Once upon a time, Hollywood was where "Hollywood" was created, and that was a very small place. Even if a film called for a snowy mountain scene, you built a hill and broke out the soap flakes, or you traveled as little as three hours away for the real thing. And to be a success, you went to Hollywood . . . it didn't come to you.

Well, things have changed in the business of show business and places like the Digital Arts Entertainment Lab at Georgia State University are making sure that business takes place in Georgia.

Two years ago the legislature passed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act (GEIIA), granting a base tax credit to qualified movie, video and gaming productions. The Digital Arts Entertainment Laboratory (DAEL) was instrumental in orchestrating support necessary to pass the legislation.

The DAEL was founded in 1996 and is housed in the GSU Department of Communication in Atlanta. The facilities include digital editing suites, an insert stage with blue screen studio, permanent studio lighting infrastructure and fixtures, and an audio post production suite. They also have a multi-purpose thirty-eight seat Audience Response Theater where they display and test film, HiDef, computer video, and 5.1 Surround Sound.

With increased demand for HiDef production statewide, DAEL is ready with added HiDef production and post-production capacity. At DAEL, it’s about teaching and exploring how to do things more creatively, more efficiently, how to better use the new technologies.

DAEL is well positioned to contribute to Georgia’s production growth: by replenishing the workforce to fill high-level jobs; by creating new jobs through the Georgia Entertainment Business Development incubation initiative; by supplying business with research data on potential markets for content to be available on mobile and interactive devices; and by producing media for these emerging technologies. And also, grad students like Todd Simpson (see main story) are learning a lot.

DAEL is also creating content in-house, a recent example being Atlanta-based record producer Dallas Austin's latest project. "Crank Dat" is intended to showcase Atlanta's unique style of music and culture. This project awaits the green light from outlets such as MTV. Stay tuned!


The revolution will be televised. Unfortunately, so will toilet-flushing cats and crybaby Britney fans. So if you're looking for the revolution or anything else of substance on YouTube, you've got a lot of sifting to do.

Enter Current TV. The banning of pit bulls, Afghan heroin production, and from the category "The Current Scene," a story about the 5th Annual US Air Guitar Championships, are all available for your education, your viewing pleasure and your critique.

If YouTube is a graffiti wall, Current is a carefully curated, very hip gallery.

Current consists of a symbiotic TV network and interactive website featuring "pods" of information. Imagine mini-documentaries, or a "60 Minutes" segment narrated by a field reporter at least 50 years younger than Morley Safer.

Launched in August of 2005 by Joel Hyatt (founder of Hyatt Legal Services) and Al Gore (you might have heard of him), Current began as an effort to challenge the "old white guy" domination of the media and to serve as an independent outlet for "Citizen Journalists" aged 18-34. That non-partisan newsy beginning has transformed into a profitable showcase of ideas, arts, exposes and yes, news, where showing your production skills and impressing your fellow audience members is as important as getting out a message. 30% of Current's content is Viewer Created Content (VC2); a figure that VC2 Outreach Manager Saskia Wilson-Brown says will eventually rise to near 100%.

Atlantan Gil Braum has been a part of the Current satellite system from the start, when it was briefly called INdTV. He participated in a virtual recruitment drive held through that quintessentially Generation-Y bulletin board, Craigslist.

"I was applying to be a host, almost a VJ," says Braum. But, he wasn't looking to be the next Carson Daly or a junior Walter Cronkite. "I liked the idea of short documentaries, this was an outlet. It was the most intense application I've ever done. You had to fill out forms, send in a resume, write essays, videotape yourself, create a huge package."

The VJ concept was dropped, the name changed to Current TV, and original applicants as well as the greater production community were given the opportunity to make their first submission. Braum's four-minute short was called "Business of Boom." Produced on DVX 100 and edited on Final Cut, it focused on his other interest, the pyrotechnics industry. It was purchased and featured on the front page of the Current site for the entire month of July. Braum was hooked.

"They've opened the doors for anyone to produce, and the best of the bunch gets bought for television," says Braum. Looking at his profile (combustagil), he has multiple pods that have "made it"; his profile shows topics ranging from the art scene in Milwaukee to Peruvian orphans.

What makes it onto Current, the site and potentially from there to TV? Well, first, it has to be, well, current. Allison Davis is a creative executive and wants to know what's going on now. "It's intuitive programming. Does this speak to our audience now, or is it a really fresh take on an older topic."

The shelf life of pods all depends on their topicality. "Last week's coverage of a protest is just that. A pod on an emerging artist or an on-going crisis might stay in rotation for months," Davis says. A creative executive who shepherds content producers like Gil Braum can retrieve a great pod from the archive and give it a fresh wrap. If she feels that a subject is intriguing or otherwise underrepresented, she can commission a piece to be produced. The price paid for those commissions, and for the pieces that are "greenlighted" from the site to the broadcast channel, is on a per-project scale.

A Georgian eager to get involved is Todd Simpson, a product of Georgia State University’s Digital Arts Entertainment Lab (DAEL). Todd Simpson got his MA in Communications in 2000, with a focus in digital media. For current students things have changed a little. Accessibility to DAEL involves an MFA in Film/Video Digital Imaging, and for the ambitious, a Ph.D. in Moving Image Studies.

Simpson is nothing but ambitious. Trained at the DAEL, he became intrigued by the aftermath of the death of a Japanese rock star. Apparently the candlelight vigils that have become de riguer in the USA are not enough for the fans of this particular singer. Teens formed suicide clubs and well, fulfilled their mission. This phenomenon was not isolated, and Simpson thought this contrast in culture was worthy of a "pod".

Simpson is interested in getting this story across- regardless of the logistical difficulties in collecting video footage from Japan. His previous short documentaries have had local subjects . . . "much easier" says Simpson. He's had to sift through internet footage and badly translated Japanese news and fan sites. Is he a citizen journalist? Simpson responds, "Anyone with a camera is."

Interested in becoming a mini-documentarian? Your first step is a good story. Davis says she's considered pods submitted with the most rudimentary of production values. "A good story is the most important thing, and nothing is off limits."

Current TV is available in more than 50 million homes worldwide. You can catch up or get involved with Current TV on Comcast 107, Dish 196, DirecTV 366, and at currenttv.com for the rest of us. And don't worry about that 18-34 tag, the revolution isn't asking for ID.