California sets coin for digital training

California sets coin for digital training

HOLLYWOOD — California’s Employment Training Panel (ETP) believes in putting its money into the state’s employment future — including the growing post-production and digital arms of the entertainment industry.

In a move to enhance the international competitiveness of California-based multimedia and entertainment companies, the state training panel has awarded three training and study grants: $212,550 to Entertainment Industry Development Corp. (EIDC), $220,000 to Bay Area Multimedia Partnership (BAMP), and — just to show it’s serious — $693,100 to Video Symphony EnterTraining.

“Post-production and other digitally based companies within the entertainment industry have become increasingly important to California’s economic landscape, and this grant will help ensure that the industry continues to grow here at home,” said Gerald Geismar, exec director of the state training panel, acknowledging that companies requiring employees with technical and creative skills frequently seek workers from around the world rather than in the state.

Video Symphony will use the funds to provide high-level computer training in areas of film and video editing, animation, post-production techniques, computer game design, set development and other technical areas that use Avid, Softimage, Alias, Kinetix and Lightwave software. Its training will be provided to 130 employees of digital special effects and entertainment companies in the Los Angeles area such as House of Moves, Motion Syndicate, Eagle Eye Digital Film and E! Entertainment Television.

In 1996, more than 75% of primetime TV shows and more than 60% of feature films used Avid’s media/film composer. Effects from Softimage and Alias were seen in the films “Jurassic Park,” “Men in Black” and “Titanic.”

The training panel’s other grants — along with funds from the city of Los Angeles and NOVA Private Industry Council — will help Entertainment Industry Development Corp. and Bay Area Multimedia develop a labor market study of California’s post-production and emerging DVD industries. Results, along with training information, will be posted on the SkillsNet Web site at http://www.skillsnet.net.

SkillsNet is a joint effort of Entertainment Industry Development Corp., Bay Area Multimedia Partnership, the state of California and the city of Los Angeles. The Web site — which is jointly managed by EIDC and BAMP with funding from the state training panel — was designed to link employers, job seekers, students and training agencies in an effort to improve California’s competitive position in the multimedia and entertainment industries.

FORMER “BAYWATCH” star Pamela Anderson spent a few spring days in Ridgecrest, Calif., posing for photos for her upcoming 1999 calendar. Cuddeback Dry Lake Bed provided the rural Western setting, and William Hawkes Studios did the honors for the desert shoot.

Anderson will soon star in the Columbia TriStar-produced TV series “V.I.P.,” an action-adventure tale with a dash of humor. She will co-produce with the show’s creator, “Pretty Woman” scribe J.F. Lawton.

Back in Ridgecrest, Anderson’s still photography shoot may have generated less income than feature films, but no one’s complaining.

Disney’s “Dinosaur” dumped more than $1.6 million in the Ridgecrest economy during the first quarter of 1998, according to city officials. Ridgecrest film commissioner Ray Arthur reports film dollars have more than quadrupled this year to post an impressive total of $2,624,000 in disposable income, compared to $636,000 during the same period last year.

“Even though El Nino flooded our dry lake beds for over 10 weeks, we still had 17 productions, rain or shine,” Arthur said. “The commission’s goal for the year is to top the 1996 all-time high of $6.5 million.”