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vETC at NAB 2023: Democratizing Onset Virtual Productions

ETC hosted its 7th vETC virtual conference at this year’s NAB Show 2023 in Las Vegas, NV, April 16th, 17th and 18th.

vETC highlights significant presentations of emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry.  This year, speakers presented concepts, workflows, business models, case studies, etc., as it applies to Onset virtual production (OSVP) and the concept of “fix it in pre”.  Market leaders in the field on OSVP will explore advances that will propel us through 2023.  The sessions will be recorded and posted on ETC’s YouTube channel.

Support with key resources came from HP,  FUSE Technical Group, and AOTO, with supporting companies Blackmagic DesignThe Studio-B&HZeissSmallHDOrbital, Mo-Sys, Kino Flo, and AWS.

AOTO is the LED wall partner.  The system is designed and built by Fuse Technical Group with Mo-Sys for the tracking system.  All additional supporting gear was donated by The Studio-B&H, and onset lighting assisted by Kino Flo highlighting the MIMIK 120.

The recorded presentations are here on our YouTube Channel.

Led by Erik Weaver, director of ETC’s Adaptive and Virtual Production project, vETC (a virtual conference), is a concept implemented by ETC in 2015 to address the overflow of speakers and topics at NAB.

The 3-day program, along with speakers, and bios are below.

vETC at NAB Show 2023 - Sunday, April 16th (Day 1)

TimeSessionCompany(s)Speakers
12:00 pm - 12:30 pmLED Stage Architecture "How It's Built"

Learn about how we built this LED stage and best practices in over all planning. Biger and more expensive is not alwasy better, learn how to create a plan for small to midsize LED stages.
Erik "Wolfie" Wolford
12:30 pm - 1:00 pmDoing More with Less: Commercial Production in the Volume

In fall of 2022, my team shot ten 60-second spots for national broadcast as part of a multi-million dollar ad buy. Using a hybrid of virtual production and traditional location work allowed us to capture an immense variety within a very short timeframe. In this talk, I will show some select moments from the commercials and provide insights into how virtual production was used to elevate the production to the next level.
Austin Glass
1:00 pm - 1:30 pmPerfect VAD Asset Workflow (and why nobody is doing that)

Let’s take a look on what VAD asset workflow would look like in the perfect world, what stops us of getting there, and how we can do better in the future.
ICVRIhar Heneralau
1:30 pm - 2:00 pmNarwhal - VADNarwhalFelix George
2:00 pm - 2:30 pm2.5D Content Workflows for In-Camera VFX

An overview of the evolving intersection of traditional VFX compositing techniques and virtual production content. This talk will discuss the history and development of the relevant compositing techniques and illustrate how filmmakers, VADs, and operations teams can benefit from the efficiencies and well-established workflow behind this particular content format for ICVFX
FUSE
Jared LeClaire
2:30 pm - 3:00 pmUnderwater Virtual Production: The Making of Emancipation

This talk will showcase the groundbreaking use of virtual production technology in the making of Emancipation, the Apple TV movie starring Will Smith. The film features an action sequence of Smith fighting a crocodile underwater, which was created using a large water tank, ICFVX workflows, and Unreal Engine real-time content. We will explore the technical and creative challenges of using virtual production technology for underwater scenes and discuss how it is changing the filmmaking landscape.
FUSE
Henrique ("Koby") Kobylko
4:00 pm - 5:00 pmGenerative AI: A View from Media Creatives

After years of hype and false starts, AI has entered the toolbox of media creatives. And for the first time in ages, the focus is less on those who’ve built it than on those who use it. Thousands of creatives throughout our industry have already layered Generative AI into their workflow. In this session, we’ll hear from one of them, acclaimed producer, director and writer C. Craig Patterson, as well as from ETC's Yves Bergquist on how artificial intelligence is already changing the way we craft media products, and what skills are required to leverage it in full.
ETCYves Bergquist,
c. Craig Patterson
5:00 pm - 5:30 pmLED Stage Architecture "How It's Built"

Learn about how we built this LED stage and best practices in over all planning. Biger and more expensive is not alwasy better, learn how to create a plan for small to midsize LED stages.
Erik "Wolfie" Wolford

vETC at NAB Show 2023 - Monday, April 17th (Day 2)

