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Featured Member: Dave Blackburn

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 09, 2011
Updated: Friday, December 09, 2011

Featured Member: Dave Blackburn


WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS?

I got my start in new media in 1992 by using 3D animation and modeling software for engineering projects. Interested in different applications in medicine, architecture, city planning and entertainment, I left my career as an engineer to work as a consultant in the emerging business of real time 3D applications. I wanted to see where the world of visualization and real time immersive interfaces was going. As I started to learn about it, I realized I knew more than most of the people in the field.


WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY?

I worked on my own for 14 years as a consultant and producer. My practice evolved into expertise in real-time character animation and motion capture, which got me a VP job with Motion Analysis. They hired me to visit locations in North and South America to bring their motion capture technology into a variety of production facilities. Motion Analysis built and designed their own high fidelity motion capture systems, and we sold them to TV and film producers, and game/interactive entertainment studios worldwide.


HOW DID YOU START OUT AS A PRODUCER?

In 2000, I created a digital co-host for Martin Short for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences annual awards event at the Los Angeles Biltmore Bowl – the first live, virtual co-host of a live awards show. Over the years, I worked with client The Jim Henson Company evolving the HDPS, a completely motion capture- and performance-driven real-time CG animation system. They put together the most sophisticated virtual character live production system in existence. Puppeteers used the technology to drive a virtual character's facial animation and voice, rather than a physical puppet. Body performers in Motion Capture suits worked in concert with the puppeteers. When it matured, the system was used to produce Sid, The Science Kid a Jim Henson/KCET collaboration TV show that won numerous awards.


WHAT LED YOU TO JOIN THE PGA?

I hadn’t heard of the PGA, but my role as Executive Producer of fastpitch remote broadcasting efforts got me the credits to join in 2005, under the urgings of my PGA sponsor Julie Klein. I went to screenings and workshops and stayed connected.


CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE VOLUNTEER/COMMITTEE WORK YOU DO FOR THE GUILD?

I got involved with the PGA Camera Assessment Committee, in its early evolution, and I would like to continue being involved with PGA-related Committee work in the future, where my skills and 20 years entertainment industry experience can be utilized appropriately.


WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

On August 26th, 2010, everything changed for me as a result of a horrific car accident. With 27 broken bones, 2 collapsed lungs, and a bruised heart, among numerous other complications, I spent 64 days in a trauma center in Phoenix, then another 52 days at Kaiser Hospital in Hollywood, followed by 100 days at the Hancock Park Rehabilitation Center in LA. I'm still in a wheelchair. My job went away while I recovered. Fourteen months later, the job is gone and I’m looking to ease back into my next professional position. I’m a PGA member still and I still produce the Fastpitch World Championships. This year I was inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame during this year's annual World Championship event.


WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING PROJECTS, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?

I was an early proponent and evangelist of performance animation before anyone knew what it was. I was experimenting with it back in 1993. Now it’s on the big screen and it’s fabulous. Avatar was a brilliant movie, but it was disappointing in the way that the PR people made it seem like Cameron invented all the technology. He gave us a modern vision and now Tintin is pushing it further. The movie includes one continuous 10-minute cut of an escape from a city that’s totally breathtaking.

Tags:  Featured Member  new media  PGA West 

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