Alex McDowell is one of the most innovative and influential production designers working in narrative media. With the impact of his ideas extending far beyond his background in cinema, he advocates an immersive design process that acknowledges the key role of world building in storytelling.
lecture: Alex McDOWELL, “World Building.”
4.00 p.m. / Gin D. Wong, FAIA Conference Center, Harris Hall
USC School of Architecture
Los Angeles, California
In his 30+ years as a narrative designer, McDowell has worked with directors Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, David Fincher, Zack Snyder and Steven Spielberg, amongst many others. From 1999-2001 Alex McDowell worked with Steven Spielberg to design and develop a world for the film Minority Report, prior to a completed script. The process that evolved changed the nature of film design from analogue to digital, and profoundly affected the nature of production, with a radical shift towards a non-linear workflow. Since this film, McDowell’s work has built on the dynamic relationship between creativity and emergent technologies.
McDowell is associate professor in Interactive Media, Production and Media Arts and Practice (iMAP) at the School of Cinematic Arts, USC, where he is director of the World Building Media Lab and the 5D Institute. As visiting artist at MIT’s Media Lab from 2006-2011 he designed the robot opera Death and the Powers for composer Tod Machover. He is a Getty Research Institute scholar, and a member of the AMPAS SciTech Council. In 2006, he was awarded Royal Designer for Industry by the UK’s Royal Society of Arts.
Alex McDowell is founder and creative director of 5D | Organization, a cellular and interdisciplinary transmedia design practice.