Filmmaking is a science. Hollywood actors and directors may be the public faces of Hollywood, but there would not be movies without engineers and technologists.
Prior to joining the faculty of RIT's School of Film and Animation, David Long, program chair of RIT's digital cinema BS program, worked on the technical side of filmmaking. As a former imaging scientist at Eastman Kodak Company's Entertainment Imaging Division, part of his job was to use science and engineering principles to render image color and tone appearance the way cinematographers wanted.
"I came from a world where I catered to professional image makers," says Long.
Long, who teaches in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, teamed up with RIT's Center for Imaging Science to develop a degree program for students who want to pursue careers solving real-world engineering problems, like color reproduction, post-production engineering, and equipment design for the motion picture industry.
While at Kodak, Long worked on the VISION 2 family of motion picture color negative films. His role on the project was to understand the physics of color reproduction, light capture, and image aesthetics to aid in designing the photographic behaviors of the films. In 2008, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Long and three other Kodak employees with an Academy Award for their work on the VISION 2 technology.
"There are just as many if not more engineering and technology jobs in the motion picture industry than creative jobs," Long says. "I always convey to my students that film without technology would merely be theater."
To better reflect its applied science and engineering-based curriculum, the digital cinema degree program is changing its name to motion picture science, pending NYS approval.
"The degree is essentially motion picture engineering," says Long. "Legacy engineering programs are all built upon a foundation in the natural sciences. Electrical engineering is built upon physics; chemical engineering is built upon chemistry. Our degree is built fundamentally on imaging science, a mixture of physics, computer science, optics, and some chemistry. Our graduates are prepared to jump into a career in various motion picture technologies whether it's image capture or digital imaging processing or ultimately exhibition, which includes television and Internet broadcasting and theatrical projection."
The program currently enrolls 45 students. It launched in 2007, graduating its first class in May. RIT students all landed jobs as research engineers and post-production engineers.
"We are very excited to have 100 percent placement in the film industry with our first class."