The Savannah College of Art and Design is showing off some impressive new technology with the completion of its extended reality sound stage. This is the first step of a three-year plan to build a full film studio complete with costume labs, carpentry studios, sound stages, and backlots for exterior sets.
The extended reality soundstage is made up of an LED floor and wall that immerses the actor and the film crew in the virtual world of the movie. The background also moves with the camera which allows for seamless transitions. Even though extended reality has been used many times in video games, it did not become a possibility in the film industry until a few years ago, and the first television show to use this technology was The Mandalorian in 2019.
John Marshall, the Chair of Visual Effects at SCAD, had this to say, “This technology came after COVID and is a much better quality. I think the technology, really, for us is much better quality than what they started pre-pandemic,” he further stated, “So, we actually have a better-quality space than almost anything in Hollywood right now. They’re just catching up to us.”
SCAD expects to complete building Savannah Film Studios in 2024. Once it is finished, the roughly 1800 students in the film school will be able to use it for their own productions, and Andra Reeve-Rabb, Dean of the School of Film and Television, has said that students will spend most of their class time at this location. Teachers will utilize these high-level facilities to give students hands-on experience to develop necessary skills in their desired field.
“Because our experience on the XR stage is revolutionary,” said Sean Hussey, a junior film student at SCAD, “Everyone we talked to professionally is like, ‘Okay, you’re working on this. That will be a job out of college.’”
Phase two of the 3-year plan will be a backlot with the outside of a bank, bits of New York City, and downtown Savannah. SCAD will also allow other TV and film productions to use the studio when students are not occupying it. Once everything is complete, the new film studio will fit in perfectly with the strong film industry in Savannah.
“We have thousands of students who are making Georgia their home. They’re not going to L.A. or New York like they used to, they are staying here because there’s so much work,” Reeve-Rabb said. “So that crew base is here, it’s growing exponentially every week.”