The LSU Center for Computation & Technology and School of Music will host the 2015 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, or NIME, May 31-June 3. This will be the 14th year that researchers and musicians from all over the world come together to share state-of-the-art musical interfaces and interactions for musical performance.
Brought back to life by the mad scientists at LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology, the event formerly known as the Red Stick International Animation Festival returns after a two-year hiatus. Scheduled events, workshops and presentations promise to explore the ways in which digital media are shaping the way we view the world. Digital artists, makers, engineers, and entrepreneurs from Baton Rouge and beyond will gather downtown to present:
• 5:30 pm–10 pm: Performances by digital performance artists Evidence & Luke DuBois during a Steam Punk-themed gathering at the Town Lawn (North Blvd @ Third Street)
• 10 am–noon: An Art/Tech Kids’ Lab event at the River Center Branch Library featuring a Lego lab, Minecraft and Arduino showcases, interactive art projects and live lab for ages six and up.
• Free workshops to introduce folks to Arduino (an electronics kit that anyone can use), Light Painting with iPads, and Cloudlet-based digital art collaboration. See redstickfestival.org for locations and times.
• 8:30 pm–’til: A Saturday night screening of Pitch Perfect, a film made right here in Baton Rouge, at the Town Lawn.
• 3 pm–5 pm: A screening of selected animation pieces from previous Red Stick Animation Festivals. LASM, 100 S. River Road.
• 6 pm–8 pm: NIME @ Red Stick: An art exhibit taking place throughout the Shaw Center for the Arts and Glassell Gallery, coinciding with the opening of the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference opening at LSU this day. 100 Lafayette Street.
redstickfestival.org to learn more.
30 seconds with experimental music professor Jesse Allison
by Jennifer Tormo
The LSU professor of experimental music and digital media spearheading this month’s Red Stick International Festival divulges what to expect at the technology-themed event.
What can visitors expect to find at this year’s festival?
LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology is going to present seven events over three days. The opening gala, with a carnival-type feel, will be an industry/business gathering featuring steampunk as well as a performance by a world-renowned digital artist. Other events will include a kid’s lab and expo/maker fair, both sponsored by Electronic Arts; Drones, Drama & Drinks sponsored by NOVAC, in which we explore the rising potential (and controversy) of the flying camera; an outdoor screening of Pitch Perfect; an animation retrospective of previous Red Stick Animation festivals; and the opening of the NIME @ Red Stick art exhibit (read more on that later).
Any exhibits or events that you think locals might get especially excited about?
The East Baton Rouge Parish library, which has been a big supporter of the festival, is hosting the Expo & Maker Fair at the downtown library on the afternoon of Saturday, May 30, at River Center Branch Library. We are expecting exhibits from Electronic Arts, NASA and local robotics clubs, among others, and a maker fair with booths from various local makers. Acadian Robotics, the only 3-D printer manufacturer in Louisiana, will be demonstrating some of their products.
What’s the one part of the festival that’s a must for any attendee?
Celtic Studios is presenting a movie night, and we are showcasing a film made right here in Baton Rouge, Pitch Perfect. We are going to show it downtown at North Boulevard Town Square on the evening of May 30. We encourage everyone to grab a blanket, come down and watch the movie.
How long has the festival been running for? How has it evolved over the years?
Stephen David Beck and Stacey Simmons of LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology created the Red Stick International Animation Festival in 2005 to show the importance of high-performance computing through a popular medium—computer animation. The last Red Stick Animation Festival was held here in 2012. Last year, we decided to rebrand and retool the festival to an event focused on digital media (including but not limited to animation), maker fairs, experimental music concerts, digital art exhibits, game jams and other technology-derived events. Last year’s showcase was called FutureFest. Our goal this year was an open-source festival, with the community helping to shape the events. So we decided to keep the name simple—The Red Stick International Festival.
The festival overlaps with another international conference, New Interfaces of Musical Expression (NIME). How is Red Stick International Festival collaborating with NIME?
