Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts announces Entertainment Design and Technology minor program

Posted: April 26, 2021
Production crew monitors the stage during a performance

The quality of engineering and technology at work in the productions at Ohio State’s Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts (TFMA) always impressed Brad Steinmetz.

With the production staff for the performances being made up of skilled designers and engineers from within the TFMA department, it came as no surprise to Steinmetz when students from the College of Engineering began showing up in TFMA technology courses.

From there, it didn’t take Steinmetz and the rest of the TFMA department long to recognize the mutual interest among the students from other departments, or the clear disciplinary intersections between their fields. Many of these students already being part of the Theme Park Engineering Group, a student organization with interests in the cross section of careers in engineering and entertainment.

“These were the students that really inspired the program,” he said.

After an online conversation in October, Steinmetz was able to gather some useful feedback that was extremely valuable in learning about the courses already taught in the College of Engineering, and reaching out to the college to nominate some of their minor courses as technical electives to engineering students.

“Another key factor in getting the program off the ground has been support from professionals in the industry, some of them Ohio State alums, as well as faculty from similar programs across the country,” Steinmetz said.

The College of Engineering was on board.

Through the hard work of Steinmetz, many former and current engineering students, and his colleagues in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts, TFMA will now offer an Entertainment Design and Technology minor program to undergraduates.

“Because the field is so diverse, a wide variety of courses and experiences are available in the minor program, allowing students to shape a curriculum that matches their interests and career goals,” Steinmetz said.

Building sets for production

The courses offered will cover design and technology for lighting, scenery, costumes, audio and media and at a variety of levels. But some of the most valuable courses are their practicum courses, Steinmetz said, which will give students an opportunity to actually create and participate in the productions TFMA puts on.

Unlike the performers in the entertainment industry, skilled engineers are a hot commodity. The ever-increasing technological advancements during live events and productions alike have created multiple job opportunities for individuals with these specific set of skills.

“Performance companies with high production value like Cirque du Soleil are eager to find that rare individual with experience in theatre who also has the skills of an engineer,” Steinmetz said. “Technology companies like Cast Software are creating new tools to serve the entertainment industry and look for the same kind of paired experience. “

Performance by TFMA

TFMA has experience working with different technologies produced by Cast Software and even met with some of their engineers to help with their production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The engineers from Cast Software encouraged students to pair their technical skills with an understanding of storytelling and audience experience to help find success in the field, Steinmetz said.

MAE alumnus Tyler Mullins, now a design engineer at Skyline Attractions, LLC, was a large part of helping get this new minor off the ground. He was one of the students that Steinmetz had seen showing up in TFMA classes years ago.

“The new Entertainment Design and Technology minor will help Ohio State students stand apart from the competition,” Mullins said. “The combination of Ohio State's rigorous engineering program and the skills taught in the new minor will provide an unprecedented advantage for Buckeyes pursuing careers in the entertainment industry.”

Machine from CastSoftware

To Mullins, this new minor is something he wishes he had access to during his tenure at OSU.

“As someone with a passion for the themed entertainment industry, I would’ve taken full advantage of the Entertainment Technology minor had it been available when I was a student at Ohio State,” Mullins said. “I believe that having the knowledge and experience provided by the minor would have been a tremendous help when applying for internships and full-time opportunities, especially with companies like Disney, Universal, and others in the themed entertainment industry.”

All the courses are open to students from any department so starting classes in the minor is as easy as registering for one of the classes.

Steinmetz understands that students have such limited time in their schedules, so he encourages any students who are interested in the program to reach out to make sure the course is a good fit.

Students can officially declare the minor anytime by getting in touch with their advisors.

Steinmetz encourages any students interested to offer their feedback and get in touch to really get this program off the ground.

“New programs like this need good communication from the students involved so it can be improved as it grows,” he said.

For more information on the Entertainment Technology minor, check out their website and this sample curriculum.