TimeSessionCompany(s)Speakers
10:00 am - 10:30 amZeroSpace

Questions to address: future of real-time rendering, direction of technology and key players in the industry
ZeroSpaceEvan Clark
10:30 am - 11:00 amNext Generation DIT's Carts for OSVPA journey of the evolution of the DIT Cart and what the next generation of OnSet Virtual Production filmmakers look for to enhance their day-to-day workflow. Dane and Arvin dive deep into the use of Wacom's Cintiq Pro Tablet line to elevate Technicians and Artists' requirements for ergonomic, tactile, color critical touch surfaces in Professional scenarios.Dane Brehm
Arvind Arumbakkam
11:00 am - 11:30 pmClosing the Virtual Production Knowledge Gap

Education and intuitive user interfaces will address the void in qualified operators. Learn what skill sets are being taught and how to acquire them. Will interfaces becoming easier to implement?
ETC
HPA
SMPTE
Cintegral Technologies
Eric Rigney (Moderating)
Dane Brehm
James Blevins
David Long
Francisco Menendez
Erik Weaver

11:30 am - 12:00 pm Novel Virtual Production Technologies

Solving common problems that confront virtual production, today and tomorrow.

Education and intuitive user interfaces will address the void in qualified operators. Learn what skill sets are being taught and how to acquire them. Will interfaces becoming easier to implement?
Mo-SysEric Rigney (Moderating)
James Uren
12:00 pm - 12:30 pmLED Stage Architecture "How It's Built"

Learn about how we built this LED stage and best practices in over all planning. Biger and more expensive is not alwasy better, learn how to create a plan for small to midsize LED stages.
Erik "Wolfie" Wolford
12:30 pm - 1:00 pmPractical Sets in the Virtual Space

The use of foreground is a critical component to blending real and unreal environments. In this talk, I will share examples from past productions showing how foreground sets are combined with the background to produce larger worlds.
Austin Glass
1:00 - 1:30Virtual Production for Indie Filmmakers

The introduction of real-time technology into the filmmaking process has influenced how creatives plan, prep, and execute projects. There are many tools and techniques that are now starting to become accessible. This talk will touch on different applications for real-time technology, methods for capturing high quality imagery, and how to get started on a small budget.
Kathryn Brillhart
1:30 pm - 2:00 pm"Advanced Color Analysis Methods for LED Walls" by Ritchie and Tucker

In January 2022, the ETC spearheaded an effort to measure detailed color information from multiple LED display manufacturers. In this talk Ritchie and Tucker will discuss how the measurements were made and what types of analysis can be done. In a year when more and more display manufacturers are providing factory calibrated displays, advanced color analysis can clarify subtle but critical performance differences for the most advanced ICVFX productions.
FUSE
ETC
ROE Visual
Ritchie Argue /
Tucker Downs
2:00 pm - 2:30 pmIBL - What's Next in Lighting for OSVPQuasar ScienceTim Kang
2:30 pm - 3:30 pmSMPTE's RIS: Standardization in Virtual Production

Cassidy Pearsall will moderate a panel of industry leaders about standards and challenges creatives and technicians are faced with on-set from an archaic, siloed systems approach, and then, make the connections with RIS leadership and the benefits of standardizations domestically and globally.
SMPTE RIS
Cassidy Pearsall /
Ritchie Argue /
Marcus Bengtsson /
Scott Blair /
Tim Kang
4:30 pm - 5:00 pmPitch Perfect - Ted Lasso’s on field innovations began in a game engine!

Cinecode, the PreVis department of DigitalFilm Tree, is the muscle behind AFC Richmond’s on field soccer battles and epic scores. Meet Cinecode’s Sr. Producer, Andrea Aniceto-Chavez as she walks us through the many developments that brought Cinecode to hyper speeds and gaming efficiencies by Ted’s third season.
CinecodeAndrea Aniceto-Chavez
5:00 pm - 5:30 pmLED Stage Architecture "How It's Built"

Learn about how we built this LED stage and best practices in over all planning. Biger and more expensive is not alwasy better, learn how to create a plan for small to midsize LED stages.
Erik "Wolfie" Wolford

vETC at NAB Show 2023 - Tuesday, April 18th (Day 3)

TimeSessionCompany(s)Speakers
10:00 am - 10:30 am4Wall Entertainment4Wall EntertainmentMat Leland
11:30 am - 12:00 pmIntelligent Storytelling for Immersive Experiences: Leveraging AI and Virtual Production

