In the computer world of Jiggler, the maze is tough. Then the walls start moving.

Designed by Hannah Vautrot and Courtney Lawrence, both 14, over two-and-a-half days at LSU’s game design camp, GameCrash, Jiggler may be a little too hard.

“We may have over-complicated it for ourselves,” says Vautrot with a slight smile as she furiously types in the final touches before the game’s big presentation.

The two girls crowd around a laptop surrounded by empty soda cans, juice boxes and snack-cake wrappers, a scene replicated throughout the classroom, where two dozen teens type away at lines of programming code and test their new creations, digital worlds invented over 20 hours at the keyboard.

A trio from Covington has stayed up nights away from camp to create its virtual world, a quest not unlike Super Mario Brothers where a squat little man runs from tower to tower fighting enemies in order to find a small pyramid statue.

Their game world comes complete with gravity along with its effects on friction and mass.

“We would’ve gotten a lot more done, but we spent a lot of time making the physics,” says Kenneth Bruhl, 15.

This camp gives Bruhl a chance to combine his two main loves.

“The only two things I’ve ever been good at are art and programming,” he says.

One of four camps offered by the LSU Center for Computation and Technology, GameCrash aims to jump-start students’ game-designing skills.

For the first two-and-a-half days, the students — mostly 14- to 16-year-olds — write the code for a classic video game, Space Invaders, to learn how the guts of a game look.

They must type out about 2,000 lines of code, says Marc Aubanel, the lead instructor at GameCrash and director of the Digital Media Arts & Engineering program at LSU, which teaches video game design.

“If I just explained the interface, it would be kind of boring,” Aubanel says. “It’s kind of like teaching someone to swim by throwing them in the pool. We go right into making the game.”

A generation ago, this camp could not have existed. Then, a development kit for a video game system cost thousands of dollars, Aubanel said.

Now, the students can download free game-building programs, and the camp only costs $95.

The other computer camps focus on teaching basic programming languages, engineering and music recording and production. While they help recruit future students to the university, they also teach teens complex critical thinking skills important in today’s high school curriculum, says J. “Ram” Ramanujam, director of the Center for Computation & Technology.

“It’s teaching them to think through the process of making a game,” he says. “They learn lots of things about how to organize their thoughts, where they make a mistake and quickly learn something new.”

Students like Vautrot and Lawrence encourage Aubanel, who worked in the gaming industry and sees a need for more women in the industry. While nearly half of gamers are women, most designers are men.

Learning to design the games they love is tough, says Lawrence, who almost never removes her bright green headphones.

“Writing all that code and trying to get it all right — if you write one thing wrong it crashes,” she says. “But it’s all worth it at the end if you make a game.”

At the end of camp, all the young designers present their games on the big screen in a theater before their parents, fellow students and instructors.

A few press the start key and watch the dreaded warning pop onto the screen: Code Error — Fatal error. The crowd empathizes with a loud “Ahhhh!”

The difficult maze from Vautrot and Lawrence is so tough that neither can beat the game during the presentation.

“It’s so hard!” one boy yells from the crowd.

Aubanel compares it to a classic game Frogger.

“I love Frogger!” he says.

Before the crowd applauds, Vautrot finishes the pitch: “As you can see, this game has a lot of potential.”

The Acadiana Advocate

BATON ROUGE – LSU has joined the OpenPOWER Foundation, an open development community based on the POWER microprocessor architecture. Community members work collaboratively to address critical big data, cloud and application challenges, reimagine the data center and produce innovative systems designs.

LSU joins a growing roster of technology organizations and universities partnering to build advanced server, networking, storage and acceleration technology for the development of next-generation, hyperscale and cloud data centers. The group makes POWER hardware and software available to open development for the first time, as well as making POWER intellectual property licensable to others, greatly expanding the ecosystem of innovators on the platform. The collaboratively built hardware and software solutions will be utilized by LSU’s Center for Computation & Technology, or CCT, to improve infrastructure support for research at LSU.

The increasing amount of data being generated in today’s world has led to computational challenges for effective data capture and storage, transfer, retrieval and analysis. Data analysis to extract value from large and complex data, or so-called big data, is a clear bottleneck for many university data centers, often due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure and the sheer size and complexity of the data. Additionally, there is a growing need for more robust modeling, simulation and visualization techniques across multiple disciplines.

