IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA is a top-ranked university in the U.S. and one of the largest Roman Catholic universities on the west coast. It has roots dating back to 1865 and sits atop the bluffs overlooking Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. LMU’s School of Film and Television (SFTV) is ranked 6th in the nation by USA Today and currently has 736 students enrolled1.
In 2017, LMU’s School of Film and Television started its expansion to a second campus location in Playa Vista. The SFTV would be the pride and anchor of the new campus, serving as the creative center for graduate and professional education in Silicon Beach. The new campus is a 50,000 square foot space, 35,000 of which is dedicated to the SFTV. From animators and audio engineers, to showrunners and studio executives, LMU’s Playa Vista campus is home to the future masterminds of the film and television industry.
LMU needed to create unique and innovative spaces that would produce a premium experience for their film and television students. In looking to achieve their vision, LMU sought out experienced partners who could interpret and actualize their needs and goals. From an audiovisual perspective, the right partner was Spinitar. Over the past two years, Spinitar has successfully completed over 50 AV classroom projects for LMU. For this project, Spinitar would offer a level of knowledge and experience that would help LMU develop their budget, timeline, project scope, and AV systems design.
Armed with a trusted audiovisual design partner for their new Playa Vista campus, LMU was ready to get started. This project would require AV design and integration for 33 rooms. Many of the rooms were very specialized spaces that would require both a high level of design and functionality. Faculty and students would be using these classrooms for everything from editing and effects to screening and sound mixing. Being the 6th highest rated film school in the country, LMU was building an environment on par with the quality of its students and personnel.
One of the initial key steps in the process was meeting with the SFTV’s teachers and students to better understand how they teach and operate in these specialized spaces. During the process, Spinitar encountered needs that had to be met from LMU’s architects and administrators. All technologies had to be of the highest quality while still on-budget, be easy to use, and require little to no maintenance. A series of meetings were held between the designated Spinitar team and LMU staff where project items were addressed, and Spinitar strategically identified needs from wants without sacrificing positive outcomes. A final budget and timeline was developed and it was time to begin the design process.
LMU brought Spinitar into this project at its earliest stages to be a design-build partner. At the outset of the project, LMU’s architects engineered a program design for the SFTV with Spinitar in order to summarize how the new spaces would be used. Now, Spinitar would have to approach turning the program design into an actionable AV design while keeping budget in mind and working to meet a 1-year timeline.
The following types of spaces had to be planned:
Spinitar’s design approach was two-pronged: 1. Incorporate aesthetics according to LMU and their architects’ plan, and 2. Establish the highest quality of function. In the case of SFTV’s architectural design plan, form truly met function on this project where most rooms had to be designed around premium, specialized technology (Epson laser projectors, Epson lamp projectors, and additional audiovisual equipment). While accounting for that technology, Spinitar also worked to ensure that non-technology design requests were met. For example, LMU’s vision required that some of the AV equipment be white, like the classroom lecterns for presenting. While some manufacturers’ products are not offered in white, Spinitar coordinated custom painting at the manufacturer level to meet that need. For more custom modifications like that one, Spinitar continued to take design requests, provide samples to LMU and then execute on those requests. As a result of applying such a customized AV design into these 33 rooms, the technology that LMU/Spinitar chose was essential.
From previous meetings with LMU administrators, faculty, and students, Spinitar knew exactly how each room needed to be used and what technology would be required to accomplish all of the necessary functionality. Choosing which manufacturers to utilize came down to quality, reliability, ease of use, specialization for higher education, and technical maintenance factors. One of the most impactful decisions was to choose Epson projectors for 11 of the 33 spaces.
For the SFTV campus at LMU, Epson is the standard for projector technology because of its superior brightness, vibrant colors, low maintenance needs, quietness, and value. For the new Playa Vista campus, Epson projectors would be used to present impeccable image quality that keeps students engaged, and provides ease of use and longevity for faculty. To be proactive in supporting LMU’s ongoing maintenance needs, Spinitar also decided on Epson because of the straightforward access they provide to control codes.
One of Epson’s most popular lamp projectors, PL-2255U, was installed in all of the 8 standard classrooms. These projectors are portable powerhouses which produce 5000 lumens, with enterprise level wifi encryption and miracast capabilities. They are quiet and ideal for a classroom size. Some of the larger and more specialized spaces created a need for even more powerful projection technology, so Spinitar installed Epson’s premium line of laser-phosphor projectors. The screening and mixing rooms received Epson Pro L1200U projectors and the larger event space obtained the Epson Pro L1500U. Epson’s large venue laser projectors at 12,000 lumens have a relatively small footprint and long lifespan, thanks to laser technology. They are also highly efficient, relatively quiet and come with optional lenses, so they are flexible. All of the mentioned features make laser projectors ideal for higher education, specifically LMU’s SFTV, where they will constantly be in use.
In addition to using Epson, Spinitar also took advantage of the opportunity to work with other local manufacturers that would make testing, installation, and support more efficient. Spinitar worked with Draper and Stewart Filmscreen to provide projection screens. The Stewart Filmscreen team was able to coordinate with Spinitar to ensure the motorized masking screen in the theater would be installed and operate properly. QSC, who manufactures audio products like speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers, joined the Spinitar team on site to assist with testing and installation of their products, most notably in the spaces that required surround sound. Avid, who specializes in audio mixing boards/consoles that control sound from a room that looks out onto a classroom or mixing stage, collaborated with Spinitar to ensure that their boards would work properly with all of the other AV. Lastly, for the color grading room and the theater room, two Christie Digital cinema projectors were selected and installed.
With this technology in place, LMU administrators and teachers could now supply LMU’s SFTV students with the highest quality learning experience and everything they need to succeed. For instance, teachers and students can now control theaters at the lectern, giving dynamic presentations and even having Skype conferences with other classrooms.
The following systems/features are installed:
As a result, LMU’s SFTV admin, faculty, and students are blown away by the new spaces for their program. Spinitar was able to come in under the 1-year timeline, finishing the project in just under 8 months. LMU has high-quality technologies that require minimal maintenance. For the normal maintenance suggested for such premiere technology, LMU is armed with Spinitar’s parts and labor support agreement, along with a preventative maintenance agreement. Those type of agreements make sure a service technician is on-site within 24 hours of any issue, while providing system health checks with reporting documentation twice per year.
All of the team’s dedication and time spent in meetings at the early phases of the project, paid off and led to the project’s overall success. LMU celebrated the grand opening of its Playa Vista campus on October 1, 2018, and is now home to many graduate screenwriting and film production courses. The space has been successfully designed to support a wide range of creative endeavors, including screenwriting, film directing, film production and editing, film and television studies, sound recording and mixing, web design and VR/AR production3.