Emerging Technologies

Shaun Foster sitting at a work station.

Exciting design possibilities that have never been done before is possible when exploring emerging technologies. I love working with emerging tech that connects 3D graphics to interactive. My favorites are virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual production — all fields in which RIT is integral in advancing.”

Shaun Foster

Associate Professor
Undergraduate Program Director, 3D Digital Design

‘Unreal’ Opportunities

Shaun Foster, undergraduate program director of 3D Digital Design, developed dynamic educational content with funding from Epic Games, the world-leading video game company responsible for creating Fortnite and other popular titles. He received a $160,000 MegaGrant to produce edX courses that educate faculty, students and others on the multidisciplinary possibilities of Unreal Engine. The game engine holds advanced technologies of real-time graphics and interactive tools that are, Foster said, creating a “multi-field convergence.”

“It’s super exciting to do work that is going to help my students and colleagues,” Foster said. “I’m also hoping it will help increase the level of knowledge students have before they even come to RIT so they can go deeper and faster when they get here.”

Foster worked with teams of students and faculty from different disciplines on the project. The three courses Foster developed are offered in the RITx Unreal Engine Foundations Professional Certificate Program.

“It’s a good on-ramp for the multidisciplinary application of the core Unreal Engine software for people who are interested in things like interior design, industrial design and this emerging field called virtual production — which is mixing pre-visualization, filmmaking and visual effects all into one,” Foster said.

Virtual Production

Two large LED panels sit in MAGIC Spell Studios' soundstage.

Supported by by a $275,000 MegaGrant from Epic Games co-written by David Long, MAGIC Center director, Shaun Foster, program director of 3D Digital Design, RIT is developing an inventive curriculum focused on an emerging filmmaking method. The multi-departmental project is bringing virtual production — a field blending filmmaking, computational photography and real-time game engine rendering to produce in-camera visual effects — directly to students and faculty. RIT is among only a few universities in the world working in virtual production, a technique recently used in Disney's "The Mandalorian."

"Virtual production is absolutely the future of effects-heavy filmmaking and graphically engaging filmmaking, and we're teaching students at RIT how to do this," Long said. "When they graduate, they're going to be among a select few who know how to this stuff. They're going to be in immediate demand."

For the project, RIT is collaborating with THE THIRD FLOOR (TTF), an award-winning visualization studio co-founded by Chris Edwards ’97 (Film and Video Production), and PRG, a global leader in entertainment and event tech solutions. TTF experts are delivering guest lectures and directly training faculty while PRG is the project’s partner for hardware and equipment, which includes newly installed LED panel walls in MAGIC Spell Studios that create in-camera imagery behind actors. 

RIT is a fitting place for this innovative marriage of art and technology.

"The mix of artistic talent and our engineering talent we have here at RIT is the perfect mix and it's the reason why it's happening here," Long said.

Inspiring Innovation

A person wearing and using a virtual reality headset and controllers while another person watches.

Frameless Labs is a multidisciplinary group that brings attention to all research, innovation and artistic creation in the field of virtual and augmented reality at RIT. By providing symposia and an online space for the community of VR/AR makers at RIT to collaborate, Frameless Labs supports the growth of existing ventures and the inspiration of new projects and technology. Frameless Labs also serves to connect RIT ideas to the greater outside community of VR and AR thought leaders.

Virtual Reality Arm

An illustration of the musculoskeletal system of a person's arm while playing in virtual reality.

Students and faculty from the Medical Illustration BFA and MFA programs as well as the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences have created multiple iterations of an interactive arm. The VR experience features a fully functional human figure that could be used for a variety of applications in the future.

Key Faculty and Staff