LMU’s Playa Vista campus puts students at the intersection of film and technology

By Shanee Edwards

Professional-grade production facilities are designed to keep pace
with a changing industry
Photo courtesy of LMU

The Hollywood Reporter ranks Loyola Marymount University’s film school the nation’s No. 8 with a bullet. Already close to Sony and Fox, LMU’s proximity to Silicon Beach gives it unique access
to the progenitors of virtual reality, augmented reality and other technologies upending the industry.

The university is doubling down on the digital future with this week’s first classes in its new Playa Vista campus — 50,000 square feet of production, editing, classroom and event space on the second floor of The Brickyard, Tishman Speyer’s new Jefferson Boulevard-adjacent creative campus that resembles a horizontal Jenga tower of polished titanium-white bricks. That puts LMU students just steps away from YouTube Space L.A., Google, IMAX’s SoCal HQ and top local ad agencies, with Facebook reportedly negotiating for office space upstairs.

“Media is changing. That’s one of the reasons we’re down here. … We wanted to be right in the heart of that new world,” says Greg Ruzzin, who has spent the last two years overseeing the buildout and programming of the new campus as special assistant to the film and television school’s dean.

LMU’s 12-year lease gives it 35,000 square feet for School of Film and Television students and an additional 15,000 square feet for its executive MBA program and cross-departmental special events.

“The building is meant to be shared,” says Ruzzin, “and there will be a lot of opportunity for us to figure out how to interact with the community and the rest of the university.”

In a few weeks, the LA Film Festival will give the facility one of its first public test drives with a high-profile AR/VR storytelling popup.

But it’s for student filmmakers that the new campus really shines. Though 12-foot ceilings precluded construction of a full sound stage, the otherwise blank slate facilitated multipurpose editing, mixing and screening spaces outfitted with cutting-edge technology.

A showcase three-room suite doubles as both classroom space and an audio recording and mixing facility, complete with a mixing console and a professional-grade ADR/Foley studio and control room.

There’s also a multi-use black box space with extensive sound mitigation, hard-rubber flooring and lighting arrays, plus a digital black box sized for motion capture imaging and VR/AR production.

A 45-seat screening venue offers a Christie Digital 2K DCP/HD and Blu-ray/DVD projection and QSC Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound.

And eight editing suites come equipped with Avid, Pro Tools and Premiere software, with dual editing monitors and sound insulation.

These and other spaces are designed for flexible uses, allowing students and faculty to accommodate unanticipated student needs and adapt to emerging technologies.

“It’s an artful mashup of a high-end post-production facility, tech firm and educational institution,” says Ruzzin. “And that’s exciting.”