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the powerful combination of virtual production and artificial intelligence for crafting immersive and engaging narratives. Discover how intelligent storytelling tools can enhance your creative process, enabling you to harness the full potential of AI to create unforgettable audience experiences. From virtual sets to real-time rendering, we'll dive into the latest techniques and best practices for incorporating AI and virtual production into your workflow. Whether you're a filmmaker, game developer, or VR enthusiast, this talk is not to be missed.
ETCTom Thudiyanplackal
12:00 pm - 12:30 pmLED Stage Architecture "How It's Built"

Learn about how we built this LED stage and best practices in over all planning. Biger and more expensive is not alwasy better, learn how to create a plan for small to midsize LED stages.
Erik "Wolfie" Wolford
12:30 pm - 1:00 pmTrueLight - RGBW and LED Panels as a Lighting Source

Within the VP volume, much of the scene’s lighting comes from LED panels, but these are typically designed for direct view and their spectral output is very different from typical lighting sources, so skin tones in particular can look unnatural. Adding additional LED emitters to every pixel improves the result, but massively increases the complexity of per-pixel calibration and ensuring color accuracy. TrueLight brings a significant leap in color-rendering accuracy – especially noticeable on skin tones and in blending foreground elements with virtual environments.
Brompton TechnologyCesar Caceres
1:00 pm - 1:30 pmRemovable Storage Trends

ProGrade Digital was founded on a mission to provide the highest quality, professional grade memory cards and workflow solutions available to professional photographers and videographers. Wes Brewer, Founder and CEO, will present a brief overview of the technology trends that are emerging in 2023 that further boost the productivity and capability of professionals using removable storage in the imaging business.
ProGrade DigitalWes Brewer
1:30 pm - 2:00 pmSam Nicholson and the Amazing OSVP Adventure!

Sam Nicholson is one of Hollywood's leading virtual production and visual effects creatives. With nearly forty years as a Visual Effects Supervisor, DP, director, and now Virtual Production Supervisor, Nicholson and his company, Stargate Studios, have combined the latest in LED technology with their proprietary "ThruView" lighting system. Overseeing both virtual production content creation and playback, Stargate has worked on countless films and TV series including Our Flag Means Death, Station 19, Your Honor, Bardo, The Lincoln Lawyer, and the upcoming Chuck Lorre sitcom, How to be a Bookie.
Stargate StudiosSam Nicholson
2:00 pm - 2:50 pmGaijin Collective State of the Industry Report

Come hear the largest collective of independent LED stage operators, talk about stories of their journey, give a state of the industry report, and pontificate on what is next in OSVP.
Orbital Virtual Studios
XR Studios
Vū Studios
A.J. Wedding,
J.T. Rooney,
Tim Moore

3:00 pm - 3:30 pmVirtual Production For All - Scalability in the Volume

Noah Kadner explores the accessibility of virtual production at different scales. Learn how to maximize resources and get into the real-time revolution at any level.
VirtualProducer.ioNoah Kadner
3:30 pm - 4:00 pmVirtual Production Without Unreal Engine: Background Plates, Photogrammetry, and Image-Based Lighting

Join Alex Pearce, Partner & Senior Creative Technologist from Light Sail VR, to learn many different Virtual Production techniques that do not require Unreal Engine. 2d video plates, 360 video plates, photogrammetry, baked lighting from Blender, all used in Real-Time using Assimilate Live FX. Also, learn about how easy it is to set up Image-Based Lighting using Quasar Science or the new Kino Flo Mimik 120!
Light Sail VRAlex Pearce
4:00 pm - 4:30 pmA Look Behind the Curtain

An exclusive glimpse into the cutting-edge LED volume operations and video systems that power the filmmaking process. Delving into the history of this game-changing technology, we will explore its early days and some of the pioneering deployments that shaped it into what it is today. Moreover, we will examine the evolution of these techniques and their current capabilities. Looking ahead, we will examine the future of virtual production and how we are preparing ourselves for it with new in-house software developments. Join us for an insightful discussion that will offer a deeper understanding of the technology behind modern filmmaking.
FUSEMitch Lathrop,
Andrew Brod,
Jared LeClair
5:00 pm - 5:30 pmLED Stage Architecture "How It's Built"

Learn about how we built this LED stage and best practices in over all planning. Biger and more expensive is not alwasy better, learn how to create a plan for small to midsize LED stages.
Erik "Wolfie" Wolford

