated rooms built around Pro Tools digital audio workstations and Genelec surround monitoring systems for sound editing, small group teaching, and preliminary mixing. Also available is an isolation booth for recording voiceovers and ADR.
Film Directing Studio
The Film Directing Studio, measuring 39 feet by 36 feet, is used for teaching students how to shoot and direct actors for filmmaking. The studio is part of the Steven Spielberg Sound Stage, a building that also includes a classroom with multi-format video screening capability, a seminar room, an editing workstation, a control room, and a shooting studio. Studio equipment includes two digital camera packages with full sound and lighting support, a camera dolly and a 24-channel lighting board.
The Louis B. Mayer Permanent Set, donated by one of the commercial studios in Los Angeles, is a 35-foot by 39-foot interior set with simulated backdrops for backyard and patio. Used primarily for classes and workshops in staging, lighting, cinematography and other aspects of production, this facility is also available to students outside of classes.
A 39-foot by 47-foot space, the Black-and-White Studio is outfitted with a permanent hard cyclorama. It is used by undergraduate and graduate students for productions as well as for multimedia installations.
A white cube space with network ports, this space is designed for the exhibition of installation, performance and other media work that is best suited for a gallery-like setting. Projectors, monitors and other sculptural elements can be combined for exhibition supported by a hanging grid.
The 125-seat Bijou Theater is CalArts’ main screening facility. It features a Digital Cinema projector, both 16mm and 35-mm Xenon projectors and a calibrated 5.1 audio system. Modern and legacy formats such as film, videotape, optical media, digital video files and Digital Cinema Packages can be screened for exhibition and study. Exhibitions, discussions and Q&A sessions can be supported with laptop inputs for projection and live microphones.