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SCAD Students Find Success with Avid

What happens when a school combines cutting-edge coursework, award-winning faculty members and a state-of-the-art technology environment? The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) School of Entertainment Arts offers students just that—and the results have been remarkable. Over 200 senior feature films are produced each year, and 85% of alums either employed in their field or pursuing further education nine months after graduation. By teaching students Avid’s cutting-edge workflows and solutions, SCAD is successfully preparing students to be the creative leaders of tomorrow.

Made for storytellers on the cutting edge

At the SCAD School of Entertainment Arts, all freshmen receive a solid foundation in art and design before choosing their major. Once students select a career path, they receive aesthetics training and technical instruction while getting real-world experience using industry-standard tools—making Avid workflows an integral part of their experience.

In the film and television program, students hone their storytelling skills while editing projects on Avid Media Composer. After spending time learning the production workflow, production hierarchy, and dynamics of a live set, students choose their area of emphasis—most going on to become editors, directors, producers, screenwriters or cinematographers.

Students in the sound design program start using Pro Tools from day one as they learn the fundamentals of sound synthesis, digital audio, and soundtrack development. “For the job market, Pro Tools is essential,” says Robin Beauchamp, chair of the sound design program. “The students learn Pro Tools so well it becomes a transparent tool—they are able to create without thinking about the technology.”

Complete proficiency in Avid workflows, including Media Composer and Pro Tools, helps students realize their creative vision and succeed as professionals.

PETER WEISHAR, DEAN OF ENTERTAINMENT ARTS, SCAD

The results speak for themselves

Alumni are in high demand, with over 85% employed in their field or pursuing further education nine months after graduation. SCAD graduates are excelling at leading professional organizations around the globe, including Sony, Pixar, Disney, NBC, CNN, ESPN, MTV, Panavision, Warner Bros, National Geographic, Comedy Central,Cartoon Network, Discovery, Showtime, Universal, DreamWorks, Fox, and more.

SCAD student work has been screened at major festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and the Palm Springs International Film festival. Students have also received Student Academy Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Emulating real-world workflows

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The talented students at the School of Entertainment Arts bring their stories to life using industry-standard workflows. “It’s very important for us to emulate the environment that students will encounter in the professional world,” states Peter Weishar, Dean of Entertainment Arts. “Complete proficiency in Avid workflows, including Media Composer and Pro Tools, helps students realize their creative vision and succeed as professionals.”

The technical staff at SCAD has assembled one of the finest production facilities in the academic world, with one purpose in mind: preparing students to succeed as media professionals. Film and Television students shoot their projects using high-end cameras from Red and Sony, then edit their work using Media Composer. The school’s Film and Video Production Lab features 79 Media Composer workstations—including 37 with Media Composer | Nitris DX hardware. Additional labs for advanced work also feature Avid systems.

The sound design facility at SCAD includes 60 Pro Tools workstations, all fully loaded with the latest Avid audio interfaces—from Pro Tools | HDX and Pro Tools | HD Native to Mbox Pro. Thirty Artist Mix controllers are available, allowing students to get hands-on with their projects. Students also have access to a fully appointed professional recording studio that features an ICON D-Control console, extensive microphone collection, and racks of high-end preamps and outboard gear.

The ISIS 5000 system has greatly expanded the ability for students to collaborate.

ROBIN BEAUCHAMP, CHAIR OF THE SOUND DESIGN PROGRAM, SCAD

Collaborating via ISIS

In order to best serve a growing student population and keep on top of technological advancements, the School of Entertainment Arts frequently implements new workflow solutions. For example, until a few years ago, students were required to backup projects to external hard drives and manually transport them between SCAD buildings.

This “sneakernet” posed several challenges. Every now and then, a drive would get lost or damaged and students would lose projects. Additionally, as the school grew it became more and more difficult for students across departments to collaborate. SCAD considered several shared storage solutions before ultimately deciding on an ISIS system. Now students enjoy the same workflow as industry professionals as they travel between SCAD classrooms, log in to their projects, and work with students from other disciplines.

