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Hollywood Turns Out for the Country’s First Fully Digital Training Facility

At the opening, from left to right, Avid Technology CEO David Krall, filmmakers George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, and USC School of Cinema-Television Dean Elizabeth Daley.

Photo by Lee Salem

The March 1 grand opening of USC School of Cinema-Television’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts marked a new era in the making of film. More than 500 people – including Gov. Gray Davis and filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg – attended the gala event.

Launched with a $5 million gift from alumnus and Academy Award-winning director Zemeckis, the center is the country’s first and only fully digital training center.

“I am thrilled to share in the first educational venture to embrace all aspects of digital production, leading filmmakers from concept through completion,” said Zemeckis, who attended the event. “Our goal is to offer the next generation of USC cinema-television students a new palette of technical tools with which to enhance the vision and scope of their storytelling.”

The 35,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility – located across from the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles’ revitalized Figueroa Corridor – houses the latest in non-linear production and post-production equipment, as well as production stages, a 50-seat screening room and the USC student-run television station, Trojan Vision.

“The opening of the Zemeckis Center is a milestone in the USC School of Cinema-Television’s evolution, further enriching the curriculum with the most advanced tools in digital filmmaking,” said Dean Elizabeth Daley. “We are deeply grateful to Robert Zemeckis and all of our donors for ensuring that our students stay ahead of the curve in the new technology of storytelling.”

Designed to offer students hands-on experience with the latest industry-standard technology, the center is highlighted by an expansive digital editing laboratory with 60 of Avid Technology Inc.’s recently released Xpress DV systems.

Joining Avid, other corporate contributors to the Zemeckis Center include Alias Wave front, Apple, Canopus Corp., Digital Theater Systems Inc, Intel Corp., Kodak, Lucent Technologies, Niagara Broadband, Philips Broadcast, Pinnacle Systems, Quantel, Rorke Data, Softopia, Silicon Graphics, Sony Corp., Ultimatte, Vicon and Zuma Networks.

The Zemeckis Center also boasts an array of visual effects equipment, including blue- and green-screen technology; digital stages with motion control computers; CGI classrooms and digital compositing equipment; five studio-quality sound stages; non-linear digital shooting systems; and a screening room with 16mm, 35mm and digital production capabilities and a THX sound system.

Hollywood Turns Out for the Country’s First Fully Digital Training Facility

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