News Stories


The Entertainment Technology Center at The University of Southern California (ETC) will produce “vETC 2018 | The GRAND CONVERGENCE,” its 4th annual virtual conference (formerly vNAB), June 27 & 28, 2018, in Los Angeles, CA, highlighting significant presentations of emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry.  The presentations will be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel.

The Initial Expression of Interest speakers and topics is open through Friday, May 18.  Specific areas of concentration include AI, Machine Learning, Adaptive Production, Blockchain, AR/MR/XR (Immersive Media).  We welcome additional topics.

Speakers will present concepts, workflows, business models, case studies, etc.  Please NO SALES PITCHES!

If you are interested in consideration, click here for more information.

AI & Machine Learning Board the Production Team

On March 7th, 2018, ETC had a half-day forum, produced by Rochelle Winters, examining how machine learning, deep learning, and AI technologies are being integrated into apps for content authoring, animation, visual effects and post production, including localization. Moving beyond the basics, thought leaders from technology and creative service companies and the studios shared their POCs and use studies, R&D and vision for the future.



  • Lysa Banks, Head, Technical Strategy and Engineering, IBM Watson Video: applying neural networks to post and localization
  • Jean Bolot, VP, Research and Innovation, Technicolor: using machine learning for VFX production planning
  • Michael Fink, Professor and Chair, Film & Television Production, USC School of Cinematic Arts: moderator
  • Morgan Fiumi, Chief Innovation Officer and Andrey Marchuk, VP, Software Systems Architect, Deluxe: content localization, including apps for compliance editing
  • Rick Grandy, Sr Solutions Architect, Nvidia: GANs image generation and other machine intelligence innovations coming to a wide range of entertainment crafts and workflows
  • Greg Head, VP, Technical Service, The Walt Disney Studios: moderator
  • Norman Hollyn, Editor and Professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts: machine intelligence’s impact on editing
  • James Jacobs, Founder and Co-CEO, Ziva Dynamics: animating characters with machine intelligence
  • Bill Klein, Co-Founder and CTO, Rival Theory: creating digital characters with real-life personas
  • Seth Levenson, Director, Adaptive Production Project: ETC Projects
  • Spencer Stevens, Principal, evolution of content production with machine intelligence
  • Erika Varis Doggett, Sr. Data Analyst/Data Scientist, The Walt Disney Studios: natural language processing in production and post
  • Nikolaus Ward, SVP, International Theatrical Post Production Svs, 21st Century Fox: connecting the dots to real-world, studio post production requirements
  • Jonathan Wray, Director, Product Management, Einstein Discovery, Salesforce: featured sponsor
  • Bill Zajac, Director of Emerging Technology, Warner Bros.: Program Chair


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Data & Analytics Project

The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Precise Story and Character Mechanics to Box Office Returns

Our Data & Analytics Project held “The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Stories & Characters to Box Office Revenue” Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This study leverages the Dramatic taxonomy of film narrative to infer which scene-level character and story attributes generate more box office returns, by genre. We are extending this study to ads and movie trailers.

The project researchers used machine learning to map 70+ story attributes for 300 films to their box office returns to extract which story mechanics or character features in film generated the most revenue. This was the first time granular story and character mechanics have been used to predict box office returns, which opens up many avenues to make more data-driven creative and development decisions throughout the industry.

What’s a good story? The question has been hanging without a scientific answer since the dawn of man. It seems that a story’s lack of clear mathematical structure and universal taxonomy would relegate such classification of stories to the qualitative – and highly subjective- empire of critics and … people.

Until now.

The event presented results from the research, discussed applications for the development and creative process, and outlined next steps.

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ETC Events

NAB Show –
April 7-12, 2018
Las Vegas, NV

Digital Hollywood Spring –
May 22-24, 2018
Los Angeles, CA

Cine Gear Expo –
May 31-June 3, 2018
Los Angeles, CA


SMPTE Entertainment Technology Conference – 
June 13-14, 2018
Sunnyvale, CA

Comic-Con International – 
July 18-22, 2018
San Diego, CA

August 12-16, 2018
Vancouver, Canada

IBC Conference & Exhibition –
September 13-18, 2018
Amsterdam, The Netherlands