Not the same old story

--Ed Catmull, 2009 recipient of the UCSC Foundation Medal; cofounder of Pixar and president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios; from the Harvard Business Review, 2008

By Vicki Bolam,

It sounds improbable, paradoxical, amusingly far-fetched: a robot romance wrapped around an environmental message. But when the world saw Pixar's WALL-E, it all made a kind of brilliant sense.

The teamwork, creativity, social awareness, and love for a great story that gave birth to that big-hearted 'droid (as well to films like Up, Toy Story, and Finding Nemo), make Pixar's Ed Catmull a role model at UC Santa Cruz. His visionary pairing of high-tech innovation with artistic collaboration seems tailor-made for a campus that prides itself on blazing new and interdisciplinary trails.

At UCSC, art and technology are already close friends. The campus's pioneering Film and Digital Media Department is known for its effective meshing of theoretical research with hands-on filmmaking experience, and its Digital Arts and New Media M.F.A. program attracts top talent from around the country.

At the same time, UCSC's computer science and engineering programs collaborate across the disciplines to change the ways we play games, explore history, and share stories about our lives.

The play's the thing: The future of interactive media

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From roots in computer gaming, interactive digital media are evolving at light speed, becoming vastly more complex and realistic. Richer cinematography and more sophisticated narratives give these "playable media" increasing emotional power and offer more ways for players to "author" a game's action and outcome.

At the same time, in what are often called "serious games," game-based technologies are transforming education and training in fields such as medicine and emergency response. Read more »

Bridging past and present

Kannon, Saipei

If you could travel through time to the beach on Okinawa in 1945, how would it change your perceptions of World War II? By expanding the ways we learn and communicate about the war's history, historians Alice Yang and Alan Christy hope to also expand our understanding and awareness.

Through UCSC's Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories, the two historians are building an international online community focused on the history of WWII in the Pacific. Read more »

Telling secrets, sharing lives

web capture from Public Secrets

Professor Sharon Daniel's online documentary about women in prison gives a voice to those shut out of the digital revolution.

Through Daniel's Public Secrets project, women in a California prison share their lives in candid and moving narratives. They talk about their children, their mistakes, and their futures, and also about the injustices of the criminal justice system and the failures of the prison health care system. Read more »