The SPEAKERS

SpeakerBio


Charlie Anderson
Sr. Manager of Camera to Cloud Partnerships
Frame.io


With 15 years of experience as a highly successful DIT & Cinematographer in the film industry, Charlie is a true professional who brings a keen eye for detail and a passion for excellence to every project. For the past two years, Charlie has been an essential member of the Frame.io Innovation team, leading multiple successful Camera to Cloud Partnership launches with his expertise. Charlie has a natural ability to exceed expectations and is committed to delivering high-quality results that clients and partners love. As an experimenter and tinkerer at heart, he is always exploring new ideas and approaches to improve processes and outcomes. Charlie's extensive experience, strategic thinking, and collaborative spirit make him an invaluable asset to any partner looking to succeed in the film industry or beyond. He excels at leading the charge for cloud workflows, using his knowledge of the latest trends and technologies to drive innovation and pioneer new outcomes with confidence.

Andrea Aniceto-Chavez
Lead Producer (Cinecode)
DigitalFilm Tree
Andrea Aniceto-Chavez is a graduate of NYU and the lead producer for Cinecode, the virtual production and pre-visualization effort of DigitalFilm Tree. Andrea, and Cinecode, are focused on serving the needs of productions to prototype their stories from pre-development to physical productions. Cinecode leverages game engine technology to quickly, affordably iterate their stories in the virtual environment, making physical production planning and efficiency exponentially better than current methods. By lowering the cost of pre-visualization and virtual production, Cinecode democratizes and empower creators, writers, and directors to craft their narrative with our proprietary, accessible story engine.

Ritchie Argue
Director, R&D
Fuse Technical Group

Ritchie is the Director of R&D for Fuse TG, and is a co-chair for the SMPTE RIS Interop working group as well as the LED lead for the Entertainment Technology Center's Virtual Production Working Group. He focuses on taming the complexities of cutting-edge display technologies for use in real-time production environments. Prior to joining Fuse, he has been a product manager and technical contributor to LED display and processing systems for over 15 years at Planar, VER, Barco, and Element Labs. He received a BS from the University of BC, Vancouver, BC, and an MS degree in computer science from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Arvind Arumbakkam
Creative Technologist
Wacom
Arvind is a creative technologist at Wacom focusing on emerging Media & Entertainment workflows. Arvind and teamwork with innovators in the industry to push the boundaries of creative tools – with a focus on harmonizing the intersection of technology and artist experience.

Marcus Bengtsson
CTO
Original Syndicate


Marcus Bengtsson is the Chief Technology Officer at Original Syndicate, a full service live and virtual production company based in Los Angeles, California. Marcus has spent the last 15 years in various positions in the entertainment technology industry - from engineering, to product management, to sales and business development.

Marcus started his career in Sweden but relocated to the United States in 2017 where he quickly established himself at the forefront of the emerging field of virtual production. He holds a degree in Software Engineering and Management and is a published author, award-winning engineer, and inventor of several patents. Marcus is actively involved in industry efforts to standardize workflows and protocols, and to establish best practices that can help move the industry forward as a whole.

When he is not trying to solve previously unsolved problems, Marcus enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, scuba diving, good food, and good wine. Marcus can be reached at marcus@originalsyndicate.com.

Yves Bergquist
Director, AI & Blockchain
ETC


Yves is an AI researcher and the director of the “AI & Blockchain in Media” Project at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). A research center at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, ETC brings together all the Hollywood studios as well as large tech companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. At the Center, Yves and his team use fronter AI methods to help media companies develop deep insights into their content, their audiences, and the cognitive relationship between the two. Yves is also the co-chair of SMPTE’s Joint Task Force on Artificial Intelligence Standards in Media, where he helps drive the standardization of AI methods throughout the media industry. In addition, Yves is the co-founder and CEO of Corto, an AI startup developing AI tools to make stories and audiences computable through the DNA analysis of narratives. Corto is in Private Beta with a dozen studios, advertising agencies, and global consumer brands, and is already used to develop film, TV, and branded content. He is a member of the Digital Storytelling Lab at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

James Blevins
Co-Founder
MeshVP

James is the Co-Founder of MeshVP, a Virtual Production Line Producing company, and a Media and Entertainment Industry Consultant for Valid Essence.