“Data-enabled research is of fundamental importance to many research and development activities at LSU. Coastal scientists are integrating disparate data sets to develop smarter approaches to wetlands management. Engineers develop and utilize powerful modeling and simulation tools to create the next generation of materials for storing and delivering electrical energy. Artists work with the CCT Cultural Computing Group to create experimental sonic art pieces out of data such as LIDAR scans of the Mississippi River. Life scientists are involved in analyzing complex genomic data, etc.,” said Gus Kousoulas, LSU associate vice president for research and economic development. “We are committed to positioning LSU as an international leader in advanced computing and big data research in collaboration with IBM and to assist in Louisiana’s economic development and diversification efforts.”

The development model of the OpenPOWER Foundation facilitates collaboration and represents a new approach for exploiting and innovating around powerful processor technology.

“In addition to advancing computational and data science research at LSU, being an OpenPOWER member enables new opportunities in hardware and software systems research at LSU,” said J. “Ram” Ramanujam, CCT director.

With the POWER architecture designed for big data and cloud applications, new OpenPOWER Foundation members, like LSU, will be able to add their own innovations and create new applications to provide solutions for a variety of research problems and societal needs.
Additional Links:
LSU Center for Computation & Technology:

Join the summer crowd at LSU and the local indie game development community to see a FREE screening of the new film Game Over: Rise of the Indies (2015).  This screening is brought to you by the IGDA Baton Rouge Chapter as well as the LSU Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE) program and LSU Center for Computation & Technology (CCT).
DMAE Film Series
Next Screening:  Wednesday, June 24th, 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30 pm)
Film Title:  Game Over: Rise of the Indies
Where:  Digital Media Center Theatre
Panel:  Casual Indie Game discussion at end of film
An interesting documentary about the indie gaming scene is out today, called GameLoading: Rise of the Indies. Unlike Indie Game: The Movie, it’s meant to be covering the scene and the rise of independent development over the last few years. There’s plenty of footage of individual stories and how things like the App Store opened things up for established developers to branch out on their own, for long-time indies to have a shot at prosperity, and for people new to video game creation to make and even find an audience for their games…

 Its strongest moments are when it shows the genuine reactions and emotions that these developers are facing as they are making these games that they have little clue as to whether they’ll be received well, or even if they’ll be able to pay their bills. GameLoading may be really worth it if you’re looking to dive into what the popular indie gaming culture is all about, or if you are really into it and want to see and hear from notable figures and what they have to say. “ – Carter Dotson – Touch Arcade
Registration is OPEN!!

The LSU Center for Computation & Technology and School of Music will host the 2015 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, or NIME, May 31-June 3. This will be the 14th year that researchers and musicians from all over the world come together to share state-of-the-art musical interfaces and interactions for musical performance. 

The NIME conference is a unique and wonderful beast. Equal parts academic research, composition, technological discovery, performance art, interaction design, demonstration, theoretical discourse, art exhibition, and music; the conference is unified by an overriding understanding of the unique ways that music can touch us as listener and we can touch music as performer. 
We are very happy to host the keynote presentations of R. Luke DuBois and Sile O’Modhrain this year. Sile O’Modhrain’s work has focused on understanding the roles of haptic and auditory feedback in defining and influencing our interactions with music. Luke Dubois has approached the interface for musical expression through visual and data modalities. His works explore interfacing with all three media sources through beautiful and profound interactions.

We are excited to have the participation of the Shaw Center for the Arts, Glassell Gallery, Manship Theatre and the Digital Art faculty at LSU. We were able to curate a large number of sonic artworks that engage sound and interactivity in ways that extend beyond the stage and beyond a single performer. These works hold an interesting perspective on what our interaction with music might look like and what makes an interface expressive. A number of artworks will remain in exhibition at the Shaw Center for the Arts, Manship Theatre, and Glassell Gallery through the month of June.

