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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screens Groundbreaking VR Film ‘Agent Emerson’ with Director and BFA Filmmaking alum Ilya Rozhkov and Filmmaking Team

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) recently hosted a screening of groundbreaking VR action film Agent Emerson, followed by a Q&A with award-winning writer, director, producer, and NYFA BFA Filmmaking alum Ilya Rozhkov; Associate Producer & VP of Development of the Rogue Initiative, Bradley Etheridge; and Line Producer and NYFA alum, Radhika Womack. The event was held on Friday, November 15 at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, with the president of the NYFA Broadcasting Club, Derek “DJ” Johnson II, moderating.

    BFA Filmmaking alum Ilya Rozhkov has directed award-winning shorts including Wes-Andresonesque Sabre Dance, starring Olympian Greg Louganis as Salvador Dali. His films have been distributed worldwide, featured on NBC, and screened at over 50+ festivals; winning numerous awards including Best Picture and Best Director. 

    Agent Emerson Ilya Rozhkov
    As a lead development executive at Rogue Initiative, Bradley Etheridge is responsible for input for both creative and business development. Etheridge’s diverse range of duties includes working with directors, writers, and producers on film, TV, and VR projects; managing Rogue’s internal team of game developers; and interfacing with contacts in various industries for everything from investment to content distribution opportunities. 

    Radhika Womack began her career producing commercials in the Indian film industry. Since moving to the United States, she has produced a number of feature films, shorts, documentaries, and music videos. Her most recent credits include producing the feature film In This Gray Place and line-producing Agent Emerson.  

    DJ Johnson II opened the Q&A by asking how the idea of Agent Emerson came about, highlighting the fact that Rozhkov conceptualized the film’s story with Womack during their time as students at NYFA.

    The VR film allows the audience to see an action movie from the 360-degree POV of its hero. The film, starring Andrew Bowen, Lyndsy Fonseca, and Tony Denison, has toured with Samsung and Verizon Media in a series of events in several states and recently had its successful red carpet premiere with high-profile guests from major Hollywood studios, Silicon Valley, the Producers Guild, the VR industry, and several Academy Award nominees.

    Agent Emerson Ilya Rozhkov

    “It was a very long planning process; about a year of it,” Rozhkov shared. “When I thought about it for the first time, I tried to figure out what would make it unique as a storytelling medium, just like people were with movies 120 years ago. So when the script was there and the concept was there, we started looking into technology and it simply did not exist, so I sat down with engineers and we had to create technology to make this possible.” 

    Johnson continued by inquiring how you set a frame that is 360 degrees. Rozhkov joked by saying, “Just like how there is no spoon in The Matrix, there is no frame in VR.” Rozhkov continued, “It’s storytelling through location and it’s a cinematic medium for sure, but it takes a lot from theater and it takes a lot from gaming. There’s no storytelling laws, especially when we started, so we had to find what works and just like any film, figure out the storytelling language.” 

    When asked about what the biggest challenge the filmmaking team faced during production, Womack expressed, “The biggest challenge was the technology. There’s so many unknowns in filmmaking already, and here you just triple that. It’s just sitting and brainstorming all the things you need even though there’s a lot of similarity with regular productions and other narratives. You have your locations, your permits, your crew, and the camera is taken care of, but again it’s a much bigger department than you would have on a regular film. The biggest challenge was to let everyone in every department know the difference: if you can see the camera, the camera can see you.” 
    Agent Emerson Ilya Rozhkov

    The Q&A then opened up for questions from the audience. A student asked the filmmaking team, “How did you combine the digital assets with the footage from your camera while maintaining the stereoscopic effect of the film?” 

    Rozhkov answered, “Everything was carefully measured, and we had a lot of sensor data from set that helped a lot. 360 degree video has a lot of limitations, especially when it comes to 3D, so we utilized game engine to bypass some of them. The film tracks in real time where you’re looking and adjusts the 3D accordingly.” 

    New York Film Academy thanks BFA Filmmaking alum Ilya Rozhkov, as well as Bradley Etheridge, and Radhika Womack for sharing their VR film and expertise with our students. Agent Emerson will be released on Oculus Rift (Go and Quest), HTC Vive, and Cosmos on November 22. 

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    November 19, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Virtual Reality • Views: 728

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design Alum Guillermo Quesada Helps Develop The Lion King VR Set

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    Magnopus, the visual development company that employs New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design alum Guillermo Quesada, helped create Disney’s new remake of The Lion King in an innovative, groundbreaking way—with VR.

