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O R L A N D O ’ S




STAR POWER Q & A with UCF Grad, Actress Cheryl Hines


WIZARDS Local Researchers Brew Up Innovative Solutions

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Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission Vice President, Marketing Texture Editor & Associate Publisher Maureen Brockman Director, Public Relations Texture Associate Editor Jennifer Wakefield Vice President, Technology & Entertainment Director, Metro Orlando Film & Entertainment Comission Suzy Spang

T E X T U R E FA L L / W I N T E R 2 0 1 0 V O L U M E 7 , I S S U E 2

Texture Project Support Lisa Addy Director, Publications & Web Design


Amy Dinsmore Director, Business Development

FROM THE PUBLISHER 5 It’s no comeback: Central Florida has been a major player in the film industry for decades.

Gloria LeQuang Director, Technology & Entertainment Development Eric Ushkowitz Director, Technology Development

PEAK PERFORMER 6 Richard Sweat and his company, .decimal, are reinventing radiation therapy. TALENT POOL 8 Local companies pioneer teaching technologies.

Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.®


Vice President of Publications Texture Associate Publisher Deborah Kicklighter Henrichs

INNOVATION ALLEY 14 Meet the Florida High-Tech Corridor’s Faces of Technology.

Managing Editor Jessica Chapman

INTERFACE 16 Q&A with actress/director/producer and UCF graduate Cheryl Hines. SPECIAL FX 18 Local tech talent leads the way in the entertainment industry. TECH TRENDS 26 There’s an app for that ... developed in Central Florida.

Publication Artist Lisa Buck Production Coordinators Elaine Hebert and Stacey Smith


OFF THE WIRE 30 Breaking news bytes


Orlando-area companies discover growth through exporting.


REWRITING THE SCRIPT 20 A new “game changing” state incentive makes Central Florida’s film and entertainment industry more competitive than ever.

THE REAL LIFE WIZARDS OF ORLANDO 28 Local leaders in science and research are brewing up solutions to real-world problems.

Associate V.P. of Advertising Sales Sheryl Taylor 407.354.5568 Contributing Writers Justin Campfield, Todd Deery, Kevin Fritz, Jackie Kelvington, Kristen Manieri, John Marini, Gretchen Miller-Basso, Jack Roth, Sarah Sekula, G.K. Sharman, Jennifer Wakefield Contributing Photographers Phelan Ebenhack

INTELLIGENT FORMS OF LIFESTYLE 32 Locals reveal why they call Metro Orlando home.


President Texture Publisher Gary C. Sain


This publication is sponsored in part by Orange County Government and the University of Central Florida. Texture magazine is produced by everything ink, a division of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc.® (Orlando CVB), for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Orlando CVB: 6700 Forum Drive, Suite 100, Orlando, FL 32821, Phone 407.354.5568, Fax 407.370.5021. Texture magazine assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, negatives or transparencies. Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission 301 East Pine Street, Suite 900 Orlando, FL 32801. Phone: 407.422.7159 or 888.TOP.CITY (867-2489). Fax: 407.425.6428. E-mail: Advertising information: 407.354.5512. Copyright 2010 Metro Orlando EDC. All rights reserved. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of Orlando CVB, on behalf of the EDC, is prohibited. Printed in the U.S.A.


from the edc


LEADING By Suzy Spang


“Don’t call it a comeback/I been here for years ...” — “Mama Said Knock You Out,” LL Cool J

The recent passing of the 20102011 Florida Film & Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program this past spring is causing some to call this a “comeback” for Central Florida’s film and entertainment industry. While the new incentive definitely adds to the region’s appeal as a film-production destination, the reality is that the area has been a major player in this industry for years. Initially the industry got its start in the commercial-production aspect of entertainment. “Green all year” was (and still is) a selling point that ad agencies and their clients couldn’t resist! Not only could they shoot in February, but they could shoot green trees and boats on sparkling water

with not a snow drift in sight — all while spending a few days in sunny Orlando. This makes our region a favorite among television commercial producers and is the reason why commercials are our “bread and butter” when it comes to the film industry. With year-round filming capabilities and a diverse terrain, Metro Orlando has served not just as “Anywhere USA,” but has actually been filmed to represent six of the earth’s seven continents and yes, even the moon. The arrival of the theme parks brought new opportunities and extensive infrastructure, soundstages, and the crews, as well as the vendors and talent to bring those stages to life. Television specials, series, and feature

