News Stories

ETC’s Digital Town Square Symposium on 5G

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC held its Digital Town Square, 5G: Planning and Piloting First M&E Services, on December 10, 2019, hosted by ETC member company, Bluescape, at the Haworth Furniture Showroom Penthouse in Los Angeles. 

Industry experts invited to the half-day forum discussed 5G technologies’ impact upon media and entertainment production, composition, distribution, and consumption. Presentations and a panel covered topics ranging from the transforming nature of storytelling to the more granular and technical aspects of networked production.

The Program:

5G Fixed Wireless: Cable in the Crossfire

  • Bill Stueber, Managing Partner, Telecom Partners
  • Erik Weaver, Director, Special Projects, ETC@USC (Moderator)

M&E’s First Site-Specific Networks

  • Christian Guirnalda, Director, 5G Labs & Innovation, Verizon
  • Naotaka Sato, Wireless Communication Standardization Manager, Sony Corporation
  • Ryo Sawai, PhD, Deputy General Manager, Sony Corporation
  • Hanno Basse, President, Decentralized Media Solutions, Live Planet (Moderator)

Remote, Agile Capture

  • Daniel Pisarski, VP, Engineering NA, LiveU
  • Michael Chambliss, Advanced Production Technology Specialist, ICG, Local 600

Turning the 5G Network into an Agile Monetization Platform

  • Yogen Patel, VP/Head of Product & Solutions Marketing, Amdocs
  • David Wertheimer, Investor, Board Member, Former President Digital, Fox/Fox Sports (Moderator)


  • Andrew Alleman, Chief Architect of Advanced Network Solutions, Intel
  • Paul McLachlan, Head of Data Scientist (SFO), Principal Data Scientist, Global AI Accelerator, Ericsson
  • Kunal Jathal, Senior Audio Engineer, Verizon XR
  • Hardie Tankersley, VP Solutions Consulting & VR, SilverDraft Computing

5G: Are There Health Concerns?

  • Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, Professor, UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Joachim Zell, VP Technology, EFILM/Deluxe (Moderator)

Let’s Talk About ‘X’ – Mixed Reality in a 5G World

  • Craig Evans, CEO, Digital Nation Entertainment
  • Luke Ritchie, Head of XR and Interactive Arts, Nexus Studios
  • Sebastian Sylwan, CTO and Creative Partner, Felix & Paul Studios
  • Moderator: David Nelson, Creative Director, MxR Lab, USC Institute for Creative Technology

Anatomy of a Virtual Being (in a 5G Ecosystem)

  • Pete Billington, Co-Founder/Director, Fable Studios


ETC’s Fall IM Challenge Receives 26 Submissions, 4 Finalists

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC, which kicked off its Fall semester Immersive Media challenge on September 5th, received 26 submissions from students and recent graduates from various disciplines. Organized by ETC’s Immersive Media Initiative lead Phil Lelyveld, the IM Challenge calls upon students and recent graduates to ideate an immersive experience that, while not possible or easily built now, should be possible to build in 3-5 years. This is ETC’s second IM Challenge, the first having taken place during Spring 2019, which received 14 submissions. 

Students detail what technological advancements need to take place in order to make their idea work and explain the reasoning behind their assumptions. Submitters were asked to answer 6 questions and create a 3-minute pitch video for the idea. Here are the 26 submissions:

