ETC, 31st Street Studios team up

Credit: Juan Fernandez/Staff Credit: Juan Fernandez/Staff

The Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) announced a new partnership with 31st Street Studios, Paramount on Location, and Knight Vision Studios last Monday. The deal would bring a studio equipped for new motion-capture technology to 31st Street Studios.

Described by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as having the potential to be the “best film and video production facility for movies outside Southern California,” this partnership provides production opportunities for Carnegie Mellon ETC students, as well as for the movie production companies in the areas.

Mk Haley, associate executive producer at the ETC, described the new partnership as “sort of a community supporting each other.”

“We have a very long relationship with some of the key people who have a stake in 31st Street. It makes a lot of sense for us to partner up,” Haley said.

The 31st Street Studios facility resides in a large steel production building in the Strip district. The Pittsburgh Business Times reported that the ETC will hold graduate classes in the facility in the future.

The ETC itself will stay by the Monongahela River, but students will now have access to the 31st Street Studio facilities, which promise to house the largest soundstage outside of the Los Angeles area.

As Anthony Daniels, visiting ETC professor and voice of C–3PO in the Star Wars film series, told Essential Public Radio, “The Entertainment Technology Center is staying where it is on Technology Drive, but we are going to have a permanent presence here in the studio where students can come and work on their projects.”

Current ETC master’s student Noah Alzayer is working on a pitch for a project that will utilize the new resources available to him through this partnership.

“Our project that we’re talking about is making an ongoing motion capture data base similar to the graphics lab one, except we would make it a little more usable in practical ways,” Alzayer said. “On the average motion capture database you get something like two people dancing together or walking around, whereas we’d be trying to get people walking in place, jumping, climbing things, throwing a punch.” Alzayer said that he is pitching this project for the fall semester, and has spoken to Knight Vision founder James Knight regarding project space. Knight Vision was another key partner in the deal. They are notable for having worked on the visuals in James Cameron’s Avatar, and will provide motion capture and digital production services.

Knight told Essential Public Radio, “We’re very excited about coming to Pittsburgh, because of tax incentive, because of CMU, and because of the marvelous talent you have here in this town.”

Alzayer said that ETC students are excited about the deal, and the technology which they will be able to work with. “There are lots of cool new things about the system, and it eliminates a lot of the problems that come up with motion capture,” Alzayer said. “It’s kind of exciting, the sort of new technology that we’ll have access to. It’s definitely inspired people to think about projects to do with it.”