Red Giant, the premier filmmaking and motion graphics software company, paid a visit to UVU’s Digital Media department on Thursday.
“We need to test the usability of the new software programs we’re coming out with,” Sandy Alves, Red Giant’s lead user interface designer, said.
Red Giant has been labeled the best in their field. They produce software designed to create digital footage that looks like film. They also specialize in software that syncs up video and audio from multiple sources.
The filmmaking company came to UVU to have its digital media students test out their program PluarlEyes 3 and give feedback so that the program designers can know what needs to be improved for PluarlEyes 4.
“They monitor you to see your reactions, to see how fast you can navigate the program,” Peter Burgess, digital media student studying cinema production.
The goal for Red Giant is to make their programs as second nature as possible.
“We want to know what works and what doesn’t,” Alves said. “We want to know what is too hard to find, what users want from the navigation tools.”
Red Giant chose to come to UVU because of the quality of the digital media program.
“We wanted to work with UVU students because they are the best to test the program,” Drew Little, Red Giant CEO, said. “They know as much as the designers, sometimes more. UVU has one of the best digital media programs in the country. Students here know what they are doing, they are an asset to what we are trying to accomplish.”
The Digital Media Department saw benefits for their students as well.
“We had three goals for this,” Mike Harper, associate professor of digital media, said. “We wanted our students to have the opportunity to work with industry developers and get used to talking with the developers. We also wanted to introduce them to new products and receive valuable training in those programs. And we wanted to maintain our positive relationship with the developers.”
With the rapidly shifting focus in filmmaking from film to digital, the industry is looking for future filmmakers who can do everything from pre-production to post-production.
“Directors want to have control over the visual,” Little said. “If they can see immediately what various color effects will look like they will be able to move on to other tasks.”
Filmmaking has seen a dramatic change in the emergence of digital cameras and editing processes.
“This has really only happened in the last four or five years,” Harper said. “Five years ago almost everything was still shot on film. Now 85 percent or more of sitcoms are shot digitally.”
UVU students studying digital media are at the forefront of the biggest change in filmmaking history.
“This is the essence of engaged learning,” Harper said, crediting Little’s comment about UVU students being advanced to the program’s focus on practical training. “There is no theory here. Everything we do is designed to practically prepare them.”
The change from film to digital requires specialized training.
“People recognized the shift from film to digital,” Little said. “They thought it looked weird at first.”
The new equipment implements the artistic into the technology. With film there is a need for specialized training to handle the various instruments from recording to editing. The new digital equipment opens up what the director is capable of doing, bringing art into the technical.
“It takes a certain finesse,” Harper said, “to make digital as striking as film, but it’s possible. If you have proper training and a commitment it is absolutely possible to get the high quality associated with film.
Students Jay Arcansalin, Jorden Nash and Peter Burgess participated in the last session of a two-day training and usability testing.
“I wanted to see what they were coming out with,” Burgess said. “I wanted to help make it what I need.”
Harper said that he plans to see more trainings like this in the future as the department strengthens its relationship with Red Giant.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Harper said. “It’s a great opportunity for our students and for Red Giant.”