Sep 112005
Authors: Cari Merrill

With an audience sitting in their chairs wide-eyed and focused on the screen, it was the setting for a matinee showing at the local movie theater.

But with popcorn missing and the absence of kicks on seat backs, audience members had the chance to experience the making of a computer-generated (CG) film, such as "Shrek," first hand.

Ed Leonard, the chief technology officer at DreamWorks Animation, explained the process in front of a full, captivated audience in the East Ballroom of the Lory Student Center Friday.

Leonard's keynote presentation was only one event in the day-long Future Vision 2010.

The conference, sponsored by the Information Science and Technology Center (ISTeC) at CSU and Hewlett-Packard (HP), looks at how technology will evolve in the future.

Hundreds of people who attended the keynote address caught a brief glimpse of how DreamWorks creates such complex and detailed characters only from imagination and how technology aids in the process.

"Our job at DreamWorks, in the most basic form, is story-telling and when we do our job well, all of you can sit in a dark theater somewhere with a big tub of popcorn, a drink you can barely carry and for two hours take a little break from life," Leonard said.

CSU Provost Tony Frank opened the conference. People then had the option of seven different technology-themed tracks to attend. The tracks looked into the future for fields such as computer security, digital imaging and wired and wireless interoperable networks.

Graduate computer science major Yui Man Lui liked the digital imaging track.

"It was great," Lui said. "They talked about how the digital camera works."

Just as Lui was interested in the inner workings of a digital camera, many other students shared interest in how DreamWorks creates CG films.

In the process of making a box-office hit, communication has to take place from all over the globe. With help from HP, DreamWorks has the ability to provide advanced video teleconferencing.

"HP provides the technical support, the Linux computer systems, that DreamWorks uses to do the animation," said Bob Gann, a HP representative . "We're the technology enablers."

Pete Seel, technical journalism professor, paired with Gann to merge the educational and informational aspects of the conference, which had two parts.

"Part one is the future of our students and part two is that relationship we have with IT companies," Seel said.

He wants to see the conference return every two years due to the drastic changes in technology.

Without advancements in technology, audiences would not be able to take short breaks from reality with entertaining films.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it," Leonard said.

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