  • Plate – The POS of the Future by Roger Ferguson — a geolocation menu and ordering system app for use while in an entertainment experience location. VIP service for all event attendees. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • The Other Side by David Beier — an app that scans your surrounds then creates a narrative mapped to your surroundings involving the mythology and ‘other world’ of your and others’ cultures. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • The Community Studio by Josh Wolonick — a social media platform explicitly designed to support and encourage amateur filmmaking. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Satellite by Rong Deng, Xin Ye, Huang Rui, and Cheng Guo — a biofeedback story-based multiplayer cross-platform (VR, mobile) experience involving an astronaut and assistant (side player or AI). The underlying goal is to use the combination of 5G, biofeedback and VR to help young people deal with stress and avoid suicide. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • OrGANon by Garrett Flynn — uses GANs (AI’s General Adversarial Network) and biometric data to create personalized digital art and enhance content recommendations. Intended audience: 1) creatives without technical skills and 2) consumers who can’t verbalize what they want. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Kaleidoscope by Ricky Hvisch and Christina Lelon — an immersive education-focused pop-up museum addressing all aspects of color and light (science, art, photography, etc.) that builds on the lessons from other pop-up museums. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Interactive Virtual Archive IVA by Michael Perez and Hampus Wahlin — Project IVA is a cloud-based, real-time rendered immersive experience that puts the subject in historically accurate events to experience them firsthand. They will develop a set of historic modular experiences (science, art, history, …) 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • I Play Theater by Lia Shuyan Li — explore the potential of storytelling at the next level, beyond ‘immersive theatre meets MR,’ through interaction, connection, and eventually reflection. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • The Reformance by Maggie Liu and Monique Manaloto — Reformance achieves a sense of in-person community that has been lost in current music experiences by using data (such as Spotify) plus spatial, haptic, and visual tools to engage each audience member in a quest of discovery that connects them to the musicians. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • *Auvive by Tracy Keys — Auvive is a multi-language Automated Video Description Service for global online video platforms to make content universally accessible to the 285 million visually impaired people worldwide. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • *Neighbourhood Supper Club by Jean Liu — combine a dinner party structure with visualizations and real-time language translations to bring strangers together and break through the “self-imposed segregation of urban communities.” Supper clubs are globally popular. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Virtual Classroom by Paul Gioeli — the world’s first school where instruction is primarily delivered via personalized VR lessons,  individualized performance tracking, and real-time feedback and lesson redesign. This speeds delivering the appropriate pedagogical best practice to each student. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • *Flight of Persephone (Episodic Escape Room) by Tucker Elliott — a 5-episode sci-fi MR escape room experience, utilizing very precise emergent tracking technology and intended, in part, to address the LBE industry’s retention/repeat business problem. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • SpaceSocial by Milan Rabrenovic and Inge Lindholm — large empty physical spaces in various neighborhoods around a city would house multiple MR experiences that, in combination with the SpaceSocial social media app, blend explorations with meet-ups to bring strangers together in community. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Reimagined Pictures by Denilson Mirrafuentes — a group free-roaming and location-adjusted MR experience tool that allows each individual to be a participant or ‘a stand-in actor’ in their favorite movie scenes or live inside a real-time story-building experience. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Nutri-You by Connie Zhang — a 3-D printer for nutrition supplements in novel appealing shapes that are formulated to the exact needs of the individual. Nothing like this exists today. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Ama’s Momento by Awu (Sze Yu) Chen — Ama’s Momento is an excellent already-built MR multi-platform experience chronicling Awu Chen’s grandmother’s life. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Ocean Awe-awareness by Stefie Gan — a walk-in experience that combines projections with AR to create a transcendent awe-inspiring interactive underwater experience that is both entertaining and educational. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • *Gladiator Games by Martin Robertson — a new free-range MR sport that recreates Roman Colosseum spectacle with both ancient and modern weaponry. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • ARt-walk by Ekaterina Buchneva — AR-enhanced themed urban tours with related quizzes and games for individuals and groups. “City as LBE.” 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • VRger by Georgina Chiou, Kevin Ke, and Cameron Kostopoulos — a VR-enhanced restaurant experience in which you order via hand gesture, see a virtual representation of your food as you eat, and are transported to a meal-related experience – with a surprise ending. Goal; encourage dietary changes that reduce carbon footprint. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • C.A.L.E.B. by Leon Cruz — a multi-sensory telepresence tool that will let friends and family learn, worship, and consume in the comfort and safety of their own homes, free from the fear of mass shootings and other dangers that can occur in public spaces.
  • Babylonia by Alexander Atienza, Sekinat Yusuf, Anthony Gaitros — a geolocated, timed, free-range multiplayer puzzle-solving, virtual-object capture, and art creation and sharing AR (light field) game. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Kinevo by Kelsy Lua — smart glasses for live-streaming 360 video and audio and provide telepresence to family, friends, or people who are unable to travel. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Learning Through Time Travel by Luis Rodriguez-Perez — two archaeologists set out to create a detailed, accurate, and engaging exploration of King Tut’s tomb, artifacts, and legacy. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • What It’s Like: To Be a Pro by Jerry Tejada —a holodeck that lets anyone participate in an unscripted real-time generated professional sports situation, including immediate physical and narrative feedback. 6 answers. Pitch video.
  • Sharrative by Julian Babad — a platform that enables crowd-sourced character, story, and world development, including curation tools that provide feedback on the quality and relevance (troll/spam filter) of contributions. 6 answers. Pitch video.

