Interactive Media Forum for 10/22/14: Mike Bonifer, GameChangers

Speaker: Mike Bonifer, GameChangers
Time: Wednesday, October 22, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206
Title: Quantum Storytelling or Big Story: The Science of How Stories Live in Networks

Mike Bonifer is the co-founder and CEO of GameChangers, which uses its proprietary
improvisation-based system to help its clients improve their ability to communicate and
After a rewarding career in the entertainment business, during which he pioneered the
uses of new technologies, such as digital video and computer graphics, in storytelling,
Bonifer wrote GameChangers – Improvisation for Business in the Networked World. The
book became the foundational text for GameChangers, which he co-founded in 2007 with
Dr. Virginia Kuhn of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Today, GameChangers consists of a worldwide network of coaches and strategists whose
clients range from large global companies such as GE, Gap, Inc., Skype and United
Airlines, to start-ups and not-for-profits. GameChangers provides its clients with the tools
and techniques to be more agile organizationally and more attuned to their customers and
the marketplace.
Bonifer sees the co-creation made possible with GameChangers’ proprietary system as a
critical business skill for companies operating in a fast-evolving global marketplace. He
believes the stories we build together make us more effective in business, and in all areas
of life.

Todd Richmond

Interactive Media Forum for 10/15/14: Todd Richmond, ICT

Speaker: Todd Richmond, USC Institute For Creative Technologies
Time: Wednesday, October 15, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206

Todd Richmond is the director of advanced prototype development and transition at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. He entered college as a music major – an interest he continues to pursue as a performing bassist and vocalist in a variety of ensembles – but graduated with a B.A. in chemistry. Richmond went on to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech. Following a postdoc at UCSF in protein engineering, he accepted a faculty position at The Claremont Colleges where his teaching experience encompassed lecture and laboratory courses in introductory, organic and biological chemistry. In addition he created new curriculum in medicinal chemistry and revamped the biochemistry lecture course. Early in his faculty career Richmond incorporated multimedia and web technologies into his teaching and research. That work led him to evolve from his specific focus on chemistry to instead pursue a broader understanding of the intersections of technology and content. He moved to the USC Annenberg Center in 2000 as managing director, researching trends in new media while fostering emerging digital technologies for collaboration and learning. At ICT Richmond works in a variety of areas including: counter-IED training systems involving video narrative, immersive environments and geo-specific multiplayer gaming scenarios; interactive education including serious games and simulations; visualization, messaging and media as agents of change; viral media and building learning communities. He also is a writer, photographer and filmmaker, having produced/directed a series of “mini documentary” projects as well as numerous new media pieces. On the music tip, he has studied with Grammy-winning bassist Victor Wooten and is currently a mentee of Kai Eckhardt.

Interactive Media Forum for 9/3/14: Flint Dille

Speaker: Flint Dille, Google
Time: Wednesday, September 3 , 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206

Flint has been described by a number of titles: Transmediologist, World builder, ARGonaut, Gameifyer, Narrative alchemist and sometimes simply writer and game designer…
He is currently creative lead on Google’s Ingress geo-mobile Alternate Reality Game, authoring Social Storm for DARPA and world-building at DreamWorks Animation as well as co-writing Primacy, the third installment of the Autocracy graphic novel trilogy from IDW. Flint’s career started by turning toys into TV Shows with G1 Transformers (and Movie) G.I. Joe, Inhumanoids and Visionaries.  He has designed games with Gary Gygax and written movies for Steven Spielberg. Flint has sold game design documents as feature films twice (Venom: Dimension 2006) and Agent In Place (Lionsgate 2010).  He created the ‘Comics Module’ for TSR, a comic book that contained both role-playing and tabletop gaming content way before Transmedia. His Agent 13 novels, are in feature film development.  Flint directed the Interactive Movie Terror T.R.A.X., which became a television pilot for Fox as well as Dragonstrike, one of the first hybrid film projects.

