The Launchbox

The Full Sail University LaunchBoxOne of the coolest things about going to Full Sail University is this thing they call the LaunchBox. Basically they give you, as part of your tuition, all the stuff you need to be successful in your program (other than a brain and natural creativity, they don’t give you that).

So what is the LaunchBox. Well, in the words of Full Sail University,

Project LaunchBox complements Full Sail’s programs by providing students with access to a complete mobile studio for use throughout their school career and after graduation. With Project LaunchBox, students of all levels will be able to utilize their own personal MacBook Pro notebook computer loaded with Apple’s complete line of creative software tools, as well as degree specific sets of pro-level applications.

With this unique combination of professional software and hardware, Full Sail students now have uninterrupted access to the tools they need. This mobile studio also allows them to have their portfolio conveniently at their fingertips at all times.

Every program at Full Sail University has a slightly different LaunchBox. Here is a description of mine.

Digital Cinematography Project LaunchBox Specs

  • Apple MacBook Pro, 15″ 2.66GHz Intel Core i7, 4GB SDRAM, 500GB/5400RPM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 512MB
  • Applecare Extended Warranty
  • One-year individual MobileMe subscription
  • iWork 2009
  • Final Cut Studio
  • Adobe CS5
  • Microsoft Office Mac 2011 Media Set
  • Movie Magic Budgeting
  • Westcott uLite 3 Light kit (second year)
  • 701HDV Tripod Kit (second year)
  • Mic 25′ XLR Cable

When I was first talking to them about the program I asked if I had to get the LaunchBox since I already had most of the hardware and software that we would be using for the program. They said I had to get it so that every student has exactly the same setup. This makes troubleshooting support issues way easier. After they explained this to me I was in agreement with. As a matter of fact, I liked this principle so much I suggested to Christopher, my son, that he look into going to Full Sail University instead of the Institute of Art in San Francisco.

I got my LaunchBox about three weeks ago. I have my MacBook Pro setup the way I like. All the software is installed and now all I have to do is wait for class to start which, as of this writing, is two days away.


  1. says

    Hey Richard,

    Currently I am attending a local community college while I finish some core classes. Since my G.I Bill is paying for my education…I am looking to attend either a major university or MAYBE a online film school such as Full Sail. The local university that I am considering is called SMU – Meadows School of the Arts. Its a private university but requires LONG commutes to the campus as well as a hefty price….and you dont get anything similar to the launchbox.

    Anyhow…my question to you is what you think of the school/program so far? PLEASE GIVE ME AN HONEST AND IF POSSIBLE UNBIAS REVIEW. (sorry for yelling) Pros & Cons…etc.

    Thank you.

    Oh and how do you like your Launchbox? Its not rigged to self-destruct if you drop out and stop paying is it?? lol

    • says

      Giving an unbiased review is going to be a little hard only because I am loving the program so much. It just so happened to be the perfect time for me to go and this was the perfect program. Nevertheless I will list what I think are the pro’s and con’s thus far.


      • They hold your hand through the entire registration process
      • You receive everything needed to begin school weeks in advance (as long as you register a month or more before your program begins)
      • The Launchbox was easy to setup with the included instructions (no self-destruct that I can tell)
      • Interaction with teachers is fantastic. They make themselves available by phone, email and IM for questions and/or comments throughout the week
      • Classes run on one month schedules which works well for me. This means every class is one month long and you generally do one class at a time
      • Assignments are appropriate for each allowing for maximum learning
      • Full Sail Support is always available for technical problems. I have only had to call them once around 10:00 p.m., PST but they were there


      • The PRICE: this is a real university and the price reflects that
      • Student interaction isn’t great. The only way to connect with other students is via email, and only if each student provides it
      • LECTURES: Full Sail uses a system called Wimba for their lectures which provides the usual online meeting elements like video, audio, whiteboard, etc. Not every teacher uses it. I wish they all would have at least one Wimba session per class
      • You have to be a go-getter because you don’t have other students around to encourage and inspire you. If you want to succeed in this program you have to be very self-motivated otherwise you won’t get everything you need
      • The online platform may be hard to navigate. I am a total geek so it doesn’t seem hard to me but some may have a problem with it


      I’m sure there are more pro’s and con’s that I could list but that should give you an idea of what I think at this point.

      One thing they don’t tell you on the website is that in the tenth month of the program we get a video camera. They haven’t told us what we are going to get but I’m pretty sure it’s the Sony NEX FS100. We should know for sure very soon.

  2. BarrysBit_ says

    Hey Richard,

    Thank you for getting back to me so soon. Well, I’m a bit torn because here’s my dilemma:

    I am an artist and I enjoy most if not all aspects of art. More specifically I REALLY enjoy producing visual effects….BUT…I also consider myself a movie buff because I love the movie making process. Initially when I heard about Full Sail’s “Digital Cinematography” program…I was like Hooray, but after talking to (only 1 advisor) I was told that the emphasis in this program was film…which I assumed…but I also assumed there would be a strong focus on Visual Effects because the launch box comes with such programs like: Adobe Master Suite and Final Cut Pro…soooo I know you’ve only just begun but…would you be able to shed some light on this?? Oh yea, and I forgot to mention…I would like to shoot films and direct my own films perhaps in the future but to be even more honest…I can sit in front of a PC all day and produce VE…on a side note…I really wish I didnt find out that the DC program included the Sony Cam you mentioned… WOW! that is a sick camera…lol..

