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ASU students design spectacular drone halftime show

ASU team collaborated with Nova Sky Stories for drone show.
September 25, 2023

Team combines technology, artistic style with 600 dancing points of light

A team from Arizona State University animated the sky with 600 lighted drones in a spectacular show before more than 53,000 people at Mountain America Stadium on Saturday night.

The four- to five-minute drone show during halftime of the ASU football game was designed by three students and a professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

The drones danced in a space above the scoreboard that was as big as a 30-story building, swirling and zipping around to create a series of three-dimensional animations, including a drum, the ASU logo, a spinning pitchfork, Sparky and a gigantic football helmet. The drone colors were synched to the Sun Devil Marching Band, whose members wore glowing LED bracelets that emitted radio signals.

The show was the culmination of nearly three months of work by Ana Herruzo, an associate professor in The Design School and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, who recruited Henry Beach, in his third year of a Master of Fine Arts program in theatre (interdisciplinary digital media), and Alba Olivé Martí and Derrek Sekito, both fourth-year animation majors in the School of Art.

Beach, who was the project manager and production director, said he was thrilled with how the show turned out after endless hours spent in front of a computer screen in the design phase.

“The crowd's reaction was amazing — to hear them cheer when the drones would transition to a new scene,” he said.

“But mostly the scale of the drone show was just so beyond anything we expected. We spent weeks building out our show in pre-visualization so that we could wrap our heads around what the design of the show would look like in reality, but it's just so hard to depict the volume it actually takes up in air space over the stadium.”

The show was set to the marching band's performance of the music of Elton John, marking the 50th anniversary of the release of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

The project was done in partnership with Nova Sky Stories, a drone company founded by Kimbal Musk, brother of Elon Musk, and was funded by a donation from the Swette family, longtime donors to ASU.

Tricky technical details

Herruzo’s background is in large-scale, interactive audiovisual shows — “anything that interacts with people at a large scale,” she said.

She teaches immersive experience design and leads the MEDIAted eXperiences Lab in the Media and Immersive eXperience Center in Mesa.

She was first approached about the project in June, ensuring a short timeline for such a big project. Herruzo said the goal was to follow the donor’s wishes to “electrify the marching band.”

Then she began collaborating with Nova Sky Stories, which was founded by Kimbal Musk in June 2022. He was inspired to found the company in 2021, during the pandemic-impacted Burning Man gathering in the Nevada desert, when the iconic burning of the large wooden man figure was instead a drone show.

Musk said that a friend suggested collaborating with ASU because of the high quality and cutting-edge educational practices of The Design School.

"I have always been interested in supporting and exploring the intersection of art, technology and education, and this idea quickly appeared to be a fantastic fit,” he said.

Herruzo hired her student workers in August, and they began working on the design, which had several constraints. Because the drones are not allowed to fly above people, there was a strict “bounding box” space above the scoreboard. The drones took off from the practice field next to the stadium.

“This design is specific to these 600 (drone) points, and there are very tricky technical details they had to learn and they did such a good job,” she said.

As the project and production manager, Beach juggled many responsibilities — everything from dealing with the company that provided the LED wristbands to making sure there was a tent with food for the drone pilots the day of the show. He coordinated with the stadium facilities team, the marching band and Nova Sky Stories. And he worked with Olivé Martí and Sekito to create a software tool to visualize the animated show.

“There are a lot of design constraints when working on a drone show in terms of how they have to model the animation and account for things like making sure the drones don’t collide with each other in the air,” said Beach, who is a research assistant in the MEDIAted eXperiences Lab.

“So when modeling and working on these designs, they did a great job of adapting their own style to the limitations of the medium.”

After designing the show, the team’s models were uploaded to Nova Sky Stories, which programmed its small, lightweight drones.

Olivé Martí is on the Sun Devil water polo team.

“It was very interesting to me to bring art and sports together, so that was really exciting,” she said.

“At the beginning, me and Derrek were doing storyboards when we realized the limits. At one of the meetings, I was really happy with one of my models, and everyone said, ‘That’s not going to work.’ So OK, I had to completely change it.

“When you’re working on it, you feel like 600 points will not be enough.”

Sekito said he had never done anything like this but was excited to learn the process and the tools.

“We had a specific bounding box we had to animate in because the drones are not allowed to fly over people, and we had to keep the power lines in mind,” he said.

“It was a challenge at first. There were a lot of different parts and everything was always changing, so we had to stay flexible in our design.”

Herruzo said that the faculty in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering are hybrids of technology and design.

“And the students who graduate from here have those skills,” she said.

Video by ASU Media Relations

A new medium

Saturday’s event was the first drone show ever held at ASU, but Herruzo is working with Nova Sky Stories to continue the collaboration in a class that would teach drone design.

Jeremy Stein, chief operating officer of Nova Sky Stories, sees drone shows as a new way of telling stories.

"Drone light shows, and the version of art we call ‘sky stories,’ are a mega powerful new medium that combines amazing art, technology and enormous scale," he said.

"Our images in the sky can be the size of the tallest buildings while touching the hearts of global audiences.”

Stein said that Sky Stories is just scratching the surface of artistic expression.

“We are now embarking on a new generation of ideas to create with this medium, educate across many disciplines and discover technological advances,” he said.

“Similar to when the camera was invented, new forms of art and expression will now surface. It’s incredibly exciting.”

Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute, said that the partnership will benefit students.

“Thanks to outstanding faculty like Ana Herruzo and our leadership at the intersection of art, design and technology, ASU students are able to learn from partners like Nova Sky Stories, who are at the forefront of this new medium,” he said.

“Not only do the students get high-level professional experience — in this case, they also have the extraordinary opportunity to see their own designs come to life in the sky above the stadium.”

Stein said that educating students on this new medium is important.

"As humans, we can only realize the potential of this new medium by inviting all generations to take part," he said.

“Ensuring that our efforts are open-sourced will allow for many ideas to rise. Thus, it is critical to create bridges with education leaders such as ASU’s Design School. Nova Sky Stories is thrilled to explore opportunities to support a new generation of designers to test the boundaries of what is possible.”

