Creative technologies in the arts

Virginia Tech boldly explores exciting areas of animation and modeling, digital audio and cinema, interactive design, new media, and gaming. Students and faculty in the School of Visual Arts in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the School of Performing Arts and Cinema in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences are showcasing these innovative technologies in live performance, festivals, and competitions.

Animation and Modeling

Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions to create an illusion of movement. Many 3-D animations look realistic and are used in the film industry for special effects.


Hands waving "With Delicate Risk"

Dane Webster, assistant professor of animation and 3-D modeling in the School of Visual Arts, created the animation, With Delicate Risk, and Ivica Ico Bukvic, assistant professor of music in the School of Performing Arts and Cinema, created an original score for the animation. With Delicate Risk has been exhibited at the 11th Brooklyn International Film Festival, the Athens (Ohio) International Film Festival, and the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States Conference. Webster and Bukvic are members of the Collaborative for Creative Technologies in the Arts and Design at Virginia Tech.

Digital Audio

Audio stored in digital format can be integrated with other media to create an entirely new interactive multimedia art genre. The Digital Interactive Sound and Intermedia Studio is the Department of Music’s response to the university-wide Collaborative for Creative Technologies in the Arts and Design initiative.

    This is the Pandora illustration.

Bukvic, who founded the studio in 2007, created Pandora to couple contemporary technology with traditional performance idioms. 

Digital Film

Digital technologies have unleashed visual effect possibilities in Hollywood studios and have made film production more practical, portable, and affordable for cutting-edge, independent writer-directors. In cinema at Virginia Tech, student filmmakers shoot and edit their films digitally--never forgetting the importance of a well-told story.

Interactive Design

Websites, kiosks, and wireless e-mail devices such as the Blackberry are examples of interactive design, which is also used in creating hands-on art exhibits. 

    Radical Sleeper website index page.

A website created by Hanna Pak, who received her bachelor of fine arts in visual communication design, won an ADDY, among advertising's most prestigious awards.

New Media

New media rely on digital technologies and allow for previously separate media to converge. A team of faculty members is currently creating the opening new-media exhibit for the Taubman Museum of Art of Roanoke, Va. Along with art in the classic sense, the museum will display art with video and interactive areas.


Flocking spherical "bots" This image simulating a flocking of "bots," by Simone Paterson, assistant professor, is part of an exhibit being created by faculty for the dome of the Taubman Museum of Art.

    A scene from Lightning at our feet

The Department of Theatre Arts’ recent production of Lightning at Our Feet blended the writings of Emily Dickinson, musical and acting performance, and digital projections of art, photography, film, and theatrical staging to create an original new-media experience directed by Obie-winning Bob McGrath. This original multimedia production served as a workshop leading to its New York City premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December 2008.


Gaming is all about video games, and faculty and students are rapidly providing fuel for this new discipline. Students who study gaming learn about coding languages, artificial intelligence, and game- engine development. With this knowledge, Virginia Tech graduates have the skills to develop and design video games and create software for law enforcement to re-create crime scenes.

    A computer simulation of the Native American village.

Virtual Jamestown, created by history professor Crandall Shifflett, is a collaborative teaching-learning-research project rich with digital archives of texts, images, and sounds of the Jamestown experience. 

The most recent addition features Paspahegh. Created in collaboration with the School of Visual Arts' Dane Webster and the Department of Computer Science’s Yong Cao, this interactive computer simulation uses 3-D modeling and gaming software that allows students to explore an accurate re-creation of the Native American village.

Traditional arts in the Techno-Age

Studio arts in the areas of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and arts foundations have made technological transformations, too. Traditional studio arts, art history, and graphic design all act as a solid foundation to build creative technologies in art and design, which in turn are embraced by the traditional performing arts. The university's musicians, actors, playwrights, composers, and artistic and technical directors use digital media to enhance the performing arts and to invent the future of the shared creative experience.

Award-winning student work

    Falling Awake animation screen shot
  • In spring 2008, a gaming festival held by the School of Visual Arts attracted students from across the university to try their hand at games such as Elemental Alliance and Armored Egg, all created by students.

Faculty work

    Idea Development animation scene
  • Webster's animation, idea development, has been featured at 13 film festivals and was awarded Best Animation at both the Beaufort Film Festival and the Boulder Adventure Film Festival.
    A mam in a batting cage gets ready to swing a bat.
  • Paul Harrill, assistant professor of digital cinema production in the Department of Communication, has had his films screened on five continents and maintains a blog relevant to aspiring filmmakers. 

    Harrill's latest work, Quick Feet, Soft Hands, follows a young couple in their pursuit of the American dream. The film, a co-production with the Independent Television Service, premiered at the Nashville Film Festival competition in April 2008 and will be screened locally as part of the Roanoke Arts Festival to be held at the Grandin Theatre on Nov. 9, 2008, at 5:30 p.m.

    The production received the Jury Prize at the University Film and Video Association conference -- the primary conference of United States filmmaking professors in August 2008.

Digital slide collection

Art History has recently digitized its entire slide library. Students, faculty, and staff can receive instructions on downloading the necessary software and a password from Steven Tatum, visual resources curator.

The Arts Initiative

The Arts Initiative is a comprehensive, university-wide effort to enhance the presence and practice of the arts at Virginia Tech.

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