University of Melbourne upskills film students using the latest Hollywood technology

Volume screen
The University’s Victorian College of the Arts Light-Emitting-Diode (LED) Volume Studio boasts the highest-resolution screen of its kind in Australia. Image credit: Drew Echberg

Cutting-edge virtual production technology that’s being used in Hollywood, is now available to students and industry practitioners at the University of Melbourne, with a new facility opening at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music’s Southbank campus.

Boasting the highest-resolution screen of its kind in Australia, the Light-Emitting-Diode (LED) Volume Studio is designed to up-skill film and television students in the University’s Victorian College of the Arts, offering them real-world experience and helping them gain a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving global screen sector.

Virtual production combines traditional digital cinematography with large-scale LED screens to create realistic visual effects.

More and more film and TV studios are taking advantage of virtual production worldwide, with the technology used in a growing list of blockbuster movies including Barbie and Dune.

A series of hands-on micro-credentials (short courses) are being run out of the University’s custom-built Southbank studio, equipping students with the most in-demand skills and increasing their employability. The sessions ensure filmmakers, animators, game developers and 3D modelers also learn what they need to transfer into this exciting field.

The micro-credentials are enabled by a multimillion-dollar Commonwealth Government grant and are being taught in partnership with NantStudios.

Senior Lecturer and Head of Virtual Production Andrew O'Keefe said, “this significant investment in infrastructure and training, coupled with a strategic industry partnership with NantStudios, will enable the University to equip the next generation of storytellers and technicians with innovative, conceptual and practical skills that will see them light up screens in Australia and around the world.”

The digital screen production industry holds tremendous growth potential in Victoria, but faces numerous challenges, including a shortage of expertise stemming from a gap in training. The University’s new facility aims to fill this gap by fostering the development of a virtual production workforce to bolster Australia’s screen industry.

“Global investment in virtual production is growing at an extraordinary rate. It is vital that the next generation of Australian creatives embrace the potential that this technology offers. Our significant investment in LED technology, coupled with NantStudios’ expertise, offers our students the ability to not only join the industry but to lead its development,” Mr O’Keefe said.

The technology is being built into the curriculum of other subjects across the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music for future graduates of the VCA.