The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC) is a think tank and research center that brings together senior executives, innovators, thought leaders, and catalysts from the entertainment, consumer electronics, technology, and services industries along with the academic resources of the University of Southern California to explore and to act upon topics and issues related to the creation, distribution, and consumption of entertainment content. As an organization within the USC School of Cinematic Arts, ETC helps drive collaborative projects among its member companies and engages with next generation consumers to understand the impact of emerging technology on all aspects of the entertainment industry, especially technology development and implementation, the creative process, business models, and future trends. ETC acts as a convener and accelerator for entertainment technology and commerce through: Research, Publications, Events, Collaborative Projects and Shared Exploratory Labs and Demonstrations.
ETC@USC was founded with the help of George Lucas in 1993 with the goal of bringing technology and entertainment visionaries together to collaborate on the future of entertainment technology. Along with USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, our Sponsoring participants comprise the major studios: Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros. Entertainment, DTS, Lucasfilm Ltd, and TATA Consultancy Services. ETC was established with the mission to be a neutral research organization devoted to identifying pivotal, emerging entertainment technologies and creating programs to analyze and test them. ETC first distinguished itself with its Digital Cinema Lab, which created an accelerator and a neutral home for the discussions that led to the creation of the Digital Cinema specification (by DCI) and the worldwide rollout of Digital Cinema. The Digital Cinema Lab’s success provided a template for the creation of ETC’s other industry-shaping laboratories: the Anytime/Anywhere Content Lab and the Consumer 3D Experience Lab.
For more information on what we do to move entertainment technology forward, visit our activities page. For a more in-depth description of the center, download the ETC Overview here
NEUTRAL SETTING: the ETC does not endorse technologies, products, services, or vendors. Participation in ETC activities is not an explicit or implicit endorsement of any technology, product, service, or vendor.
Rob is a media consultant, freelance writer, and communication professor currently based on the east coast. He joined the ETC in 2008 for our live reporting from the Consumer Electronics Show and has since been involved with a number of ETC initiatives including our ETCentric publication, annual CES coverage, and the cross-industry Interoperable Master Format technical specification. As a consultant, Rob has worked with an array of industry innovators in digital cinema, media asset management, content distribution, and various business and creative strategies involving digital technologies. Rob was formerly with the New Technology & New Media department at The Walt Disney Company where he managed online and video communication initiatives. He earned his MFA in Film Studies & Screenwriting from the University of Miami and studied multimedia at the American Film Institute. His professional background includes corporate communication, entertainment media technologies, film & video production, and saltwater big game fishing.
Erik Weaver is a specialist focused on the intersection of Cloud and the Media and Entertainment Industry, currently running “Production in the Cloud” for ETC.
The project unites senior leaders from the six major studios to develop next generation Cloud standards, support Hollywood organizations and major Cloud vendors, and produce proof of concepts.
The group encompasses many aspects of the Cloud including transport, security, metadata, long-term storage, and formation of an agnostic framework that unites key vendors and studios.
Previously, Mr. Weaver was CEO of Digital Ribbon, Inc., a very early pioneer in the field of cloud-based computing.
Consultant, Event Production
Rochelle Winters has overseen communications and professional event programs for a wide range of entertainment and technology clients, from global corporations to organizations, from advertising agencies to filmmakers. For ETC, she curates and helps produce the Digital Town Square symposium series, bringing together content creators, distributors and technologists to shine a light on current industry pain points and to identify pathways to improvement.
In addition to her work for ETC, Rochelle handles inter-industry relations and events for the International Camera Guild (ICG). From 2008-2012, she served as the NAB Show’s key Hollywood point person—spearheading feature film and TV conference programming and conducting outreach to the studios and creative community. She also provided strategic and marketing communications counsel, researching and writing state-of-the-industry reports and writing taglines, promotional copy and advertising.
Rochelle’s multi-pronged public relations and marketing program helped build the ETC into the nexus of the digital cinema industry when the organization hosted the groundbreaking Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) research. Recent public relations and marketing clients have also included Thomson, SA (now Technicolor), SMPTE and MasterImage.
