IMSC eNews, August 2003

Contact: Nichole Phillips, (213) 740-3237

DISNEY ONLINE'S NEWTON LEE NAMED BOC MEMBER - Newton Lee, a senior staff engineer at Disney Online, has been named a member of the IMSC Board of Councillors. Lee founded the Disney Online Technology Forums and has developed more than 100 games and activities on and Disney's Blast. He has also created enhanced TV programs for ABC's "Summer Jam Concert" and the Disney Channel's "In Concert." He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Computers in Entertainment magazine and a former Bell Labs researcher.

NSF ITR GRANT AWARDED - A four-year, $1.1 million National Science Foundation Information Technology Research grant has been awarded for "A Framework for Integrating Geospatial and Online Data to Respond to Unexpected Events." IMSC researcher Prof. Craig Knoblock is the Principal Investigator, with IMSC researcher Prof. Cyrus Shahabi and Prof. John Wilson, USC professor of geography, as the co-Principal Investigators.

IMSC RESEARCHERS ASSIST IN JOURNALISM WORKSHOP - IMSC researchers gave special presentations to journalists as part of a training program in August sponsored by the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. USC's Annenberg School for Communication hosted the Knight Center program on campus. For the exercise, the journalists produced reports on the IMSC research, using multimedia tools. Prof. Elaine Chew and Dr. Alexander Francois gave a demo on MuSA.RT, which integrates real-time music processing and content-based graphical rendering in interactive environments ( Prof. Dennis McLeod discussed the automatic construction of customized multimedia presentations, using "story types" that are populated from current news, and "topic mining," the finding of trends and events in news streams ( Prof. Albert "Skip" Rizzo gave a demo on virtual environments, using a head-mounted display and panoramic 360-degree video (

IMSC OPEN HOUSE PROGRAM SUCCEEDING - IMSC has had resounding success in the first year and a half of its Open House program, according to Ann Spurgeon, IMSC Associate Director of Industry Programs. Some 659 have attended IMSC Open Houses since the program began in January 2002. Visitors to IMSC (including Open House attendees) numbered 411 in 1999, 470 in 2000, 550 in 2001, 649 in 2002, and 434 so far this year. IMSC students give most of the technology demonstrations, gaining valuable experience in making public presentations. Open Houses are generally held at least once a month for two hours, on the second Wednesday of each month during the academic year. IMSC's next Open House will be from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Wednesday, Sept. 10. To register or to view the Open House schedule, go to IMSC's Web site at You can also register by sending email to Linda Wright, IMSC Special Events Coordinator, at

IMSC IN THE NEWS - IMSC Director Ulrich Neumann was quoted on the future of handheld video players in a New York Times article on July 17. The article spotlighted the new palm-sized portable video players that play compressed video files on a small screen and are designed to be less expensive and more convenient than portable DVD players. "It is the progression of technology ever downward in size and costs, but upward in portability," Prof. Neumann said.

In addition, the National Science Foundation distributed a press release on how a Hollywood special effects house is using new software from IMSC to add computer-generated effects to movies easily and many times faster. The special effects house, Rhythm & Hues, used the IMSC software for special effects for several films, including X-Men 2, Daredevil and the upcoming Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. IMSC's software, called Fastrack by Rhythm & Hues, reduces the time it takes for a key part of the process-feature tracking in image sequences-from minutes to seconds per frame. "This is a huge productivity leap for us," according to Eugene Vendrovsky, principal graphics specialist. "Someone starts the software, looks over the results and cleans up the shot in a process that now takes a couple of hours instead of a couple of days," he said. The press release, video and photos, are on the NSF Web site at

The Integrated Media Systems Center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center at the University of Southern California.