Top photo: Some 600 dancing drones fill the sky above Mountain America Stadium during halftime on Saturday, Sept. 23. The show was the result of a collaboration between Nova Sky Solutions drone entertainment company and ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts’ choreography, and thanks to a donation by the Swette family. The four- to five-minute show featured designs including Sparky, Forks Up and the Sun Devil pitchfork, a highlight of the Sun Devils’ final PAC-12 football game against USC. Photo by Nova Sky Stories

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Students in ASU’s extended-reality degree programs use world building for social good

Worlds for Change Challenge welcomes undergrads, recent grads from any college.
September 19, 2023

Worlds for Change Challenge, which kicks off this Saturday, offers 2 financial aid packages as prizes

Students in Arizona State University’s extended-reality degree programs are learning how to build worlds in order to solve problems using the latest technology — and they're already earning accolades.

Extended reality, called XR, creates immersive, interconnected three-dimensional worlds using technologies that include virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

The four transdisciplinary master’s programs in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the College of Global Futures teach learners how to tell stories and create experiences to solve problems, widen access to more people and seek justice – all by employing visions of futures and alternative worlds that they create.

The degrees are:

Nearly 40 students are enrolled across the four programs, and the goal is to increase that to 150–250, according to Jake Pinholster, founding director of the MIX Center and executive dean for enterprise design in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Programming experience not needed

Students come from a wide variety of undergraduate degree backgrounds, he said, including media arts and science, graphic or industrial design, user experience and even film, theater and sculpture.

The master’s degrees, called XRts, for “extended-reality technologies,” do not require proficiency in coding, except for the media arts and sciences degree, which focuses on software development, he said.

“A lot of students feel hesitant about technology so we try to make sure they know you don’t need to come in with programming experience and you don’t need to be a Python wizard,” he said.

At the ASU California Center Broadway, students in the Narrative and Emerging Media program are getting help with the technology side with modules on coding, according to Nonny de la Peña, founding director of the program and a professor of practice.

“I’m training students to become producers and directors, not engineers. But they need to know how the sausage is made, and I do everything to support that,” she said.

And students are embracing it, Pinholster said.

“You just can’t be scared,” he said. “If you’re courageous with technology, even if you don’t know it now, you’ll be fine.”

Students in Los Angeles and Mesa can work together.

“Jake and I work hard to collaborate across campuses,” de la Peña said. “With the haptics lab, the gear we bought is also at the MIX, so there are ways for people (to work) together. We have a wonderful and fluid connection across the programs.”

The XR degrees prepare students for a variety of careers, not only in entertainment and journalism, but also in urban planning, health care and education.

“A minority of the work our students are doing has an entertainment focus,” Pinholster said. “It’s not the next round of Beat Saber or augmented-reality bonus content for a Marvel movie. Most of the worlds our students are creating using these technologies are for workforce development, health care, safety training, conservation,” he said.

Students already putting their degrees to work 

Much of the work is to benefit society. Students are now working on an AI project to help people who are vision-impaired, and students in California learned about how to use blockchain technology for social good.

Other students are building worlds to create empathy.

One of de la Peña’s students, Cameron Kostopoulos, debuted his project, “Body of Mine VR,” an immersive virtual-reality experience, at the SXSW 2023 festival in March. It also was screened at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month. The experience places the viewer into another body for an exploration of gender dysphoria and trans identity. He used a combination of several technologies, including Planar virtual-production technology, to create “Body of Mine VR,” which combines full-body, face and eye tracking with audio interviews. At one point, the viewer looks into a mirror and sees themselves blink.

Kostopoulos’ project won “Best XR for Change” award from the Games for Change Festival event in June, as well as the Special Jury Award at SXSW and a student BAFTA Award.

Calvin Stanley is a second-year student in the Experience Design degree program, having earned his undergraduate degree in human-centered design at a university in India.

“After my undergrad I worked a little bit in UX design, and being in the field of technology and seeing how the trends were going, I felt like I was working on something very screen-oriented and 2D,” he said.

“I saw that the field was going to 3D and XR, so I wanted to get into what was next, and this was the best university I found that offered that skill set.”

He has been learning to use the Unreal world-building engine, motion-capture technology, immersive digital platform Spatial as well as 3D printing and laser cutting.

The technology is constantly being updated.

“Once I feel like I’ve learned something and have a grasp of how it can be used, the next update rolls in or the next resolution comes in and we have to think about how it will be in the future, because this is future-based,” Stanley said.

“I’m now working on a project in 8K, but maybe in two years it will be in 16K.”

Stanley, who expects to graduate in the spring, already has his projects out in the public. As a student worker in ASU's Resilient Visions CoLab, he helped to create “Mission to the Future: Arizona in 2045,” an interactive exhibit at the Arizona Science Center. The lab used motion capture to create an animated AI character that talks to kids.

Now, Stanley and the lab are working on a project with the City of Hope Cancer Center.

“We’re working with women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment, and our research is along the lines of how a natural environment and breathing techniques can reduce stress,” he said.

“People in chemotherapy can’t always have access to those environments, so we’re trying to see if the same drop in stress levels happens in a VR environment. I’m in charge of creating the photorealistic environments of five national parks across the U.S.”

Stanley also is in discussions with the city of Mesa on an urban-planning project that would create an immersive visualization of different architectural approaches.

“With these projects, the narrative drives the technology and vice versa,” he said. “Some things are tough to explain without actually experiencing them inside of a space.”

Undergrads from any university invited to Worlds for Change Challenge

Undergraduates who are interested in learning more about world building and ASU’s extended-reality degrees are invited to participate in the Worlds for Change Challenge Kickoff this Saturday, Sept. 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event, open to any undergraduates or recent graduates, not just those from ASU, will be held in person at the MIX Center in Mesa or virtually on the Spatial platform.

No experience is required, and MIX Center artists and engineers will facilitate workshops throughout the day.

“The event is partially intended to drive applicants into the grad programs but also to diversify and make more accessible and inclusive the population that has access to authorship of these worlds and the ability to use these tools,” Pinholster said.

“We’re asking youth from around the nation and world to submit their vision of a positive future they want to see, and once submitted and signed up, they’ll get access to workshops and faculty to walk them through the process of translating their vision into a virtual world, whether that’s a video game, VR experience or augmented-reality app.”

The challenge will continue throughout the academic year, and the grand prize will be two financial aid packages worth $60,000 each that will fully cover tuition to one of the grad programs. Those who aren't eligible for the graduate school prizes can win $10,000 in cash prizes and XR technology.

The winners will be announced at the SXSW 24 festival next March in Austin, where ASU will be a presenting sponsor.