Flint’s graphic novel for Diablo III, The Book of Cain charted on the NYT, and his digital Transformers Comic, Autocracy was 2012’s best-selling digital-only comic.
Flint has, himself, become a fictional character.  Frank Miller immortalized him as Dillios (Spartan-ization of Dille), the narrator in 300.  Gary Gygax made him a Barbarian named ‘Chert’ (in geology a low grade of flint), Thomas Greanias based the treacherous international rogue Abdil on Flint.  And nobody knows whether Flint from G.I. Joe was named for Flint, but Mr. Dille certainly elevated the Warrant Officer’s career.
Deemed by the Writer’s Guild of America, the most published Game Writer in the World, Flint has twice won ‘Game Script of the Year’ (Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (with JZP) and Dead to Rights and was nominated for Ghostbusters and Dark Athena.  He has multiple platinum titles and has worked on crown jewel franchises including James Bond, Mission: Impossible, Tiny Toons, Batman: Rise of Sin Tsu (Guiness Book of Videogame Records for creating the first Batman villain outside of the comics) and also adapted as a novel, Superman, Dungeons & Dragons, Teen Titans and Scooby-Doo.

He has a degree in Ancient History from U.C. Berkeley and an MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and has taught a class on Alternate Reality Games at UCLA film school.  His follow up book to The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design is tentatively titled THE BLUR. In 2013, documentarian Bob Bryan made a documentary about Flint Dille entitled Gaming Our Reality (Available on Amazon, previews on YouTube).

Interactive Media Forum for 8/27/14: IMGD/MAP/SCA Research


Speakers: Profs. Bolas, Fullerton, Gotsis,  Hoberman, McPherson, Stein, Fisher, et al
Time:          Wednesday, August 27 , 4-6pm
Location:   USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building
(SCI), Room 206
Title:           Research in SCA, MAP, and the Interactive Media & Games Divisions

The program for this 511 session will showcase a wide variety of research projects in development by the Interactive Media Division and their various collaborations. It will include brief presentations by SCA faculty and Staff members in the context of their research demonstrations; the objective is to introduce IMGD and MAP faculty, their research interests, and potential opportunities for student participation.

IM Forum for 4/30/14: Ron Azuma

Speaker: Ron Azuma, Intel Labs
Time: Wednesday, April 30, 4-5:50pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building (SCI), Room 108
Title: Augmented Reality Storytelling

Augmented Reality has the potential to enable new forms of media for storytelling. At CES 2014, Intel partnered with USC to inspire people about this potential, through the Leviathan demos. However, what are the next steps required to determine how AR can effectively enable new forms of storytelling? The critical thing is to find new experiences where the combination of virtual and real is important, enabling meaningful, human connections to the real world. In this talk, I discuss three hypotheses for achieving this goal, called Reinforcing, Reskinning and Remembering, and I provide examples and approaches. The goal of this talk is to start an open discussion about the next steps that we can jointly take.

Ronald Azuma is an Augmented Reality Leader in Intel Labs, where he leads a group that designs and prototypes novel experiences that exploit upcoming technologies that will radically alter what people expect from media. Prior to joining Intel, he helped start the Nokia Research Center Hollywood and also worked at HRL Laboratories. He is known for being a pioneer in AR and is generally credited with defining the term “Augmented Reality.” He built the world’s first working AR system and wrote a paper that is the single most referenced publication in the field of AR and was listed as one of “50 influential papers” from the entire history of MIT Press journal publications. He serves on the Steering Committee for the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR). In 2013 he was invited to give a Gilbreth Lecture to the National Academy of Engineering. Ronald is also known as the author of “So Long, and Thanks for the Ph.D.,” a free online guide about surviving graduate school.

IM Forum for 4/9/14: Experiments, Prototypes, Previews

Speakers: IMGD 2nd Year MFA Students
Time: Wednesday, April 9, 4-5:50pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building (SCI), Room 206

Please join us for a special event this Wednesday April 9 at 4:00-6:00PM in SCI 206 when the second year MFA students will be presenting their experiments, prototypes and previews of next year’s IMGD Thesis projects. This will be a dynamic, hands-on opportunity to experience and critique a variety of interactive experiences at a crucial moment in their development. Don’t miss this preview of things to come!