The concerts are a place for NIME interfaces and music to shine. Twenty-seven performances and an open-mic session will be distributed across the campus. The LSU School of Music’s Shaver Theatre will present traditional stage oriented pieces to excellent effect. The off-campus Varsity Theatre will host intimate late night concerts. A special concert in the Digital Media Center Theatre will utilize the 92-speaker array to showcase various approaches to interfacing with space.
Workshops include:
Digital Stompbox Design using Satellite CCRMA
BeagleRT Embedded Audio Workshop
A Nime Primer
Crafting Computational Percussion with Everyday Materials
Learning to Program Haptic Interactions using Max: Applications With Sound
Making Music with Robotic Instruments
Performing with NIMEs
And, finally, at the core of the conference, the Digital Media Center will host the presentation of 106 papers, posters, and demonstrations of exploration in the world of musical interface. We were incredibly impressed by the quality and diversity of submissions. Through a thorough process of reviewers and meta-reviewers, we have collected an excellent array of cutting edge and innovative projects that both define the current state of musical interface and help shape the future of our discipline. 
To view the full schedule or to register, visit:
NIME Conference Chairs: Jesse Allison, Stephen David Beck, Edgar Berdahl, Derick Ostrenko, Hye Yeon Nam, Daniel Shannahan 
Louisiana State University

Brought back to life by the mad scientists at LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology, the event formerly known as the Red Stick International Animation Festival returns after a two-year hiatus. Scheduled events, workshops and presentations promise to explore the ways in which digital media are shaping the way we view the world. Digital artists, makers, engineers, and entrepreneurs from Baton Rouge and beyond will gather downtown to present:

• 5:30 pm–10 pm: Performances by digital performance artists Evidence & Luke DuBois during a Steam Punk-themed gathering at the Town Lawn (North Blvd @ Third Street)

• 10 am–noon: An Art/Tech Kids’ Lab event at the River Center Branch Library featuring a Lego lab, Minecraft and Arduino showcases, interactive art projects and live lab for ages six and up.
• Free workshops to introduce folks to Arduino (an electronics kit that anyone can use), Light Painting with iPads, and Cloudlet-based digital art collaboration. See for locations and times.
• 8:30 pm–’til: A Saturday night screening of Pitch Perfect, a film made right here in Baton Rouge, at the Town Lawn.

• 3 pm–5 pm: A screening of selected animation pieces from previous Red Stick Animation Festivals. LASM, 100 S. River Road.
• 6 pm–8 pm: NIME @ Red Stick: An art exhibit taking place throughout the Shaw Center for the Arts and Glassell Gallery, coinciding with the opening of the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference opening at LSU this day. 100 Lafayette Street. to learn more.

30 seconds with experimental music professor Jesse Allison

by Jennifer Tormo

The LSU professor of experimental music and digital media spearheading this month’s Red Stick International Festival divulges what to expect at the technology-themed event.

What can visitors expect to find at this year’s festival?
LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology is going to present seven events over three days. The opening gala, with a carnival-type feel, will be an industry/business gathering featuring steampunk as well as a performance by a world-renowned digital artist. Other events will include a kid’s lab and expo/maker fair, both sponsored by Electronic Arts; Drones, Drama & Drinks sponsored by NOVAC, in which we explore the rising potential (and controversy) of the flying camera; an outdoor screening of Pitch Perfect; an animation retrospective of previous Red Stick Animation festivals; and the opening of the NIME @ Red Stick art exhibit (read more on that later).

Any exhibits or events that you think locals might get especially excited about?
The East Baton Rouge Parish library, which has been a big supporter of the festival, is hosting the Expo & Maker Fair at the downtown library on the afternoon of Saturday, May 30, at River Center Branch Library. We are expecting exhibits from Electronic Arts, NASA and local robotics clubs, among others, and a maker fair with booths from various local makers. Acadian Robotics, the only 3-D printer manufacturer in Louisiana, will be demonstrating some of their products.

What’s the one part of the festival that’s a must for any attendee?
Celtic Studios is presenting a movie night, and we are showcasing a film made right here in Baton Rouge, Pitch Perfect. We are going to show it downtown at North Boulevard Town Square on the evening of May 30.  We encourage everyone to grab a blanket, come down and watch the movie.