Top image of the ASU Media and Immersive eXperience Center in Mesa by Matter Films

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Record number of ASU students take summer classes this year

July 20, 2023

Students say they can focus on fewer classes, earn degrees faster

More Arizona State University students than ever are adding classwork to their summer days this year.

Enrollment in summer term classes is way up for 2023 — more than 67,000 students, an increase of 5.6% from last year and 13% from three years ago.

Among campus-immersion students, the largest summertime increases are at the Polytechnic and Tempe campuses, up 8.8% and 8.3% respectively.

For ASU Online, there are 7.6% more summer students this year compared with last year.

Students say that it’s important to get to their degree finish line faster.

Bethany Swalberg is taking two classes this summer at the Tempe campus: a music psychology course and a music history and literature class.

“I am double majoring in music learning and teaching, and vocal performance and pedagogy as a graduate student,” she said.

“Because I am doing a double major and there are a lot of classes to take, I wanted to get it done quicker.”

Swalberg said she’s found that summer classes are less stressful.

“Music classes are usually one or two credits, so you’re taking a whole bunch of classes. So in the summer, it’s nice to just focus on one or two classes and not eight other things you have to juggle,” she said.

Kirin Oblena-Garcia, who is going into his final year as a film and media production major, took a film class at the Media and Immersive eXperience Center in Mesa this summer so he could get ahead in his classes.

“It’s good because there’s not too much pressure when you only take one class in the summer,” he said.

The increase in student enrollment in summer sessions highlights the dedication that ASU students have in pursuing their goals, according to Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost.

"The rise in summer session enrollment serves as evidence that providing a year-round academic experience makes ASU accessible to students who balance their academic pursuits with other life commitments, as well as those looking to accelerate their academic journey," she said.

"It is inspiring to see their dedication. I am grateful to the faculty members whose summer teaching ensures that ASU remains a thriving academic community throughout the year."

The increase in summer classes for ASU Online students is intentional, according to Nancy Cervasio, deputy chief operating officer for Student Coaching Services at EdPlus, the unit that houses ASU Online.

“When we first started success coaching, one of the things we wanted to do is reinforce continuous enrollment with students, using their graduation date to keep them focused and motivated,” she said.

In the early years of online degree programs at ASU, most students took summers off, like on-campus students did.

“A lot of students didn’t know it was an option to continue through the summer six or seven years ago,” she said.

“But after many years of talking to students about graduation goals, we’ve been able to change a lot of behaviors so students don’t take summers off like they used to.”

Success coaches pitch summer as a time for students to take a difficult class, so they can focus just on that class, Cervasio said. And online students can continue their coursework if they travel.

“The most important thing to online students is their time. They want to complete their degree as quickly as possible,” she said.

Audrey Reed of Raleigh, North Carolina, is taking two online classes this summer because she is in an accelerated master’s degree program.

“In this program, there is no choice on classes — it’s ‘here’s your schedule' — and I chose the accelerated,” said Reed, who is studying sociology.

Reed said that taking two six-week classes — her capstone and a class in social change — while working full time at at a nonprofit is demanding.

“But I’m loving the courses,” she said.

Bobbi Lynn Frederick decided to take last summer off from her doctoral program, so she’s making it up by taking two classes this summer. 

Frederick, who is in the educational leadership and innovation program at ASU, is from the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and works as an adjunct art instructor at Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, North Dakota.

“I knew I had two summer courses coming up, so I chose not to teach this summer,” said Frederick, who wants to work with Indigenous students in higher education.

“I wanted to accomplish this goal I chose.”

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Murals unveiled at MIX Center project an important message

May 4, 2023

Display part of McCain Institute campaign to raise awareness of child trafficking

Two artworks with a message of support and safety for young people were unveiled on Wednesday at the Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center in downtown Mesa.

The pieces, a mixed-media collage and a digital mural in the MIX Center’s lobby, were part of a campaign by the McCain Institute at Arizona State University to prevent online exploitation of children and teens.

Both works were created through a collaboration of local artists and youth organizations in Mesa to incorporate the messaging of the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign by the Combatting Human Trafficking program in the McCain Institute.

The digital mural, titled “Restoring Our Energy,” (seen above) was created by two artists from the Xico Inc. art collective, Diana Calderon and Martin Moreno, working with young people from the one•n•ten center for LGBTQ youth.

The mixed-media canvas, called “I AM Online Safety Awesome,” was done by artist Tiesha Harrison in collaboration with young people from the Boys & Girls Club in Mesa.

Woman speaking behind lectern in front of mural she worked on

Artist Tiesha Harrison stands in front of the mixed-media piece she worked on titled "I AM Online Safety Awesome" during an unveiling at the MIX Center in downtown Mesa on May 3. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

The Combatting Human Trafficking program started the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t campaign in 2020 to give parents and young people information to deal with online exploitation, which increased during the pandemic due to kids’ increased time online. It stands for:

• Raise the topic of online safety with your kids.

• Educate yourself on the technology they’re using.

• Act if something makes you or your child uncomfortable.

• Learn all you can. Stay involved and stay alert.

The artworks were designed to not only appeal to the eye, but also to start a conversation about a topic that is often avoided, according to Kelsey Syms, program manager for Combatting Human Trafficking. She said the campaign goal is to provide action-oriented solutions to online child exploitation.

“As COVID was taking over, parents and caregivers were overwhelmed with not only how to adapt to the pandemic but also to have kids at home with virtual learning,” she said.

“We wanted to put out an awareness campaign to educate parents about four actionable steps they can take tonight at the dinner table.”

At the unveiling event on Wednesday, Syms said that online exploitation is the fastest growing form of violence against children. Yet a recent McCain Institute study found that less than half of caregivers had talked to their children about the risks.

The R.E.A.L. acronym emphasizes the point that discussing online safety is not a one-time conversation, Syms said.

“The second piece of the title is for parents to begin the conversation that, ‘Real friends don’t pretend to be someone they’re not,’ or ‘Real friends don’t ask for sexually explicit images.’'”

The campaign was promoted on digital platforms and social media in English and Spanish, and was also featured on billboards in several cities in Texas during the summer of 2021.

“We were trying to reach caregivers as they were driving to work or school to facilitate that conversation,” Syms said.

The Combatting Human Trafficking program worked with several partners to develop the messaging, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Polaris Project.

Feedback from parents and caregivers was good, and in summer 2021, the campaign was expanded to reach young people directly.