and independent films were soon to follow. Metro Orlando continues to be home to a skilled and talented crew base, many of whom have worked in other regions around the country and the world but choose to make their home here because of the supportive community. This includes a highereducation system that rivals that of any region in the world for developing a creative and talented workforce that continues to grow, challenge and shape what entertainment content looks like. In this issue of Texture, in addition to learning why the new incentive is a “game changer” for Metro Orlando’s film and entertainment industry, you’ll have a chance to read how actress and UCF graduate Cheryl Hines’ experiences in Central Florida shaped her career, as well as what she thinks of the area as a hub for film production. There are other interesting people to meet as well, including Richard Sweat, founder of .decimal; some of the real life wizards of Orlando who are brewing up spellbinding solutions to global concerns; and Central Floridians who are eager to share why they love living and working here. Go ahead. Turn the page and discover how Orlando has always been a player when it comes to breaking new ground. x

Suzy Spang Vice President xTechnology and Entertainment Metro Orlando EDC


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peak performer




By Kevin Fritz


Richard Sweat

Much has changed since a 24-yearold Richard Sweat sat on the balcony of his third-floor Orlando apartment in 1986 and mapped out an idea that would not only change his life forever, but the lives of cancer patients throughout the world.



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On that day, armed with no more than an A.S. degree in Allied Health from Seminole Community College and an A.A. from Palm Beach Community College, the man who had been busy playing drums for a rock and roll band created a new company, an Internetbased manufacturer of custom, patientspecific devices for use in radiation therapy. “I can remember playing at the Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street for dollar longneck night,” recalls the CEO/president of .decimal (pronounced dot decimal) with a smile, admitting he virtually stumbled on to his career in radiation therapy. The Lyman High School graduate had no pre-conceived notion of what he wanted to do with the rest of his life until a chance meeting with someone from Orlando Regional Medical Center, who offered him a job as a technical assistant in radiation oncology. He admits he was intrigued by this new venture, but he didn’t expect to unleash a dormant passion that today brings worldwide accolades for his contributions to cancer research and treatment. What started 24 years ago as a family-owned business with four employees called Southeaster n Radiation Products, .decimal, which is an acronym for Digitally Enhanced Compensation/Intensity Modulation with Alloys, now employs 48 workers in a 35,000-square-foot facility in Sanford. Kudos include being named among Inc. magazine’s list of the top 5,000 best companies for the past four years and receiving the inaugural Medical Marker award from bioOrlando, a program of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Florida Trend magazine also ranked .decimal

#11 on its list of best places to work and #1 in its list of companies that engage employees. That may have something to do with the indoor basketball court, employee kick-boxing classes, or the in-house studio where guitars, drums and amps await an impromptu jam. For the past 20 years, .decimal has quietly provided its products to medical facilities worldwide. Locally, its customers include the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Florida Hospital. A Florida native who was born in Jacksonville, Sweat says the real success of .decimal came the day he discovered how to provide custom compensators on demand. “In 1999, my compensator idea changed my life again,” he explains. “It was based on the concept of receiving the orders over the Internet and creating them for hospitals and cancer centers so they wouldn’t have to go out and buy their own equipment. “Our Internet-based program is key,” he boasts. “Orders in by noon are out by 7:30 p.m.” And as luck would have it, the Obama Administration’s pay-asyou-go concept for entitlement spending, such as healthcare, is the exact business model Sweat has in place. Today, .decimal employs its computer software to create custom compensators that are ordered, engineered, manufactured, and shipped daily in approximately five to six hours. The devices are created by a patented, proprietary CAD/CAM system generating Computerized Numerical Control programs used by the milling machines that precisely mill each compensator to the patient’s tumor size and shape. The compensators, which work like filters for radiation therapy machines, are then used in proton, photon, and electron radiation therapies. “As the radiation passes through .decimal’s devices,” Sweat explains, “it is shaped specifically for each individual patient, thereby sparing as much healthy tissue as possible while treating the tumor to the physician’s prescribed dose. In essence, the thick part [of the compensator] stops the radiation, and the thin part lets it through.” He adds that his system essentially allows anyone requiring prototype development a quick turnaround on complex, high-value parts.