How long has the festival been running for? How has it evolved over the years?
Stephen David Beck and Stacey Simmons of LSU’s Center for Computation and Technology created the Red Stick International Animation Festival in 2005 to show the importance of high-performance computing through a popular medium—computer animation. The last Red Stick Animation Festival was held here in 2012. Last year, we decided to rebrand and retool the festival to an event focused on digital media (including but not limited to animation), maker fairs, experimental music concerts, digital art exhibits, game jams and other technology-derived events. Last year’s showcase was called FutureFest. Our goal this year was an open-source festival, with the community helping to shape the events. So we decided to keep the name simple—The Red Stick International Festival.

The festival overlaps with another international conference, New Interfaces of Musical Expression (NIME). How is Red Stick International Festival collaborating with NIME?
We have a number of NIME @ Red Stick crossover events that will allow festival attendees to get a glimpse into recent developments in the music world. The grandest of these is the NIME Art Exhibition Opening Reception on Sunday, May 31, 6-8 p.m. Many of the artists/attendees from NIME will be on hand for the opening, and we also plan for some of the NIME classes and workshops to be open to Red Stick attendees.  As Red Stick ends, the NIME conference (May 31-June 3) continues the creative technology events with demos, presentations and concerts that are open to the public. For more info, visit

The Red Stick International Festival festival starts May 29 at 6 p.m. with the opening gala and runs through May 31. All events are free. Events will be held at various spots downtown, including the Shaw Center for the Arts, LSU Museum of Art and North Boulevard Town Square. For a full schedule and to learn more about the event, visit

Show your work at the Maker Faire!  Sign up here:

We invite you to show your creative digital media projects or DIY experiments at the Red Stick Expo and Maker Faire, scheduled for Saturday, May 30th, at the River Center Library, Downtown Baton Rouge (2PM-6PM).

Red Stick International Festival 2015 –
Where Creativity Meets Technology:
“We want to inspire the next generation to look at Science, Technology & Art in new ways and come up with innovative ways to solve problems. Engineering is not only for building bridges, but it can be used to design new music, new approaches in digital media and new tech that you wear with flair. Art is not only for drawing pretty pictures, but rather Artists are discoverers as well as creators. They can use technology to create art and investigate new science – giving us a new perspective on our world. It’s a place to introduce and celebrate Louisiana’s achievements within Science, Technology & Art. A place for people to learn about new opportunities developing right here in Baton Rouge.”
For more information, visit:
ART 2220 / 4240 Moving Image

Summer 2015 | 9:00 – 12:00 MTWTF | Derick Ostrenko

All Majors Welcome

Moving Image is a project based survey course focused on building a strong foundation in animation, 3D computer graphics, and visual effects. Emphasis will be placed on learning animation principles such as: squash & stretch, staging, anticipation, straight ahead & pose to pose, follow through & overlapping, slow in & slow out, arcs, secondary action, timing, exaggeration, solid drawings, and appeal. Topics in computer graphics will include: modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering. These will be combined with issues in visual effects including: compositing, rotoscoping, mattes, image acquisition, keying, and match moving. The varied scope of subjects covered in the course will allow students to gain an integrated understanding of current approaches for the creation of time based media.

* Students may sign up for either ART 4240 or 2220 depending on which course best fits their degree audit. If you have any questions feel free to email the instructor at

Before Ken Wesley ever made a digital tornado twist or a computer-generated hovercraft blow back trees, he liked to sit and watch the rain fall at home.

Wesley, 55, now an instructor at LSU, worked for three decades in the early days of computer generated imagery — CGI — creating scenes for “Mission Impossible,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and several other blockbusters.

His childhood in rural Foxworth in south Mississippi created a foundation for his work.

“I had a lot of time to watch rain fall or watch grass blow in the wind or natural phenomena — leaves falling from trees,” he said. “Those are the things that, as a visual effects artist, I became known for, recreating natural phenomena in the computer. That’s what I love.”

In January, Wesley became an instructor in LSU’s Digital Media Arts and Engineering program, which teaches master’s level students to create digital 3-D images for films and video games. They learn what Wesley taught himself to do, translate the natural world into a computerized language.

Since the 1980s, Wesley has helped develop much of the animation that his students have grown up watching.

“Ken brings decades of experience from the very early days of CGI to a group of students who grew up with it and take it for granted,” said Marc Aubanel, director of the program.

Wesley became interested in art at an early age, taking painting lessons as a 12-year-old after school. As a teenager, he knew he would attend the University of Southern Mississippi in nearby Hattiesburg, but he didn’t have plans for a career.

