New Equipment, Visiting Artists Enhance Cinematic Arts Program

February 11th, 2014 by Amanda Pierce
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Students using the Panavision camera on the new Kinney Hall shooting stage.

Students using the Panavision camera on the new Kinney Hall shooting stage.

This academic year marks a new era for the Cinematic Arts program at CCAD. Now equipped with a dedicated shooting stage in Kinney Hall and industry–standard cameras and equipment, the program can send students out into the working world with professional-level experience, said Cinematic Arts Chair Ron Saks.

“Students coming out of here now have hands-on access to equipment that they’ll encounter as they move into the film industry,” Saks said.

The soundproof shooting stage—one of the most significant updates, Saks said—includes a photographic sweep and gives the Cinematic Arts program its own space, something it didn’t have until this year.

“The [shooting stage] is a perfect working area… for interviews and setting up elaborate scenes,” said Cinematic Arts junior Karl Allsop. “[We're] able to use powerful lighting equipment [and] have a professional work area.”

The space also accommodates the use of a track, dolly, and jib all currently on loan to CCAD from J.L. Fisher, an established film equipment company. Considered one of the most commonly used camera dollies in the film industry, the J.L. Fisher dolly and accompanying equipment allow for smooth, controlled camera movements.

“It makes the world of moving cameras accessible for students in ways that previously couldn’t happen,” Saks said.

The program added a new industry-standard digital camera, the RED, to its arsenal of equipment over the summer as the Kinney Hall space was being finished, granting students access to another piece of equipment they may encounter after leaving CCAD.

As part of last semester’s collaborative project class, students also had the rare opportunity to work with a Panavision camera—a piece of equipment that cannot be purchased and is not often rented to colleges.

Students using the J.L. Fisher dolly on location during a shoot.

Students using the J.L. Fisher dolly on location during a shoot.

Panavision, a Hollywood-based company, has a rich history in the film industry, boasting credits such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jailhouse Rock, Funny Girl, and, more recently, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Great Gatsby, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

“I don’t think a lot of students get the chance to use equipment like this,” said Cinematic Arts senior Laurel Powers. “They are are incredible cameras.”

Though Powers admitted the students were a little intimidated by the Panavision when it arrived on campus in the fall, she said the footage was “amazing” and unlike anything they were able to capture on other cameras in the past.

Allsop, an aspiring cinematographer, was especially excited to work with the Panavision.

“It’s a monster of a camera,” Allsop said. “It was amazing to learn [about] all the intricate components… and [how to] operate the camera.”

Students in the class also had the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with two high-caliber film professionals—Gregg Heschong, director of photography in Hollywood, and Larry Groupe, a Hollywood film composer.

Heschong spent time shooting with students, and Groupe composed original scores for the final products of the collaborative project class, a process that Saks said is important for students to understand.

Learning about musical score composition “really re-centers [students'] thinking about the development of [film] work,” Saks said.

The Cinematic Arts program is a prime example of CCAD’s continuous commitment to student success on campus and after graduation. After experiencing tools and industry professionals relevant to their field of study, students have a distinctive edge in the working world.

Allsop is from Tacoma, WA, and attended Tacoma School of the Arts. Powers is from Clemson, SC, and attended Kiev Christian Academy.

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