Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NMITSA IT Excellence... & Games

I don't know if you've taken a look at the NMITSA IT Excellence Awards Finalists for 2007, but this year's nominees include some of the key people and organizations behind our media industries' continued growth. Eric Witt and the NM State Investment Council are among the nominees -- and we were also surprised and happy to see many key players in our local International Game Developers Association on the list (GPS/Abalone Studios, Sandia National Laboratories – (Adaptive Thinking and Leadership Simulation) and Novint are all recognized -- and I'm honored to be nominated as well).

While much of the concentration -- and success -- of the Media Industries Strategy Project has been with film making, working with the community represented by the New Mexico Information Technology & Software Association (NMITSA) is extremely important to our continued growth. While we can argue whether game play will become our society's dominant form of entertainment, having a feel for the game development process (which they share more with making and publishing software than with producing film). As forms of media converge their definitions blur, electronic games are still considered part of the software family, and share much of the software development process.

The importance -- or potential importance -- of Game Development was really brought home last Thursday night when we had a great talk from Radical Entertainment President Kelly Zmak at the IGDA membership kick-off meeting (many of the folks listed above were there, btw). 

Talking on what it takes to build a viable & sustainable game industry in north America, many of his points were familiar to at least a few of us there in the audience; most are addressed in the Media Industries Strategic Plan.

We'll be posting more information on the Albuquerque IGDA site, but here are some quick highlights for now.


This was, to me, the through-line of his talk, drilling down on the importance of the following:
Talking through some of his personal experiences with each group or topic, the bottom line was that all of these must be present -- and working in concert -- to create the conditions for success.


As part of the "Talent Base" topic he highlighted the shared set of skills and interests of the following groups:
People working in each of these areas often have an interest in the others, and vice versa, and while not all the skills in a field may be transferable, having these kinds of people (and jobs) creates a bigger talent pool to draw from.  Since New Mexico is already pretty strong in technology-related fields, and our capabilities in entertainment media are growing stronger, we have good basic conditions to take advantage of this convergence (but we still need to do more to build both personal and professional connections between these groups).


To me, this was the key point.  Discussing Vancouver's 13 (16?) year journey to becoming one of North America's centers for media development (including 131 game production companies -- and a giant like EA), he noted that Vancouver had fewer specific strengths going for it when they started than New Mexico does now.

Taking the long view (and broadening the idea a bit) emphasizes the need to have students learning the tools they'll be working with as early as possible. As the length of time elementary school kids spend on games surpasses time spent watching movies and TV, we can use this to encourage a more active role for our youth, as participants and creators rather than as passive audience members.  To mix metaphors a bit, including principles of digital literacy early is essential to having a sustainable industry. 

There's more, of course, so one final note for the moment. Revenues for the digital entertainment industry are expected to double in the next three years, from $32B to $65B with the game sector leading the way. Choosing how we allocate our various resources will decide whether we share in that growth or not.

On 10/26/07, Webb Johnson <> wrote:
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NMITSA Announces 2007 New Mexico IT Excellence Awards Finalists


[Albuquerque, NM, OCT 26, 2007] – The New Mexico Information Technology and Software Association (NMITSA), the state's largest advocacy group for IT & software related business, announced today the finalists for this year's IT Excellence Awards.  Companies from across New Mexico took part in this year's competition, which seeks the best and most successful implementation of an IT or software solution, across several categories, produced by a New Mexico-based company or organization.  Solution Awards will be presented in eight categories:  Commercial Software, Custom Software, Innovative Research, Integrated Systems, IT Infrastructure, IT Support, Hardware and Embedded Systems, and Internet Solutions. In addition, four achievement awards will be presented to individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to industry leadership, support, and promotion of IT in education throughout the state.


Sponsored in part by the New Mexico Business Weekly, News Radio 770 KKOB AM, and Sandia National Laboratories, the third annual IT Excellence Awards will be held in Albuquerque on November 15th, 2007 at the Embassy Suites, from 6 to 10 PM.


