Don Howard

Olivia Biehle, mathematics and radio-television-film senior, is a student of the UT3D program. As one of the only 3D programs in the nation, UT3D focuses on areas of entertainment, education, and research.
Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

The Moody College of Communication is at the forefront of 3-D filmmaking because of the UT3D program, one of the only collegiate 3-D filming programs in the United States.

Although 3-D filming is associated with Hollywood special effects, the UT3D program is interested areas beyond entertainment, according to UT3D program director Don Howard. These areas include virtual reality, educational technology and scientific research.

“Our view of what 3-D is is a variety of new technologies that try to become more immersive than two dimensions on a screen can do,” Howard said.

These technologies use stereoscopy to create depth on a screen, creating a 3-D effect. Stereoscopy is achieved by filming with two cameras from two different angles and projecting both pictures onto a single screen. The viewer processes the image using 3-D glasses to create the
final image. 

“Polarized glasses allow one picture to appear to [the left eye] and the other picture to appear to [the right eye] only,” Howard said. “What it does is sort of deconstruct that double picture you’re looking at and … in effect, your eyes will read it the way they read two different pictures all the time.”

Students complete two required courses in the program and an associated internship or special project course to receive a certificate of completion. Unlike other certificate programs offered by the University, however, UT3D is only available to RTF majors. 

“These [students] are probably the most well trained 3-D individuals outside of Hollywood at this point,” said Buzz Hays, lead instructor of UT3D. “We’ve given them the fundamental skills to go forth and do amazing things.”

Olivia Biehle, mathematics and radio-television-film senior who is in the 3-D program, is using the program’s technology in a new way by incorporating math to logically approach the 3-D creative process.

“3-D was the first time I was actually able to use my math brain in a creative way,” Biehle said. “I could use my math side of my brain to actually make decisions based on the cameras — how the 3-D was being used.”

3-D film brings a new aspect to the field that 2-D film is unable to achieve, according to Biehle.

“That’s what I’ve seen in 3-D — it’s something that will affect your audience emotionally and psychologically, and they won’t notice it a lot of the time,” Biehle said. “There’s more to 3-D than entertainment value.”

A new 3-D production program in the radio-television-film department will challenge students to take 3-D filming to another dimension.

The program will begin fall 2013, with a $2.17 million grant from the Moody Foundation for the next five years. Associate professor Don Howard will direct the program, which is the first of its kind in the country. Although a concrete curriculum has not been announced, courses will be taught on campus and at the Moody Theatre, during filmings of Austin City Limits Live.

“That theater has been turned in — in the last few months — to the best permanent 3-D production facility in the country,” Howard said. “This is a production program so it’s pretty much a professional thing.”

Although the program will have a permanent staff, many courses will be taught by working professionals from Los Angeles. Most peoples’ exposure to 3-D productions has been through large-budget films, but Howard said the curriculum will focus on all types of production.

“Our program is going to be built not just around movie production, but we’re going to be shooting documentaries and sports stuff, [and] we’ll probably shoot some dance stuff [as well],” Howard said. “A lot of it will be kind of a lab atmosphere, where we’re going to give people different challenges and let them use the equipment to see how it can be best used.”

To construct the program, Howard collaborated with UT alumnus Wayne Miller, a radio-television-film graduate who currently owns a 3-D production company in Los Angeles. Because Howard has never worked with 3-D production himself, Miller will bring his expertise and connections in Los Angeles to the program.

“The world is changing quickly in terms of production and consumption of our entertainment,” Miller said. “And 3-D is a format medium that’s growing pretty quickly into a very prevalent format of the future, to where all of our displays and televisions and tablets and phones will have the glasses-free capability.”

The program is open to undergraduate radio-television-film students, who have a basic background in production, Howard said.

“We’re expecting this program to be pretty competitive, as far as getting into it,” Howard said. “We have a significant number of spots but it’s pretty limited. So I’m just hoping that people with all kinds of experience and interests will be applying.”

Becca Rushworth, TSTV manager and radio-television-film senior, said while she is excited to see the department expanding classes rather than cutting them, she believes 3-D production is a fad.

“I want to go into television, and 3-D TVs are not going to sell well because the accessories are far too expensive to enjoy,” Rushworth said. “While 3-D sports on ESPN look super high-definition, it’s a product I don’t believe many viewers would be interested in.”

Published on March 4, 2013 as "RTF production course teaches 3-D techniques".