News Stories

Digital Town Square

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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Machine Intelligence Comes to Content Creation

On September 27th, ETC had a half-day forum about how content recognition, speech to text, natural language processing, machine and deep learning and AI are poised to impact content creation. Tech and content demos, panels, presentations and 360-degree discussions were about: What are the new machine intelligence powered technologies and tools for content creation and how can we improve them? What repetitive and time-consuming tasks will they eliminate, and how can they bolster the creative process? What challenges will we face integrating machine intelligence into workflows and how can we ameliorate them? How will machine intelligence alter job descriptions, staffing and crewing and how can the industry get ready for the transition? What new forms of content will machine intelligence enable?

Speakers:  Lysa Banks, Head, Technical Strategy & Engineering, IBM Watson Media; Yves Bergquist, CEO, Novamente / Project Director, Data & Analytics, ETC; Linda Borgeson, SVP, Feature Post Production, Walt Disney Studios; Norman Hollyn, Editor & Professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts; Eric Iverson, CIO, Creative Artists Agency (CAA); Rev Lebaderian, VP, GameWorks & Lightspeed Studios, Nvidia; Gray Marshall, DI Colorist & Recovering VFX SupervisorErick Moen,  Research Associate, Center for Cyber-Physical Systems & the Internet of Things, USC; Jovan Popovic, Sr. Principal Scientist, Adobe Systems; Usman Shakeel, Worldwide Technology Leader, M & E, Amazon Web Services; Daniel De la Rosa, Director, Film Production Technologies, Universal Pictures; Mark Raudonis, SVP Post Production, Bunim-Murray; Jason Brahms, Managing Partner & CEO, Video Gorillas; Jean Bolot, VP, Research and Innovation, Technicolor Research Center; Amit Pande, Project Management Lead, Google Cloud; Dr. Bart Andrew Kosko, PhD, JD, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Engineering and Law, USC Gould School of Law; Debajyoti (Deb) Ray, CTO, End Cue; Jeffrey Wike, SVP, CTO, DreamWorks Animation; Harry Yoon, Editor.

Target Audience: Film and TV studio, mini-studio, network, OTT executives and technologists working in production and post; editorial, visual effects and postproduction facility executives and technologists; leading filmmakers working on set, and in editorial, visual effects and post; executives and technologists at hardware and software companies.


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Can Machine Intelligence Solve Entertainment’s Data Challenges?


What are the latest developments in visual and sound recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence and how are entertainment, finance, retail and insurance integrating these tools into their services? Do entertainment datasets, pipelines and workflows present a one-of-a-kind challenge or do other sectors share similar pain points and bottlenecks? Are there ways that content owners, distributors, service providers, and technology companies can collaborate to jumpstart the application of signal analysis and neural networks to their mutual benefit? Attendees will hear concrete and practical use cases from leaders in the field such as Sentient, Amazon, Clarafai, IBM and Rage and see machine intelligence’s potential to plus production and archiving efficiencies, leverage libraries and grow profits.

By invitation only.

When: Thursday, March 23, 2017.


Hosting Sponsor Participating Sponsor
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Previous Events

Rise of the Machine: A New Age In Metadata

Can 21st Century data science help solve some of the intractable metadata challenges faced by production, post and archiving? Find out at this interactive forum examining innovations in upstream metadata capture and utilization and the potential for change through data identification, machine learning and AI combined with indelible and unstructured metadata. Presentations, case studies and panels about current and emerging filmmaker solutions; Hollywood and Dublin Core; audio and video content recognition; deep learning; extracting and managing unstructured production metadata; leveraging descriptive metadata for greater ROI; and more.

Target Audience:
Studio, network and OTT executives, production and postproduction leads, technologists and archivists; producers and below-the-line workflow experts; executives and technologists at hardware, software and service companies working in production technology, data capture, recognition and optimization, and asset management.

By invitation only. Audience makeup will be calibrated to support a thorough, balanced and open dialogue. Safe harbor—there will be no media coverage.

When: Wednesday, November 2, 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM with a reception.