Judith Crow

IM Forum for 2/19/14: Girish Balakrishnan and Judith Crow, Side Effects Software

Speakers: Girish Balakrishnan and Judith Crow, Side Effects Software
Time: Wednesday, February 19 , 4-5:50pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building (SCI), Room 108

Title: Rapid Prototyping with Houdini Engine: Introducing a Procedural Workflow for Game Development

This presentation will explore two case studies using Houdini Engine together with Unity to quickly prototype and make changes to digital environments.  Side Effects Software’s Houdini, with its broad procedural tool set, has been a mainstay of digital effects pipelines for more than a decade.  More recently a team at Side Effects has been developing ways to put these same powerful tools in the hands of artists working in a variety of host applications, including Unity.  
In the first case study the presenters will show how bringing procedural approaches to the level creation process contributes to a highly efficient and iterative workflow — essential components in making ever more detailed and complex worlds.  The second case study applies similar tools to the process of previsualization and virtual cinematography and will conclude with a demonstration of the SmartVCS platform.

Girish Balakrishnan is a researcher in the field of virtual production working at Side Effects Software with the Houdini Engine team to develop procedural previsualization tools for cinematic pipelines. As part of his work with the SmartVCS, a new mobile virtual camera capture platform, Girish is researching possibilities for reshaping virtual production techniques. His cinematography research work has recently been awarded the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Randy Pausch Award and the Unity Awards at Unite 2013 and was presented at SIGGRAPH 2013’s Studio Exhibition.

Judith Crow has meandered happily through her working life by adroitly seeking out the next difficult problem that interests her and attempting to work with the most talented people available in order to play a part in finding a solution. Currently she leads a fantastic ninja team at Side Effects Software in the effort to bring Houdini’s procedural tools, long depended on by film visual effects artists, to the wider game development community.  Prior to her decade at Side Effects Judith has over fifteen years of experience in digital production, many of them supervising digital effects at facilities including Digital Domain and Disney’s The Secret Lab where she worked on ground-breaking effects projects for films including “Fight Club”, “Titanic” and “Apollo 13”, to name a few. 


IMD Forum for 1/23/13: “Leviathan- Worldbuilding in Digital Narrative Media”


Speakers: Prof. Alex McDowell & WbML team
Time:          Wednesday, January 23, 6-8pm

Location:   USC’s R
obert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122
Title:            “Leviathan – Worldbuilding in Digital Narrative Media”   (
Research in the SCA Interactive Media Division PART 2)

The program for this 511 session will present recent research by SCA’s new Worldbuilding Media Lab headed by Prof. Alex McDowell.  The project team will describe their worldbuilding approach to develop a proof of concept for a story space based on author Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan.


IMD Forum for 11/7/2012: DANNY YOUNT & AHMET AHMET


Speaker: DANNY YOUNT & AHMET AHMET,  Prologue Films
Time:          Wednesday, November 7, 6-8pm
Location:   USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122 (ZML)

Danny Yount is a main title designer / director for film and television. He has earned many notable industry awards, as well as 2 Emmy wins and one nomination. At Prologue Films he has designed and directed many recognizable feature film main titles like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – which IFC has rated as one of the 50 best title sequences of all time, Iron Man, which was featured in Creativity magazine’s Top 5, Tron Legacy, Sherlock Holmes and graphic visual effects sequences for Ironman 2.

Ahmet Ahmet, a Director at Prologue and Prologue Pictures, earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art from Staffordshire Univerisyt, England. After graduation, he worked as a Designer and Art Director for BBC Television London and worked as a Creative Director at Framestore London. He joined Prologue last year, coming over from Imaginary Forces, and immediatley jumped into desinging and directing the main titles and many film segments for the critically acclaimed “M:14” starring Tom Cruise.  Most recently he has worked on VFX for Prometheus.



Yasser Malaika

IMD Forum for 9/26/2012: Yasser Malaika

Speaker:    Yasser Malaika, Valve
Time:          Wednesday, September 26, 6-8pm
Location:   USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122 (ZML)

Interaction Designer/Developer/Artist.   Yasser enjoys working at the intersection of architecture and digital technology.  At Valve, he has created environments, effects, and production tools for games in the Half Life, Left 4 Dead, and Portal series. He has also developed powerful creativity software that is easy to learn and fun to use, such as the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker.  Before joining Valve, Yasser helped to design SketchUp, a widely used 3D modeling tool, and developed a low-cost, multi-material digital fabrication system. He has also had a career in architecture, where he used games such as Unreal Tournament to visualize designs of stadiums, office buildings, and classrooms. While studying architecture, he used games such as Quake to experience long-lost ancient buildings, floating sea colonies, and to recreate never-built designs of the architects he admired.