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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a new home for making art at Duke University.

Arts of the Moving Image Has a New Home

Published By Hank Okazaki
Published on: December 27, 2017

Moving to the Ruby means new facilities, opportunities, and bigger impact for Duke's Art of the Moving Image Program.

AMI is moving to the Ruby

The faculty, staff, and students of Duke’s Arts of the Moving Image Program (AMI) are excited take up residency in the Rubenstein Arts Center alongside the Dance Program. AMI’s new home in the Ruby includes a dedicated film production studio, teaching and editing spaces, an on-site equipment cage, and a state-of-the-art film theater—to have all this in one building is a game-changer.

According to AMI Director Guo-Juin Hong, the Ruby will both centralize and augment the program’s facilities and equipment, while also planting it in a cross-disciplinary space designed to spark creative collaboration. The net effect will be to revitalize AMI’s teaching and filmmaking practice and boost its contribution to the arts scene at Duke and in Durham.

The move to the Ruby will revitalize AMI’s teaching and filmmaking practice and boost its contribution to the arts scene at Duke and in Durham.

Five people in safety vests and hard hats in an empty film theater.
A hard-hat tour of the Ruby's film screening theater in October, 2017. Photo by Katy Clune.

New features for film

AMI is a certificate program that provides a framework for both critical and creative engagement with motion pictures of all kinds. Its faculty is drawn from departments across the arts and humanities and beyond, supplemented by adjunct instructors who specialize in film and digital technologies. Campus facilities for film and video have always lagged behind the program’s expertise and ambition. No more, thanks to the Ruby.

A student in Experimental Film, AMI 340S, taught by AMI instructor Anna Kipervaser. Photo by Anna Kipervaser.

“The studio has important features which can’t be found elsewhere at Duke, and which make it uniquely valuable for the kind of work we do at AMI,” explains Stephen Milligan, a lecturing fellow who will be teaching cinematography in the spring. “The lighting grid will let us teach common studio setups which have simply not been available before, and for the first time we will have a cyclorama (a green or white-painted wall which curves seamlessly around a corner and into the floor)—one of the most-used features of a modern film studio.”

The editing suite at the Ruby. Photo by Alec Himwich.

James Haverkamp, a lecturing fellow who teaches courses in production and editing for film and video and also manages the equipment cage, notes that the move will consolidate AMI’s teaching resources. “In the Ruby, the shooting studio is adjacent to a computer lab. That will enable us to design courses where our students literally go from the shoot to the edit in a matter of seconds. And having our production gear in the building will make it that much easier for instructors to use the full range of tools available to them, without having to transport it to different classrooms around campus. There’s also the potential to move into things like motion capture and more sophisticated animation, and that’s really exciting.”

The screen filming theater. Photo by Alec Himwich.

Cross-pollination at the Ruby

The expansion of Duke’s film and video capabilities is just as profound on the exhibition side as on the production side. The Ruby’s 100-seat screening room is equipped to project all of the most important formats, from archival 35mm and 16mm film prints to current 4K DCP digital projection. “We can now, for the first time, screen rare archival film prints, allowing us not only to show films that cannot be seen anywhere else in the Triangle, but also to show them as they were meant to be seen, in their original formats,” says Hank Okazaki, who programs AMI’s Screen/Society film series. Thanks to the new screening room, AMI can offer more ambitious and unique programming.

The Ruby’s 100-seat screening room is equipped to project all of the most important formats, from archival 35mm and 16mm film prints to current 4K DCP digital projection.

But the new building is not a film and video center, it’s an arts center. It positions AMI for dialog and collaboration. Karen Johndro, AMI’s staff specialist, sees the Ruby as a “catalyst that will boost our visibility to Duke’s most visionary students.”

For Milligan, the mix of people and disciplines he’ll be part of is as exciting as the rooms and the gear. The Ruby, he says, “will be a collider of creative people and artistic endeavors. Filmmakers, dancers, choreographers, actors, sculptors, painters, artists of all stripes will brush elbows in the halls and stairwells.”

Adds Haverkamp, “We can’t help but be influenced by each other—the cross-pollination of ideas is going to be amazing to watch.”

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