Eran Egozy, CTO Harmonix Music Systems @ Parkside Performance Cafe

A Conversation with Eran Egozy
Eran Egozy, CTO Harmonix Music Systems
Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 7PM – 8PM
Parkside Performance Cafe

Eran Egozy, is the co-founder and chief technical officer of Harmonix Music Systems, one of the pre-eminent game development studios in the world, having developed more than a dozen critically acclaimed music-based video games. Harmonix was founded in 1995 on the principle that non-musicians should be able to experience the sheer joy of music creation – normally something only afforded to accomplisshed musicians. Beginning in 2005, Harmonix developed Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2, fueling the explosive growth of the music games category to over $1 billion in sales.  In 2006, Harmonix was acquired by MTV/Viacom, and shortly after, Harmonix launched the innovative, award-winning franchise titles Rock Band and Rock Band 2. In 2009, Harmonix followed with the critically acclaimed The Beatles: Rock Band, and this year, the studio is releasing Rock Band 3, which introduces a keyboard and the ability to learn real instruments, and Dance Central, the first fully immersive, no-controller dance game. Eran and Alex Rigopulos were named in Time Magazine‘s 2008 list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World, Fortune Magazine‘s 2009 Top 40 Under 40 and given a 2010 USA Network’s Character Award.

Eran brings extensive technical and musical expertise to the Harmonix’s management team. He manages the company’s engineering staff, directs intellectual property development, contributes to game design and helps drive corporate strategy. Prior to co-founding Harmonix, Eran conducted research on combining music and technology at the MIT Media Lab. He performed frequently in MIT’s Balinese Gamelan, Chamber Music Society, and Symphony Orchestra. He currently spends most of his spare time playing clarinet in Boston’s Radius Ensemble. Eran earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

See the MuCoaCo Blog post for further details.

Hosted by Prof. Elaine Chew.


IMD Forum for 3/30/2011: Movie Tagger

Speaker:       Movie Tagger: a research project “to parse and richly tag every movie ever made”
Time:             Wednesday, March 30, 6-8pm
Location:    USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 111 [NOTE NEW LOCATION]

Movie Tagger is conceived as a project to, humbly, “parse and richly tag every movie ever made.” How? By engaging an online community of scholars and fans – “crowd-sourcing.” It was first proposed in 2007 inside the USC School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Division and was “adopted” by the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation. Last fall it received sponsored research funding from Related Content Database Inc (RCDb), a next generation TV software and data services company with a strong R&D focus.

iMAP doctoral student Josh McVeigh-Schultz and IML undergrad Jason Lipshin will be joined by Eddie Elliot of RCDb, to present their research findings to date, designated “Movie Tagger Alpha”, the first stage of a larger initiative. It includes interviews with SCA faculty members to better understand metadata ontologies and, based on these interviews, macro-level visualizations of specific movies and television programs using RCDb data and visualization tools.

Scott Warner

IMD Forum for 3/23/11: Scott Warner

Speaker:       Scott Warner, Lead Designer – internal project at 343 Industries
Time:             Wednesday, March 23, 6-8pm
Location:    USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 111 [NOTE NEW LOCATION]

Scott is a 16 year entertainment industry veteran.  He started working in 1996 during the dot com era as a web developer for the English dance group Underworld.  Shortly thereafter he decided to turn his lifelong obsession with video games into a career and joined the talented Black Isle Studios crew at Interplay Productions.  While there he served as a designer on two classic role playing games, Planescape:Torment and Icewind Dale.  In 2001, he followed his desire to make action games and joined Pandemic Studios.  During his long tenure at the studio he was a key designer on two franchises – Full Spectrum Warrior and Mercenaries – that propelled the company from a small startup to an action game powerhouse that was later acquired by Electronic Arts for 860 million dollars.  In 2009, Scott joined Microsoft’s new Halo-dedicated studio 343 Industries to work as a lead designer on internal projects.

Scott was designated as one of the hot 100 game developers in 2008 and 2009 by Edge Magazine.

Cordy Rierson

IMD Forum for 2/23/11: Cordy Rierson

Speaker:     Cordy Rierson, Executive Producer & Director, University Talent Development at Microsoft Game Studios
Time:           Wednesday, February 22, 6-8pm
Location:    USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 111 [NOTE NEW LOCATION]

Cordy is an 18 year entertainment industry veteran. She started in live action film production in 1992 and spent the next 10 years working on films, television, music videos and commercials in live action, visual effects and post production on projects such as Forces of Nature, Independence Day, Batman Forever, Clear & Present Danger, Broken Arrow and Mission Impossible. In 2002 she moved into game development where she has spent the last 8 years developing over a dozen titles for Xbox, Xbox 360, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP and Wii such as Front Mission: Evolved, Silent Hill: Homecoming and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Cordy has spent that last few years as a studio manager until her recent move to Microsoft where she lead’s the Internship and College Hire initiatives for Microsoft Game Studios.