The ISIS system provides students with individual storage for personal use, and access to shared workspaces. “The ISIS system has greatly expanded the ability for students to collaborate,” states Robin Beauchamp. “A student working in Media Composer can send a project to sound design and visual effects students and it’s all part of the same workspace. One day we will all be collaborating via the cloud—students need to learn those workflows today so they can prepare for tomorrow.”

Modeled after Hollywood

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The senior films produced at SCAD demonstrate just how skillful and technically proficient students are upon graduation. The films incorporate a great deal of sophistication, from excellent cinematography and sound to beautiful titling, scoring, and visual effects. SCAD allows any student with a vision and production plan to create a senior film—as a result students produce over 200 such films each year.

The process for creating a senior film is modeled after Hollywood. Just as motion picture studios often set the release date for a movie far in advance, student directors know they have to deliver a finished film before graduation. Working backwards from that date, they develop production schedules and deadlines to keep the project on track. Throughout the entire process, student directors work in close collaboration with students from the sound design and visual effects departments. These may include dialog editors, sound effects editors, post-production supervisors, music supervisors, composers, animators, and visual effects artists—all working together under the guidance of experienced SCAD faculty members. From start to finish, the senior film projects well-prepare students for real-world processes and workflows.

Avid certifications help students stand out from other graduates.

JON ALVORD, PROFESSOR, POST PRODUCTION AND MUSIC VIDEO PRODUCTION, SCAD

The value of Avid certification

To prepare students with the technical expertise they need to succeed, the School of Entertainment Arts serves as an Avid Learning Partner, offering certification courses in Pro Tools and Media Composer. In their certification coursework, students learn how to be more creative and productive using the industry-standard toolsets.

“Many SCAD students have been hired immediately after graduation because of their mastery of Pro Tools and Media Composer,” relates Peter Weishar. “They become very desirable in the industry because of their knowledge.”

Professor Jon Alvord, an award-winning editor and visual effects artist, further explains: “Avid certifications help students stand out from other graduates. It shows prospective employers that students have the work ethic to succeed, and the skills necessary to contribute right away.”

World-class results

Prominent award-winning companies that employ SCAD graduates include Sony, Pixar, Disney, CNN, MTV, Warner Bros, National Geographic, Universal, DreamWorks, Fox, and more. “I’ve lost count of all the SCAD graduates I’ve worked with professionally,” notes Jon Alvord.

Each year SCAD alumni are well represented among the nominees and winners of top industry awards. At the 2013 Oscars®, SCAD graduates Nickson Fong (M.F.A., computer art, 2002) and Steve LaVietes (B.F.A., computer art, 1996) received individual awards Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—underscoring the lasting contributions that SCAD alums are making in the industry. 2012 Emmy® honorees included SCAD graduate Richie Sandow, who won an Emmy® for Outstanding Production Design/Art Direction for his work NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and Veva Burns, nominated for Outstanding Main Title Design for her work on Fox’s New Girl.

Moving forward with Avid

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As SCAD continues to nurture the future generation of creative professionals, the School of Entertainment Arts recognizes the need to stay on top of new technology. Peter Weishar explains, “Our philosophy is to prepare students for the tools, pipeline, and methodology they will be using in the workplace five years from now. Avid is an important partner for us because they will continue to be the industry standard for years to come.”

Faculty members like Jon Alvord see exciting possibilities down the road for Avid and SCAD. “The Sphere system is an interesting option for us,” he shares. “It would open the door for students across the globe to attend classes together and work collaboratively. It would also allow professors to log in and work with students from a remote location.

“Over the years, Avid has consistently kept up with the demands of professional production environments,” Jon concludes. “From evolving workflows to codecs for new cameras, Avid keeps their finger on the pulse of the industry.”

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