Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Wants to Be Player in High-Tech Movie Magic; Government and Academic Leaders Boost Georgia's Digital Media Industry

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Wants to Be Player in High-Tech Movie Magic; Government and Academic Leaders Boost Georgia's Digital Media Industry

Article excerpt

Byline: VICKY ECKENRODE, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Just two years after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Carol Madrigal already is working on major films.

As a motion capture editor, she helped turn recorded movements of Tom Hanks' body into a menagerie of animated characters for The Polar Express. Now, the 24-year-old computer art major is working on digitizing creatures for the upcoming movie adaptation of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.

But Madrigal, who works for Giant Studios in Atlanta, says she has no desire to move to California -- the epicenter of the film industry and growing hub for entertainment animation work.

Because her work is largely computer-based, Madrigal said she is not forced to work near the studios.

"For them, it doesn't matter if I live here or in L.A.," she said. "The Internet helps a lot. That's all I need."

Madrigal knows, however, that not all of her former classmates who want to remain in the state are as fortunate. Though there is a strong base in animation work for advertising and television, jobs are not as plentiful in other areas of entertainment media.

"It's harder, but not impossible," Madrigal said.

Economic development officials and academics from universities across the state are trying to change that by growing Georgia's digital media sector.

"Being involved in the motion picture industry, we've watched it change, and it became fairly apparent that it's being impacted by technology," said Greg Torre, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Film, Video & Music Office. "Entertainment technology seems like an area where there is just so much promise."

In fact, state officials see so much promise that they have specifically targeted multimedia, which covers everything from digital production and post production work to video game development.

In a recent report on strategic industries that Georgia should pursue, a state-appointed task force selected multimedia along with other supporting industries, such as advanced telecommunications and software development, where there could be a bump in employment and business investment.

CENTER OF INNOVATION?

Torre, who said his office will continue to lobby for traditional film projects to come to Georgia, said he is looking into what can be done to grow existing digital media companies and attract new ones.

He said that right now, the office is taking an inventory of the work already being done, including university programs.

In Atlanta, students and researchers at Georgia State University are studying ways to meld film, video and computer animation at the school's Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab.

Start-up companies and students are working on online content and specifically wireless communication at the University of Georgia's New Media Institute. …

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