The leaders of New Mexico's information technology community will join for a gala evening to recognize and celebrate excellence and technical achievement in the New Mexico IT industry.  Jim Villanucci, comedian and host of the most listened to radio show in New Mexico will host the evening. Jeff Barr, web services evangelist from will keynote the event.  NMITSA has made tickets available on its website at


NMITSA – 2007 IT Excellence Solution Awards Finalists:


Commercial Software

·        ABC Coding Solutions –

·        Avistar – Wireless Substation Monitoring

·        Ultramain Systems – efbFlightLogs


Custom Software

·        Infotech Support – Wesstcorp Microenterprise Support Tool

·        New Mexico State University – UNO Project: Changing the Culture of a University in Three Years with an ERP Project

·        POD – Public Education Automated Budget Management System (ABMS)


Innovative Research

·        ABC Coding Solutions –

·        Sandia National Laboratories – Adaptive Thinking and Leadership Simulation

·        WESST Corp – ezSEO


Integrated Systems

·        Game Production Services, LLC dba Abalone Studios – Future Combat Systems Mobile Demonstration Trailer (FCS MDT)

·        Lumidigm – Unified Development Platform for Multi-Sensor Integration

·        POD – Public Education Automated Budget Management System (ABMS)


IT Infrastructure

·        Blue Jay Enterprises – Santa Fe Public Schools QMOE Project

·        Sandia National Laboratories – Collaborative Conference Rooms

·        Technology Integration Group – SNL Razor Cluster


IT Support

·        First Community Bank – Virtualization of the Corporate Desktop Using Softgrid and Citrix

·        Pat Campbell Insurance – A Business Ready Network

·        Sandia National Laboratories – Internal Web Redesign


Hardware and Embedded Systems

·        Avistar – Wireless Substation Monitoring

·        Lumidigm – Venus Series Embedded Processing for Performance and Security

·        Novint Technologies – The Novint Falcon


Internet Solutions

·        ABC Coding Solutions –

·        New Mexico State University – UNO Project: Changing the Culture of a University in Three Years with an ERP Project

·        Ultramain Systems – efbFlightLogs



NMITSA – 2007 IT Excellence Achievement Award Nominees:


Industry Leadership

·        Andrew L. Baca, President and CEO, Abba Technologies, Inc.

·        Eclipse Aviation

·        Gigablast

·        Eric Whitmore, Program Coordinator, UNM ARTS (Art, Research, Technology & Science) Lab


Nominees for Achievement in Industry Support

·        New Mexico State Investment Council

·        Jane Pelz, Webmaster, Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union

·        Technology Ventures Corporation

·        Eric Witt, Director of Media Industries Development, NM Governor Richardson's Office


Nominees for Achievement in Information Technology in Education – Organization

·        The Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium

·        Sequoia Solutions

·        The Uptime Institute


Nominees for Achievement in Information Technology in Education – Individual

·        Michael Hites, Vice President and CIO, New Mexico State University

·        John Phaklides, Technology Director, Santa Fe Public Schools

·        Tom Ryan, Executive Director of Technology, Albuquerque Public Schools

·        Jonathan Wolfe, President, Fractal Foundation








New Mexico Information Technology & Software Association

Post Office Box 4125

Albuquerque, NM  87106

(505) 615-0250


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For more information about NM Media-related Events, visit:

Eric Renz-Whitmore, Program Coordinator

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NM Media Blogs & Sites, Part 1

Every once in a while we like to scan the area for different groups and blogs that are connecting people in the Media industries and talking about local production. Here's an update...

Kurly's Burning Blog
Blog from one of the leaders of New Mexico's Zombie/Horror industry -- and Burning Paradise owner -- and TromaDance NM producer, and...

Film New Mexico Blog
Updates from the NM film Office, Albuquerque Film Office and other sites...

Burquewood: Film Production in Albuquerque-Land
Local shoots and casting calls, wide-ranging, but with an emphasis on horror

Film Extras Blogspot: Da Flikkers
Life as an extra in the New Mexico film industry

Steve Terrell's Blog
Politics and Music from this Santa Fe New Mexican Reporter

Outside New Mexico...

