Video Production Studios Executive Producer and WSP major
Francesca Capraro, also known as Frankie, is a fourth-year with very particular interests, which shows in her own designed major, Film and Media Production. Following her major is her minor in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Communication. Capraro also serves as the Head of Media Council.
Capraro’s major was inspired by her passion for filming sports, and originally started as a sports film major after filming hockey since she was seven years old. “When I came to Whittier, they offered me an internship to do sports video even before my freshman year started,” said Capraro. “I thought that was for sure what I wanted to do, but turns out that it is a lot of work to make all these videos for 13 teams as one person.”
After her first year, she rekindled her love for physics and was briefly a physics major, but found that her passion was film making and the science behind it. “I came back to film but ... more the technology side,” said Capraro. “That is what I’m attracted to most; all of the cool tech and science that is underneath film making ... Film making started as an engineering discipline not an art discipline,” said Capraro. Her minor is focused on Computer Science because that is where she learned how to manipulate visual graphics.
She presented her senior project on March 1 in the Garrett House alongside other fourth-year Whittier Scholars Program (WSP) majors. She focused on how 2-D images are given a 3-D appearance and created a short movie using computer technology. “I looked at how graphics work and how computers process images to make a movie because a movie is just images put together to make motion,” said Capraro.
In her paper, she wrote about how the technology works before applying it in the project. “I talked about a lot of the details of what goes into making visual graphics,” said Capraro. “Anything from the Avengers movies where they have green screens ... to things like Toy Story, where people don’t look like people but it looks real … I really wanted to dive into how that works.” For example, she studied what computer equations make water look real on screen.
For her senior project’s art piece, she created a short video demonstrating the research she conducted.“The art piece is me taking motion capture data and creating a simple scene that demonstrates 3-D models, lighting, shadows and reflections,” said Capraro.
Capraro is grateful for WSP for giving her a first hand look at what her future working in film will be like. “The WSP program is the best. They really make college worthwhile,” said Capraro. “They help you in deciding what classes are meant for you. You had a voice in your own decision making, you learn to communicate with professors on a [new] level. You don’t see the value in your own education until you have a say in your college education.”
Capraro feels prepared to discuss her self-designed major to future employers and knows that because of her education she is ready to graduate school and find a job.
Besides her academic life at Whittier, Capraro has been involved with on-campus film making through the Video Production Studio (VPS). Capraro joined VPS as a first-year student. As the only female during her first year, it was slightly intimidating for her at first. “I was kind of thrown into a project,” said Capraro.
During her first shoot, the cops were called while they were filming, and they had to explain that they were just film students. That memory will forever stay with Capraro as one of her first memorable shoots with the organization. After developing friendships with other members of the team, she never left.
Now Capraro serves as the Executive Producer of VPS after previously serving as Junior Executive Producer. As Executive Producer, she runs meetings and delegates tasks for each shoot while assisting her staff in creating short films.
“[The film department] is pretty non-existent. Professor Ashkan Soltani is pretty much a one man show,” said Capraro. “Having the experience of VPS I learned quickly on the job. You pick up on things quicker when it’s real. You really get a sense of what is expected, these are the crazy hours, it’s real experience you can put on your resume.”
Capraro found her place at VPS and encourages others looking for that creative outlet to find their place on campus. “If you want to do some kind of creative medium, you have to find a club that can host that. It’s very different from doing things and projects in a classroom. You get a whole new level of experience that no one can compete with,” said Capraro.
Capraro is going to miss her staff the most when she graduates. “When you’re in a media group, there was no initiation process, you didn’t have to be there, you’re not getting paid, it’s not for credit, you’re all there because you’re passionate about it,” said Capraro.
Capraro also serves as the Head of Media Council, working alongside Assistant Director of Student Organizations and Programming Xiaopan Xue, who advises the organization. While it is different leading the meetings instead of participating, as she did her second and third year, she is enjoying the experience.
She hopes to do motion capture after she graduates, working on movies like Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Star Wars. Capraro is passionate about working with the data to make characters active on screen.
She is going to miss Whittier once she leaves because she has had a great experience. “I’m not going to get this [experience] again,” said Capraro. “I’ll miss being a student. I like being a student. There is nothing like it anywhere else.”