“We can make anything people want,” he notes. “The client simply uploads to our website, and we make it.” In fact, when radiation started getting a bad rap thanks to an article in the New York Times earlier this year, Sweat realized it was time to diversify his portfolio. He leased a warehouse across the street from .decimal and began making prototype parts for defense companies and the aerospace industry, including SpaceX, the California company contracted by NASA to bring supplies to the International

Space Station. In all, he already has a half-dozen customers for this new line of business. The Longwood resident, husband to his eighth-grade sweetheart Karen and father of three, once again realizes that the sky is the limit; but exactly where he will end up is still unscripted. “Some of the things that have happened to me, I could not have imagined,” he says. “It all just happened so fast.” For more about .decimal, visit x


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talent pool




By G.K. Sharman

Class is in session, and in the digital age, any place can be a classroom, anyone can be a learner and students can access the resources they need any time they want. The latest advances in teaching and training, many of them pioneered here in Central Florida, offer more ways to meet the needs of students, provide more information in a shorter time and save money for the organizations using the technology.



Medical Curriculum Technologies offers computer-based training programs for students and medical professionals.


You’re a newly minted doctor and your assignment is to insert a central venous catheter. You insert the needle and remove the syringe. You’re ready to insert the flexible wire when — oops! — it slips. If you were working on a real human, you might be in trouble. Luckily, as a medical professional in training, you’re using a computer-based learning system. So you can just click to start the test over again. Or better yet, go back and practice some more. That’s why the program was developed.


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Medical Curriculum Technologies’ (MCT) computer-based training for hospital and medical professionals is one of the latest entries in the field of medical training and simulation. “There’s a significant need for an efficient, effective training program for medical professionals,” said Fred Clayton, MCT’s co-founder and chief operating officer. The company is a spinoff of Orlando-headquartered Jardon and Howard Technologies, Inc (JHT), which develops training programs for the Department of Defense. Life-like simulators may be the pinnacle of technological training, but only one person at a time can work on the simulated patient, Clayton points out. “With our system, 5,000 people can practice at the same time.” MCT’s computer-based training system lets students, doctors, nurses and others familiarize themselves with the details of a procedure or a treatment

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standardizing policies and procedures related to virtual-learning situations, disseminating best-practices information and conducting research on emerging simulation technologies, according to Paula Molloy, SimLEARN’s program manager. Rather than training upcoming doctors and nurses, SimLEARN is intended


to enhance the careers of seasoned professionals who are already part of the Veterans Health Administration system. They serve a specialized population and encounter medical challenges that are not as frequently seen in the civilian population — conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury — as well as issues specific to aging and female vets. The center will include virtual patients (interactive computer simulations of real-life clinical scenarios) and high-fidelity mannequins, which simulate human body functions such as pupils that react to light, bodily systems that respond to drugs and “bladders” that produce urine. SimLEARN and the VA hospital also will partner with the UCF medical school and others, Molloy says.

Metro Orlando’s position in the simulation industry was one reason that the Veterans Administration (VA) chose the area as the location for a new VA hospital, which is expected to be completed in mid-2012. Located at the region’s new medical city at Lake Nona, the hospital will be home to the new stateof-the-art VA Medical Simulation Center for Excellence and a hub for training all VA medical personnel nationwide. At the heart of the center is a system-wide strategic education and planning initiative called SimLEARN, or Simulated Learning Enhancement and Advanced Research Network. Its goals include not just training individual medical personnel, but training the trainers, developing curricula, developing and



plan at their own pace, before they ever touch a patient — and often before they ever touch a simulator. The program is brand new. Aimed at hospitals, its purpose is to improve patient care in a way that is also efficient and economical. Clayton worked with 30 hospital systems across the nation while researching the product. Convinced of the need, MCT developed the program in conjunction with the University of Washington and also is developing three courses for Adventist Health’s Florida Hospital system. MCT’s technology is formatted to conform to industry norms, Clayton says. Eventually, hospital systems will be able to download programs as easily as interns download iTunes. DVDs also will be available and doctors will be able to access information on their personal digital devices.

TeacherStudioTM is a community-based online training tool for educators.

