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Decision Theater video earns critical acclaim

June 06, 2006

The Decision Theater is an advanced visualization environment that enables policymakers and others to see ­ in rich, three-dimensional presentations ­ the results of their actions. The theater features three screens to form a 260-degree, immersive environment, allowing researchers to study and communicate the effects of policy decisions with a large degree of freedom and creativity.

To promote the facility, Decision Theater teamed up with Media Alchemy, based in Seattle, to produce "Welcome to the Decision Theater." The video, which incorporates state-of-the-art visual effects and three-dimensional animation, is an introduction to the theater's technology and usefulness in policy-making. Actor Bruce Boxleitner serves as a guide and narrator during the show.

"Welcome to Decision Theater" has become one of the top non-broadcast videos of the year, winning 10 awards in six competitions. The video competed in the Accolade Competition, the Communicator Awards, the MarCom Creative Awards, the Telly Awards, the Videographer Awards and the Worldfest/Houston International Film Festival.

The Worldfest/Houston festival is the oldest continuously running independent film festival in the United States, and the Decision Theater video earned a platinum award (first place) in the non-broadcast category. The video also garnered bronze in the copywriting category and silver in the public relations category at the Telly Awards, which is recognized as one of the most prominent television commercial and non-broadcast production awards ceremonies.

Rick Shangraw, executive director of the Decision Theater, says the video's success showcases the versatility and proficiency of Decision Theater. "The video uses high-end animation sequences equivalent to what you'd find in a Pixar movie," Shangraw said, referring to the animation studio that has produced films like "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo." "It allows us to very quickly and effectively communicate our mission of providing a state-of-the-art facility for visual policy-making."

Shangraw says more than 6,000 people in the last nine months have seen the video either in the theater or watching DVDs that were sent out, giving the theater a national presence for potential project sponsors.

"The concept behind Decision Theater is tough to convey," he says. "It's not really a theater, but a tool for policy-makers and researchers. The video does a great job of introducing to people what we're trying to accomplish. It has been instrumental in helping to attract organizations to our facility."

He adds that the success of the video is a testament to Decision Theater's ability to influence policy in Arizona and nationwide.

Credit for that accomplishment belongs to Media Alchemy and the Decision Theater team, says Media Alchemy's executive producer, Erik Holsinger. He attributes much of the success to Decision Theater's willingness to involve itself in the production.

"It's a novel environment because it's completely collaborative," Holsinger says. "Rick Shangraw and his team were involved in every aspect of the four-month production. At every step of the way, we were encouraged and given the freedom to push the limits of production."

Holsinger says that working on the project provided him and his crew with the opportunity to produce a video ­ and to make a difference in the world. "With Decision Theater, you get the feeling that you're affecting the world by using science and academia to solve major problems," Holsinger says.