He has an extensive background in the entertainment industry, having worked for Lucasfilm Productions as a Post-Production Supervisor for The Mandalorian, and for Netflix as a post-production and distribution expert. Before that, he gained over 15 years of experience in the VFX industry, working with Disney and Digital Domain to become an expert in managing data flows from the first day of shooting to worldwide distribution.

James is also an advisory board member of several prestigious institutions in the film and television industry, including the Hollywood Professional Association and the Science and Technology Committee of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences.

James makes Los Angeles his home.

Dane Brehm
Production Technologist and DIT
Cintegral Technologies




Dane Brehm, a Production Technologist & Digital Imaging Technician has a long standing desire to stay at the forefront of creativity, technology, and workflow.
His direct approach, sharing personality, and consideration for everyone on-set and in Post allows for a faster incorporation of new workflow techniques and solutions.

Dane balances his time between working on-set as a ICG DIT for ASC DPs; while running Cintegral.tech, a Production Technology + Workflow company that focuses on introducing and implementing high-performance enterprise NVMe SSD, meta-data capture, and RAID systems. Cintegral has supported over 120 productions since 2016 to meet modern 4K/6K/8K Studio and Streaming content demands for large format-multi-camera-VFX intensive cinematography. He has forged deep partnerships with OEMs to develop tools and software for the M&E space.

Dane is an ASC Technical Instructor, SMPTE and Local 600 member, as well as a participant in the ASC-MITC Advanced Data Management working group. He is a founding member of the DIT super group “DIT-WIT,” which comprises over 300 global members to discuss, share, develop, and execute the creative and technical needs of present and future productions.

Wes Brewer
Founder/CEO
ProGrade Digital


Wes is the founder and Chief Executive Officer at ProGrade Digital. He brings more than 30 years of executive management, corporate strategy, product development, and go-to-market experience to this role. As CEO, he leads the company to fulfill its goal of being the preferred brand of memory cards and workflow accessories for professional photographers, videographers, and cinematographers.

Prior to founding ProGrade Digital, Wes had P&L responsibility of Lexar as its Vice President and General Manager. He was directly responsible for Product Marketing, Product Management, Product Engineering, Quality, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Demand Planning for all Lexar branded memory products.

He also held leadership positions at SanDisk, where he was the Vice President of the Cards and Accessories Division and played a key role in building SanDisk into a multi-billion-dollar retail business. He has also held executive-level roles at other consumer- and enterprise-focused technology companies including Magellan Navigation and Seagate Technology.

Andrew Brod
Director, Technology
Fuse Technical Group


Andrew Brod is a seasoned technology professional with over 15 years of experience in developing and implementing cutting-edge technical solutions for the entertainment industry. His previous work in lighting, audio, video, and camera departments has given him a deep understanding of diverse client requirements. As the Director of Technology for Fuse Technical Group, he oversees the company's technical strategy, ensuring that the company remains at the forefront of the industry. Andrew's expertise spans a wide range of technologies, from cloud-based software development to video systems engineering. He is constantly researching and exploring new technologies to help Fuse TG stay ahead of the curve. Andrew also happens to be exceptionally good at making cocktails, so feel free to ask.

Tucker Downs
Color Scientist
Roe Visual





Joe Finlayson
Manager, BusDev
Epic Games



Austin Glass
Director of Photography


Austin is an Emmy award-winning Director of Photography and a passionate visual storyteller. His career has spanned many disciplines such as documentary, industrial, commercial, and short-form narrative. In 2020, he began developing and shooting many projects on LED walls using virtual production techniques. Since that time, Austin has shot more than two dozen projects within an LED volume, and he continues to strive for innovation in that space, both as a cinematographer and a consultant to others.

Ihar Heneralau
CEO
ICVR
Entrepreneur, with 15+ years of experience between tech, marketing, and gaming industries managing teams and building products. He has worked as a product manager and an executive producer on multiple top-grossing mobile game titles.

In 2016 he co-founded ICVR, an award-winning software development agency focused on exploring the boundaries of emerging technologies, XR, and gaming. ICVR currently has over 90 employees with diverse skillsets and has created 90+ products in the past years for clients including major studios, A-list celebrities and brands. ICVR also devotes extensive resources to internal R&D, building proprietary pipelines and growing the skills of its team.

