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Art & Design Students Produce Virtual Reality Musical

Students in a Georgia institution that were among the first to experiment with virtual reality have just had a premier of their first VR musical. The project undertaken at the Savannah College of Art and Design brought together 116 people from 14 different programs over the course of 20 weeks to create a 360-degree narrative, "Say It With Music."

The movie was shown during the recent Savannah Film Festival, as part of a VR showcase, which allowed participants to experience VR gear from four vendors.

Last year the college allowed students to visit its campus virtually by shipping out 10,000 pairs of Google Cardboard to those who had already been accepted to the school as well as those being recruited.

The latest initiative was sparked in the Collaborative Learning Center (CLC), which brought together students from film and television, animation, costume design, dramatic writing, production design, visual effects, themed entertainment design and motion media design, all academic programs within the college. The CLC brings industry professionals into the school with real-world challenges for students to work on. For example, SCAD students have created advertising campaigns, developed user experiences, and prototyped plans for NASA, Disney, BMW, Google and Coca-Cola.

To do the filming, a student team created a custom camera rig that combined five Sony PXW-FS7 Super 35 camcorders and six GoPros to capture every angle on set.

The music for the movie was inspired by Irving Berlin's composition, "Say It With Music." The story is set in a restaurant and follows "an unexpected romantic connection between two servers." As a SCAD website about the project explains, viewers use sound cues to drive the narrative and can experience a 360-degree perspective that captures multiple plot lines.

The school said it believes the latest project is the first musical treatment produced for a VR experience. As Michael Chaney, a professor of film and television and one of the faculty leads on the project, explained in a video about the production process, "We consulted with the leading pioneers in this industry and we ourselves are becoming pioneers."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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