UT3D students immerse in new technology

Kate Thackrey

Simon Quiroz has the power to make a television screen come to life. As a post-production specialist for the radio-television-film department’s UT3D program, Quiroz said he works with students to produce projects that use immersive video technology.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of RTF, the UT3D program hosted an open house Monday, April 5, with demonstrations of equipment and screenings of short 3D films from students and staff.

During demonstrations, attendees tried on virtual reality headsets, fiddled with 360-degree interactive projects and played with 3D film equipment.

Quiroz explained how a pulsar rig, a tall metal apparatus with two cameras that produces a 3D effect, functions. The cameras sit at a 90 degree angle — one points toward the subject and the other points upwards at a mirror-like screen.

The two cameras start out angled toward the same place, but Quiroz can move them incrementally with a handheld remote control, separating the images.

Special glasses then block out light from one of the cameras in each eye, which tricks the mind into seeing depth, producing a 3D effect.

According to Quiroz, this type of equipment requires expertise to operate — it took his team an hour to calibrate the rig before their demo.

“This technology is not something that you just hit play and it just rolls,” Quiroz said. “You need the special equipment — not only to create it but also to display it.”

Despite its name, the UT3D program doesn’t just cover 3D technology. To earn the program certificate, students complete two courses to learn the ins and outs of 3D, virtual reality and 360-degree content production.

For one of his projects, RTF junior William Aronson recreated his dorm room on the Oculus Rift virtual reality platform. Now anyone with a headset can explore a Jester West room, complete with furniture, a computer and a blinking microwave.

“When you’re in Oculus, you have a little more freedom as to where the player can move,” Aronson said. “It was hard to get exactly the things I have in my room, but it’s pretty close.”

RTF senior and recent UT3D graduate Luke Doyle said he hopes the skills he learned through the program will help him get a 3D internship this summer during UTLA, a program that gives UT students a chance to work in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

“What I really like about 3D is that you can show something that you would see in a normal-day situation, and it seems completely new,” Doyle said.