Cordy is a graduate of University of Central Florida and Full Sail University where she studied communication, film, video, radio & TV. Cordy is a 2009 inaugural Hall of Fame Inductee for Full Sail University for outstanding contributions and achievements in the entertainment industry as well as Congressional Recognition Award for dynamic digital visual effects in the film industry.

One week 2011

IMD Forum for 2/16/11: One Week Midterm Project Spring 2011

Presenters:     2nd Year MFA students
Time:                 Wednesday, February 16 , 6-8pm
Location:         USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122
Title:                 One Week Midterm Project Spring 2011

The process of creating an interactive project is nothing to shake a stick at…or is it? This project invites you to explore the conceptual nature of your interactive thesis project idea by attempting to crystallize some part of its essence or a musing about its potential in a single, tasty word or turn of phrase. To keep you on your toes, off the screen, and in the world, you must also incorporate at least one stick-like object. As we have seen year after year, the best thesis projects are those with conceptual richness, depth and rigor; that are innovative not just in form but in the intellectual, emotional and physical responses they evoke. Even a project that deals with complex ideas or emotions can often be expressed through a single word or turn of phrase. The word should signify a conceptual realm, a zone of occult instability, or a space you are interested in exploring. You might also think of these words as part of your working hypothesis, a synthesis of multiple interests, or the antithesis of what is most precious to you about your work.

The presentation of the projects will take place in the format of a science fair with a circling-the-clock motif to be executed as follows:
• You must clearly present your word or phrase as part of the project
• The user interaction must be no longer than 3 minutes
• You will have 2 minutes in which to harvest feedback from users
• You will have 1 minute to reset your project for the next user
• Every 6 minutes, a gong will sound and users will rotate to a new project

Projects should be optimized for short-term, hands-on engagement by a single user or pair of users.
Your project must fit on a standard ZML or YML table. Output of all varieties – mechanical, physical, sound, projection, etc. – is encouraged: You may use one projector. You may incorporate internet connectivity and any available input or interface devices, including a limited number of Kinect systems available upon request. Other than the need to incorporate your chosen word/phrase along with a stick-like object (this may be selected from among the materials provided or you may procure your own), the choice of media, materials and subject matter is entirely up to you.
Your work should be at least one of the following: physically demanding, emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging, or spiritually enlightening. Each student is responsible for his/her own project, but you may assist each other and collaborate as you see fit. Outside help is allowed, but all such services must be donated.
The projects will be presented at the CTIN511 seminar on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. The projects should be set up in the ZML or YML prior to seminar as if they were entries in a science fair. Project experiences will begin promptly at 6:15 PM and will proceed through 17 consecutive, 6-minute intervals. Each interaction session will last 3 minutes, followed by a 2-minute feedback session. You will remain with your project as users circulate from project to project with one minute of setup to prepare for the next user. Once the interactions begin, you should not have to touch or adjust your project (except in case of emergency).
The project setup should also incorporate a feedback mechanism of some sort. This could be you standing by the project talking to users who have just completed the experience, a notebook and pen left on the table, or a computer, video camera or audio recorder where users register their responses. Please think of the most appropriate feedback mechanism for your project and design it into the experience accordingly.

mark frauenfelder madebyhand

IMD Forum for 2/9/11: Mark Frauenfelder

Speaker:       Mark Frauenfelder, Author;  Founder & Editor, Boing Boing;   Editor-in-Chief, MAKE
Time:             Wednesday, February 9 , 6-8pm
Location:      USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122
TITLE:            DIY 2.0:  21st Century Innovation

ABSTRACT:   In the last couple of years do-it-yourselfers have gained
access to a myriad of new tools and services to help them design,
prototype, fund, manufacture, and sell the things they make. Most of
these tools and services are free or very inexpensive, and they hint
at a future in which individuals and small collectives will offer
viable alternatives to mass-produced goods.
3D design programs like Google SketchUp, Blender, and Alibre PE are
not only much more powerful than the software I was using 25 years
ago, they are much cheaper, too. (Alibre PE is $99 and Google SketchUp
and Blender are free.) DIYers are using these programs to design
everything from bicycles to chicken coops to model rocket components.
And they are sharing their 3-D designs on websites like, where other people can download the designs, modify
them, and then make their own versions of products using the models.
And the tools that they are using to make these objects are getting
more powerful and cheaper all the time, too. Remember when laser
printers, which cost $100 today, used to cost $10,000? A similar thing
is happening with manufacturing machines. Low-end laser cutters cost
about $7000, compared to $20,000 just a couple of years ago. And 3-D
printers, such as MakerBot Industries’ Thing-O-Matic (a rapid
prototyping machine that prints out objects in the same kind of
plastic that Lego bricks are made of) sell for about $1200.
Eventually 3-D printers will become as commonplace in people’s homes
and offices as laser printers are today. But in the meantime, websites
like and are the equivalent of desktop
publishing service bureaus. For a small fee you can send your 3-D
design to and and have them print out a model
in plastic, metal, or other material. These service bureaus will also
manufacture and sell your product to anyone around the world who wants
Most of the things that DIYers make are funded out-of-pocket. But for
more ambitious garage entrepreneurs, websites like
allow DIYers to post requests for project funding. The next phase in
crowdsource funding will be small scale securities markets in which
individual investors will share in the profits of financially
successful project.
And finally, the Web itself has become the great enabler of
do-it-yourself innovation. It allows communities of interest to
communicate with each other, greatly accelerating the evolution of
designs of everything from amateur unmanned flying drones to cigar box
guitars. The Web also serves as an indexed surplus store where almost
anything anyone would want can be found with a simple search.
In the 19th century people made most of the things that they used ­
furniture, clothing, shelter, food. We may see a return to a world
where individuals make many of the things they use every day, but be
connected to other innovative individuals around the world who help
them realize their goals.