Felix Jorge
CEO and Founder
Narwhal Studios
As the CEO and Founder of Narwhal Studios (formerly Happy Mushroom), Felix Jorge is a vibrant creative with a genuine passion for creating interactive story-driven content. His extensive career leading Virtual Art Department teams and developing pipelines for projects such as The Mandalorian and Jungle Book, has placed him as a pioneer in the Virtual Production landscape. His “Filmmaker First” approach has initiated a collaborative and customizable process for creative and executive leads to discover their story in an intuitive way.

Henrique "Koby" Kobylko
Director, OSVP
Fuse Technical Group

Henrique Kobylko, also known as Koby, is the Director of On-Set Virtual Production for Fuse Technical Group. With a deep passion for virtual production, Koby specializes in developing efficient on-set workflows utilizing cutting-edge technology and digital tools to bring other creators' visions to life. His expertise in in-camera VFX and LED volumes makes him a valuable asset in guiding and assisting other creators. Koby recognizes the importance of a dedicated team in creating great products and strives to contribute to the growth and advancement of the art of virtual production in the film industry.

Mitch Lathrop
Director, Virtual Production
Fuse Technical Group
Mitch Lathrop is the Director of Virtual Production for Fuse Technical Group. Since moving West from Indiana back in 2010, he has been making waves in the entertainment world by collaborating with the industry's best companies, brands, and artists around the globe. Mitch kicked off his career with a touch of magic at the Walt Disney Company, working with video engineering systems for awe-inspiring nighttime shows and projection mapping spectacles. Eventually, the thrill of the open road called and Mitch ventured into video engineering for concert tours, music festivals, grand-scale corporate events, live broadcast TV, and finally, the cutting-edge realm of LED volumes and virtual production. Since 2015, Mitch has been an instrumental force in planning, engineering, and executing high-profile Virtual Production projects, including "Murder on the Orient Express", "First Man", "The Mandalorian", and "Thor: Love & Thunder". His passion lies in blending technology with creativity, collaborating with brilliant minds, and discovering the extraordinary feats that can be achieved when daring to think outside the box.

Jared LeClaire
Sr. Video Engineering Systems Architect
Fuse Technical Group


Jared LeClaire is a Senior Video Engineering Systems Architect for Fuse Technical Group's Virtual Production department. For the past decade Jared has shepherded creative and technical media solutions for some of the most prominent film, broadcast, corporate, and live event productions in the world. Jared's career is underscored by a theme of innovative design and is driven by a passion for the art and science of image making.

David Long
Director, RIT MAGIC Center & MAGIC Spell Studios
MAGIC Center

David Long is Director of the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC) and MAGIC Spell Studios, a university-wide research and development laboratory and a commercial media production studio. Long joined the faculty of the School of Film and Animation at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007, where he also serves as an Associate Professor for the motion picture science program. His research interests at RIT include engineering multispectral video capture and display systems, studying variability in human color vision for artistic applications, and modeling sensory perception of motion media. He also studies workflow and technology trends in virtual production and realtime media. Prior to RIT, Long worked as a Development Engineer and Imaging Scientist with Eastman Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division. Long earned his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, an MS in Materials Science from the University of Rochester, and a PhD in Color Science from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Dr. Francisco Menendez
Professor



Professor Francisco Menendez is the winner of the CILECT Teaching Award for 2020 and has been in the vanguard of approaches to film teaching, mentorship, and pedagogy for three decades. Professor Menendez also holds several prestigious teaching awards from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and two Charles Vanda awards for excellence in the arts. He is currently the president of the University Film and Video Foundation, and the past president of University Film and Video Association.

Sam Nicholson, ASC
CEO and Founder
Stargate Studios
Stargate Studios is an Emmy-winning international production company that specializes in visual effects and virtual production. Sam has been involved in film and television production for over 40 years, beginning as an on-set visual effects supervisor for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the groundbreaking Max Headroom. From there, he founded Stargate Studios, and has provided over 30 years of award-winning visual effects for countless projects including The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, Monk, 24, Heroes, Ugly Betty, ER, Hustlers, The Black Phone, The Resident, and Will Trent to name a few.

On the virtual production front, Sam and Stargate pioneered the VP approach for HBO’s Our Flag Means Death, and have continued to excel with the latest LED technology on productions such as Your Honor, Lincoln Lawyer, Bardo, Station 19, Fatal Attraction, White Noise, The Consultant, The Idol, and the upcoming sitcom How to be a Bookie created by Chuck Lorre.