Preparing students for med school and other advanced programs is another critical need. Having an experienced teacher can help. Two Orlando-based tech companies, IDEAS and eSchool Solutions, teamed up to create TeacherStudioTM, a comprehensive web-based professional community that supports educators. Developed in cooperation with the Seminole County school system, TeacherStudio provides an online connection for educators in participating school systems. It also supports and enhances professional development, especially for new teachers. Nearly half of beginning teachers quit during their first five years, says Kelly Pounds of IDEAS, a former classroom teacher herself. The main reason they leave is that they feel alone and unsupported by their schools and their districts. The loss costs school systems billions of dollars a year. TeacherStudio, which debuted this year at an International Society for Technology in Education conference, lets teachers post video lesson plans, answer questions for each other, find or serve as a mentor and, in general, participate in an effective, collaborative environment. It also lets school districts help teachers improve. For instance, professional development frequently consists attending conferences and writing reports, Pounds says. With TeacherStudio, districts have a tool to monitor how teachers put into practice what they learned at a conference. “This is the missing link in professional development,” Pounds says. x


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o c i t i


without Borders

By Justin Campfield



For companies seeking increased revenue and expanded markets, exporting offers both panacea and panic.

After all, more consumers live outside of the United States than within them, and the potential of the global market is huge. Last year U.S. companies exported more than $1 trillion worth of goods overseas, and in the metro-Orlando region alone exports totaled more than $3 billion. Those numbers are enough to make any CEO sit up and take notice. However, with those potential revenues comes risk as well. For every new market a company would like to penetrate, a labyrinth of regulations, local customs and competitors awaits. Exporting is not for the faint of heart. But with local exports increasing annually at double-digit rates and numerous area business organizations working to make exporting easier than ever, it is a risk that many companies find worth taking. Four local companies in particular are reaping the rewards that await.

Mitchel J. Laskey, president and CEO of Brijot Imaging Systems


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BRIJOT IMAGING SYSTEMS In the aftermath of 9/11, a seismic shift took place in the security industry. Suddenly, the old way of screening for threats at airports, as well as at other potential terrorist targets, seemed tragically outdated. Among the companies responding with innovative technological solutions was Brijot Imaging Systems. Formed in 2004, the Lake Mary-based company got its start by commercializing millimeter wave imaging technology developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — better known by its acronym DARPA — the Department of Justice and Lockheed Martin. Under Brijot Imaging Systems, the technology became the world’s first surveillance system to feature full-motion, real-time millimeter wave imaging capabilities. This advance offered a dramatically different way to scan people at secured areas, such as airports, by searching for contraband by “seeing” through would-be perpetrators’ clothing.


By harnessing cutting-edge passive millimeter wave technology, Brijot Imaging Systems’ products can “see” through clothing to identify potentially dangerous items, such as guns and explosives.

While the product’s technology was working as planned, the company’s distribution plan needed an overhaul. “Initially the primary target was the U.S. government,” says Mitchel Laskey, Brijot Imaging Systems’ president and CEO. “But we’ve found that the global community has adopted these technologies earlier than the U.S. because of regulatory and other issues.” Once it decided to wholeheartedly pursue exporting as a growth strategy, Brijot Imaging Systems sought the assistance of the Orlando U.S. Exports Assistance Center. The center played a key role in the company’s future exporting success by helping it investigate markets, evaluate potential partners and execute product launches. As a result, Brijot Imaging Systems’ products can now be found at airports, government buildings and critical infrastructure installations in more than 15 countries, including major markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, and China. This year, exports are on track to generate between $5 million and $10 million for

the company, which is more than half of its total revenue. “Like most small companies, you chase the money, so wherever the opportunities are, that is where we go,” says Laskey.

MULTICOM For Multicom’s founder and president Sherman Miller, the road to successful exporting began more than a decade ago with a series of Saturday morning “How to Export” classes conducted by the Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida. Miller, whose company distributes technical products used in the cable television, satellite, traffic signal, VoIP, fiber-optic and security industries, says that it was about that time that he felt the business environment shifting under his feet and that knew he needed to adapt. “You have to think about your business and reinvent yourself all the time,” says Miller, who started Multicom out of his garage in 1982. “The technology keeps changing and evolving and you have to keep up with it all the time. I started thinking about exporting and I thought, ‘I’d like to but I don’t know anything about it, where do I start?’ I forced myself to go to those Saturday morning classes and, while it was daunting at first, I said ‘you know, I can learn this, I just have to spend time working on it.’” Now a seasoned exporting expert, Miller and his Longwood-based company distributes 13,000 products — such as antennas, cables, switches, modulators, receivers, and transmitters — to 25 countries, most of them in Latin America and the Caribbean. Multicom is one of thousands of


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Longwood-based Multicom distributes products including receivers and transmitters to 25 countries for use in the cable television, fiber-optic and security industries.