CTIN 511 Speakers for Spring 2011:

Speakers for Spring 2011:

1/12   Fisher intro and Internet of Things
1/19   Sam Stokes, MSFT Imagine Cup
1/26   Rich Gossweiler, Google
2/2     ZML 2.0 Design Charrette
2/9     Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing   “DIY 2.0: 21st Century Innovation”
2/16   One Week Project
2/23   Cordy Rierson, MSFT Executive Producer on Project Management
3/2     TBD  (GDC)
3/9     Scott Warner, Lead Designer on Halo
3/16   Spring Break  (No Class)
3/23   J. Epps, Design Director of Gears of War Franchise
3/30   Movie Tagger Project
4/6     Zenimax ( Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, or Arkane Studios. )
4/13   Randy Pagulayan, Games User Research Manager at Microsoft Game Studios
4/20   Harold Brown ,  Gang, Tyre, Ramer, & Brown
4/27   Final Project Presentations

IMD Forum for 1/26/11: Rich Gossweiler

Rich Gossweiler in CTIN 511 (1/2007)
Speaker:    Rich Gossweiler, Mad Scientist, Google
Time:          Wednesday, January 26, 6-8pm

Location:   USC’s R
obert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122
Title:           Creating Computer-Generated, Human-Solvable, Computer-Confounding Puzzles (and more generally, my research process at Google)


In this game, evil doers send hordes of robots to create SPAM-spewing
zombies designed to attack your denizens. Evil doers even sell their
crafted zombies to other evil doers, so there are many, many zombies
attacking from all over the planet. Your job is to protect humans from
these evil robots and zombies. But with zillions of zombies, there is no
way to do it single-handedly, so you build a force field that lets in
only people. You do this by stationing a robot guard that asks a
decisive question. How do you build a robot guard that a) automatically
and unpredictably generates zillions of questions, (b) is easy for
humans to answer and (c) is hard for zombies to answer?
I’ll give one solution to this problem that was a collaboration with the
Vision team and then describe my research and development process at

Paul Dourish, Bits and Atoms talk Monday 1/24

The Digital Studies Symposium kicks off the Spring semester Monday night, January 24, at 7:00 p.m. with a talk by Paul Dourish from the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine.

Dourish: “MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte used to characterize the rise of digital technologies as the inevitable supplanting of atoms by bits. (Perhaps he still does.) In this talk, I will explore two areas of current research on the relationships between information technology and cultural practice that turn on different ways of thinking about physicality and digital information. The first concerns recent work in “ubiquitous computing” in which digital information begins to pervade the physical world (think of wireless networks, portable digital devices, and networked appliances). The second, going in the other direction, focuses on the consequences of the physical and material foundations of digital systems, and the fact that the seemingly ineffable “information” that is the substrate for an information society is encountered only ever in specific material forms. Through these two explorations, I hope to demonstrate the opportunities opened up by a richer account of the relationships between atoms and bits.”
Monday, January 24, 2011 7:00 p.m. SCA 112

imagine cup 2

IMD Forum for 1/19/11: Sam Stokes

Speaker:   Sam Stokes, Microsoft
Time:         Wednesday, January 19, 6-8pm
Location:  USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122
Title:          Microsoft Imagine Cup 2011

Abstract: Many student contests require that you create material unique for that contest.  This is NOT the case for the Imagine Cup!
The Imagine Cup is a contest designed for you to use material that you have already created, not unique material only for the Imagine Cup.
Sam Stokes, 10 year veteran of Microsoft, will reveal the secrets of the Imagine Cup.
Information will include how long it takes to modify an existing game project to meet the Imagine Cup goals.
Sam is going to expose the clandestine sponsor of the Imagine Cup Game and Digital Media Imagine Cup Category, it may shock you.
Come prepared to change the world while still meeting your personal goals by bringing your laptop so that no time is wasted.
At the end of this event you will know the:

  • Secret of the Imagine Cup contest
  • Who the clandestine sponsor is
  • Register for the Imagine Cup
  • Get a Microsoft advisor to help your team
  • Simple modifications might get to the winner circle!
  • How to fashion a storyboard for an internationally influential game!