    Your thoughts/opinion are welcomed….

    Thanks again,


    • says

      Hey Barry – this is completely my opinion but I don’t think there is going to be a strong emphasis on VE and compositing. They cover it a little but not enough to turn you into an Industrial Light and Magic guru. If you really love VE you might want to check out the Computer Animation course. My son just started that program. Keep me updated as you decide.

  3. says

    I’m so glad to see another Full Sail student taking Digital Cinematography! I started May 31, 2011 and I love this school! Your review of the program pretty much hit the nail on the head. The only thing that I’ve heard that differs is that we receive a video camera in our 10th month (second year). My Film Foundations instructor told me that in our Meet and Greet Wimba. :)

  4. Catherine says

    Hello Richard,
    I plan on taking classes at Full Sail for the Creative Writing degree, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to afford the Project Launchbox. Can Pell Grant or a stafford load cover the costs?

    • says

      Hi Catherine – Are you getting student loans and grants? If so, everything will be covered by those funds. Up to this point my loans and grants have covered 98% of my program. I had to spend about $300 out of my own pocket. My son, who is also a student, had to pay about $3000 out of his pocket. Full Sail has allowed him to make payments on that amount.

      Hope that helps. See ya in class.

  5. Big D says

    Hi Richard,
    This review is the review that answered all of my questions, save it be a few… and that might just be because I’m not understanding the many reviews I’ve read. I’m hoping to begin the DC program early next year, and the tuition right now is $62,840. NOW, besides that fee, is there ANY other fee? If I understand your review correctly, the launch box is part of that $62,840, right?
    Thanks so much for writing this review! It’s the best one I’ve seen so far!

    • says

      Hey Big D – thanx for stopping by my blog.

      All program fees are included in the tuition: the MacBook Pro, all the software, the $7000 video camera package, everything. Financial aid, if you are planning on using it, will cover almost all of the costs. You may have some out of pocket expenses depending on your income and your tax status. For example, when I started the program my financial aid covered everything except $180 for my first year of tuition. Now I am starting a new year. My financial aid covers everything except for $900. I will have to pay that off over the next three months. My son, who is also a Full Sail student, has to pay $3000 of his tuition because I still claim him as a dependent on my taxes.

      You will learn all of this as you go through the financial aid portion of your admission process.

  6. Big D says

    Sorry for typing again, but just wondering, how many hours is classes? Or, I guess I could say, how much time is given in an average day in the course? Just wanting to know so that i know What kind of part time job I’ll be able to commit to. Thanks for all and any advice!

  7. Kera says


    So I have been going back and forth on which online university to go to, Full Sail has been the most appealing with they way they teach and the whole dynamic of their programs. My sister loves it as well, my only issue is the cost and then paying it all back after graduation. I haven’t really been able to talk to actual graduates and I don’t know how much of a success after graduation people have had. I wish they listed it. Do you feel you are getting your moneys worth in education? Hope this wasn’t a bother.

    • says

      Hi Kera – I definitely think I am getting my money’s worth in the Digital Cinematography program and I know that the return on my investment will pay for itself once I graduate. If you are self-motivated and passionate about the subject you will be learning than you will do well and will find a good job once you graduate. If you complain a lot and are always the victim then Full Sail is not for you. If you have any questions while you are investigating schools feel free to contact me.

  8. Dan Mayo says

    Hey Barry,

    Thanks so much for posting this review. I am think of attending Full Sail’s Computer Animation Program early next year. One question I have about the software package: is it the academic version or is it the full licensed software? The website makes it sound as if the software is the full version so you can use it after you graduate and that would be a huge plus because most of the software carries a hefty price tag. Also, how is your son liking the animation program so far?

    • says

      The software is academic licensed for pricing purposes but full in that you can use all the features. I’m not sure what the legalities are but I use my software in my everyday work life. My son is really enjoying the program. He says he has learned so much. His biggest weakness has been on the drawing side but he has grown so much in that area. I am amazed.

  9. Asialeigh says

    Hi there,
    I thinking about starting the new digital cinematography program in February 2012 and was wondering if they provide you with Adobe After Effects?

  10. Asialeigh says

    Oh I forgot, what is the computer animation class like-I want to do my own work even on the special effects scale but scared of tuition cost-Do you think the computer animation class stresses on special effects?

    • says

      The computer animation program is different from the digital cinematography program. My son is doing computer animation and he is learning tons of great stuff and effects is one of them. He thinks the tuition is worth it.

      • Justin says

        Thanks man. This did not seem like an advertisement. I hope it wasn’t. If it is then go figure. No way of really knowing I guess. If it was real then that’s awesome! Have you finished yet?

        • says

          Hey Justin- I’m definitely not getting paid to talk about my experience at Full Sail. In fact I haven’t been able to finish yet because I ran out of money. I’m trying to get what I need in order to finish the program.

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