One night before his high school graduation in 1977, Wesley was leaving his parents’ house when he saw a few minutes of a “60 Minutes” segment on a new medium — computer animation — that featured a program at a university in New York.

“I looked at the TV as I was opening the back door,” he recalled, “and I said, ‘That is what I want to do.’”

He majored in computer science and minored in math. As a senior, he sent out just one resume — to the New York Institute of Technology’s computer animation laboratory, the program he saw on television years before.

Unexpectedly, they hired him.

Wesley started working on some of the early 3-D computer animation sequences, television commercials and title sequences for CBS Sports programs.

“It was new then. It was cool then,” Wesley said. “It’s expected now.”

Eager to work on bigger projects, Wesley moved to Germany before being hired at Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company founded by George Lucas.

In the mid-1990s, major films began to use computerized visual effects regularly. Wesley worked on one of the best-known segments of “Mission Impossible,” a fight atop a high-speed train, and an effect in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” where a villain turns to ash.

Wesley’s work is equal parts art and mathematics. Starting with an image, he can create a computer program that creates an entire world.

One leaf of grass can become a field, each blade unique in the way it twists in the wind or curls toward the sun.

“One of the things I still like doing is studying some natural phenomenon or some process and then trying to figure out the mathematics that are at play,” Wesley said.

After nearly a decade at Industrial Light and Magic, Wesley left computer animation and California. He moved to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to paint.

Long hours at a computer had begun to alter his mind, he said.

“I am in the virtual world inside the computer doing stuff,” he said. “I am operating in a space that really exists inside my head, but it seems to be inside that monitor.”

He often longed for the rain, the grass, the nature with which he had grown up.

“I struggle with balancing that artificial technological influence on my life with the thing that makes grass grow,” he said. “It’s a huge struggle.”

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, Wesley lost everything at his home in Bay St. Louis. Since then he has moved between California and Mississippi, alternately painting and working on movies.

CGI experts are no longer hired longterm, he said, instead working on a less-secure contract basis.

Last summer, Wesley finished work on “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” and was hired to teach at LSU.

The new job offers security and the opportunity to work in the future of computer graphics. Wesley said he believes that films as we know them will die out. In the future, viewers will desire more interaction, like a video game.

“Every single person is going to have a different experience with that product,” he said. “I want to do that. I want to be involved in that.”

Teaching the next generation of visual effects artists, he has his chance.


By:  Kyle Peveto|

Stressed out by upcoming final exams, come unwind and join us for a FREE movies at the Digital Media Center at LSU.  We will be featuring Godzilla and will feature a talk by Visual Effect Artis, Craig Houston who will discuss the ins and outs of stereoscopic compositing.

DMAE Film Series 

Next Screening:  Saturday, April 25th, 2015; 7:00PM (doors open at 6:30pm)
Film Title:  Godzilla (2014)
Guest Speaker:  VFX Artists & Lead Compositor, Craig Houston
Where:  Digital Media Center Theater

Director Gareth Edwards mimics the original in playing coy with the title monster—and mimics its Americanized forebear by shifting much of the action and heroism stateside. But for those with a high tolerance for action-movie bingo and CGI carnage, Godzilla’s reverence for the King of the Monsters oozes from every track mark, snapping cable and thundering footstep.

Because here, Godzilla’s most important character is the radioactive sea-dweller. The lumbering legend’s rendered in painstaking detail, from jagged spikes to melancholy mien. It’s a microcosm of the movie’s visual thoughtfulness; Edwards has a knack for the frame within the frame—rearview mirrors reflecting eerie abandoned streets, windows offering incomplete glimpses—to heighten both the atmosphere of dread and in-the-moment tension, so that the final standoff captures some real thrill. It might not be enough to clean up all the loose ends, but for monster-movie fans, Godzilla offers a loving look at the old guy back on the big screen.
” – Genevieve Valentine, Philadelphia Weekly
With stereoscopic production becoming more and more common (Oculus announced a film production wing), stereoscopic compositing is affecting how movies are shot and post produced.  Come listen to Gener8’s Craig Houston and find out how this affects movie productions moving into the future.  For anyone interested in film post production, compositing and Nuke – this is a must see screening.