    Guillermo QuesadaThe company pioneered a virtual reality system that allowed director Jon Favreau (Iron Man), director of photography Caleb Deschanel (The Passion of the Christ), and The Lion King crew to shoot a film that used extensive computer imagery in a physical three dimensional space. By mimicking what it would be like to shoot on a live action soundstage, The Lion King crew used the VR tools developed by Magnopus to place themselves in a virtual landscape of the African savannah and visualize how their animal characters would interact in the space.

    According to the io9 piece that went into extensive detail about the process, 90 percent of The Lion King was created in a nondescript warehouse on a backroad in Los Angeles. Monitors and VR kits, mostly HTC Vive headsets, were placed around a large open space—with the virtual savannah existing only in code.

    NYFA alum Guillermo Quesada, originally from Spain, joined the company’s large team of bright, young, VR and AR developers after graduating from the NYFA MFA in Game Design program at our Burbank-based campus. While studying at NYFA, he was taught the art and craft of game design and storytelling at the professional level, acquiring the skills of game prototyping, playtesting, iteration, presentation, collaboration, and how to develop software using industry standards—including workflow, multiple platforms, and coding.

    “At NYFA Guillermo was pushing boundaries and innovating,” recounts Matt Galuppo, NYFA Associate Chair of Games and Animation. “He was the first student to produce a full VR game and make it part of his game showcase. He went on to use the skills he learned developing that game to develop tools for the film industry.”

    After months of post-production, Disney’s latest remake was released in theaters on July 19 and boasted an all-star cast that included Donald Glover, Beyoncé, James Earl Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Oliver, among several others. The film was a commercial juggernaut, becoming Disney’s fourth film of 2019 to gross over $1 billion in less than a month.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA MFA in Game Design alum Guillermo Quesada and the entire Magnopus team on giving Disney’s filmmakers the tools to bring The Lion King back to life!

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    August 6, 2019 • Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights, Virtual Reality • Views: 527

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) VR Game Design Alum Pilar Aranda Bada Featured in Play NYC’s Graffiti Games Showcase

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) VR Game Design alum Pilar Aranda Bada debuted a new VR game at Play NYC, New York’s first and largest game convention. Aranda Bada was one of a select few developers invited to create new pieces for Graffiti Games, an installation at the event that invited first-generation immigrants to creatively express their culture and experiences through their work.

    Together with teammate Saúl Peña Gamero under the name Alpaca Games, Aranda Bada created one of the installation’s “standout” entries. The game, The Llama Express, invites players to ride a train through the fictional country of Esperú while feeding fluffy llamas along the way with traditional Hispanic food like sausages and beets. The VR game features a soundtrack of traditional Spanish music, and received praise for being an “endearing” way of honoring the creators’ cultural roots.  

    The installation was brought to life in six opera boxes in Manhattan Center’s historic Hammerstein Ballroom, where they were enjoyed by as many as 10,000 participants. In addition to the showcase in New York, the games were displayed on the event’s Twitch stream for fans around the world.

    Born in Valencia, Spain, Aranda Bada is a Mixed Reality developer at Planeta.cc, a product studio focused on sound and media. In 2016, she graduated from NYFA’s pioneering VR Game Design program, which focuses on concept development, VR design, and production of interactive VR experiences, games and 360-degree films. She holds a B.S. in Industrial Design, an M.A. in Graphic Design, and an M.M. in Communications. She specializes in immersive games and experiences in both virtual and augmented reality environments.

    After the success of the game at the installation, the teammates both expressed interest in continuing to develop The Llama Express for market, though any possible release of the game would likely be far off.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Pilar Aranda Bada on her success, and looks forward to seeing her future projects!

     

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    October 10, 2018 • Game Design, Virtual Reality • Views: 337

  • NYFA Game Design Mentor Meetup with Aaron Pulkka

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    This past week the New York Film Academy Game Department held a Game Mentor Meetup. The special event focused on the history and development of Virtual Reality. VR pioneer and NYFA Instructor Aaron Pulkka led the discussion.

    nyfa vr games

    Before the presentation, high school students hoping to attend NYFA, current NYFA students, and instructors from nearly every department gathered outside of the theater. Pizza, soda, and snacks were served. Through mouthfuls of hot cheese, participants buzzed over which VR headset was worth the price tag, which game best utilized its VR feature and whether the future of VR relied on lasers or motion capture and other topics.

    With full bellies and buzzing brains, the students filed into the Riverside theater. Pulkka spoke for over an hour giving first-hand knowledge of the rise of Virtual Reality. Pulkka worked on the “Aladdin’s Carpet Ride” at Walt Disney World in Florida, which first utilized VR in 1998, and many other groundbreaking projects.

