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Innovation

Filmmaking meets cyberspace in Second Life

A course in new media and cyber culture takes place in the avatar-laden virtual space, placing the course directly in the environment it schools on.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor on

Hollywood may be missing out on the next new revolution in filmmaking — virtual reality. And it's being taught not in LA or New York but of all places, Kansas. Campus Technology reports that an innovative new course is being taught at the University of Kansas on the theory and production of films in the online environment.

Catherine Preston, one of the professors who teach the course called "New Media and Cyber Culture," told the University Daily that it will offer students "the philosophy they need if they are going to be writing, teaching, researching, or critiquing films."

What makes the course unique is that the office hours are being held in "Second Life," the virtual environment peopled by avatars interacting in a small town. Students will learn concepts relating to net neutrality, manipulating time and space, and media reform.

"People tend to look at new technology like it will create a utopia by solving all of our problems or a dystopia in that society will suffer from it. We are informing these grad students to teach it as a social and cultural tool," Preston said.

The course uses specialized virtual reality software called Machinima. No traditional cameras are used; rather, Machinima creators can act out their movies within a computer game.

Dorothy, we're not in Southern California anymore.

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