“Teens are resilient and informed and need to keep themselves and their peers safe,” she said, noting that Black, Latino and LGBTQ youth are more likely to be targeted.

The messaging for young people includes information such as “Realize that predators pretend to be your friend” or “By the time they ask you for something personal, it might not seem creepy. This is part of their trick called grooming.” The web page also includes a step-by-step guide of what to do if explicit photos have already been shared or leaked.

But the institute wanted to go beyond digital messaging.

“We’ve seen the power that art can have in sparking conversations, and it’s a compelling way to share information,” Syms said.

So the program did a pilot in Chicago, working with mural artists to develop design workshops with young people.

“We left it to the artists and youths to design a piece of art that resonated with them and that they wanted to see in their community.”

The result was a 60-foot mural that’s still up in a Chicago neighborhood.

Because the McCain Institute is based at ASU, the program wanted to work in an Arizona community with local artists and young peoples’ organizations.

Harrison graduated from ASU with a degree in interdisciplinary studies and found her path to art when she interned for a fashion designer. She’s volunteered her skills for several causes, including Free Arts for Abused Children and the Special Olympics.

She’s now a full-time artist who creates art-immersive experiences under her business I Am Undefined Art.

When collaborating with the Boys & Girls Club youths, Harrison had them draw a storyboard incorporating some of the R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t messaging. Then she used their imagery in her mixed-media piece.

“There was a student that sat the whole time and didn’t really paint or draw and I told her, ‘Your voice is important.’

“I walked her through and made sure she drew one thing, and she waited until everyone left and came up and said, ‘I’m not sure this is good’ and I told her I would definitely include it.

“That lightened my soul,” said Harrison, whose piece was displayed at Gammage before being moved to the MIX Center.

The other artists, Calderon and Moreno of the Xico Inc. organization, had collaborated many times.

“This project seemed like a good fit. We’re both educators and like to utilize art as a healing mechanism for communities,” Moreno said.

They worked with young people from the one•n•ten center for LGBTQ youths in Mesa.

“We were there to guide them and teach them basic painting techniques. They did all the painting and we just came in and defined some areas,” he said.

“I’ve been a muralist for 45 years now, and it’s always been my philosophy that art should be available to the whole community, regardless of who you are or where you are economically or geographically,” Moreno said.

Calderon said that she and Moreno had the young people discuss what kind of symbolic imagery they wanted on the mural.

“We wrote words on a dry erase board and talked about how to put our thoughts into symbols,” she said.

“We spoke about making something positive out of negativity and being open to growing, seeking wisdom and mentoring.”

The teens talked about ways to recharge their energy — hobbies, listening to music, enjoying nature, breathing and meditation.

“There are symbols like flowers for nature and wings for freedom. There’s an aspect of stained glass for restoration — a metaphor for making something beautiful out of broken pieces,” she said.

The original mural, 16 feet long by 3 feet high in vibrant shades of blue, pink and purple, was photographed and projected digitally onto the 32-foot screen in the lobby of the MIX Center.

Panoramic view of bright, colorful mural

The mural "Restoring our Energy" is digitally displayed in the lobby of the MIX Center in downtown Mesa on May 3. Composite photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Hira Ismail, the training and digital program specialist for one•n•ten, said she loves when the young people have a chance to interact with other organizations.

“We want them to walk in the world feeling confident about themselves and I could see that happening here,” she said.

“I loved that they felt they could have those conversations and this space was still safe with the artists.”

Josh Stine, vice president of external affairs and business partnerships for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, said that his organization wants to make sure its young people are prepared.

“We see the positive and negative impact of social media and access to technology to youth and teens today and the influence it has on some of the decision-making,” he said, noting that the clubs provide programming for young people on the risks of social media and technology.

“A project like this gives them a way to be proactive and to be ambassadors for other youth and teens on how to protect themselves,” he said.

The Combatting Human Trafficking program recently received funding to evaluate the effectiveness of its campaigns on shifting behavior.

“We’re really excited about this,” Syms said. “It’s a huge opportunity to learn if these types of campaigns are effective or if we need to identify new or different approaches to reach those most vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.”

Evelyn Farkas, executive director of the McCain Institute, said, “The McCain Institute is proud to be part of the Arizona State University community and deeply values our Arizona-based partners who have worked with us on this meaningful endeavor.

“Public art serves as a critical stimulus for the challenging, but necessary, conversations we need to have about the online safety of our children.”

Top photo: Patrons socialize in front of a digitally displayed mural titled "Restoring our Energy" at the R.E.A.L Friends Don’t public art unveiling on Wednesday, May 3, at the MIX Center in downtown Mesa. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU’s film school attracts next generation of filmmakers

April 26, 2023

For Brooklyn Shumway, a junior majoring in film and media production, the 2020 launch of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at Arizona State University seemed like fate.

“I chose ASU because of the incredible opportunities that were opening up,” Shumway said. “Living in the Mesa area, it almost felt like destiny that The Sidney Poitier New American Film School opened its doors in Mesa to students just as I transferred.” Portrait of a woman with long blonde hair wearing a floral blouse. Brooklyn Shumway Download Full Image

The school operates across three cities, including ASU’s Tempe campus, the Los Angeles-based California Center and the Media and Immersive Experience (MIX) Center, a brand-new 118,000-gross-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in downtown Mesa.

Now on track to graduate this fall, Shumway credits ASU’s transfer tool, MyPath2ASU, with helping her navigate through the transfer process from Mesa Community College

“MyPath2ASU was a great guideline in helping me stay on track while earning the right credits toward my degree,” said the the aspiring writer, director and actor.

“Earning my associate (degree) before transferring led my track astray just a bit, but because of MyPath2ASU, I’m on my way to graduating with ease from the building blocks that I’d established.”

MyPath2ASU is designed to ease the transition to ASU for Maricopa Community College transfer students like Shumway, as well as any other community college student anywhere in the United States, no matter where they are in their academic journey.

A new kind of film school

The school's 750 students represent creative diversity, with more than 40% of its students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“I’ve really enjoyed the diversity and freedom of subjects in courses,” Shumway said. “I’ve found such liberation in expression — especially in my story-centered classes like Intermediate Screenwriting and Introduction to Film and Media Production this semester.”

Students also have opportunities to use Hollywood technology through partnerships, including with the John Hughes Institute and with Dreamscape Immersive, the world’s leading virtual reality company. It is also the first film school to offer students the tech used in "The Mandalorian," — that is, virtual production with extremely high-resolution LED wall and floor screens made by Planar Studios at the ASU California Center. The MIX Center will offer the technology starting in the fall semester.