Kenneth W. Williams
Executive Director & CEO
Ken is a longtime entertainment and media professional including an almost 20-year career at Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures, where he founded the Digital Studios Division and co-founded Sony Pictures Imageworks, the Academy Award winning visual effects, animation and multimedia company. For the past two years, he has been a private investor and consultant in the entertainment and media space. Previously, Ken held C-level positions with Captive Media LLP, Ascent Media Group, and Technicolor Digital Cinema, LLC.
Chief Administrative Officer/Program Manager
Edie has been a part of the Entertainment Technology Center since 1994 where she oversees the center’s day-to-day operations, including sponsor memberships, events, budget, contracts, program management and staff/student supervision for ETC projects and initiatives. Before moving to California, Edie worked at the State University of New York, Buffalo State’s Center for Development of Human Services as an evaluation specialist and, among other accomplishments, helped to implement an application for the NY State medical assistance program.
Phil is an entertainment technology strategy consultant who manages projects and guides the strategy of the ETC. He is currently running the “4K Project;” a market research study of what aspects of next generation displays consumers will value (ex. higher resolution, greater contrast ratio, wider color space, higher frame rate, 3D sound). He is working on metadata studies; including the ETC Digital Town Squares that bring subject matter experts together to share case studies and experiences with their peers. He is also involved in the ‘Production/Distribution in the Cloud Project,’ which is bringing key content and cloud service providers together to develop a framework for next generation content production and distribution, and a content ‘Hyper-personalized Content Offer Project’ whose goal is to offer appropriate, relevant content to an individual at the ‘monetizable moment’ when it is useful to them. Phil launched and continues to manage the Consumer 3D Experience Lab, which addresses stereoscopic 3D, 3D audio, and 3D printers.
Prior to this he evaluated business opportunities for the post production industry, and developed a proposal for “The Future of Museums in the Digital Age.” Phil spent 10 years as corporate VP, Digital Industry Relations at The Walt Disney Company, where he worked on the technical, legal, and business issues associated with the production, distribution, and monetization of digital content and services.
Following his experience as a technical director in dance and repertory theater, George moved to Los Angeles for LAOOC’s Olympics Arts Festival. In 1987 he joined Walt Disney Pictures where he managed the legendary Ink and Paint department at Feature Animation at the beginning of their transition into the electronic world. At Walt Disney Imagineering he was the first general manager of the Architecture & Facility Engineering group. He graduated to Creative Development at Imagineering as a senior concept designer where he was pivotal in the concept development of Disney-MGM Studios Europe, Tokyo Disney Seas, and many other break-through projects. He moved to Disney Televentures and worked on navigational concept development for a Disney video partnership with various telephone companies. George was part of the exciting growth moment in mobile at the Walt Disney Internet Group and eventually moved to corporate Disney to evangelize a broad view of intertwined entertainment and technical issues. He has always focused on understanding and communicating by visionary example, the entertainment value of technology change.
Don Levy is a creative consult living at the intersection of entertainment and technology. After 17 years in senior marketing and communications positions at Sony Pictures, he now consults to the ETC@USC, serves on the faculty of Boston University’s Los Angeles Program, holds a visiting scholar post in Cinematic Arts at USC and is active as an advisor on several start-ups. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, The International Photographers and the Visual Effects Society. He spoke at the TED Conference in 2012.
As VP Advanced Technology at The Walt Disney Company, Dennis was responsible for building an enterprise technology culture and social network by bringing Disney’s innovators together to facilitate shared learning experiences, enable new business opportunities, and build a digital media infrastructure. At Disney Imagineering, he co-authored the original Disney Channel Business Plan, which created Disney’s first cable television network. He analyzed the European consumer market to provide guidance on theme park design for the Euro Disneyland project and led Imagineering’s introduction to computer graphics technologies, which transitioned the creative process from analog to digital. Most recently, he directed a multi-company project team to report on consumer electronics trends for the ETC. He served as account director for the Taproot Foundation where he led a website development team for the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture. Dennis is also an avid photographer, and was awarded Grand Prize in Scouting Magazine’s annual photography contest.