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A digitally dynamic city? 


Hollywood East is dead. There, we've said it. Now let's move on and not bring it up again.

The pie-in-the-sky dream of big-budget, star-powered flicks never materialized; and regional leaders have been scrambling to find the next big thing to combat a low-end economy forced on them by overreliance on Disney. And now they think they've found it: It's digital.

Orlando and Orange County politicians, as well as the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, are falling over themselves to attract high-tech, digital jobs to Central Florida. The idea is pretty logical. Digital technology has transformed everything from film to music to the news media.

It's the new buzzword in a town where buzzwords come and go with frequency. Still, it's finding a resonance: Look at the 2002 Orlando Technology Forum, going on through June 10 at the Orlando Museum of Art. Organized by Craig Richards, owner of Big Diesel Digital production company, the forum (in its first year) has attracted a slew of top-rate panelists to discuss all aspects of digital media.

Officially, the forum isn't tied to the Florida Film Festival, though they intentionally coincide. And the event's eight seminars cover a wide array of digital-film and art topics, including production technology, composition and graphics, and methodology.

But the most interesting seminar is also the most esoteric. While many of the classes are technical and certain to be bogged in compu-geek terminology, the opening-day "Culture of our Digital World" on Friday, June 7, should prove more engaging. Basically, it's an open-ended discussion -- with a panel including Harvard University's Larry Bouthillier, Valencia Community College's Dan Dutofski and University of Central Florida film professor Lori Ingle -- to provide a better understanding of what digital means for the region and the world.

Richards has high hopes: "Dynamic digital-content provider -- no [metropolitan] area has defined itself as that. We have the economy to make that happen." He describes the seminar as "a 10,000-foot overview [of the] understanding of what it is to work digitally. This is the first conversation."

Richards talks of attracting digital artists with a media center or, more broadly, a "social atmosphere," but notes that it's a cottage industry where anyone can buy a PC and set up shop at home, wherever home might be.

The forum is $20 for the public, free for those working in the digital industry. The class starts at 9:30 a.m. on Friday at the museum. Registration information: www.orlandotechnologyforum.com.


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