Qualified transfer students from Arizona and California community colleges can can earn a bachelor's degree in film with a concentration in filmmaking practices at the California Center, located in the newly renovated Herald Examiner building.

The Los Angeles space gives film students from every background an opportunity to connect with and learn in the entertainment capital of the world. 

A passion for filmmaking

Currently, Shumway is focused on building up her resume and sharpening her screenwriting skills with ASU faculty. 

“The biggest mentor figure for me at ASU right now is Professor Chris LaMont,” Shumway said. “He helped me redefine my screenwriting capabilities and streamline them to really sell a story. Next semester, I plan to take individualized instruction from him to better understand how I can progress as a screenwriter.”

Below, Shumway shares more about her transfer experience. 

Question: Who (or what) inspired you to go to pursue higher education? 

Answer: My passion for filmmaking was my biggest drive to pursue higher education. My family was so supportive of me in that decision, so those two factors really impacted my decision.

Q: Why did you decide to attend community college?

A: Community college was more affordable than a university and offered smaller class sizes. I felt more at ease knowing that I could easily get help from an instructor when I needed it because of that.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?

A: Know the difference between quality and quantity. While it may be easier to procrastinate or submit a half-effort assignment, your quality of learning will suffer for it. It is always better to work hard for the sake of learning the most and gaining the best experience possible.

Q: Why (and when) did you choose your major?

A: First and foremost, I am a storyteller. Sharing stories is what I love, and filmmaking is a beautiful way of doing just that. In high school, I juggled between creative writing and film and media production, but I eventually chose the latter, as I found more opportunities to share stories with a larger audience.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate with your bachelor's degree?

A: I’m looking to write, direct and act in films (whether feature films or short films) to build up my resume, eventually getting to the professional level.

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ASU teaches tech used in 'The Mandalorian' to film school students

ASU is first film school to offer students the tech used in 'The Mandalorian'
March 14, 2023

Virtual production, using giant LED screens, is the future of the industry

Audiences who are streaming the current season of “The Mandalorian” have seen the main characters fly through space and probe the murky mines of Mandalore thanks to the ground-breaking virtual-production technology that was invented for the show.

Virtual production not only generates richly detailed sets that are displayed on gigantic LED screens rather than blank green screens, it also saves money by making production more efficient and accurate. Since “The Mandalorian” debuted in 2019, the technology has also been used in the movies “Dune” and “The Batman.”

Now, students at Arizona State University have access to this cutting-edge technology to tell their own stories. The Sidney Poitier New American Film School offers virtual-production technology with extremely high-resolution LED wall and floor screens made by Planar Studios at the ASU California Center in downtown Los Angeles.

The Media and Immersive eXperience Center in downtown Mesa will offer the technology starting in the fall semester, according to Jake Pinholster, founding director of the MIX Center and executive dean in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“In a few short years this has become one of the most explosive and transformative trends in the movie production industry because it has huge positive ramifications,” he said.

“It cuts on post-production time. It makes it easier to pre-visualize and know what a shot will look like before you turn on the camera,” he said.

“Actors can see the environment and respond to it. You can shoot a dawn scene all day long.”

Industrial Light and Magic, the special-effects production company founded by George Lucas, released a video explaining how it created the technology for “The Mandalorian” so that the world-building can be adjusted in real time and saved. The method streamlines the work that was previously done in the pre-production, production and post-production timelines.

The environments are created digitally and loaded onto the giant screens, where the actors can interact with what the audience will see. Previously, actors would work in front of a blank green screen and the digital effects would be added during post-production.

Because ASU is the only film school offering the technology, Pinholster and Nonny de la Peña, founding director of ASU’s Narrative and Emerging Media program, are helping to set standards for teaching the method. They are on a working group of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

“To a certain degree, there is no industry standard in how to do this because it’s still very much an experimental process,” Pinholster said.

“We are one of the first universities training people in what will become the major production technique.”

Coursework in virtual production will be included in both the Narrative and Emerging Media program in Los Angeles and the undergraduate program at the MIX Center in Mesa.

De la Peña’s grad students in Los Angeles have been working with the Planar screens to do both fiction and nonfiction storytelling.

“We’re using new technologies in all kinds of ways,” she said.

“We have students walking around carrying iPads scanning the building, and how do you tell the story with what you’ve scanned?”

The scans are run on game-engine technology and, once uploaded to the giant LED screens, the effect is immersive. Her students are working on stories involving Shakespeare, drug abuse, water issues and baseball.

De la Peña sees virtual production as the future not only for movies but for narrative journalism.

“You can have a reporter on the scene without being at the scene,” she said.

“If we want to make sure we have students prepared for the future of storytelling, we need to teach them that now.”

A crucial part of embracing new technology is determining how to use it ethically. She and Mary Matheson, director and a professor of practice in the film school, teach a class called “Diversity and Ethics in Emerging Media.”

“The students are learning now about how (artificial intelligence) is trained, which is, if nothing else, sexist and racist,” de la Peña said.

One of de la Peña’s students, Cameron Kostopoulos, debuted “Body of Mine VR,” an immersive virtual-reality experience, at the South By Southwest festival  March 12–14, which won a jury prize. The experience places the viewer into another body for an exploration of gender dysphoria and trans identity.

Kostopoulos used a combination of several technologies, including the Planar screens plus VIVE, to create “Body of Mine VR,” which combines body, face and eye tracking with audio interviews.

Kostopoulos, a cisgender gay man, grew up in Texas.

“Being in the closet for basically my entire K–12 experience, looking back, I know how having certain spaces could have helped me,” he said.

“So because of that, I’m passionate about creating those spaces and those experiences for other queer youth who could benefit from them. And for cisgender people to learn about the trans experience and gain empathy.”

“Body of Mine VR” uses full-body motion capture and eye tracking, so at one point, the viewer looks into a mirror and sees themselves blink.

“I put all that together for a more intimate VR experience than what you would normally get with controllers,” said Kostopoulos, who is a writer, director and developer based in Los Angeles.

Combining all the new technology at the ASU California Center was a challenge.

“It’s basically supergluing a lot of cutting-edge stuff into our own makeshift tracking system,” he said.

“Because all of the pieces of tech exist in isolated pockets, there aren’t many experiences that combine everything to do a fully immersive embodiment of a body in VR,” he said.