Florida companies that are using, an online initiative of Enterprise Florida that connects overseas buyers with Florida providers. While the U.S. market is still Multicom’s biggest revenue generator, bringing in about 75 percent of the company’s business, exporting is an integral part of Multicom’s success because of the purchasing power it provides the company. “It’s an important 25 percent because it helps us on our volume purchases, which helps the whole company,” says Miller.


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NR ELECTRONICS NR Electronics has been very successful exporting; they even have an award to show for it. The University of Central Florida Technology Incubator tenant, which won the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Achievement Award in 2006, procures and distributes obsolete and hard-to-find electronic components to numerous countries. Since


Gary Haberland credits exporting for the growth of Genicon, the surgical instrument manufacturer he started in 1998. As Haberland puts it, exports “were the wind that filled our sails.” Like Multicom, those sails were first unfurled in the garage of the founder’s home. Today, Genicon occupies a 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical equipment manufacturing and distribution building. The Winter Park facility is where medical instruments used for minimally invasive surgery, with a special focus on laparoscopic procedures, are researched, designed and manufactured before making their way to 44 countries around the world. To hear Haberland tell it, without exports, which generate 85 percent of

the company’s revenue, Genicon may not be in business today. And if it were, it certainly wouldn’t look like it does today. “Exports were the way that the open markets accepted our products,” says Haberland. “At the time we started there were a lot of major firms blocking out the smaller ones. We found that internationally there was a more level playing field. So that is where we put our efforts.” In addition, Haberland says that two other advantages unique to Orlando gave his company a leg up on the export business. One, he says, is that it’s easier to break into foreign markets

when hailing from an internationally known city. “I don’t have to point out Orlando on the map,” explains Haberland, who adds that local tourism attractions and good weather make it easy for his company to convince distributors to attend the training sessions they host at their headquarters. “If we were from Peoria, Ill., I don’t think people would know where that is.” And second, Orlando’s transportation infrastructure gives him easy access to foreign markets. He says that the recently expanded FedEx logistics center at Orlando International Airport has helped a lot, as has being close to the ports of Tampa and Miami. Having a world-class airport in town doesn’t hurt either. “Something we take for granted that not everyone has is a major airport hub to get in and out of,” says Haberland.

Genicon’s patented laparoscopic surgery instruments are manufactured in Winter Park and distributed to 44 countries around the globe.


what it learned in Europe to enter the U.S. market as well. “In terms of product quality, Europe has been light years ahead of the United States,” says Ordonez-Ruiz. “Getting our product offerings right for the European market has led us through a maturation process that is positioning us to do well in the U.S. The expertise we required through exporting has made it a piece of cake to now do that here in this country.”

ECONOMIC IMPACT Liza Ordonez-Ruiz and her husband Norberto Ruiz founded NR Electronics.

its founding in 2003, the company has grown to a $2 million-a-year business through exports to Europe, Asia, South and Central America. With its principals, Liza OrdonezRuiz and her husband, Norberto Ruiz, both immigrants to the U.S., NR Electronics is a great example of what Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center Director Kenneth Mouradian calls one of Orlando’s greatest exporting advantages: the people who live and migrate here. “The region has a lot of people living in it that are grossly aware of the rest of the world,” said Mouradian. “That may not be the case in Idaho or Montana. What that does is open people’s eyes to opportunities overseas. And a lot of non-native English speakers and immigrants are already risk takers, so entering new markets doesn’t seem as scary to them.” NR Electronics began by targeting Spain, where Norberto had extensive contacts from his days as a professional jai lai player. “You have to have basic cultural knowledge and that is one thing we already had on our side,” says Ordonez-Ruiz, NR Electronics’ managing director. “Through those initial relationships we were able to generate other contacts in France, Germany and then many other countries.” While the company originally was an export-only business, it is now using

