The Theatre School’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in projection design provides training to create, manipulate, and display digital and moving images for live performances and events. Projection designers learn to visualize, create, and implement their designs by collaborating with directors, dramaturgs, technicians, other designers, and our professional production staff.
Students learn from a distinguished and award-winning faculty of professional designers and artists both in the classroom and through individual guidance and advising during production work. Students receive formal and informal feedback from faculty through portfolio presentations and exhibits of their work each year.
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The first-year curriculum is taken in collaboration with costume design, scene design, and lighting design students and is an immersion into the culture of production and design. Students explore common themes and approaches to thinking metaphorically and abstractly with an appreciation of design as an aesthetic distinct from the other arts, and awareness of design considerations as manifested in theatrical productions. Students also begin a drawing and drafting progression. Students complete three production crew assignments which will usually include one or two assignments in their area of study and one or two in another area of production.
In the second year, students move into the specific projection design curriculum and focus on the vocabulary and historical precedent of projection design and begin developing creative responses to plays. Students take year-long courses in projection design and projection technology as well as courses in tools for creating media such as Photoshop, After Effects and animation. Projection design students in their second year will begin their production practice sequence where they will work on shows for credit in production roles of projection technician, assistant projection designer, and projection designer.
In the third year, students hone their ability to analyze text and express themselves artistically while concentrating on implementation of their design ideas. Students work collaboratively with their peers in other design areas to propose and justify design concepts, and further develop their content creation abilities. Students also explore period style elements through a survey of art, architecture, fashion, and furniture. Projection design students are required to take at least two additional electives that explore topics in either digital or physical media. Students work closely with the entire production team and staff to design two shows in our season.
The fourth year is a transition year, further developing students’ abilities and preparing students to enter the profession. Coursework will focus on larger pieces and plays with complex situations and prepare their professional portfolio for graduation. Students will also explore other areas of design and technology through additional electives. Production work continues as students design one more production in our season and are placed in a professional internship of their choosing.
At the end of each year, The Theatre School hosts a Graduate Showcase event to showcase the work of our graduating design students. Under the guidance of the faculty, graduating designers prepare a showcase exhibit of their portfolio – which is presented in Chicago for artistic directors, alumni, and other members of the theatre, film, and television industries.
In addition to the theatre training curriculum, students complete 52 quarterly credit hours (13 courses) in the university's Liberal Studies Program. Courses are taken in theatre history, writing, quantitative reasoning and technological literacy, philosophical inquiry, religious dimensions, scientific inquiry, understanding the past, multiculturalism in the United States, and electives. These liberal studies courses are scheduled during the first three years of the program.
Every student receives quarterly evaluation and feedback from the faculty. Evaluations are based on discipline, collaboration, professional potential, and progress in the program.