“There are not a lot of tutorials I could follow and not a lot of people who have worked with it.

“But getting it to finally work was totally worth it and it ended up super cool.”

Top image: ASU Local students Kara Smith and Bryan Daniels check out the new Planar Studio screens in the ASU California Center building in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Deanna Dent/Arizona State University

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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Visiting filmmaker brings ASU storytellers together

March 2, 2023

Independent filmmaker Milcho Manchevski visited Arizona State University this February for a weeklong residency where he shared his perspectives on storytelling with students and the greater Tempe community.

Since his debut feature “Before the Rain,” which won the 1994 Golden Lion at Venice and was nominated for an Oscar for Best International Feature Film, Manchevski has written and directed seven feature films, as well as worked in TV, photography and short film. 

During his visit, he streamed three of his movies — “Before the Rain (1994),” “Mothers” (2010) and “Bikini Moon” (2017) — where attendees had the opportunity to learn more about each story’s journey from page to screen. 

Manchevski also taught a master class in filmmaking for students in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, in collaboration with ASU faculty Jason Scott and Luiza Parvu. The class provided hands-on experience in working with actors and storyboarding, and at the end of the class, teams of students produced a short film.

“Manchevski's filmmaking workshop, and the thoughts he generously shared from his impressive career, reminded us of what is at stake in a true writer-director's work,” said Parvu, an assistant professor in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. “The possibility to find, in collaboration with the cast, creative crew members and audiences, a kind of truth about human nature that cannot be expressed or found otherwise.”

Daniel Beck, a film student who took the master class, said the experience was “eye-opening and life-changing.”

“I gained insights into the creative process and the importance of being open to new ideas and perspectives,” Beck said. “Milcho’s teaching was such a tremendous experience to have at the film school.”

Group of students sitting around in a circle with a teacher in front of them

Independent filmmaker Milcho teaches students from The Sidney Poitier New American Film School during a masterclass as part of his weeklong residency at ASU in February. Photo by Ari Gajraj

On Feb. 15, Manchevski delivered the 2023 Mary Choncoff Lecture, titled “Based on a True Story: Confessions of a Recovering Writer-Director,” on the Tempe campus.

The Choncoff Lecture, hosted by the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, was established to sustain and expand the relationship between Arizona and North Macedonia. Manchevski first visited Tempe in 1977 as a high school exchange student, through the sister-city program that has connected Tempe and Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, for more than 50 years.  

Manchevski’s residency concluded with a presentation to Professor Lance Gharavi’s popular Introduction of Storytelling class, where Manchevski screened his award-winning short film “The End of Time,” which was shot in Cuba.

“'The End of Time' sparked a fascinating discussion among the students about its vivid, formal elements,” Gharavi said. “In a subsequent class, we discussed how the film seemed to violate the three-act-structure that other guest lecturers had insisted was an imperative for filmmakers.”

Faculty and students especially appreciated Manchevski’s sense of humor, openness and his creative commitment. 

“He’s chosen a singular artistic path,” said Steven Beschloss, director of ASU’s Narrative Storytelling Initiative. “He’s remained committed to a life and career defined by his own vision, and has found a way to keep evolving as a filmmaker and storyteller.”

“Manchevski's work showed our students that being a filmmaker does not have to be about obeying rules, fitting inside a box or copying the latest box office hits,” Parvu said, “but, however, that rigor and discipline are worthy companions on an artists' journey.”

Top image: Independent filmmaker Milcho Manchevski delivers the 2023 Mary Choncoff Lecture on Feb. 15 at the Tempe campus as part of his weeklong residency at ASU. Photo by Ari Gajraj

Written by Keith Brown, director of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies.

Tony Award-nominated designer joins ASU as professor of practice

March 1, 2023

Sven Ortel, professor of practice at Arizona State University, is designing two Broadway shows while completing his first semester teaching at ASU.

Ortel, a pioneer in the field of projection design, recently joined ASU as a professor of practice in immersive/entertainment design with joint appointments in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center. Sven Ortel pictured standing on a street lined with buildings. Sven Ortel, a pioneer in the field of projection design, recently joined ASU as a professor of practice in immersive/entertainment design with joint appointments in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the new MIX Center in downtown Mesa. Photo courtesy Sven Ortel Download Full Image

"We are thrilled to have attracted Sven Ortel to the ASU Herberger Institute,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “Ortel brings a breadth of industry experience, artistry and immersive design knowledge to our school and we can’t wait to see the positive impact he will have on our media design curricula and students.”

Ortel did the projection design for “Parade” at New York City Center, and he recently finished designing the Broadway transfer of the show to Jacobs Theatre. He said he is excited about this new opportunity to teach at ASU.

“There are a lot of universities that talk about interdisciplinary work, about leadership development and about diversity, equity and inclusion, but I haven't seen a place that actually does it to the extent that ASU does,” Ortel said. “The Herberger Institute in particular has a mission to educate future thought leaders that help us as a society to be better and take better care of each other and the resources that we have. This is the only place where I want to teach.”

Ortel works internationally and nationally creating projections and imagery for theater, opera, dance, musicals and more. His work was recognized with a Tony Award nomination in 2012 for Disney’s “Newsies” and in 2014 with a Drama Desk nomination for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He's worked at the National Theatre, London's West End, Broadway, European opera houses, Las Vegas and regional theaters.

“I'm really interested in applying the skills that we learn in the performing arts, working with and working across disciplines to tell stories to live audiences,” Ortel said.

Ortel said working with the creative team of “Parade” was “humbling, exhilarating and incredible.”

Early next summer, he will be working on the Britney Spears musical “Once Upon a One More Time” opening in May in New York.

“It’s of course large scale and entertaining, but it also deals with important issues like female empowerment and toxic masculinity,” he said.

When asked how he balances teaching and designing, Ortel credited the help of his wife. 

“I don't do it all by myself,” he said. “My wife and I are a great team, so together we figure it all out.”

Ortel said his work in projection design focuses on contributing something no other discipline can to the audience's experience. 

“I come from a lighting background, and I discovered somewhat by accident how imagery can be successfully woven into a visual storytelling environment,” Ortel said. “It's an art to use technology in such a way that you don't pay attention to it and to leave out enough information so you can fill in the rest with your imagination.”