We have a number of NIME @ Red Stick crossover events that will allow festival attendees to get a glimpse into recent developments in the music world. The grandest of these is the NIME Art Exhibition Opening Reception on Sunday, May 31, 6-8 p.m. Many of the artists/attendees from NIME will be on hand for the opening, and we also plan for some of the NIME classes and workshops to be open to Red Stick attendees. As Red Stick ends, the NIME conference (May 31-June 3) continues the creative technology events with demos, presentations and concerts that are open to the public. For more info, visit nime2015.lsu.edu.
The Red Stick International Festival festival starts May 29 at 6 p.m. with the opening gala and runs through May 31. All events are free. Events will be held at various spots downtown, including the Shaw Center for the Arts, LSU Museum of Art and North Boulevard Town Square. For a full schedule and to learn more about the event, visit redstickfestival.org.
Show your work at the Maker Faire! Sign up here: https://redstickfestival.org/
We invite you to show your creative digital media projects or DIY experiments at the Red Stick Expo and Maker Faire, scheduled for Saturday, May 30th, at the River Center Library, Downtown Baton Rouge (2PM-6PM).
Summer 2015 | 9:00 – 12:00 MTWTF | Derick Ostrenko
All Majors Welcome
Moving Image is a project based survey course focused on building a strong foundation in animation, 3D computer graphics, and visual effects. Emphasis will be placed on learning animation principles such as: squash & stretch, staging, anticipation, straight ahead & pose to pose, follow through & overlapping, slow in & slow out, arcs, secondary action, timing, exaggeration, solid drawings, and appeal. Topics in computer graphics will include: modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering. These will be combined with issues in visual effects including: compositing, rotoscoping, mattes, image acquisition, keying, and match moving. The varied scope of subjects covered in the course will allow students to gain an integrated understanding of current approaches for the creation of time based media.
* Students may sign up for either ART 4240 or 2220 depending on which course best fits their degree audit. If you have any questions feel free to email the instructor at email@example.com.
Before Ken Wesley ever made a digital tornado twist or a computer-generated hovercraft blow back trees, he liked to sit and watch the rain fall at home.
Wesley, 55, now an instructor at LSU, worked for three decades in the early days of computer generated imagery — CGI — creating scenes for “Mission Impossible,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and several other blockbusters.
His childhood in rural Foxworth in south Mississippi created a foundation for his work.
“I had a lot of time to watch rain fall or watch grass blow in the wind or natural phenomena — leaves falling from trees,” he said. “Those are the things that, as a visual effects artist, I became known for, recreating natural phenomena in the computer. That’s what I love.”
In January, Wesley became an instructor in LSU’s Digital Media Arts and Engineering program, which teaches master’s level students to create digital 3-D images for films and video games. They learn what Wesley taught himself to do, translate the natural world into a computerized language.
Since the 1980s, Wesley has helped develop much of the animation that his students have grown up watching.
“Ken brings decades of experience from the very early days of CGI to a group of students who grew up with it and take it for granted,” said Marc Aubanel, director of the program.
Wesley became interested in art at an early age, taking painting lessons as a 12-year-old after school. As a teenager, he knew he would attend the University of Southern Mississippi in nearby Hattiesburg, but he didn’t have plans for a career.
One night before his high school graduation in 1977, Wesley was leaving his parents’ house when he saw a few minutes of a “60 Minutes” segment on a new medium — computer animation — that featured a program at a university in New York.
“I looked at the TV as I was opening the back door,” he recalled, “and I said, ‘That is what I want to do.’”
He majored in computer science and minored in math. As a senior, he sent out just one resume — to the New York Institute of Technology’s computer animation laboratory, the program he saw on television years before.
Unexpectedly, they hired him.
Wesley started working on some of the early 3-D computer animation sequences, television commercials and title sequences for CBS Sports programs.
“It was new then. It was cool then,” Wesley said. “It’s expected now.”
Eager to work on bigger projects, Wesley moved to Germany before being hired at Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company founded by George Lucas.
In the mid-1990s, major films began to use computerized visual effects regularly. Wesley worked on one of the best-known segments of “Mission Impossible,” a fight atop a high-speed train, and an effect in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” where a villain turns to ash.
