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School of Film/Video

Sound Stages and Production Studios

The school has four independent sound stages, each equipped with a complete lighting grid.

Permanent Set

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 film production, this facility is also available to students outside of classes.

Black-and-White Studio

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 various film and video shoots as well as for multimedia installations. The studio includes a standard inventory of lighting and grip equipment.

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 film- and videomaking. The studio is part of the Steven Spielberg Sound Stage, a building that also includes a classroom with multiformat video screening capability, a seminar room, a Final Cut Pro workstation, a control room, and a shooting studio with its own equipment cage. Equipment includes two digital video camera packages with full sound and lighting support, a Fisher camera dolly and a 24-channel Strand lighting board.

Video Studio, Videographics Lab and Telecine

The Video Studio combines a multiple camera soundstage with light grid and a control room in which students acquire video images and sound. 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 broadcast-quality cameras with remote camera control units. Supported video formats include Digital Betacam, Betacam SP, DVCAM and others. 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 and electronics for the switchers, effects generators, and central video and timecode patching systems. In addition, a Videographics Lab features both analog and digital video synthesizers, a Grass Valley switcher, an ADO digital video effects unit and industrial black-and-white and color cameras.

Macintosh workstations using Final Cut Pro allow for data capture and output of HD and SD uncompressed and DV and DVCAM formats. This enables students to combine live video and computer-generated video information while retaining high production values. Files can be shared among networked workstations throughout CalArts.

The Telecine Room in this facility is used to make non-sync transfers from 16mm film, Super 8 film and 35mm slides to DV, Digital Betacam, Betacam SP and other video formats. The production control and master control rooms are integrated with the Videographics Lab, Telecine Room and computer workstations, and allow for multilevel signal processing.

Animation Studios

The school’s animation facilities include pencil test systems with Video LunchBox digital frame buffers for quick testing of drawings for immediate feedback for motion and timing. Tests can be transferred to video for further review. Some systems include computers with software for editing, combining and exporting to tape, allowing students to scan, edit and play back their hand-drawn animations. Digital files can be backed up to personal hard drives or transmitted via network connection to other workstations for further work.

Other key features include downshooters with attached DSLRs cameras and two Oxberry camera stands for single-frame shooting, equipped with 16mm, 35mm or DSLR camera bodies.

Students also 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 and an additional studio equipped with a computerized motion-control camera stand.

Installation Space

A white cube space with network ports, this space is designed for the exhibition of installation, performance and other media work that might be best suited for a gallery-like setting.


The 125-seat Bijou Theater is CalArts’ main screening facility. It features a high-quality video projector and both 16mm and 35-mm Xenon projectors as well as DVD, laserdisc, DVCAM, Betacam SP, 3/4-inch and VHS equipment.

Last edited by cziemba on Feb 09, 2011
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