2012 Sloan Science Seminar: Virtual Reality - The New Frontiers

January 20, 2012, 4:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The 2011/2012 Sloan Foundation Science Seminar presents

Virtual Reality - The New Frontiers

A conversation with USC Institute for Creative Technologies Creative Director Kim LeMasters, Institute for Creative Technologies Associate Director for Medical VR Albert “Skip” Rizzo, and digital media designer and artist Peggy Weil.

Moderated by SCA Associate Dean for Research Scott Fisher

4:00 P.M. on Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
George Lucas Building, School of Cinematic Arts Complex
900 West 34th Street, Los Angeles 90007

Reception to follow in the George Lucas Building lobby.


All cinema students who are planning to apply for Sloan scholarships are required to attend the seminar. The scholarships include two $20,000 production grants, two $15,000 screenwriting grants, and one $15,000 animation grant.  Information about applying for these grants will be given at the event.

About the Panelists

Kim LeMasters

Kim LeMasters, the Creative Director at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, started in the television in 1972 with ABC Television where he supervised primetime development, and oversaw the development of several series, including Happy Days, Kung Fu and The Six Million Dollar Man. From ABC he went to Warner Bros. TV where he developed Wonder Woman and Harry O.

LeMasters joined CBS television in 1976 as director of drama development and ultimately became executive vice president of development and current programming. Primetime hits under his leadership included Dallas, Knots Landing, Trapper John, Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk, Newhart and Simon and Simon. In 1983, he joined the Walt Disney Studios as executive vice president of worldwide motion pictures where he was responsible for several hit films, including Splash, The Secret of My Success and The Journey of Natty Gann.

In 1985, he returned to CBS as vice president of mini-series, and subsequently was named vice president of programming for the CBS entertainment division. In 1987, he became president of the CBS entertainment division until 1990 when he left to form his own production company. He then became president of Stephen J. Cannell Productions, where he increased the television output from 83 hours yearly to over 145, including producing, writing and directing the USA cable hit, Silk Stockings, for three seasons. In 1999, LeMasters became chairman and CEO of ReplayTV, and then joined ICT in 2009 as its Creative Director.

Albert Rizzo III, Ph.D.

Albert 'Skip' Rizzo, the Associate Director for Medical Virtual Reality, Institute for Creative Technologies & Research Assistant Professor and Research Scientist, USC Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center, conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality systems targeting the assessment and training/rehabilitation of spatial abilities, attention, memory, executive function and motor abilities. He also conducts research on VR applications that use role-playing applications (anger management, etc.), journalism studies and digital media art creation.

In collaboration with the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Rizzo is currently investigating the use of VR for acute pain distraction during painful medical procedures and for discomfort reduction during chemotherapy. He is also designing game-based VR scenarios to address issues of concern with children having autistic spectrum disorder. His latest project with VR simulation technology has focused on the translation of the graphic assets from the Xbox game, Full Spectrum Warrior, into an exposure therapy application for combat-related PTSD with Iraq War veterans.

In the area of Gerontology, Dr. Rizzo has served as the program director of the USC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and is the creator of the Memory Enhancement Seminars for Seniors (MESS) program at the USC School of Gerontology. He is currently conducting a research study funded by the Alzheimer’s Association that is investigating the use of Virtual Reality to test visuospatial and wayfinding ability in healthy aged and persons with Alzheimer’s Dementia.

He is the associate editor of the journals, CyberPsychology and Behavior; and The International Journal of Virtual Reality, and is Senior Editor of the MIT Press journal, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments.  

Peggy Weil

Peggy Weil is a digital media artist and an Adjunct Professor in both Graduate Production and the Interactive Media Division. Her Masters Degree is from MIT’s Architecture Machine Group (now the Media Lab) where she was a Research Assistant under Nicholas Negroponte. In 1990 she created and produced the award winning children's CD-ROM title for The Voyager Company, A SILLY NOISY HOUSE, widely credited as an outstanding innovation in the field. She created and produced the MOVING PUZZLE series of CD-ROMS for Ravensburger Interactive, awarded the MILIA D'OR in Cannes in 1998. She was the designing producer for The Roden Crater Website for James Turrell and DiaCenter. She is the mind behind MrMind (www.mrmind.com), her bot who challenges you to prove to him that you are human.

She was Creative Producer and Designer for ICT’s E.L.E.CT project, a role-playing game to increase cultural awareness in Army Officers, and The Redistricting Game, a USC Annenberg Center sponsored project to increase voter awareness about redistricting.  More recently, her projects have included Gone Gitmo, a virtual installation of Guantanamo Prison; Wall Jumpers, a global visualization of political separation barriers, and The IPSRESS Project, a collaboration with The EVENT LAB in Barcelona.  

With her partners at Steuer + Weil, they have released games and applications for mobile iOS and the web.  Their clients include Discovery Channel and Disney music.  Weill founded HeadsUP! A Global Design Visualization Competition to address global issues. 

Scott Fisher (Moderator)

Scott Fisher is a Professor and founding Chair of the Interactive Media Division and the Associate Dean of Research at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is an interaction designer whose work focuses primarily on mobile media, interactive environments and technologies of presence. He is also Director of USC's Mobile and Environmental Media Lab.  

Fisher's media industry experience includes Atari, Paramount, and his own companies Telepresence Research and Telepresence Media, and he is well known for his pioneering work in the field of Virtual Reality at NASA. A graduate of MIT's Architecture Machine Group (now Media Lab), he has taught at MIT, UCLA, UCSD, and Keio University in Japan. His work has been recognized internationally through numerous invited presentations, professional publications and in the popular media. In addition, he has been an Artist in Residence at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies and his stereoscopic imagery and artwork has been exhibited in the US, Japan and Europe.

From 1985 to 1990, Scott was Founder and Director of the Virtual Environment Workstation Project (VIEW) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in which the objective was to develop a multisensory ‘virtual environment’ workstation for use in the Space Station teleoperation, telepresence and automation activities.  The VIEW Project developed the “goggle and glove” system most commonly associated with the term Virtual Reality (VR), and pioneered the development of many other key VR technologies.   Prior to joining the Ames Research Center, Scott served as Research Scientist with Atari Corporation’s Sunnyvale Research Laboratory.

Contact Information

Name: Alan Baker
Email: abaker@cinema.usc.edu