Hosting Sponsors Supporting Sponsors
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Rethinking Digital Archiving and StorageAs the latest in its ongoing Digital Town Square series, the Entertainment Technology Center at USC held a symposium on “Rethinking Digital Archiving and Storage” on June 9 at Amazon’s Santa Monica facilities. Approximately 80 people from all the major Hollywood studios, archivists and post production professionals participated in the interactive forum that examined the challenges in current archiving and storage practices, the pressures to change those practices, and emerging solutions.

“Our membership of Hollywood motion picture studios and broadcast networks are facing significant issues with regard to how to manage and protect their growing assets,” said ETC executive director Ken Williams. “Holding a Digital Town Square is an opportunity to hear from top experts in the field and openly discuss the issues affecting the entire community.”

Pacific Interface consultant Laurin Herr set the stage by describing the current landscape faced by archivists and content creators and owners. Storage/data authority Tom Coughlin detailed the exploding archive content, and Amazon Web Services product manager Henry Zhang described how his company’s services aim to create efficiencies and offer solutions.

Among the topics of focus were the impact of the increased amount of data flooding today’s media and entertainment archive, how to define tiers or levels of storage, nascent technologies that offer the promise of better solutions (including the cloud, DOTS, DNA and optical media), and how several studios and archives are planning for the future. Coca-Cola and Universal Pictures also presented case studies.

Amazon Web Services (Ben Masek and Ian McPherson) hosted the event, with participating sponsor Fujifilm and its Dternity digital archiving solution. The event was also sponsored by DigitalFilm Tree.


  • Guillaume Aubuchon, CTO, DigitalFilm Tree
  • Jean Bolot, VP, Research & Innovation, Technicolor
  • Brian Campanotti, Director, Business Development, Oracle
  • Annie Chang, VP, Technology Standards & Strategy, The Walt Disney Company
  • Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates
  • Daniel De La Rosa, Director, Film Production Technologies, Universal Pictures
  • Nick Felder, Group Director, Film & Music Production, Coca-Cola
  • Laurin Herr, President, Pacific Interface
  • Andrea Kalas, President, Association of Moving Images (AMIA)
  • Joshua Kolden, Founder, Avalanche
  • Denis Leconte, Director, Technology, Iron Mountain Entertainment Services
  • Josh Rizzo, VP, Technology, 24p Dailies Lab — Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Dan Rosen, CTO/Partner, Group 47
  • Erik Weaver, Project Manager, Cloud, ETC@USC
  • Konstantin Wilms, Specialist Solution Architect, Amazon Web Services
  • Henry Zhang, Senior Product Manager, Amazon Web Services


Hosting Sponsor Participating Sponsor Event Sponsor
Amazon Web Services FujiFilm - Dternity Digital DigitalFilm Tree


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Business of VR workshop

One hundred and four business people with direct involvement in Virtual Reality attended The Business of VR workshop co-produced by the Entertainment Technology Center at USC and the Advanced Imaging Society.

Over the course of the afternoon the attendees heard seven 10-minute presentations, participated in one of four moderated discussion groups, and had the opportunity to experience seven VR demos while networking. The event was held at the Skirball Center, Los Angeles, on November 17, 2015.

The program provided attendees with perspective, discussion and experiences beginning with seven 10-minute presentations from the following speakers :

  • Jeffrey Greller, Digital Agent with a Focus on VR at WME|IMG
  • Seth Shapiro, Principal, New Amsterdam Media, Adjunct Prof., USC School of Cinematic Arts, and Governor, Interactive Media Peer Group, the Television Academy
  • Brian Furano, Director of River Studios, Venture Advisor for VR focused Rothenberg Ventures
  • Eunice Shin, Director, Manatt Digital Media; Anthony Borquez, Founder and CEO of Grab Games
  • Clifton Dawson, CEO, Greenlight VR, a VR-focused market research company
  • Schuyler Moore, Partner, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

While the majority of the presentations focused on content and platforms, Moore delivered a provocative array of potential legal issues that few in the audience had heretofore considered.

