News & Events

2004 - 2005 Archived Speaker Series

Building Blocks of Storytelling

Robert Riedl, Executive Producer, Her Interactive

On November 22nd, CSS opened its 2004 - 2005 Speaker Series with a special double feature! Robert Riedl, Executive Producer of Her Interactives' Nancy Drew computer games series lectured on the steps needed to create an award winning video game. He was followed by Andrew Pearce of PDI/Dreamworks who described the process of creating digital special effects for motion pictures. Both lectures were enjoyable and informative - we hope to see them again next year!

ABSTRACT: Never before have the tools for creating a story been so widely available. With the touch of a button and the push of some pixels anyone can create an animation, novel, movie or interactive game, and make it available to millions of people around the world. But how can your vision stand out among the masses? What does it take to create a great story? Robert Riedl, Executive Producer for Her Interactive's Nancy Drew computer games series will describe how their award winning stories are developed, and the techniques they use to dramatize the interactive narrative.

BACKGROUND: Robert Riedl has been creating interactive games for over a decade, and oversees the design and production of Her Interactive's Nancy Drew series. His work has won many awards, including's Editor's Choice and Parents' Choice Gold Medal. Robert's background in literary criticism, information systems, clinical psychology, teaching and monkey training has given him a wealth of experience to juggle the daily trials and tribulations of a game designer.

Creating Digital Special Effects

Andrew Pearce, PDI/Dreamworks

ABSTRACT: Andrew Pearce of PDI/Dreamworks will present a talk on the computer graphics pipeline used to create visual effects for motion pictures. The talk will be illustrated with examples from Catwoman, Lady Killers, and the Matrix: Reloaded and Revolutions. Mr. Pearce will discuss the technical dissection of a movie script in order to determine the required graphic techniques that will be used to produce the film, the planning and development of that software and the reality of developing code with time-critical film production deadlines and in the proximity of the artists and users who CAN and DO find you when things go wrong.

BIOGRAPHY: Andrew Pearce recently joined PDI/Dreamworks and is working to develop software in support of their up-coming animated features. For the past few years, Mr. Pearce was at ESC Entertainment as Head of Production Tools for 5 feature films, most notably The Matrix sequels. Mr. Pearce started his career at Alias developing software for Maya, PowerAnimator and Studio.

Offshoring & Competitiveness

Michael Leonard, Ph.D, President of Canary's Corporation & Marcus Courtney, President/Organizer of WashTech/CWA

On Tuesday, November 30th the CSS Speaker Series hosted a debate on Offshoring and Competitiveness. Our thanks to our distinguished speakers, Michael Leonard, Ph.D, President of Canary's Corporation and Marcus Courtney, President/Organizer of WashTech/CWA, for a fascinating and informed debate. And a special thanks to our audience as well for their involvement in what was undoubtedly one of the best special lectures we've had yet!

The Mars Exploration Rovers: Driving Autonomously on Mars

Dr. Mark Maimone, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

On Tuesday, February 8th the CSS Speaker Series and the UW Alumni Association once again teamed up to present this years keynote speaker, Dr. Mark Maimone of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. Please visit the UW Alumni Association for further information and thanks again to UWAA for such a wonderful event!

The Making of An Animated Feature Film

Xiaohuan Corina Wang, PDI/Dreamworks

How do we make a computer generated feature animation film? The whole process is a synergy between Art and Technology. Xiaohuan Corina Wang has been working in the research and development group at PDI/Dreamworks since September 2003, on deformation, animation, and effects related projects. Prio to joining PDI/Dreamworks, she worked at Industrial Light and Magic research and development for three years, developing proprietary animation and deformation tools. From 1996 to 2000, she was part of the research and development group at Alias, working on an Academy Award winning software Maya, with two years in the area of rendering. She graduated with a M.Sc. in Computer Graphics from the University of Toronto in 1996, and a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Alberta in 1994. Her screen credits include Shrek 2 and Men in Black 2. Please join us Monday, when Cornia will explain what goes into the creation of an animated film, using examples from Shrek 2, and answer questions about what it is like to work for a major graphics company like PDI/DreamWorks.

Creating Video Games at Electronic Arts

Gabriel Holmes

A modern video game will go through many phases of production before it reaches the store shelves. Join us on Monday, March 7th to listen to Computing & Software Systems alumnus Gabriel Holmes describe the different components required of making a video game - from conceptual planning to post production wrap up.

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