UL Lafayette to introduce visual effects curriculum
A program to establish a visual effects curriculum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the latest recipient of an award from Louisiana’s Entertainment Development Fund. The University will receive $920,000 to develop the visual effects program and launch a location scouting platform based on virtual reality technology.
The UL Lafayette initiative is intended to enhance the state’s position as a visual FX production hub via industry-advised professional development and sophisticated VR promotion of Louisiana’s diverse locations and state-of-the-art infrastructure. With the award, the university will receive $184,000 a year for five years to cover instructional and infrastructure development costs.
“The entertainment production industry in Louisiana continues to expand and diversify in ways that create career opportunities for our skilled entertainment workforce,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “With this latest Entertainment Development Fund award, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will add an exciting new field of study that fills the talent pipeline with qualified candidates for in-demand visual effects jobs. In addition, the university will develop a useful scouting platform that will improve the competitiveness of film production locations across the state.”
The program will provide a highly specialized curriculum preparing students for sophisticated digital content creation careers. Moving Images Arts program students will get hands-on practical experience by helping to develop the immersive location scouting platform. Selecting a physical site for a project can be constrained by scheduling and budgeting limitations; the VR scouting tool will allow for a cost-effective alternative for the exploration, interaction and annotation of sites.
“We are very excited to partner with Louisiana Economic Development to bring a visual effects certification program in the state of Louisiana,” said Dr. Arun Kulshreshth, an assistant professor in UL Lafayette's School of Computing & Informatics and the project's lead. “This certification program is a pathway for the state citizens to prepare for and secure a high-wage, high-technology employment in the film and television industries.”
The program is designed to provide direct economic and educational benefits. In the process of doing work that promotes Louisiana as a prime motion picture production destination, UL Lafayette students will jump-start their careers as filmmakers by gaining marketable skills and an enhanced knowledge of the state’s resources and visual effects infrastructure.
“Lafayette and Acadiana have felt the positive impact of small to mid-sized film productions for decades,” said Mandi D. Mitchell, president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “Those impacts don't end when the cameras stop rolling. Post-production work, including visual effects, can extend a production's local impact when that work is completed by local talent. UL Lafayette's visual effects curriculum and location scouting initiative will provide the necessary training and resources to develop a skilled local workforce for future film activity, helping to make Lafayette a vital production hub in Louisiana.”
This is the ninth Entertainment Development Fund award announced by Louisiana Economic Development since the program was launched. Previous awards were made to higher education institutions and nonprofit community programs in Shreveport, Natchitoches, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.