Australian High School Goes Virtual

Blackmagic Design announced that Livingstone Christian College used Blackmagic Design cameras and switchers as part of Australia’s first LED-based virtual production high school studio. The studio used Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K digital film cameras, ATEM Mini Pro live production switcher, DaVinci Resolve editing, grading, visual effects (VFX), and audio post-production software.

Livingstone Christian College, based in a suburb near Brisbane and Gold Coast, Australia, opened its doors in 2002 and has since grown to a community of more than 1,300 students from prep to year 12. As part of the school’s arts program, film and TV production teacher Kenji Lee, aka Mr. Chen, built a virtual production workflow to allow students to learn and create on the same tools Hollywood uses.

Lee is the founder and managing director of the multicultural youth filmmaking organization One Song Foundation and is a Queensland TeachX and Australian Educator Awards finalist. Lee and the school’s Head of Arts, Gavin Coles, began building the studio in early 2022 with support from the HTC VIVE Taiwan and Australia team led by Raymond Pao, senior vice president of business solutions.

Since he joined the school, Lee’s students have created several film productions, including consent and anti-bullying short films, social impact music videos during the pandemic, and most recently, a sci-fi film using the virtual production workflow.

“We want to have the students create films that change the way people think but also prepare them for a career in filmmaking if that is what they want to do. And virtual production is the future of filmmaking, so it makes sense to teach it,” Lee explained.

“Lots of universities are thinking about building LED walls and are starting to teach virtual production. But high schools have not seen the potential yet. At Livingstone, we mirror the universities and get the students to learn hands-on with the technology professionals use. Blackmagic products are great because they are affordable, high quality, and easy to learn,” Lee continued.

We mirror the universities and get the students to learn hands-on with the technology professionals use. Blackmagic products are great because they are affordable, high-quality, and easy to learn.

Kenji Lee, Film and TV Production Teacher, Livingstone College

The school’s virtual production setup includes access to a 16×9’ LED screen, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4Ks, and ATEM Mini Pro for keying and syncing images with Unreal Engine. The products are used in conjunction with the HTC VIVE Mars CamTrack system, which provides accurate camera tracking and real-time compositing for virtual production. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve is used for LUT creation and color correction.

For their first virtual production project, students created a spaceship background shown on the LED screen. Pocket Cinema Cameras 4Ks captured wide, and closeup action, with camera feeds ingested into the ATEM Mini Pro.

“It was important that the students get hands-on with every aspect of virtual production and learn that it was not just standing in front of an LED wall. You must ensure every piece of gear on set is in sync and understand how lighting, props, and actors impact timing. It could be very intimidating for students if the technology is too complicated. The Blackmagic products were a perfect fit,” he continued.

Since their first virtual production, Lee has worked with the students to create several new projects using the same setup, including music videos and musical theatre performances.

“The Pocket’s genlock features make them invaluable for virtual production. They are easy to set up, so instead of trying to figure out how to make the cameras work, the students can focus on their creativity,” Lee said. “And even though they are easy to use and learn on, the cameras get you the most amazing cinematic images, so there is no sacrificing the quality of work.”

Source: Virtual Producer