On Location Vacations
Shots and news from a variety of film set locations around the world

Hawaii Film Office
Of course all the film offices and film commissions are interested in what we're doing -- but they seem to be making a special effort to check us out.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Helen Mirren (and Taylor Hackford) to shoot in New Mexico

Hosting the AFCI event (among other things) continues to pay off for New Mexico, with the announcement that keynote speaker Taylor Hackford will shoot here in Albuquerque, starting in January...

From the New Mexico Business Weekly
Taylor Hackford to Direct Film in Albuquerque
by Megan Kamerick

Director Taylor Hackford, who was recently in New Mexico to participate in the Association of Film Commissioners International meeting, will film his new movie here.

Called "Love Ranch," it will star Hackford's wife, Helen Mirren (who won an Oscar this year for the "The Queen"), and Joe Pesci, also an Oscar winner (for his role in "Goodfellas").

Game Transforms Downtown Albuquerque

If you've been in downtown Albuquerque these past few days, you've probably noticed it -- and 'it' is pretty cool. Also cool is the work they're doing to track camera position and shots so the Container City they've built can be seamlessly integrated into similar structures or 3D modeled environments.

Of course, I actually like seeing familiar spots even when buildings have been added as in The Lost Room, but I know I'm intrigued enough to see Game when it arrives.

From the New Mexico Business Weekly:
New Film Creates Container City in Downtown Albuquerque
by Megan Kamerick

If you've been wondering about that odd-looking structure of cargo containers rising on Silver Avenue between Second and Fourth streets Downtown, it's all because Albuquerque's got "Game."

That's the new film that will star Gerard Butler, headliner of the blockbuster film "300." Michael Umble, publicist for the film, says he realizes that there can be some tension when movies take over parts of cities, sometimes restricting access to streets. But, he adds, the production will do about $11 million in local spending during the shoot.


Umble says the structure underway on Silver, which includes two 3-story wooden frames and an untold number of cargo containers, will simply be called Container City and is a futuristic housing project for the down-and-out in the film's unnamed urban milieu. It will be used for shooting periodically over the next two months. Currently, that part of Silver is closed to traffic and Umble says the production has worked with local film officials to make sure there are alternate access routes. The production schedule is structured so that a good portion of the shooting will be done on weekends, he says.

to read the rest of the article, visit:
New Film Creates Container City in Downtown Albuquerque

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Coverage on High Desert Hollywood

Maybe I'm prone to the syndrome where voices from outside New Mexico have more relevance... I don't know, but I do think an outside perspective can be refreshing... And if you'll take a look, this blog has a number of insights important to those of us interested in the media convergence and the evolution of media business...

From The Intangible Economy

Creating a film industry - outside of Hollywood

Creating a new industry or capturing an old one is the Holy Grail of local economic development. In today's economy, that usually means going after the next hot thing -- "ABC"-tech. But there is a high-profile existing industry that local leaders swoon over: the film industry. Everyone gets excited when the movies come to town to make a picture. My own recent example was spending half a day waiting to see a car blown up at DC's Eastern Market, which was made over to look like a market in Amsterdam.

The real trick, however, isn't luring the one-off movie-shoot. It is creating a sustaining film industry. One of few who have been able to do it recently is New Mexico. As a recent story in Spirit Magazine (High-desert Hollywood) relates:

But the latest Hollywood influx is not about pleasure. It’s about business. And much of it happened because of one man: Governor Bill Richardson.

Richardson came into office in 2003, telling New Mexicans that the state needed to attract new businesses and making the film industry a priority growth target for the state. Then he convinced the state government to roll out an incentive package for filmmakers. Today, as many as 32 states offer similar perks, but few are as established or as generous as New Mexico’s. They include a 50 percent reimbursement of wages for on-the-job training of state residents, a tax rebate of 25 percent on all direct costs and labor (or no sales tax on most production costs), and a film investment loan program that offers no-interest loans for up to $15 million.

. . .

The state started small, chasing low-budget indie films before moving into bigger productions that had been shooting abroad and finally courting repeat films and longer series TV productions. At all times, one constant guided the state: “We approached it like a business,” says Eric Witt, director of media arts and industries for the governor. “It had to make money for New Mexico.

