Carson Center taps arts, entertainment leaders

Media Arts


Posted August 23, 2017 | View original publication

Twenty-five international leaders and innovators in new media will offer their advice and expertise to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

Founding Director Megan Elliott on Aug. 23 announced the center’s initial advisory board, which will partner in the center’s strategic planning and offer valuable industry insight. The board includes leaders in art, technology, gaming, television and film, design, interactivity, communications and business, among other fields, with experience and connections with mainstays such as Lucasfilm, YouTube, Google, Disney and Paramount Pictures.

“We are grateful for the commitment of these founding members of our Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts Advisory Board,” Elliott said. “We are eager to begin the conversations with them that will shape the direction of this world-class center for emerging media. These are the industry leaders who will guide us in our thinking and decision-making.”

Beginning in 2019, the Carson Center will teach students how to tell stories in any media existing now or in the future using virtual production for film, video, live performance, the internet and other mediated environments. To do so, they will become familiar with interdisciplinary skills in a variety of virtual production, art and design, and computational processes, as well as entrepreneurship and business. Exploring these intersections is the mission of the center, Elliott said.

The advisory board’s founding members are:

  • Ashley Baccus-Clarke, director of research at Hyphen-Labs. Baccus-Clarke leads an international team of engineers, scientists, architects and artists creating at the intersection of art and emerging technologies. Their work includes the internationally acclaimed NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism.
  • Preeta Bansal, senior global executive and lawyer whose career has been at the intersection of law, public policy, government, academia and global business. She is co-founder and president of Social Emergence Corporation, a lecturer at MIT Media Lab and senior advisor at MIT’s Laboratory for Social Machines and former general counsel and senior policy adviser in the Obama administration.
  • Tom Barker, digital futures adjunct professor at OCAD University in Toronto. Barker is a Royal Commission of 1851 Design Fellow, and an educator, researcher, consultant, strategist, designer and entrepreneur in architecture, art, technology and design. His diverse portfolio includes projects with the late Zaha Hadid, London Eye, IMAX and Sony PlayStation.
  • Susan Bonds, co-founder and CEO of 42 Entertainment. The award-winning Bonds leads the innovation evolution, from alternate reality games to deeply immersive entertainment experiences. Bonds was formerly creative director/senior show producer at Disney Imagineering.
  • Tim Chang, investor and global executive. Chang has twice been named to the Forbes Midas list of top tech investors and received the Gamification Summit award for special achievement.
  • Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and chair of the board of directors for the Television Academy Foundation. She is a strategic adviser to YouTube Red and YouTube Spaces LA.
  • Noah Falstein, game designer. Falstein, who works at the intersections of neurogaming, VR and fun, was formerly chief game designer at Google and has experience at developers such as LucasArts, 3DO and DreamWorks Interactive.
  • Maureen Fan, chief executive officer of Baobab Studios, the Emmy-award winning VR animation studio. Most recently vice president of games at Zynga where Fan oversaw three game studios, including the FarmVille sequels.
  • Behnaz Farahi, creative designer and technologist. Farahi works at the intersection of fashion, architecture and interaction design and is an Annenberg fellow at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
  • Brendan Harkin, founder and director of X Media Lab, an international digital media think tank whose events have been held in 14 countries and 22 cities over 14 years, including Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Asia, Europe, the U.S. and the UK. The bi-weekly X Media Lab newsletter—“for smart, data-driven, augmented, creative people”—goes to more than 30,000 emerging media professionals worldwide.
  • Norman Hollyn, the Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Film Editing at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Hollyn is a longtime film, TV and music editor.
  • Shekhar Kapur, cinematic director and producer. Kapur is the only director to crack both Hollywood and Bollywood. “Elizabeth,” was nominated for seven Academy Awards. “Will” is currently screening on TNT.
  • Erica Larsen-Dockray, artist and adjunct faculty at California Institute of the Arts and co-founder of the Calibraska Arts Initiative, a summer program bringing artists from California to western Nebraska to teach workshops. Larsen-Dockray is an alumna of Nebraska.
  • Alex McDowell, Royal Designer, for Industry, founder and creative director at Experimental Design; founder and director of the World Building Institute and World Building Media Lab; and William Cameron Menzies Endowed Chair in production design at USC School of Cinematic Arts. McDowell was narrative designer and creative director for films such as “Minority Report,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Fight Club.”
  • Jeff Nicholas, vice president and creative director of VR Creative and Production at Live Nation. Nicholas formerly was the executive creative director on the majority of the design, digital and experiential projects from The Uprising Creative, directing music videos for Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Shakira, among others.
  • Clint! Runge, co-founder and managing director at Archrival, a multi-award winning creative agency with an expertise in youth culture. Archrival’s clients include Red Bull, Adidas and NBC Universal. Runge is a Nebraska alumnus.
  • Ted Schilowitz, futurist-in-residence at Paramount Pictures. Schilowitz is also the chief creative officer at Barco Escape, where he spearheads a cinema project adding immersive right and left screens to movie theaters, and was formerly a futurist at 20th Century Fox.
  • Kamal Sinclair, director of the New Frontier Lab programs at the Sundance Institute. The programs support artists working at the convergence of film, art, media and technology.
  • Sean Stewart, creative director for Magic Leap, the world’s most highly funded start-up. Stewart designs, scripts and prototypes immersive experiences for mixed/augmented reality. An Emmy Award winner and New York Times bestselling novelist, he is one of the world’s most influential digital storytellers.
  • Roy Taylor, corporate vice president and head of alliances at Radeon Technologies Group AMD. Taylor manages advanced micro-devices relations with Microsoft, Google, major games publishers and developers.
  • Robert Tercek, media futurist and innovation expert. Tercek has created breakthrough entertainment experiences on every digital platform, including satellite TV, game consoles, the internet, interactive TV and mobile. He is author of “Vaporized,” the 2016 International Book Award Winner.
  • Lynette Wallworth, artist and director. Wallworth was the inaugural recipient of the Sundance Institute/Jaunt residency program, where she developed her internationally acclaimed VR work “Collisions.” Her 2012 work, “Coral: Rekindling Venus” created an immersive experience in a digital full-dome planetarium.
  • Charles Wang, deputy director of the Advanced Innovation Center for Future Visual Entertainment at the Beijing Film Academy. Wang is also deputy director of research and information management, an associate professor of film and TV technology, and record producer.
  • Martyn Ware, electronic music and 3-D sound pioneer. Founder of the Human League and Heaven 17, as a record producer and artist, Ware has featured on recordings totaling over 50 million sales worldwide, producing Tina Turner, Terence Trent D’Arby, Chaka Khan, Erasure, Marc Almond and Mavis Staples, among others.
  • James Waugh, vice president of development of the Lucasfilm Story Group where he is working on the “Star Wars” franchise. Waugh was the senior director of story and creative development at Blizzard Entertainment where he was a key contributor to “Overwatch,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Diablo.”

“Megan Elliott has assembled an impressive array of industry leaders to guide the development of the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts,” said Charles O’Connor, endowed dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at Nebraska. “We look forward to having conversations with them about the future of the center, and having them work hands-on with our students and faculty in the years to come.”


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