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All-Digital Film Program Comes To Southern California


As of mid-2010, The Art Institute of California – Orange County initiated a Digital Filmmaking & Video Production program, one of the first all-digital, high definition video production programs in Orange County, California.  Situated in the heart of Southern California – with teachers and staff based locally – the focus is certainly local, yet the program services students from all regions of Southern California and features a nationwide reach through the programs available at other Art Institutes schools.

Joining a collegiate slate of media and design students, the new program fits neatly with the ancillary programs that are already in place.  “We are looking to podcasts, viral videos and web-based delivery rather than bicycling to cable providers,” said academic director of the program, Paul Fornelli, a longtime industry professional.  “This is something that you don’t get at traditional campuses these days.  We are forward-looking.”

The dean of academic affairs, Melinda Lester, expounded on the many programs at the school, which are also open to students.  “We are truly interdisciplinary,” she said, “where students can take electives in other programs such as animation, visual effects and motion graphics, digital photography, graphic design, interactive media, advertising and game design.”

Lester noted that the school had all of the components to create a true multimedia focus and saw an opportunity to fill the full spectrum of media arts with the Digital Filmmaking & Video Production program.  “We add a couple of programs every year, and this point in time, we felt Digital Filmmaking & Video Production would round out the offered programs that we already have,” she said.

Full-time instructor, and Emmy Award-winning producer, Richard Jansen explained that the founders of the new program have taken great pains to install the most up-to-date equipment available.  “We have directed our efforts toward a high definition equipment package to give the students a feel for what it would be like to work in a professional environment,” Jansen said.

He added that, almost every artist and technician has had to moderate his or her approach to the digital world.  “Our program is giving people cross-training in various disciplines so they will have the freedom to become a director of photography, editor, technical director, director, producer or screenwriter, out of what they are learning here.   This new program is appropriate for anyone who is looking to realize their dream of having a career in the entertainment industry and wants to make that a reality.”

Fornelli noted that the program is organized so that class sizes are small– a maximum of 25 in the studio and 12 in the multimedia labs.  “Because of economics, many other schools cannot take on new students, whereas course offerings at The Art Institute of California – Orange County are based on student needs and demands,” he said.

With the video production field quite competitive already among Southern California college-level schools, the Institute  made sure that this new program offered students comprehensive facilities and equipment.  The brand new video studio was built to the specifications of 39’ x 24’ with a 12’ ceiling height and a fully-functional green screen cove at one end.  The adjacent control room is 14’ x 24.5’, and the similarly new still photo studio next door is 33.5’x 26’.

In terms of equipment, the video studio boasts three Panasonic AG-HPX370 1/3″ P2 HD cameras, Videssence fluorescent and LED lights, and Arriflex cinema lights.  The control room has a 16-input Ross Digital HD Switcher and graphics system, a digital recorder and P2 cards for recording video, a Mackie sound board, and a complete Whisper Room sound booth with Pro Tools software.

Additionally, the facility offers a well-stocked equipment cage open six days a week, including 7:00 a.m.-10:00 pm weekdays, that students can utilize for the length of their programs on campus.  Inside, they can check out HD Canon and Sony field video cameras, Canon 50D and 5D SLR still cameras, Arriflex, Dynalight, Lowell and LTM lighting kits, Sennheiser, Shure and Audio-Technica microphones, plus grip, tripods, audio equipment, and accessories, and a wide variety photographic materials.

Lester added that the school also features multiple computer labs with both Macintosh and PC workstations.  “We have innovative software programs including Final Cut Studio and the complete package of Adobe CS software, currently being upgraded to CS5,” she stated.  “We’ll also be adding Avid Media Composer software.  Our hardware and software is regularly updated by a full-time IT support service, and we also provide students complete access to a digital darkroom and motion-capture facility, and a print/copy center which allows students to make high quality prints of their work for presentations of their projects and self-marketing materials.”

With an applied arts focus, The Art Institute of California – Orange County aims to prepare all students for gainful employment in the industry.  “We find jobs for the students throughout Southern California in single-camera videography, multi-camera studio videography, streaming video, and emerging technology,” said Fornelli.  Additionally, unlike many public institutions, the school’s commitment to the student does not end upon his or her graduation.  “Job placement continues until we have them placed into their first industry job through our Career Services staff and resources,” Fornelli added.

Any prospective students interested in learning more about The Art Institute of California – Orange County’s Digital Filmmaking & Video Production program should contact the school by calling 714-830-0200 or going to this website:

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