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Council: Worldscape proposal advances

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By Marganne Glasser

Addressing the Los Alamos County Council Tuesday, Peter Rogina, the president of WorldScape Inc., likened the explosion of 3-D immersive imaging capability to an offshore earthquake creating an economic tidal wave.Rogina, along with Managing Director Randall Platt of York Capital Trust, who handles investor relations for WorldScape, and Anthony Mortillaro, assistant county administrator, gave a fast tutorial of WorldScape’s development plans in Los Alamos County and requested a loan of $1,490,500 from the economic development fund.Council approved the first step of the process.The proponents described WorldScape as uniquely poised to help diversify the county economy dominated by the Department of Energy by creating a commercial market for an immersive imaging technology developed at LANL. Film production studios are expected to be the largest customer, they said.Three recent 3-D films, “Beowulf,” a U2 video and “Hannah Montana at the Super Bowl” have generated significant interest in the technology and potential for financial returns. Home entertainment technology demands are expected to create a mega-billion dollar industry at an accelerating pace.Other applications of 3-D immersive technology include specialized training, medical imaging and supercomputing. Rogina’s clients include the U.S. Navy and  Pantex, an ordnance plant, for immersive training in nuclear weapons disassembly. Training commercial film crew in the production technology is expected to be a large revenue source. Jeffrey Katzenburg, CEO of DreamWorks Studio, calls 3-D technology “the most exciting thing to happen in the entertainment industry since color.”Plans for the local WorldScape site include a twenty-foot-high curved glass projection screen for 3-D applications, a facility for training users of 3-D production tools, and a model “living room of the future” with home entertainment 3-D technology. Over 40 high skill level jobs are expected to be filled locally.Councilor Nona Bowman expressed concern about loan collateral as it is marked for capital equipment. Platt replied that none of WorldScape’s performance goals are dependent on New Mexico capital. Platt said that Rogina owns patents that are worth tens of millions of dollars and will bring $4.5 million worth of private funding to the venture. He explained that the value of locating here is that of the 50 experts in the world, 20 are in Los Alamos and four were present at the council meeting.During public commentary, Kevin Holsapple of Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation said WorldScape’s goals are “dead on with our targets for economic development and quality (industry).”Manuel Baca of Los Alamos said this project would “help bring Hollywood into the 25th century, and the 25th century into your living room.”Councilors Bowman, Fran Berting, Robert Gibson and Michael Wheeler voted unanimously to authorize Mortillaro to proceed with the loan-contract development. Councilor Jim West, who was participating by telephone, and Council Chair Jim Hall were not present for this part of the meeting, having cited reasons of health.The 13-year loan is contingent on collateral.