NSF, USC Film School Launch 'Creative Science Studio'

NSF says the new "Creative Science Studio," of CS2, is the first program to link a federal science agency with an academic leader in the field of entertainment and interactive media
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The National Science Foundation and the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts have embarked on a new venture to inspire and inform mass-media audiences about science and engineering concepts.

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A USC production area (Photo: School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California) NSF says the new "Creative Science Studio," or CS2, is the first program to link a federal science agency with an academic leader in the field of entertainment and interactive media. The deal was announced last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose theme was "Bridging Science and Society."

"This novel and creative partnership will enlist the power of the entertainment media to inspire audiences to learn more about science and engineering, to develop a network of scientific experts, facilities, and instruments available to the arts, and bring new technologies in sight, sound, and video to the marketplace," said Thomas Kalil, deputy director for policy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a statement. "This partnership will support initiatives already announced by President Obama as part of his 'Educate to Innovate' campaign to motivate and inspire students to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

The partnership aims to:

* Provide NSF-funded researchers on campuses throughout the country with novel opportunities to create entertaining and engaging outreach products through collaborations with SCA faculty and students;
* Provide SCA faculty and students, and other entertainment producers, with science and engineering collaborations and access to state-of-the-art resources--including instruments, data visualization methodologies and other cutting edge technologies--to enhance depictions of science in mass entertainment works;
* Expose next-generation entertainment producers to science and engineering themes during their education to increase familiarity and comfort level with those topics;
* Provide test-bed opportunities between NSF-funded researchers and SCA scholars to produce highly engaging and creative products to educate mass audiences on leading topics in science and engineering.

"This alliance is a vital and essential one," said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. "I'm excited for a potential symbiosis between these two institutions, which will play a major role in the ongoing evolution of scientific communication for both researchers and storytellers."

Founded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929, SCA features soundstages, animation facilities, post-production suites, mixing theaters, screening rooms and all-digital classrooms. Faculty members work professionally as directors, editors, writers, producers, sound designers, lighting artists, animators and in many other roles. They contribute to projects ranging from box-office blockbusters to independent films, broadcast and cable television hits, interactive games and other new media. Since 1973, not a year has passed without an SCA graduate being nominated for an Emmy or Academy Award.

"USC is the natural place to establish this program, given our rich history in science education and strong academic tradition in film, television and interactive media," said USC Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias.

A new Web site, called Science Scene, offers more information on the NSF effort at sciencescene.nsf.gov.

The Creative Science Studio is currently planned to begin operation in the fall of 2010.

Speakers at the announcement included Academy-Award winning director and producer Ron Howard, entertainment scholar and SCA Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, Caltech theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Kalpen Modi, and National Science Board Vice Chair Patricia Galloway.

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