"Repeat films and longer series TV productions" That means a sustainable industry with a host of specialized jobs for locals and more economic activity that simply catering to the out-of-town cast and crew:

Until the industry matures, the local jobs lifted from Hollywood won’t last long. Recognizing this stark economic reality, all of the states and countries courting the industry hope to build a self-sustaining film culture, from homegrown filmmakers in high schools to professional digital animators. But New Mexico figured that out first.

Read more here:

Also... what do you think about High Desert Hollywood?

We're also the subject of a nice write-up in Southwest Airlines' inflight magazine Spirit (I 'd thought it was related to the movie), which you can read here.

In the meantime though, an excerpt:
Of course, New Mexico and the other places courting value-minded moviemakers (see “The Next Hollywood?” on page 132) will never displace Tinseltown. Its concentration of money, production assets, and creative talent will allow L.A. to remain the entertainment capital of the world. But with a raft of incentives, a growing band of industry pros, state-of-the-art facilities, and a topography that runs from frozen tundra to scorching bleakness, the Land of Enchantment could become “Hollywood Southwest.” Expect fewer film crews to wrap with martinis in L.A. and more to celebrate with margaritas in New Mexico.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Mexico's Form Z Connection

We were very pleased to hear that the design project the Duke City Shootout undertook with UNM's School of Architecture and Planning had won honorable mention in the Fabrication Category. From Z is one of the cooler 3D design tools available -- and Professor Tim Castillo, who'd led the Shootout's Insomnia Lounge Design Project for UNM -- had shown me a good bit of their student work last year.

Looking a little closer at the page, though (it's here:, I see that this wasn't the only successful project for UNM, or New Mexico's only connection. Seems Arturo Nunez, who was a pleasure to work with on the Insomnia Lounge Design also won the Award of Distinction in this category. I really suggest you take a look and watch the videos...

The Shootout project was, in my opinion, part of the essence of what we're trying to do with the ARTS Lab, the Shootout, and New Mexico's Media Industries Strategy Project in some ways: involving students in projects that stretch their skills and employ the latest in process and technology; taking an interdisciplinary approach to its fruition in design, build, use and publication.

It was an exciting process, and fun to see the evolution of thinking and design from Tim's student teams. Many thanks to Reggie, Grubb and Leann from the Shootout team, and thanks and congratulations to Tim Castillo and all of the students who participated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rocky Mountain Emmy for Chris Scheuler and C&J

Looks like that darn Chris Scheuler has won another award.

As reported in the NM Business Weekly..............................

A documentary project by the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women has earned a national award.

"Girls: Challenges/Choices," was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with the Rocky Mountain Emmy in the category of public/current/community affairs program or special.

The documentary focused on issues of body image, dating violence, depression, teen pregnancy and substance abuse among New Mexico teenage girls. It was broadcast on KOAT-TV, Channel 7 on June 12, 2006.

The film was produced by Christopher Productions and co-sponsored by the N.M. Children, Youth and Families Department, the Public Education Department, the New Mexico Department of Health, ValueOptions and the McCune Charitable Foundation.

We're especially happy because Chris employed a team of students from the UNM Communication and Journalism Department to help make it happen.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Spirit Begins Production ! (?)

Do STARS make a difference?

Does anyone think that they don't?

Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere don't do much for me, but I have to admit that Scarlet Johansson, Claire Danes, Frank Miller, Paul Haggis... those names do mean a lot.

But the big names thing does make a difference. While people might talk about the possibility of getting tens, hundreds of thousands or millions of hits on YouTube for very little cost, that really is a rare possibility, whereas, say, someone like Paul Haggis will appear in several magazines and sites talking about Green Filmmaking -- getting tens of thousands of people who care about those issues to hear about NM.

Scarlett Johansson might not be talking about New Mexico (not much yet anyway), but she, Samuel Jackson, Eva Mendes and the rest all have fans -- who will be hearing a little bit about Albuquerque and New Mexico at least until Spirit comes out (and hopefully does well).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Virgin Galactic Preps for Liftoff at World's First Commercial Spaceport

Great photos the other week about Spaceport America, and nice placement as the world's 'first commercial spaceport'.