Following the meeting, VR and AR Initiative Leader Phil Lelyveld published a comprehensive summary of the presentations and group discussions that explored location-based entertainment, platforms and money, content and money, and big picture strategy. The report is available at

That’s Cool, Now What? How to Tell Stories in Virtual Reality

One hundred and twenty creative leaders in VR, video games, TV, movies, theater and traditional entertainment gathered on February 19, 2015 to discuss the emerging language of VR storytelling.

Following two sessions of presentations and group discussions, the participants broke into five moderated working groups.  The working groups discussed their current thinking on the topic: what approaches carry over from other artistic media; and what issues, approaches, and concerns are new to the VR environment?  A report pulling together the thoughts of this community was published.

The panelists and presenters were:

Matt Apfel, vp, strategy & creative content, Samsung Media Solutions Center America
Danny Bilson, writer/director/producer (EA, THQ, Warner Bros., Disney)
Mark Bolas, director, Mixed Reality Lab, associate director, USC’s ICT, associate professor, USC’s SCA Interactive Media Division
Philip Lelyveld, sr. program manager, ETC
Alex McDowell, narrative designer, creative director, 5D GlobalStudio, Professor of Practice, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Media Arts + Practice (Intel’s “Leviathan,” “Minority Report,” “Watchmen”)
Charlie Otte, creative director, Thinkwell (Guthrie, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music)
Jon Snoody, R&D studio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering (“Captain EO,” “Indiana Jones™ Adventure,” “Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride”)
Sean Stewart, founder, Three Story House (former CD Xbox Studios, award-winning novelist, co-creator ARG genre)
VR experience demos were provided by Samsung Electronics America, Jaunt, Assimilate, Emblematic, Funktronics Labs, InnerSpace VR, Metaverse Systems, Nurulize, Otherworld Interactive,  Reel FX, VRSE, VisiSonics, and WEVR (formerly WemoLab).

Read our full report here


Participating Sponsors:




Supporting Sponsor:




Realizing The Promise of UHD
On Thursday, June 12, 2014, the ETC@USC hosted a Digital Town Square at the London West Hollywood Hotel: “Realizing The Promise of UHD.”IMG_5368 - Version 2

The introduction of digital cameras that strived to match or exceed film negatives’ capabilities and of UHD displays that support the explosion in home viewing have set in motion a re-evaluation of the professional entertainment supply chain. New practices, technologies and standards are being proposed to address image quality, the creative process, storage and transport roadblocks, the audience experience, and more. But are the major opportunities and challenges being addressed? The time is right to take stock of the progress to date, to examine and evaluate the solutions on the table to and to prepare for the future.

Filmmakers, display manufacturers, senior executives, and technologists from the content supply chain at studios, networks, and post-production/distribution companies and vendors participated in an interactive 360° forum examining the 4K supply chain options that will further the artistic and business interests of the entertainment and CE industry while delivering a demonstrably improved viewing experience. Among the topics of focus were resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), high frame rate (HFR), post and distribution workflows, new compression and color space solutions, UHD TV innovations, refresh rates, and other settings.

Presenters and Speakers:

  • Wendy Aylsworth, SVP Technology, Warner Bros. Technical Operations
  • Bill Baggelaar, SVP Technology, Colorworks / Post Production Services, Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Nick Colsey, VP, Business Development, Sony Electronics
  • Jon Fairhurst, Head, CE Standards, Sharp Labs of America
  • Chris Fetner, Director, Content Relations, Netflix
  • Joe Kane, CEO, Joe Kane Productions / Consultant, Samsung Electronics
  • Howard Lukk, VP, Digital Production Technology, Walt Disney Studios
  • N (Nandhu) Nandhakumar, SVP, LG Technology Center of America
  • Daryn Okada, ASC, Director of Photography
  • Dave Schnuelle, Senior Director, Image Technology, Dolby Laboratories
  • Yasser Syed, Ph.D., Comcast Distinguished Engineer, Comcast Cable


Jim Houston, Principal, Starwatcher Digital

Sponsored By:




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ETC Events


ETC Quarterly Board Meeting (closed meeting)
(March 6)

ETC Quarterly All Members Meeting (closed meeting)
(March 21)