Sarasota, Florida’s Ringling College of Art and Design will be the first art college — and one of the first educational institutions — to offer a degree in the rapidly growing field of virtual reality for artists and designers. The Virtual Reality Development; major, a four-year BFA degree program, will commence in fall 2018 and is now accepting applications for the inaugural class.
“Virtual Reality is going to change everything,” says Dr. Larry R. Thompson, President of Ringling College. “The opportunities extend far beyond the worlds of gaming and entertainment—this technology will revolutionize the way we live and work, and it will offer unexplored opportunities for artists and designers. We want our students and graduates to be leading this monumental shift, advancing and defining this new field, and laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s generations of creative leaders, companies, and organizations.”
Housed in the school’s widely respected Computer Animation department, the VR major will offer students an opportunity to create experience for a number of industries, including healthcare, advertising, architecture, education, and entertainment. Courses will include Visual Scripting, Concept Development for Virtual Worlds, Visual Development for VR, and VR Development, creating 3D content and VR experiences.
“Thanks to recent, incredible strides in technology, Virtual Reality has become a new medium,” explains Jim McCampbell, head of the Computer Animation department. “We are excited to be forging into this new area that has so much potential for reshaping how we think about storytelling experiences. The ability to tell stories from multiple points of view and the ability to move the viewer from a role of spectator to that of a participant will serve as a brand new canvas for artists and designers. Ringling College’s world-renowned reputation for the fusion of art and technology makes this the perfect place to launch such a cutting-edge major.”
He adds: “The Computer Animation Department has been working with virtual reality for the last few years via its Game Art major, and has alumni working in VR at places such as Magic Leap, Baobab Studios, Google, Flight School, Hoyt Architecture, and Sharecare. This new major in Virtual Reality Development will allow us to explore the full breadth that the medium has to offer. Virtual Reality majors will learn to design, create, and analyze immersive experiences within the virtual reality medium that inform, educate, and entertain.”
To supplement and amplify the classwork, Ringling College will invite studio professionals into the classroom to deliver presentations and collaborate on new projects—including an upcoming partnership with Flight School, a studio known for its pioneering work in VR, AR, games, and film. Flight School is the latest venture from Ringling graduate and Oscar-winning animation filmmaker Brandon Oldenburg, who will be attending the college’s 2017 Fall Preview Day (Nov. 4) to discuss the VR industry and help with a tech demo.
“Developing creative and technical talent within the VR industry is vital to grow this powerful medium. Flight School’s partnership with Ringling College will allow us to work hand-in-hand to identify and cultivate the next great crop of talent in the field,” says Oldenburg.