June 5, 2014

Bringing IMAX to Troy

SCA Opens Michelle and Kevin Douglas IMAX Theatre and Immersive Lab

On June 4th, 2014, the USC School of Cinematic Arts took a major step forward in its efforts to be the home of the next generation of storytelling technologies. An IMAX Theatre and Immersive Lab, made possible by donations from Michelle and Kevin Douglas and IMAX, opened at the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts.

The event was attended by Rich Gelfond, David B. Keighley and Greg Foster from IMAX, Michelle and Kevin Douglas, President and COO of Universal Ron Meyer, Steven Spielberg and OptiTrack CEO Jim Richardson. The Theatre and Lab is the first of its kind to teach students how to use the latest technology for large format and immersive cinema.

“Our partnership with IMAX and Michelle and Kevin Douglas is critical to the School’s efforts in advancing the field of large format filmmaking,” said Elizabeth M. Daley, the Dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. “This gift is not only transformative for the research efforts of  the School but, most importantly, puts the cutting edge immersive storytelling, large format  filmmaking and virtual production tools in our students’ hands.”’

The IMAX Theatre and Immersive Lab joins an already thriving interactive media culture at SCA’s Robert Zemeckis Center, including a Performance Capture Stage and a World Building Media Lab. Students who use the Lab will learn about immersive storytelling and virtual production in the IMAX medium, as well as large format filmmaking, immersive storytelling and cutting edge storytelling techniques.

The 35,000-square-foot facility houses all of the tools necessary for learning and experiencing IMAX. This includes: projectors for the left and right eye, giving students the ability to learn how to work with 3D images, 50 retractable seats, allowing space for a motion capture volume, giving students the freedom to let viewers move and interact with work and track viewer movements, a wall space for hanging extra equipment, and a ceiling-mounted grid for overhead lights, cameras and sensors.

High–speed network connectivity in the theater enables SCA to use the IMAX Lab for emerging experiences, such as streaming real time live events—a feature unique to the IMAX theatres.

Resources at the Lab will also help faculty and staff research 3D technology, integrating IMAX filmmaking into virtual production, location-based entertainment, immersive entertainment experiences, multi-player game design and more.

IMAX technology will also be used to enhance the curricula for the Film & Television Production, Animation & Digital Arts and Interactive Media & Games Divisions, allowing large-format student films, games and other projects in the future.

The idea for the Center was first conceived by USC alumnus Robert Zemeckis and was then achieved by the contributions of Michelle and Kevin Douglas, and the entertainment community.

“Our partnership with IMAX and Michelle and Kevin Douglas is an incredible leap forward in offering students the most cutting edge storytelling technologies,” said Zemeckis.

“The students’ exploration of IMAX filmmaking and immersive storytelling will push the boundaries of the medium, creating experiences we cannot even imagine yet.”