Immersive Experience

Cain Foundation Awards Moody College Grant to Develop Virtual Reality Content

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The Cain Foundation has awarded the Moody College of Communication UT3D program a grant to support a project to develop a virtual reality tour of The University of Texas at Austin campus.

Students enrolled in the UT3D program will work with faculty members to produce a virtual tour of campus highlighting academics, student life and athletics using the latest 3-D virtual reality technology. The video, which will be produced during 2016, will give students experience in this fast-growing field.

“The Moody College of Communication is focused on training the next generation of leaders and innovators in all areas of communication,” said Jay Bernhardt, interim dean of the Moody College of Communication. “Thanks to the support of The Cain Foundation, Moody College students will have a head start in developing content for this important new medium for immersive storytelling.”

Virtual reality technology and content has a range of applications across many different industries and platforms, including journalism, video games, sports, science, marketing, military training and more.

The tour developed by students will be viewable to anyone with head-mounted 3-D viewers such as Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. It will be available online or through apps downloaded from online stores including iTunes or the Play Store. 

UT3D is a curriculum in 3-D production techniques for radio-television-film students, designed to complement students’ other production courses. The program is directed by Associate Professor and filmmaker Don Howard, and leading 3-D filmmakers Wayne Miller, Buzz Hays and Matt Blute.

The Moody College is already home to several new initiatives using 3-D and VR platforms. The Department of Radio-Television-Film has launched the “Immersive Media” class where students learn to create virtual reality and stereoscopic 3-D content using real-world spherical photography and combining it with computer-based animation, allowing for a “virtual directing” environment. 

Additionally, the School of Journalism has been awarded a grant by the Knight Foundation to prototype an open-source virtual reality publishing framework for journalists who lack the engineering skills to publish their own.  

"By giving students access to cutting-edge technology and the best professors and professionals in 3-D, The University of Texas at Austin will be positioned as the supplier of talent for this burgeoning industry,” said Wofford Denius, director of the Cain Foundation. "The initiative will help our students succeed in a variety of fields for years to come."

Lauren Phillips
Public Affairs Representative