A project over five years in the making, the 2.2-acre Full Sail Studios Gateway Project – comprised of the Full Sail Live venue, Audio Temple recording studio, Game Production studio, outdoor plaza courtyard, and an expansion to the school’s on-campus film studio backlot – has proven to be a landmark addition to the university’s campus.
“With Full Sail’s growing student body, our goal was to create a complete hub that could serve the entire campus – all programs, all students, and all staff,” says Director of Audio Programs Dana Roun. “The Gateway project began with the concept for the Audio Temple; we wanted to build a new, large flagship studio here on campus. That idea eventually expanded into the entire Gateway Project.”
The Audio Temple serves as a full-featured audio recording studio, employing the latest in recording technology within a carefully crafted acoustical environment used by both students and professionals. Guests are able to view the recording process through the oversized, acoustically-treated windows that line the hallways of the building. The studio also houses a Yamaha Disklavier Grand Piano, which allows Recording Arts and Music Production students to collaborate with one another via the Internet and even duet with one another in real-time.
Located directly above the Audio Temple on the second floor, the Game Production Studio provides Game Development and Game Art students with the perfect place to create and finish their final projects in a professional game studio environment. The studio has areas specifically designed for audio, graphics, and technical development, as well as a Game Console Timeline (complete with vintage hardware), and a VIP graffiti wall.
The Full Sail Live venue is built to serve a wide variety of campus-wide events, including live musical performances, monthly graduations, open house events, multi-visual presentations, guest lectures, and movie screenings trade shows. The room can hold 1500 occupants for a standing concert, 300 in a dinner theater environment, 500 seats, or 300 laptops at powered tables. The scope of the building’s capabilities is a testament to the careful planning and strategy that Roun and the rest of the project’s executive team put into planning the venue’s construction and implementation.
The venue and Audio Temple are purpose-built buildings; from the ground up, both buildings were meticulously planned. Elaborate acoustical drawings of the buildings were created by 2007, ensuring that the reverb time of the live venue and audio studio met the team’s specifications to a tee. The studio has floating ceilings and walls that prevent unwanted sound transmission. The venue install includes a Meyer Sound Labs speaker system including 16 Mica curvilinear arrays for front-of-house, center fill, and front fill; a large monitor system; and a 16-speaker surround sound system. DiGiCo SD7 and SD8 consoles are placed in the FOH and Monitor engineering positions respectively.
“We had some graduates who were on the road with U2 that kept calling in and telling us that we needed to get the SD7 [console],” Roun says. “It’s a very expensive piece of gear, and I had initially written it off a few years prior, but students kept talking about it. It proved to be worth investigating and we added it to our list of ‘must-haves.’”
Another notable addition to the venue is the 48’ x 14’ Barco LED Video Wall, which offers a stunning visual component to live concerts, presentations, film screenings, and more. Rounding out the venue’s visual capabilities are four Sony HD Studio Cameras, one Canmate 21’ jib, three Barco HD projectors, and a Broadcast Room that houses a Sony MFS-2000 Switcher.
Connectivity was another significant factor that played a hand in the creation of these buildings. The venue and Audio Temple are linked via fiber, allowing on-stage audio to be recorded and mixed in the studio next-door. The signal can also be fed to the Entertainment Business Auditorium, which in turn can be routed to the Barco Campus Display overlooking the school’s Backlot.
But beyond the gear housed in these new additions to campus, Roun is confident that the structures themselves are an invaluable resource. “These facilities couldn’t be built around a console or speaker system or any one piece of gear,” he explains. “They had to be capable of change for upgrading purposes. In five to ten years, some of this gear won’t even be acceptable anymore. So we had to construct these buildings so that they’d be versatile enough to handle anything that we may add in the future. We could put another 100 moving lights into the venue if we wanted. All the film gear that our Film department has to offer, microphones, backline guitar amplifiers, instruments, anything that our campus has to offer [could go in].
“We’re really going to be able to grow into these buildings.”