sealPurdue News

May 2001

Purdue announces international entertainment technology center

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University will cast a spotlight on the future of the entertainment industry.

"The arts and sciences of moviemaking will come together in Purdue's new International Center for Entertainment Technology," said Dennis R. Short, center co-director. "The center, funded by Purdue, will bring together research, development, education and technology."

The faculty and student researchers involved with the center will take advantage of the university's interdisciplinary programs and develop software, evaluate technology, hold conferences, offer consulting services, coordinate technological meetings at industry conferences and serve as "information brokers" to the industry.

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"Entertainment technology is becoming more interdisciplinary," said Short, a professor of computer graphics technology. "For example, aerospace technology and robotics technology have direct applications within the entertainment industry, but until now no major university or organization has stepped forward to help the industry take new technologies being developed in other fields and apply them to the entertainment industry."

Van Phillips, center co-director and professor of theater, said Purdue offers an unusual blend of strengths that makes it an ideal site for this effort.

"There are several research universities in the world with important science, engineering and technology programs," Phillips said. "Likewise, there are several liberal arts universities in the world with important visual performing arts and communications programs. However, aside from Purdue, these are rarely found together in a research environment that fosters interdisciplinary study and cooperation."

Currently, the center's researchers are involved with several high-tech initiatives. They are creating software that will track the entire filmmaking process–from writing to distribution. They are applying robotics technology to the control of lighting, camera heads and rides at a theme parks.

Other research projects will involve virtual scenery, motion capture, live interaction with virtual imagery, intelligent lighting, optical systems, architectural acoustics, mechanical noise control, audio in virtual environments, image projection, video technology, pyrotechnics and lasers.

"We will be working with companies to make the technology more affordable and easier to use," said Phillips. "The world is going through a 'virtual renaissance.' Ideas, technologies and experiences are no longer bound by time, place and material. The center will sort through all the information available and make it more accessible to everyone."

National and international companies in the audio and broad-based entertainment fields have approached the center about becoming members.

"Companies want a focal point that can bring the interdisciplinary field together," Phillips said. "After the center gets into full swing, we want Hollywood and other entertainment industry professionals to think 'technology problem-solvers' when they hear the words Purdue University."

Companies can join the center at different membership levels. Membership benefits range from attending conferences to serving on the advisory board that sets the center's agenda.

In October, the center will host its first international conference.

Purdue has a history of leadership in the development of technology with entertainment applications. For example, R.H. George, research associate of the Purdue Engineering Experiment, and Howard J. Heim, in 1931 invented the first electronic television receiver, which is now on exhibit at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, Ill.

Sources: Van Phillips, (765) 494-3088,

Dennis R. Short, (765) 494-6457,

Writer: Bob Johnson, (765) 496-7704,

Other source: W. Scott Meador, (765) 496-6034,

Van Phillips, Scott Meador and Dennis R. Short, co-directors of the Purdue International Center for Entertainment Technology (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Phillips.entertain

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