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Steve Anderson’s Media Arts Lab

Steve Anderson’s brand new Media Arts Lab is located in Melnitz Hall, room 1470. The room is spacious, and comes equipped with seven powerful workstations, each equipped with a VR headset. Both Oculus and Vive equipment can be found.

Oculus donated several headsets to the lab; Vive equipment is also included on some workstations. Here Zizi Li, a PhD student in Cinema and Media Studies, readies the workstations for the Media Lab’s recurring demo series on MWF of this quarter.

The lab is just 2-weeks old, and is still awaiting the installation of a state-of-the-art 7.1 surround sound system. The most prominent feature of the space is a large green screen wall, complete with powerful green lights that help create a shadowless, monochrome background to make it much easier for software to key out the background.

Here is the greenscreen wall without the green lights on. The shadows here could be problematic when trying to key out the background.
With the aid of these powerful green lights…

…the greenscreen wall becomes much more evenly lit. White lights would then be used on the subject being filmed/captured. Motion capture made easy!

This greenscreen area will be used for in part for motion capture. Additionally, on either side of the green screen wall is where the Vive base stations are set up.

The room provides ample space for a VR environment.

In addition to the VR and greenscreen equipment, Steve also has several 360 cameras on hand for students to use. Including this monstrosity, the Google Odyssey, which is an array of 16 GoPros to capture beautiful, hi-def stereoscopic video.

As you can imagine, the footage can get quite large. So large, in fact, that Steve is currently trying to work with Google to allow him to download a 20-minute shot that a student took in Alaska using this rig. The file size is over 1TB, making it impossible for Steve to download the footage after it’s been processed on Google’s servers.
The battery for the camera is, as you can imagine, quite large. It’s about the size of two car batteries put together, and weighs just as much.
The TSA may ask you to open up the case for them to inspect…

Steve and Zizi explain a bit about how the Odyssey works.

By and large the space is shaping up to be an incredibly flexible and useful lab for motion capture, projection mapping, and VR work. Steve is eager to explore as many use-cases as possible, and is happy to speak to other faculty about bringing their students/classes in to work on some VR projects.

Here students from Maja Manojlovic’s class take turns experiencing some VR environments. Professor Manojlovic teaches a course called EngComp133: Writing in Multimedia Environments: Videogame Rhetoric and Design.

The Media Arts Lab is open to visitors on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the rest of the quarter from 11a-1p. Various VR films and environments will be on display for visitors to experience.

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