Webster unveils new Sverdrup Building renovations

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Photo by Vanessa Jones. Recent alumni Vincent Italiano helps the Film and Television Production department showcase the new virtual cinema system. The system was unveiled at Sverdrup’s grand reopening on Jan.16.

State-of-the-art, purpose-built, a giant playground of audio equipment – these are just some of the words used to describe Sverdrup’s phase II of renovations. 

The night of Jan. 19 was the grand reopening of the Sverdrup School of Communications’ building. Students, faculty and the public were invited to look at the construction that took place over the last 11 months. 

“We have brought in a lot of new technology, including some very unique, very cutting-edge technology with the virtual system and the sound stage,” Dean Eric Rothenbuhler said. “Students are learning and working in a professional-grade facility, just like the facilities they will be working in after they graduate.” 

Over 10 years of preparation went into this building, and there are several new updates. 

Webster University students are also making history in this space with a virtual cinema system. Virtual cinema systems are few and far between because of how new this technology is, especially in an educational setting. 

“We had professionals in the building last night telling us that our students are the leaders in virtual cinema in St. Louis right now,” Rothenbuhler said.

The virtual cinema system is a wall that lets Webster students pick any background they want. Whether the scene takes place in outer space or just a local office building, students now have the opportunity to shoot a film that looks like they are off campus while in reality, they are shooting a film on campus. 

The second major addition to Sverdrup is the audio studios. With studios set up for everything from mixing audio recordings to a music recording studio, there are many new setups for both audio students and music students to use. 

One student who gets to work firsthand with the new audio equipment is junior sound recording and engineering major, Andrew Jolly. 

“I think being able to learn in three different studios is going to teach us a lot, since each room has a different workflow and different gear. It’s going to make us think and expand our knowledge, since before we only had one major studio,” Jolly said. 

With the audio studio comes a lot of new audio equipment. One of the new pieces of equipment is a subwoofer, which enhances the bass sound.

“Having that many tools to try out and experiment with is going to be very helpful to students to find their sound and how they want their mix,” Jolly said. 

Another aspect of the grand reopening was the Kooyumjian Gallery. The unique exhibit titled “The 2023 Bill Barrett Faculty and the 36th Annual Undergraduate Exhibit” was on display during the reopening. 

“I love the mix of faculty and student work,” said Patty Wente, CEO and president of the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum here in St. Louis. 

With the new additions of audio, video, game design and much more, Dean Rothenbuhler summed it up best.

“I am most excited about the way that everything works together . . . It is an integrated plan, and it is an integrated facility, and to me, that is the most important thing. That is the biggest achievement.”

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Brian Rubin
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