Senior design engineering students from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering presented their project, Virtual Lens’ at the InNOLEvation® Challenge this spring and were honored for the “Most Viable” project during the event which earned them $4,000 for their effort. Other honorees from the college included AirWise, Sway Aid and JAMR Modular Music Workstation.
“Out of all the different companies presented in the Challenge, ours was selected as the most logically to succeed in the real world,” Kyle Suarez said. “We were also selected to represent FSU in the upcoming 5th annual ACC InVenture Competition.”
Kyle Suarez, Daniella Turbessi, Weston Dudley, Keishon Smith and Kayla Miller’s senior design project, Virtual Lens is a collaborative project supported by a partnership with FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. The students have developed a tactile virtual camera controller that is designed to feel intuitive for filmmaking.
“The idea is similar to a flight simulator for pilots,” Suarez said. “Our device is connected to an iPad and runs an application connected to a desktop where the computer will set up a virtual setting. The user can move around in the virtual world as the camera would if they were shooting a movie.”
The controller allows the user to simulate changing f-stops and apply different lenses. It also helps the user set up camera placement. The advantage of a device like this is the amount of time it saves in the education process. Students can learn how to frame a character much faster than if they start with a big camera and expensive set. The process can be done in six to eight days rather than six to eight months.
Tom Mikota, from the FSU Film School, approached FAMU-FSU Engineering with a vision of creating a device to help teach film to his students. Professional filmmakers have similar devices that are already on the market but they are not set up for teaching.
“What’s really unique about what is happening with this controller is that it is focused entirely on cinematography education,” Mikota said. “There’s really nothing like it out there.”
The students plan to continue developing the device over the spring and summer. They hope to develop newer models and get feedback from the FSU Film School and eventually develop a prototype that could become a product that could be put into schools. They hope to market their product to college film schools and high school art programs and estimate the device to sell for $1,500 and be in production in 2021.
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the team has had to make some adjustments in their schedule. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) InVenture competition was canceled due to the crises but the students are resilient and are making adjustments in their plans. They plan to continue work on this project well beyond graduation.
“The ACC InVenture was canceled due to COVID-19 but our team is continuing strong,” Suarez said. “Keishon and Kayla can work on circuitry integration from home and we are meeting as a team remotely. We have had to re-adjust our goals for the end of the semester but plan on having a fully functional prototype with the essential features we set out to achieve.”