Thursday, September 23, 1999

The Cyber Scene in Portland ~ by Mike Kingsella

Portland Creative Conference Goes Interactive

The Portland Creative Conference opened with a bang on Thursday night over at the Portland Center for Performing Arts, with Sam BamBoo playing his Jamaican tunes and the creative professionals schmoozing the night away.

At the opening party, I had the chance to say hi to Lev Lieberman, Portland interactive guru. Lev told me he is reevaluating the industry, his background lies in traditional media and he is disappointed that the new media is not at the same level that traditional media was when he left it five years ago.

I also ran into Scott Banish of Dreaming America, a new interactive agency. Scott was pretty excited about two of their new clients, Trans-tech and Fusion Pictures.

The wacky art director at CyberSight, Todd Greco, talked to me about the Portland Creative Conference party, and his DJ styles. At that point I met Peter Gillington, contract web developer for George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic. Peter is working on an exciting project over there creating an archive site for ILM, which will store all their reels.

Hollywood Video, which owns, had a strong presence at the opening night party. Everyone in the crowd had a movie star nametag on and were encouraged to find four other people they were in a movie with. If you find four people you enter into a drawing for free video rentals for life.

Towards the end of the party I ran into Martin Higgins from Microsoft. Martin is currently producing a CD-ROM called “Shaq’s How To Stay Safe Online.” Paid for by the Gates Foundation the CD-ROM will be donated to Boys and Girls Clubs across the country to teach kids safe surfing behaviors.

Day two of the conference was filled with panels on filmmaking to convergence. But it seemed that everyone had something to say about the interactive scene. Alexandra Rose, writer and producer of “The Other Sister” spoke about building the character. She noted that it is not only important to build characters in books and on the screen, but also in interactive experiences. Log on next week to read my interview with Alexandra Rose and her insights into convergence.

A panel later in the day called “Digital Entertainment” showcased how the broadcast and interactive businesses are collaborating to build the groundwork for our converged systems in the Future. Ken Papagan, senior vice president at iXL demonstrated their moreTV technology and how interactive TV might look in the future. Michelle Miller, a producer over at PBS Kids Online talked about using this technology to create more exciting ways to learn for younger children.

Earlier that day I met Nathan Lucas, the New Media teacher over at Beaverton Arts & Communications High School. He will be teaching his students Photoshop 5.5, Illustrator 8, Director, and Flash 4. Lucas comes to the teaching profession directly from the software industry.

I also got a chance to hear Tiffany Shlain from the Webby Awards speak about online culture and how this culture is mirroring what happened during the renaissance. Tiffany comes to the interactive industry with a background in independent filmmaking. I got a chance to speak with her after her talk and she wants everyone to know that the submission date for the Webby Awards have been pushed up to October 8th.

On Saturday night, everyone at the conference got the chance to dance the night away. Hosted by the Portland Creative Conference wrap party was a big hit. I got a chance to talk to Greg Drew, CEO of, about his companies amazing growth.

Before the night was through I was also able to chat with Steve Bovee from VIC. Steve told me that VIC is expanding to become a huge nationwide networking organization for the interactive community.

All in all, the conference was incredible! If you are an interactive or Hollywood professional, this is the conference to go to. This is Mike Kingsella, signing off from Portland, the creative capital of the world!