The set and performance of the play "Parade"

The acclaimed, sold-out New York City Center production of "Parade." Photo courtesy Sven Ortel

This semester, Ortel will be teaching at both the ASU Tempe campus and at the new MIX Center in downtown Mesa. His courses include Emerging Media Colloquium, Advanced Media Design and Lighting, and Sound and Media.

At the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Sven is bringing new tools and ideas around motion capture and the presence of bodies in 3D environments, teaching an undergraduate class on motion capture as well as planning to co-teach a graduate course on Movement and Computing with Tejaswi Gowda in the fall.

Ortel said teaching across the different areas allows him unique collaborative opportunities, which in turn provides better opportunities for his students.

“You have students from a wide variety of disciplines with different frames of reference, and we will all be in conversation about how to solve design challenges,” he said. “I've always been interested in using digital tools to become a better storyteller myself, and that's what I teach: How can technology that is emerging be useful to us and engage people more successfully?”

Ortel said there are many facets of design and media that are still underexplored, and he hopes students will come to his classes with an open mind and a willingness to try new things.

“I’m a curious person who is interested in helping them understand what it means to be creative and to create storytelling with intention,” he said. “I’m really interested in opening up a process where the students feel empowered to realize those experiences and tell the stories they’re interested in."

Ortel said one of the things that excites him about teaching is that theater design students develop extremely marketable skills while in college.

“Students who graduate from media design programs are incredibly successful in all types of areas that require critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and working with deadlines, and I can't think of an area where that is not required,” Ortel said. “Then you add the fact that we inherently teach people how to be empathetic human beings.”

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


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NFL marks Black History Month with events at Poitier Film School

NFL 360 team teaches master class in filmmaking to Poitier Film School students.
February 9, 2023

Documentary screening, master filmmaking class also part of Super Bowl lead-in

The NFL marked Black History Month at Arizona State University on Wednesday with a screening of a new documentary about a Black player’s journey from the segregated South to a national college championship and a career in the NFL.

“The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye,” produced by NFL 360, was shown at the Media and Immersive eXperience — or MIX — Center in downtown Mesa. The screening was preceded by a red-carpet event, a cocktail reception and a master class for students in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at ASU. After the screening, Raye joined a panel discussion about his life and career.

The events were part of the league’s Super Bowl week festivities leading up to Sunday’s game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, which will be the first Super Bowl to feature two Black starting quarterbacks — Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Raye is a prominent figure in the integration of football. He became one of the first Black quarterbacks in college football history, leading Michigan State University to the national championship in 1966. Along with several Black teammates — some of whom were at Wednesday’s ASU event — Raye proved that a Black man could excel at a team’s most important position and that a racially integrated team could work together to succeed. Shortly afterward, teams in Southern states began recruiting Black players.

The screening and Raye’s presence were appropriate at the MIX Center, said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, founding director of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, which is named for the first Black man to win a best actor Academy Award.

“There is an enduring connection between Sidney Poitier and Mr. Raye,” she told the crowd before the documentary was shown.

“Both of these men were on the leading edge of change in their respective fields. Both of these amazing men opened doors that had been shut for way too long.

“They redefined misguided perceptions of who can and who can’t.”

Before the screening, Angela Ellis, NFL Media vice president and event organizer, said, “The man who set the stage for Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes — and all of the NFL’s Black quarterbacks — is Jimmy Raye.

"We wanted to showcase his story and have this conversation tonight to explore how far we’ve come since Jimmy blazed a trail through segregated fields, and how far we still have to go.”

“The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye” follows Raye’s life, from growing up in segregated Fayetteville, North Carolina, to his days as a star quarterback in high school and at Michigan State. After college, he played for a few seasons in the NFL, but not as a quarterback. After an injury ended his playing career, he went on to be a successful coach, working for 36 years with 10 teams. He interviewed several times for head coaching positions but was never hired. He retired from coaching in 2010 and is now a senior advisor to Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations.

The documentary also stars Emmanuel Sanders, a recently retired player after 12 seasons, who describes how important it was for him, as a Black player from a small Texas town, to have Mike Tomlin, a Black man, as his head coach when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“He understood the culture that I came from,” Sanders says in the film.

“He understood that I came from a poverty situation and overnight I became almost a millionaire. I didn’t know what to do with that but he’s been there. … He knew the cultural differences I was having.

“When I see that there are not a lot of African American coaches, but the majority of the players in the National Football League are African American, it’s kind of mind boggling when you think about it.”

Of the NFL’s 32 teams, three have Black head coaches.

The film traces the ripple effects of Raye’s influence. Tony Dungy, the first Black head coach to win the Super Bowl, in 2006 with the Indianapolis Colts, used to toss a football around as a boy, pretending he was Jimmy Raye.

“Jimmy led the path in so many ways,” says Dungy, who hired Mike Tomlin. “When I became a head coach, it became important for me to do the same thing, so I was on the lookout for young, aggressive, smart African American coaches because I wanted them to get the same opportunity I had.”

Osahon Tongo, the director and producer of the 35-minute documentary, was part of a team from NFL 360 who gave a master class in filmmaking to ASU students.

Osahon Tongo, the NFL 360 producer and director of "The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye," spoke with ASU students after giving a master class in filmmaking at the MIX Center in downtown Mesa on Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

He described the background of one of the film’s most moving moments: Sanders and Raye are in an open-air building in Raye’s hometown of Fayetteville. In the treatment he created before filming, Tongo decided to have Samuels and Raye sit down on a bench there and talk.

In the film, Sanders asks Raye to sit down and Raye says, “No. I don’t want to sit here.” Then Raye reveals that the structure is the city’s former slave market, now a memorial.

“I didn’t know he would say that at the slave market,” Tongo told the students.

“It just naturally came up. You can feel his uneasiness.”

He described how, in post-production, he emphasized the moment with music that’s meant to elicit discomfort.

“He was uncomfortable and in my head I was like, ‘How do I make him more comfortable?’ But then I had to be like, ‘We can capture him going through these emotions.’

“We’re painting with sadness and we’re painting with melancholy and we’re painting with sorrow,” he said.

“We’re witnessing his discomfort.”

There is also triumph. In the film, Raye says of his Michigan State team, “I think it changed college football because it proved that, for the people in the South, that an integrated, all-inclusive team could work together and win together.”

NFL 360 produces short documentaries, usually about 10 to 14 per year, about five to 30 minutes each, on stories that happen off the playing field, including topics such as mental health and LGBTQ issues. “The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye” is NFL 360’s Black History Month special.

