LSU’s Labratory for Creative Arts and Technology

LSU’s Laboratory for Creative Arts and Technology [LCAT] “is envisioned as a place for exploration of how Information Technology affects all forms of human expression, whether that expression is artistic, commercial, scientific, or instructional in nature. Collaborations between artists, musicians, scientists, engineers and writers will help develop new technologies and modes of communication through interdisciplinary research, activities and programs,” Said LCAT director Steve Beck.

One of the largest and most public of LCAT’s recent programs was the highly successful Red Stick Animation Festival (April 21-23), which drew crowds to the recently opened Shaw Center for the Arts. The festival was comprised of three types of events. “On Thursday we had a set of workshops. People had the opportunity to learn, through hands on experience, about anatomy for animators, video game development, and acting for animators. Friday we had a full day of lectures from professional video game designers, animation studio recruiters, and of course professional animators. Throughout the three days we had screenings ranging from the five animated short films nominated for Academy Awards, to Cartoon-A-Palooza, animation for a family audience,” Beck said.

Animation, however, is not the only avenue LCAT is exploring to find new ways to blend the arts and technology. In addition to animation “The LCAT is currently researching High Definition Video (HDV), scientific visualization, audio research for immersive environments, and Human Computer Interface (HCI).”

In the fields of HDV and scientific visualization, the LCAT will be developing technology to help scientists and artists to create visual communication that explains what they do. “At LSU we have scientists, for example, who do research on colliding black holes. We plan to use the HDV lab to visualize the gravitational waves, which they are studying. The simulations and visualization we produce can help other scientists know what to look for at the observatory,” Beck explained.

The audio research at the LCAT seeks to move beyond 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems to create a fully immersive environment. Improvements in the field of immersive audio are integral to creating a convincing experience with virtual reality. “We hear so much more information than we see,” said Beck. “We are going to have to go far beyond 7.1 surround sound to make virtual reality feel like a reality.”

Human Computer Interface research, at the LCAT, is creating new Technologies for researchers so they can deal with large data fields in intuitive ways. Improving the efficiency and quality of research methods may be the key to unlocking the full potential of all of the laboratory’s endeavors.

While the research interests of the LSU Laboratory for Creative Arts and Technology vary in their methods and aims, the Red Stick Animation Festival will continue to be the LCAT’s signature event. Beck promises “next year’s animation festival will be even bigger and better.”

Be sure to look for LCAT sponsored events at the Shaw Center’s Second Saturdays. Currently in the works are workshops for stop-animation and digital editing. LCAT is also planning a series of symposiums which will discuss the future of arts and technology in the Fall of 2005.

For Further Exploration:

Red Stick Animation Festival: www.redstickfestival.org

The Shaw Center for the Arts: www.shawcenter.org

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