As the 2023 recipient of the American Society of Cinematographer's Technical Achievement Award, Sam combines years of experience with film cameras, cinematic lighting, optical printing, motion control and film finishing with an extensive knowledge of digital camera systems. Sam is also a member of the DGA and The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is a multiple award-winning member of the Visual Effects Society, and he serves on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Technical Awards committee.

Sam is a graduate of the UCLA School of Fine Arts, and lives in Pasadena with his wife, Diane, and their seven rescue dogs.

c. Craig Patterson
Writer and Filmmaker


c. Craig is a filmmaker whose work has received distinctions from The Blacklist, Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Sundance Episodic Lab, Hillman Grad’s Rising Voices, the Nicholl Fellowship, and an award in screenwriting from Columbia University.

His latest film, FATHEAD, is the recipient of the Innovation in Technology grant from University of Southern California (USC) and a NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Short Form (Live-Action).

c. Craig has also produced projects for Carnegie Hall, directed Paramount+’s critically acclaimed one-hour comedy special for Roy Wood Jr, ‘Imperfect Messenger’ and is a past recipient of the George Lucas Family Scholarship as well as the Edward Small Award for writing and directing at USC.

Alex Pearce
Sr. Creative Technologist
Light Sail VR
Alex oversees the technical side of Light Sail VR including virtual production, photo-real visual effects, 3D pre-visualization as well as augmenting 360 video and real-time game engine development efforts. Alex's many years of experience as an industry thought leader has enabled his success with major clients including Apple, Google, United Airlines, Kia, VMware and the NFL, to name a few.

Eric Rigney, MA
VP Technical Instructor
Mo-Sys Academy



A virtual production technical instructor with Mo-Sys Academy in Los Angeles, teaching ICVFX, AR, XR, green screen, and hybrid workflows. Author of “Final Sample: Mitigating Acoustical Reflection & Unwanted Noise, Guarding On-Set Virtual Production Dialog.” Executive Vice President of Media & Entertainment Data Center Alliance (MEDCA). 20 years developing and managing several postproduction operations at Sony Pictures. Patent in Camera Direct Dailies. Circumnavigated the world aboard his 42-foot sailboat, visiting 6 continents over 4.5 years. Active member of SMPTE, HPA, MESA, and ETC.

J.T. Rooney
President
XR Studios


Across his work on some of the largest music, corporate, broadcast, and esport projects in the world, J.T. Rooney pushes the limits of creative design and execution for live entertainment. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, J.T. leads the XR Studios team, overseeing trailblazing broadcast projects with world-renowned clients such as Twitch, Katy Perry, Snapchat, Riot Games, Billie Eilish, Viacom, Black Eyed Peas, Amazon, Tik Tok, and more.

J.T. began his career creating immersive visuals and controlled advanced systems for the New World Symphony, later joining creative agencies Lightborne and then Silent Partners Studios where he screen produced for international artists and brands including Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, Kanye West’s Yeezus and Saint Pablo Tours, the Muse Simulation Theory Tour, Audi, Flume, and Taylor Swift’s reputation Stadium Tour. Utilizing his resources and valuable experience, J.T. came together with his collaborators to create, produce, and execute productions in an entirely new way, resulting in the creation of XR Studios.

Specializing in live entertainment, corporate and brand events, commercial, music video, and product work, he and his team at XR Studios continue to elevate immersive experiences utilizing modern technology in extended, augmented, and virtual reality.

J.T. currently splits his time across Montreal, London, and Los Angeles, where XR Studios is building the XR Studios
Hollywood Campus dedicated to immersive technologies for live entertainment.

Tom Thudiyanplackal
Producer & Technologist
Indian-born American filmmaker Tom Thudiyanplackal has credits on several landmark movies, including vice president for Development and Marketing for Bollywood blockbusters 3 Idiots and Carry On Munna Bhai, and Producer of the Emmy-nominated nature documentary Seed: The Untold Story. He has traversed several industries and spearheaded creative ventures for Ogilvy Advertising, Reliance Communications, and Vinod Chopra Films in a career spanning over two decades.

After completing the Summer 2021 Unreal Engine Virtual Production fellowship with Epic Games, Thudiyanplackal joined the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) as the Virtual Production Producer on the short film, Fathead and is leading the authorship on the white paper documenting and sharing the experiences and lessons gathered from the production.