Tongo described how he learned to use empathy and emotion to tell a story.

“I came from a football background, where if you cry you’re a punk,” said Tongo, who played at Georgia Tech. “But I came to realize that sensitivity is a strength, not a weakness.”

In the panel discussion after the film, the soft-spoken Raye said he was humbled by the accolades.

“To be respected as a coach and as a man is pretty gratifying,” he said.

Raye said that while he aspired to be a head coach, “I understood the landscape and the denial of opportunity that was prevalent during the time I was involved in it.

“But I never second guessed that. I worked and had the respect of my peers, and that in itself was a major accomplishment.”

But he lamented the low number of Black head coaches today.

“We were climbing the ladder at 100 miles an hour and the goal posts were still moving and that hasn’t changed much,” he said.

Group of Black men on stage for panel discussion

Jimmy Raye (right) speaks during the panel discussion after the screening of "The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye” documentary, which highlighed his football career. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

During the discussion, Ray Anderson, vice president of university athletics at ASU, marveled at Raye’s impact on so many Black players and coaches.

“You realize that because of his effect, those gentlemen then had a tremendous impact on me and were a significant part of my career, including getting to the point where I’m the (athletic director) at ASU,” he said.

Anderson talked about how, as a sports agent and then an NFL executive, he was often the only Black person in the room and it was important to understand the caste system in the country.

“You have to be persistent and you have to understand that you have to be better and you’re going to have to not be told ‘no.’ That’s been my path.”

Top image: Former quarterback Jimmy Raye poses with NFL 360 producer and director Osahon Tongo on the red carpet, Feb. 8, at the Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center in downtown Mesa for the documentary screening of “The Indelible Legacy of Jimmy Raye.” Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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State-of-the-art facilities highlight new upgrades to ASU campuses

December 21, 2022

MIX Center in downtown Mesa and Mullett Arena in Tempe show growing ASU landscapes

Arizona State University completed more than 120 projects totaling more than $40 million during the summer and fall 2022 semesters.

Facilities Development and Management and its collaborators upgraded all ASU campuses and concluded work on two cutting-edge facilities. A new educational centerpiece in downtown Mesa, a mid-size arena for athletics and several Tempe campus additions highlight the new development.

“These projects showcase our investment in students, faculty, staff and Valley communities to provide welcoming environments for all to use,” said Alex Kohnen, Facilities Development and Management vice president. “The new facilities will support the ASU community for many years to come and contribute to the growth and success of their surrounding areas.”

Learn more about the recently completed construction projects:

Media and Immersive eXperience Center

Outside of ASU MIX Center building featuring a large screen

The outside of the MIX Center features a bright 100-foot screen. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

A joint project between ASU and the city of Mesa, the MIX Center enhances innovation infrastructure with greater access to higher-education programs for local residents and increased activity in downtown Mesa. 

The nearly 118,000-square-foot building provides large program areas, including:

  • 280-seat screening theater.
  • 80-seat screening room.
  • Four sound stages.
  • Enhanced immersion studio.

The building also contains high-tech sound-recording studios, control rooms, display areas, editing rooms, classrooms and office-support spaces. A 100-foot-wide high-resolution display on the building’s exterior faces the plaza with an event lawn for film screenings, sporting events and other community outings.

Located next to the MIX Center, the Studios at Mesa City Center are open to the public and provide support spaces for residents with entrepreneurial or business ideas.

The MIX Center houses academic units from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, including The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. It also includes top-ranked digital media technology, worldbuilding, experience design and gaming programs from The Design School and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, as well as from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the College of Global Futures.

Mullett Arena

ASU hockey jerseys hang on glass wall at arena

Mullett Arena will be the home of ASU hockey and wrestling, the women’s gymnastics team and the temporary home of the Arizona Coyotes. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Officially named in August and opened to the public in October, Mullett Arena is the new home for ASU hockey, wrestling and various community and entertainment events. The arena can accommodate concerts, lectures and large-scale meetings throughout the year.

Located in the center of the Novus Innovation Corridor, the 5,000-seat, state-of-the-art arena includes:

  • 8,000 square feet for ASU’s locker room, weight room, players’ lounge and coaches’ offices.
  • 20 luxury suites.
  • Two ice sheets.
  • Club lounge.
  • Premium club seats.

“This arena will be an attractor as we bring together the university and our knowledge assets with the private sector,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer.

The attached Mountain America Community Iceplex is accessible to students and serves the community with a practice and competition location for regional youth and adult hockey clubs.

Mullett Arena will host Arizona Coyotes home games for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 NHL seasons while the team develops its proposed new arena and entertainment district.

The construction of a two-story, approximately 15,000-square-foot annex adjacent to the arena accommodates NHL-quality home and away teams with:

  • Dressing rooms.
  • Fitness rooms.
  • Nutrition stations.
  • Training areas.

Demolition work

Recent demolitions on the west side of the Tempe campus pave the way for new academic and parking space development.

The demolition of Wilson Hall, constructed as a residence hall in 1956 along Orange Mall, will allow for a new five-story facility housing classroom, collaboration, instructional and office spaces to support academic programs’ growth and student success. The new building is the first section of a new academic district in the heart of campus, adding 19 state-of-the-art classrooms.

The Tempe Center and Tempe Center Annex buildings, acquired by the university in 1983, were demolished this summer. New developments in the area will include a parking structure, a future academic building with retail on Mill Avenue and a residence hall. The Mill Avenue Parking Structure, scheduled to be completed next summer, will add 1,205 parking spaces on six levels for the new Omni Tempe Hotel at ASU and the surrounding area.

Additional capital projects

The Engineering Center G Wing’s south exterior stairs were renovated, including an updated concrete infrastructure. Workers also installed new handrails and guardrails to meet current safety codes while matching the original handrail’s look.

On the Downtown Phoenix campus, workers installed 98 efficient water-source heat pumps in Health South.

In addition to many capital projects, Facilities Management completed numerous infrastructure projects — electrical, paint and maintenance — across all ASU campuses.

These projects are only part of existing ASU capital projects currently in planning, design or construction phases, including:

Learn more about ASU’s past, present and future construction projects and follow Facilities Development and Management on Twitter at ASUfacilities.

Top photo: The MIX Center in downtown Mesa contains high-tech sound-recording studios, control rooms, display areas, editing rooms, classrooms and office-support spaces. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Communications program coordinator , Facilities Development and Management