Wesley’s work is equal parts art and mathematics. Starting with an image, he can create a computer program that creates an entire world.
One leaf of grass can become a field, each blade unique in the way it twists in the wind or curls toward the sun.
“One of the things I still like doing is studying some natural phenomenon or some process and then trying to figure out the mathematics that are at play,” Wesley said.
After nearly a decade at Industrial Light and Magic, Wesley left computer animation and California. He moved to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to paint.
Long hours at a computer had begun to alter his mind, he said.
“I am in the virtual world inside the computer doing stuff,” he said. “I am operating in a space that really exists inside my head, but it seems to be inside that monitor.”
He often longed for the rain, the grass, the nature with which he had grown up.
“I struggle with balancing that artificial technological influence on my life with the thing that makes grass grow,” he said. “It’s a huge struggle.”
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, Wesley lost everything at his home in Bay St. Louis. Since then he has moved between California and Mississippi, alternately painting and working on movies.
CGI experts are no longer hired longterm, he said, instead working on a less-secure contract basis.
Last summer, Wesley finished work on “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” and was hired to teach at LSU.
The new job offers security and the opportunity to work in the future of computer graphics. Wesley said he believes that films as we know them will die out. In the future, viewers will desire more interaction, like a video game.
“Every single person is going to have a different experience with that product,” he said. “I want to do that. I want to be involved in that.”
Teaching the next generation of visual effects artists, he has his chance.
By: Kyle Peveto| firstname.lastname@example.org
DMAE Film Series
Because here, Godzilla’s most important character is the radioactive sea-dweller. The lumbering legend’s rendered in painstaking detail, from jagged spikes to melancholy mien. It’s a microcosm of the movie’s visual thoughtfulness; Edwards has a knack for the frame within the frame—rearview mirrors reflecting eerie abandoned streets, windows offering incomplete glimpses—to heighten both the atmosphere of dread and in-the-moment tension, so that the final standoff captures some real thrill. It might not be enough to clean up all the loose ends, but for monster-movie fans, Godzilla offers a loving look at the old guy back on the big screen.
” – Genevieve Valentine, Philadelphia Weekly
DMAE Film Series – Revolution OS
Screening: Wednesday, March 11th, 7:00 pm
Film: Revolution OS
Where: Digital Media Center Theatre
Guest Speaker: Dr. Robert Kooima
“This in-depth study of important developments of the computer industry should make it required viewing in university computer science departments for years to come. Just on a practical level, it indicates the community-oriented approach is not only the fastest way to fix problems, but can lead to a sort of “Natural Selection” method of improving software. Intellectually, the movie explores some fairly lofty ideals and demonstrates their implementation in a capitalist environment can be much more successful than you might think. It kind of gives you hope for the human race. As Open Source and LINUX realize their potential to exploit Microsoft’s weaknesses, Stallman and his comrades might actually fulfill one of their other dreams – to become Bill Gates worst nightmare.” – Ron Wells, Film Threat
Over the weekend, video game developers converged upon LSU for 48 hours of straight jamming.
Happening in 78 countries across the globe in 524 sites, the Global Game Jam video game creation competition, the world’s largest event of its kind, was held at LSU’s Digital Media Center and had about 20,000 participants worldwide.
Thirty participants, who ranged from college students majoring in gaming to adults who have made it a hobby, created six video game concepts during the weekend at LSU. A local event organizer said last year, a snowstorm derailed plans for LSU’s first Global Game Jam, but this year, weather did not stop the show.
Furthermore, “this is a must-have for educational institutions,” said Marc Aubanel, the director of LSU’s Digital Media Arts and Engineering program who helped organize the weekend of events. “These types of marathons are happening in business and academia all over.” Aubanel said similar events are taking place within colleges and major companies including Facebook and Google.
The events breed innovation, he says, although only about one or two out of a thousand of the ideas make it to market. “You don’t get a complete game from these competitions. Just the blueprint. Sometimes it takes several years to develop.”
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Renita D. Young is a business reporter based in Baton Rouge. Email her at email@example.com or call 504.352.2548. You can also keep up with all of her local updates on Twitter @RenitaDYoung and on Facebook.