    He also broke down the key factors of establishing a VR world. The gamer must move in the space, but space cannot come to the gamer or they will be too disoriented to keep playing. This is known as an explicit camera. Light and sound help establish where in space the gamer is supposed to be.

    pullka

    Pulkka then walked the students through the different kinds of headsets. The Play Station 4 has sold three times as many VR headsets as the next leading brands, but there’s an HDMI cable limiting the player’s movements. Google Cardboard costs anywhere from $2 to $30, but you have to have an expensive smartphone and the games are limited.

    A highlight of the night was Pulkka’s demonstration of the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset. He created a VR program in Unity and output it to the Hololens. He then walked around the room dropping giant 3D cubes on the audience.

    A great lesson was the difference between VR and 360-degree videos. Pulkka says, “If you can’t interact with the world it’s not VR. 360 videos, like the ones you see on YouTube or Facebook, are not considered VR.”

    After the presentation, the audience spilled into the lobby to converse about all they learned and enjoy cupcakes. A group of students was overheard excitedly chattering about their VR projects. Game students are free to explore VR in any of their Game Studio semester projects. And there is one VR class currently available documentary students with more planned in the future.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank those who participated in this exciting conversation. You can join the conversation by watching the discussion here.

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    April 17, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 3392

  • NYFA Welcomes VR Software Architect Chris Bobotis

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    Last week, the New York Film Academy welcomed well-known VR artist, Chris Bobotis, to speak to students in our new VR program.

    chris bobotis

    Bobotis is the Co-Founder and 360/VR Software Architect at Mettle, which introduced 360/VR plugins that have been widely adopted by leading companies world-wide, such as The New York Times, Time, CNN, HBO, Google, youtube, Discovery VR, DreamWorks TV, National Geographic, USA Today, LinkedIn, The Ellen Show, BuzzFeed, Conan 360, Framestore, Google, Jaunt VR, GreenPeace, Care, UBER, RYOT, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Apple, and Facebook. Independent filmmakers and youtubers have also widely adopted the toolset available through Mettle, shaping the content that is available through YouTube, FaceBook, Samsung, and other 360/VR viewers.

    Founded in Montreal as a production studio by Chris Bobotis and Nancy Eperjesy in 1992, the team of artists and programmers who have consistently embraced art and tech, and pushed forward the notion of empowering artists with digital tools, developing software by artists for artists.

    Chris Bobotis

    Drawing on a vast experience of production and post-production workflows, Bobotis leads the development of all Mettle software. SkyBox 360/VR plugins are the most complete set of Cinematic 360/VR production tools available for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, and include a VR Player for Oculus RIFT.

    Chris generously spent a couple of hours lecturing on the theory of creating successful VR experiences, as well as demonstrating very practical how-to lessons with the software, which is used in the NYFA VR classrooms.

    At the end of the event, Bobotis offered an award to the best student VR project. Stay tuned!

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    March 24, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 4027

  • A 360 Degree Look at Ribalta

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    We’ve all heard of the some of the more popularly known diets like the Atkins Diet or a Juice Detox, but what’s become a sort of blessing to New Yorkers is the recently proclaimed Pizza Diet. That’s correct. According to Chef Pasquale Cozzolino of “Ribalta” in Manhattan’s East Village, eating a whole pie at his restaurant provided him with both a filing and relatively healthy meal at only 570 calories. So, while dieting on his delicious brick oven pizza, Cozzolino has lost a total of 100 pounds in just five months! It’s no wonder People and Good Morning America, among many other media outlets, have taken the time out to discuss the diet with the Italian chef. “It’s not only about a diet it’s about a lifestyle,” says Chef Cozzolino.

    To continue the celebration of this magnificent diet, the New York Film Academy commemorated Chef Cozzolio by filming a 360 degree / Virtual Reality video at the new dining hot-spot, Ribalta. The VR, 360 video was directed by NYFA Florence Program Director Diana Santi, shot by NYFA Florence Equipment Manager Nicola Ciccarelli, and included cast and crew made up of acting and filmmaking students and alumni.

    “This terrific video from the New York Film Academy will drive you straight in the heart of Ribalta,” said Owner, Rosario Procino. “Look around, enjoy and discover our place!”

    Having the opportunity to explore this technology for the first time has led to a bit of excitement at the Academy as well.

    VR Pizza

    photo by Shani Patel

    360 Video and/or Virtual Reality is still a nascent technology,” said Diana Santi. “Only pioneers are using it so far and we want to be part of that!”

    With the belief that 360 Video / VR will be an integral part of the filmmaking and entertainment world for years to come, be on the look out for more VR content and a Virtual Reality Filmmaking Workshop at the New York Film Academy. Stay tuned!

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    February 12, 2016 • Filmmaking • Views: 3368