As a producer and technologist, Thudiyanplackal is engaged in experimentations and novel pipeline integrations for virtual production, focusing on volumetric performance capture and photogrammetry of human subjects and end-to-end production methods better suited for low- to mid-budget projects centered on human stories needing a high degree of realism. He is an active member of the ETC virtual production workgroup focused on investigations into virtual production education, light and color science, and LED panel technology.

Thudiyanplackal holds a BS in Physics from Mumbai University, India, and has received formal education in direction and cinematography from Prague Film School. He has co-developed a novel mind-body self-efficacy protocol with his wife as she continues to overcome Multiple Sclerosis (MS) spiritedly. The method has earned a peer-reviewed paper published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. The curriculum for the protocol for self-care is currently taught at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.

James Uren
Technical Director
Mo-Sys
James Uren is the Technical Director at Mo-Sys Engineering and on-set Virtual Production Supervisor. Mo-Sys design and build robotics, tracking systems and software for film and television that enable visual effects and virtual production. Credits include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, Life of Pi, The Shape of Water and Aquaman, and serial television credits include Stranger Things, House of Cards, Sherlock, Orange is the New Black among many more. In broadcast Mo-Sys have supported the likes of the BBC, ESPN, FOX, Sky and The Weather Channel.

Mo-Sys' precision tracking technology opens the door to full virtual production, where real-time graphics engines such as Unreal Engine can be used to create photo-real visual effects, and aid pre-production, production and post.


Erik Weaver
Director, Adaptive & Virtual Production
ETC
Erik Weaver is a specialist focused on the intersection of cloud and the Media and Entertainment industry. He currently directs ETC’s Adaptive and Virtual Production project that 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.

Prior work includes ETC’s “Production in the Cloud” as well as global M&E strategy for Western Digital. Weaver has fostered and achieved many accomplishments in the M&E market including executive producer on several ETC R&D film projects like: “Ripple Effect” (2020) that examined safety protocols and virtual production during the pandemic; “Wonder Buffalo” (2018), a production that entered the SXSW Interactivity competition, and focused on an HRD first, cloud, & volumetric capture. The project was brought together by volumetric capture, photogrammetry, ambonisic sound, and interactivity; “The Suitcase” (2016), a CAA People Choice Award and Tribeca 2017 entry that focused on HDR, cloud-based workflows and Live 360. He was also chairman of NAB’s “Next Generation Media Technologies” Conference 2014-2017, as well as chairman and initiator of vNAB 2015-2019 (later rebranded as the ongoing vETC).

Weaver’s SMPTE involvement includes the Rapid Industry Solution (RIS) initiative which seeks to operate with greater agility to respond to emerging technology challenges, and the C4 MR30 Standards group, which oversees and helps educate the M&E industry on using C4, Semantics, and NoSQL for Managing Motion Picture Data. Weaver has also spoken – and continues to speak – at numerous M&E conferences and tradeshows.

AJ Wedding
Co-Founder
Orbital Virtual Studios

Erik "Wolfie" Wolford
Cinematographer
Erik “Wolfie” Wolford has worked in the film business since 1990. As a Director of Photography, Wolfie is known for excellent beauty lighting, an eye for color and composition, quick lighting setups, and a deep roster of “A Game” crew members whom he has worked with for years.

Wolfie came up through the lighting department ranks in the 90’s, lighting features, music videos and commercials with such legendary directors like Spike Jonze, Michel Gaundry, Francis Lawrence, Mc G, and even several rap videos for the infamous Death Row Records.

Wolfie has spent time in the lighting department on big budget features such as Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, JJ Abrams Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (Wolfie was brought in to do specialized miniature set lighting).

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SOUNDCLOUD TALKS

MISSION

  • To advance technology and innovation within the entertainment industry
  • To provide a neutral setting for the entertainment industry, technology and electronics companies and to identify and discuss pressing issues
  • To understand the impact of technology on the consumer experience and the creative process
  • To connect and leverage the University of Southern California’s extensive research facilities, faculty and student body with companies
  • To provide insight about emerging consumer habits
  • To convene industry peer groups and partners to share knowledge and experience
  • To create an environment for testing and evaluation of proposed technology solutions
  • To help identify new business models for the entertainment industry
  • To improve the consumer experience and advance the art of entertainment as the 21st century unfolds

ETC Events

ETC/Sprockit Symposium  (Panels and 1:1 Start-ups – Invitation Only)
(February 29)


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


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