Judges from ETC and our sponsoring companies Disney and Cisco have selected four submissions to receive funding and mentorship for a pre-viz of their idea: Auvive, Neighbourhood Supper Club, Flight of Persephone, and Gladiator Games. The pre-visualizations will be presented on January 29, 2020, at the launch event for the next Immersive Media Challenge. 

Anyone interested in supporting any of the teams’ pre-viz efforts or in learning more about any of the 26 submissions should email the ETC@USC’s Phil Lelyveld at


Spring 2020 Immersive Media Challenge Final Submissions, 4 Winners Picked

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC’s Spring 2020 semester Immersive Media challenge kicked off on January 29th for students and recent graduates from various disciplines. ETC’s Immersive Media Experience director Phil Lelyveld called upon submitters to ideate an immersive experience that, while not possible or easily built now, should be possible to build in 3-5 years.  New to this third ETC Immersive Media Challenge was the question; how will 5G impact the experience?

Students detailed what technological advancements need to take place in order to make their idea work and explain the reasoning behind their assumptions that those advancement will happen.

Participants were asked to answer 6 questions and create a 3-minute pitch video for the idea.

A panel of senior executives from the ETC member companies reviewed and ranked all of the submissions based on how well they accomplished the criteria of “a great idea, well told.”

The four winners are (in no particular order); Audio-Visual Animation by Jack Vomacka, Mind Palace by Sam Clempson, Affa Streaming AI Experience by Courtney Zhang, and MIC (ML for In-game Content) by Lance Newby.

Here are all of the Spring 2020 submissions.

  • Audio-Visual Animation by Jack Vomacka – Audiences of theme park attractions featuring animatronics must be kept at a sufficient distance so they do not get the chance to notice the concealed machinery. With Audio-Visual Animation, computer-generated characters will be free to move in a real-life space, no longer tethered to machinery. 6 AnswersPitch Video.
  • Telepresent Rooms by Laura Roed – Telepresent Rooms are a network of highly immersive 3D video viewing rooms, in which users can experience live events from miles away, engage in two-way 3D video calls, and share the moment across continents through the combination of LED Panel Screens, immersive audio, and gesture recognition. 6 AnswersPitch Video.

  • CleanEarth by Vivika Kapoor – This will be a game in which users can look at their phone to see their surroundings with added litter, pollution, etc through augmented reality, basically showing them what their surroundings would look like in the future if we, as a global community, don’t change our harmful habits. However, if the user performs certain tasks in the real world that help the environment, they earn in-game points and some trash or pollution will be removed from their app’s “world”. 6 AnswersPitch Video.
  • Mind Palace by Sam Clempson – Mind Palace brings memory-improvement tricks into the third dimension, by create rooms for placing memory cues in space and establishing links among the memories.  Mind Palace integrates a web browser, cloud file storage system, and more into visualized augmented reality. These spaces are interactive: objects in this augmented world are tangible and malleable layers in virtual space. 6 AnswersPitch Video.
  • Affa Streaming AI Experience by Courtney Zhang – Scroll No More, AI Affectiva Recommending Content Through Speech Emotion Detection. Affa uses a blend of personal data analytics, content metadata analysis, and emotional detection tools to make content recommendations based on your current mood. 6 AnswersPitch Video.

  • MIC (ML for In-game Content) by Lance Newby – MIC will make use of the latest in machine learning (ML) to turn your voice and normal conversations with NPCs into a natural, interactive and immersive tool for making decisions, and changing how the storyline plays out, in real-time, within the games we love and play. It turns Non-Playable Characters into minor characters who participate in and can influence the action. 6 AnswersPitch Video.

  • Legends – Meet Your Heroes by Sean Sani – My idea is to utilize advanced projector technology with some AR elements to put your heroes in front of you performing their greatest accomplishments. All in a lifelike setting where everything feels like the day it happened. Legends will put you in the room where it happens. 6 AnswersPitch Video.

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