Saturday, April 20, 2024

AIE Wins $750,000 Entertainment Development Fund Award for virtual production filmmaking in Lafayette

by BIZ Magazine

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Academy of Interactive Entertainment, which specializes in educating students in the development of visual effects, games and film, is the latest recipient of an award from the state’s Entertainment Development Fund. Based at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, AIE will receive $750,000 to develop a virtual production studio, setting the stage for the development of accredited programs in filmmaking and virtual production.

Virtual production employs large LED screen walls to display virtual sets in the background of film sets using game engine technology. This technology, which allows filmmakers to combine live action with computer graphics in real time, has been rapidly adopted by major film and television productions. AIE plans to develop its virtual production studio at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) Center in Lafayette.

“We created the Entertainment Development Fund to educate and train Louisiana residents for the array of good jobs we see the entertainment industry bringing to our state,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “Virtual production is an exciting new realm in the filmmaking world, so building workforce capacity through these funded initiatives is vital to take advantage of this growing industry area. AIE’s plans for its production studio and programs of study show great promise for this in-demand field.”

The Entertainment Development Fund supports the state’s entertainment workforce through customized education and training opportunities. AIE will receive $250,000 a year from the fund for three years, for a total of $750,000.

“These programs focus on applied skills so that graduates will attain the skills to be immediately employable in the many film and television productions that are rapidly adopting virtual production technology,” AIE CEO John De Margheriti said. “EDF’s award brings to life a filmmaking program that incorporates virtual production, which is an exciting initiative, and one that will strengthen Louisiana as a world-class destination for filmmaking talent and filmmaking production.”

“Partnering with Louisiana Economic Development to bring such a state-of-the-art facility and accredited training in filmmaking and virtual production to Louisiana is a fantastic outcome,” said Robin Couvillon, AIE’s head of school. “This initiative will upskill and prepare the next generation of talent within Louisiana’s film industry.”

Previous Entertainment Development Fund awards were made to higher education institutions and nonprofit community programs in Shreveport, Natchitoches, Lafayette, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The fund initiative earned top honors at the 2023 International Economic Development Council Awards ceremony in September, receiving a Gold Award for Innovative Programs and Initiatives as well as a nomination for Best in Show, recognizing the best economic development program in all categories.

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