DePaul University film students get hands-on experience with next-generation filmmaking technology

Christian Piekos Image
Thursday, March 7, 2024
DePaul students get hands-on experience with new filmmaking technology
DePaul University film school students are learning from the new "Virtual Production" filmmaking technology at "Cinespace" studios on the West Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- DePaul's School of Cinematic Arts is leading the way in the Midwest by giving students hands-on training with a next generation technology called Virtual Production.

The tool gives students real-world experience with cutting-edge technology they can use to land their first job.

Virtual Production harnesses the power of a sea of LED lights to create creative, colorful and versatile backdrops for productions, essentially replacing the traditional green screen.

"With the actual LED, you're there," DePaul cinematography student Victor Garzes said. "I mean, not only are the actors there, you yourself are in the same location."

The vibrant background animations move with the camera during filming.

"What this allows us to do is shoot anytime, anyplace, anywhere," DePaul University Associate Professor Brian Andrews said. "In the morning, we could be shooting a scene on Mars, break for lunch and when we come back, we're shooting a tropical scene in Hawaii."

Andrews gave ABC7 a behind-the-scenes look at DePaul's use of Virtual Production at the school's expanding "Cinespace" studios on the West Side. There are six sounds stages on the 60,000 square foot studio lot. One of the larger lots has been used to film "The Bear" and "Chicago PD."

There are currently over 1,500 film and television major students at DePaul, a 38% increase from 2019, the school said.

Andrews said Virtual Production technology allows the entire cast and crew to feel like they've been transported and immersed in a scene in real-time.

"Actors, cinematographers, everybody on set can see the vision of what the final image is going to be while they're doing their jobs on the day of the shoot," Andrews said.

Meghan Shaw is a senior DePaul cinematography student and is also the writer and director of a small production called "The End of Our World." It's a story about a couple falling out of love as the world ends around them.

"With this you can make anything," Shaw said. "The sky is the limit and even that is limitless."

Shaw said having an understanding of Virtual Production training before she even graduates is preparing her for her upcoming role in the filmmaking industry.

"This is the new industry standard," Shaw said. "It's brand new, fresh-faced, and I am brand new and fresh-faced as well, so we kind of share this understanding."