Full Sail offers monthly Behind the Scenes tours

A look inside Full Sail

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  • | 10:27 a.m. August 1, 2012
Photo by: Sarah Wilson - Full Sail University leads daily tours and a monthly backlot tour. Their next one is Aug. 12.
Photo by: Sarah Wilson - Full Sail University leads daily tours and a monthly backlot tour. Their next one is Aug. 12.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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If you’re not paying attention you might not even realize it’s there, nestled between endless shopping centers and restaurants on University Boulevard.

Inside and behind the two reflective multi-story glass buildings visible from the street stands the 191-acre campus that is Full Sail University just outside Winter Park. Inside, an array of 110 recording and/or gaming studios, sound stages, a live performance venue and full-scale backlot sets spread a quarter mile into the distance.

The school is happy to give curious residents a glance into its inner workings. Although the campus is open for tours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday, the university hosts monthly “Behind The Scenes” tours for everyone to take a closer look at what they have inside.

“It gives the community a chance to get to know Full Sail outside of the two mirrored buildings facing University,” Full Sail Marketing Manager Casey Tanous said.

The tour, which can last anywhere from an hour to four hours — depending on how much you want to see — gives attendees a comprehensive view of what makes Full Sail a leading college in entertainment and digital media, offering a total of 37 different undergraduate and master’s programs, and more why the Winter Park area is the perfect spot for such a school.

Like at any school of higher education, studies of history, science and math are offered to the 16,800 Full Sail students, just in a different way. It’s the history of how video game design has evolved, the science of mixing music on a soundboard, and math in calculating formulas and codes for web development.

“If you’re serious about your dreams,” Full Sail University President Garry Jones says in his Behind the Scenes presentation, “we’ll take your dreams seriously.”

The sleek, colorful walls and modern industrial vibe of the hallways are accented by accolades of what past students have accomplished, and what current and future students dream to achieve.

Plaques with mounted CDs from Beyonce, The Foo Fighters, John Mayer and Michael Jackson hang on the walls of the halls, each with the names of Full Sail alumni who worked on the projects stamped underneath. Across the hall, movie posters are hung in the same manner. In this year’s summer blockbuster films alone, Tanous says, 122 alumni have credits from sound engineering to film production. Of those, 19 worked on “The Dark Knight Rises,” which earned blockbuster records after its opening.

“We’re teaching students the application of business to the real world of the entertainment business… Every teacher here has some hand in the entertainment business,” says Ron Cook, program director for the entertainment business master’s program.

Its location, Tanous says, lends itself well to immersing students into those entertainment connections. With the theme parks less than an hour away, downtown Orlando no more than half an hour away, and cultural hotspots like the Enzian Theater one town over in Maitland, she says, “It’s the perfect spot.”

And it’s a benefit, she says, that Full Sail leaders try to extend both ways, by giving back to the local community as well. As a Platinum Trustee member of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, and through it’s community service organization Pure Motivation, Tanous says the university is trying to get its name and mission out to the community as much as it can, in as many ways as it can.

By offering the monthly Behind the Scenes tour for free to anyone in the community, school leaders hope those who haven’t heard what Full Sail is, or just want to get to know their neighboring business better, will come out and see its facility for themselves.

For more information about Full Sail University, located at 3300 University Blvd. in Winter Park, and the Behind The Scenes tours, visit FullSail.edu. The next monthly Behind the Scenes tour will be Sunday, Aug. 12. To sign up, call 877-392-5697.

Margarita Ravelo, of Longwood, said even though she grew up locally, she was never exposed to Full Sail as a potential higher education option until hearing about it from friends. Now she’s ready and enrolled to start her studies there in the fall for entertainment business.

“It’s like a whole other world here,” she says, sitting in the school’s Hall of Fame, just feet from where two alumni donated Grammys and an Emmy to display. “I can’t wait to start my core classes and get my hands on all of the equipment.”

The tours offer more than exposure to locals, but in July attracted more than 2,500 registered attendees from across the nation, Tanous said.

“We’re not just a school here,” she says. “We’re part of the local community and beyond.”


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