Virgin Galactic Preps for Liftoff at World's First Commercial Spaceport
By Miyoko Ohtake 09.25.07 | 2:00 AM

Good-bye, Cape Canaveral. It's been nice knowing you, Edwards Air Force Base. The future hub of space travel won't be some restricted-access military installation. It will be in the middle of the New Mexico desert — and look surprisingly like a cylon raider from Battlestar Galactica. This fall, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority unveiled the design for the world's first public launching and landing site for space vehicles, Spaceport America, future home to Virgin Galactic and the X Prize cup. The plan — by UK architecture firm Foster + Partners and San Francisco-based engineering shop URS — includes a passenger terminal and a hangar big enough for seven craft. When it's completed in 2010, the project will have set New Mexico's taxpayers back an estimated $225 million. And with that kind of money, you can buy a lot of sci-fi panache. "The spaceport design had to be a vision of the future, not the past," says Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic's president. "It's not a railroad station we're building out there." While Spaceport America's anchor tenant will be Virgin — which is still hoping for a 2009 launch despite a recent explosion at its development facility in Southern California — other private space ventures are invited to dock there as well. Can't afford a $200,000 ticket to the heavens? Just head 200 miles east to see if you can hitch a ride from Roswell instead.

More about Space Torusim here.

From USA Today...

BOSTON — Either selling outer-space vacations to wealthy business moguls is easy or Eric Anderson's a superb salesman.
Just 33, Anderson is CEO of the decade-old company Space Adventures, a Northern Virginia-based firm that sells space trips aboard Russian spacecraft to extremely rich private citizens. The price: $30 million to $40 million, depending on details of the trip. He's been the middleman in all five deals in which the Russians have delivered a tourist to the International Space Station and returned them safely.

When he first started the venture, he said while traveling here recently on business, "Everyone said, 'You're crazy.' " But Anderson's dad, a real estate entrepreneur, taught him to never take no for an answer, and he hasn't.

"I'm the only one who can get you a trip into space," he says while hurtling through Boston streets in a limousine on his way to speak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Novint to Partner with Merscom Games

From the NM Business Weekly:

Video and computer game developer Merscom LLC is partnering with Novint Technologies Inc. to make Merscom games compatible with Novint's new 3-D game controller.

The Novint Falcon, which launched on the market last June, integrates a sense of touch, or "haptics," with 3-D computer graphics, allowing PC gamers to feel the blast of a gun or the swipe of a sword.

The Falcon retails for $239 and includes nearly 30 bundled games, but currently Half Life 2 is the only name-brand game that supports the Falcon.

Albuquerque-based Novint (OTCBB: NVNT) will now work with Merscom to integrate the Falcon into a number of titles, including The Ship, WWII, Tank Commander, Masterpiece Fishing, Buku Dominoes and Jewel Craft.

Merscom CEO Kirk Owen said the partnership will enhance consumer appeal for Merscom games.

"We're excited about bringing this incredible new technology to our customers," Owen said in a news release. "The Novint Falcon is a great new interface that adds a whole new layer to the player experience."

Read more at the NM Business Weekly

Monday, October 1, 2007

KNME Evolves...

The folks at KNME have been doing a tremendous job, making our local PBS station one of the network's leaders in innovation and production of content that's seen nationwide.

This article from the ABQ Tribune by J.A. Montalbano opens the window a little bit to see what's inside...

KNME evolves to bring in new viewers and keep up with digital age

Public TV in Albuquerque isn't just Channel 5 anymore.

In the parlance of the day, KNME is evolving into versions 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3.

And if the digital TV revolution (coming in February 2009) is too much to drink in, you can get your highbrow fix online, YouTube-style.

New Mexico's main public TV station is a long way from just "Sesame Street" during the day and "Masterpiece Theatre" on Sunday nights.

Chad Davis, KNME's production content coordinator, said online video is one example of the direction the station is headed. For instance, viewers can watch the station's half-hour documentary "From Curandera to Chupacabra: The Stories of Rudolfo Anaya" entirely online at

"That's something we have to fully explore," Davis said. "It's just too important not to be in our portfolio of services. We're not just public TV but public media."

Read the rest at...