While exporting has benefited the bottom lines of Brijot Imaging Systems, Genicon, Multicom, and NR Electronics, their success and that of other Orlando-area exporters also greatly impacts the area’s overall economy. Brijot Imaging Systems is a good example of the ripple effect created by a strong export sector. Of the more than 2,000 parts that are used to produce its flagship product, the GEN 2 full-motion, real-time millimeter wave imaging screener, company CEO Laskey says that about 80 percent come from local companies. “Most of our supply chain is in the Orlando area, so we are a job creator,” says Laskey. “Our suppliers become indirect exporters themselves.” Genicon’s CEO Haberland also agrees that exporting has an exponential effect on the economy. “Any company that exports, especially those that export manufactured goods, the force multiplier on the economy has a positive impact,” says Haberland. “Our supply purchases and things like payroll, shipping, fuel, electricity — that all touches several different companies within the local economy.” NR Electronics has even convinced a couple of European companies to set up shop in the region. “We’ve always told our partners in Europe how great it is to do business here,” says Ordonez-Ruiz. “And as a result we’ve had a few of them come here and start businesses, which obviously is great for our economy.” x

EXPORT ASSISTANCE The economic impact of exporting is exactly why a number of influential local business- and development-oriented organizations have made it a priority to help potential exporters get started. “The more companies that export from Metro Orlando, the greater positive economic impact is made on our region,” says Carmenza Gonzalez, vice president of international business development at the Metro Orlando EDC. “This leads to increased sales for the company that is exporting and more jobs for the community.” Organizations that provide assistance, including the EDC, Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center, Enterprise Florida, Disney Entrepreneur Center, Small Business Development Center at UCF and others, specialize in helping companies adapt their products and the way they do business in order to fit the markets they wish to enter. “We help companies learn about the market they are interested in selling their products in, identify which countries they should be targeting, and help them learn about the country and culture to avoid mistakes,” says Gonzalez. “We also help them make contacts, learn about the dos and don’ts when doing business abroad, and how to navigate rules, regulations and local customs for doing business in that country.” The most important thing for wouldbe exporters to know, says Mouradian, is that if a company needs exporting help, they can find it in Orlando. “I encourage everyone to look at the range of services available to them,” he says. “Help is out there.” For exporting counsel, call the Metro Orlando EDC’s International Business Development team at 407.422.7159 or e-mail


innovation alley


Putting a Face on By John Marini



It’s not uncommon for a company, especially one in a high-tech sector, to be known by its products. But without the people at those high-tech companies who are inspired to design and build them, none of those products would ever come into existence. Behind each company is a leader driven by the desire to seek answers to the whys and hows of making things better and more efficient.


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When .decimal president and CEO Richard Sweat (see “Peak Performer,” p. 6) was growing up, his imagination was captivated by the television show “Emergency.” That led him to become a paramedic and later he discovered a passion for helping cancer patients while working in radiation technology. Sweat now leads a medical device manufacturing firm in Sanford that produces custom-made, patient-specific radiation therapy devices for cancer patients in the U.S. and Japan. The newest product for .decimal is an electron conformal therapy device called BolusECT. It is designed for tumors that lie just beneath the skin’s surface and targets them while sparing healthy tissue. Through all his efforts to keep pace with changing technologies in his field, he stays true to his motto: “Never forget about the patient.” Similar to Sweat, Bill Warren is focused on new solutions to advance the medical field. An engineer by trade, Warren serves as president and CEO of VaxDesign, an emerging biotechnology company taking a new approach to creating drug therapies. VaxDesign develops surrogate human immune systems for multidimensional analysis of blood used to make predictions about how certain populations will respond to a particular drug or vaccine. His quest started as an attempt to construct a minimally invasive surgical tool that would build tissue-engineered constructs inside the body.

Warren has found that his system is able to correctly predict human immune responses when animal models have not. He is looking to help his customers make better vaccines, and make drugs faster and cheaper to produce. He credits great partnerships with Florida Hospital and Florida’s Blood Centers, as well as with the University of Central Florida (UCF), for his biotech success and that of others in the Corridor. Warren says, “There’s a really collaborative spirit in Central Florida.” What ties great minds such as these together? Other than a desire to help others through their scientific work, they comprise an elite group of individuals recognized for changing the future of Central Florida through breakthrough discoveries and technological advancements ... they are the “Faces of Technology.” Nominated by groups of academic, economic development and high-tech industry partners, these Faces of Technology were selected by the Florida High-Tech Corridor Council to represent the finest scientific minds of emerging technology clusters in the 23-county corridor region, which spans the service areas of UCF, University of South Florida and University of Florida. More than two dozen have been highlighted in the Florida High-Tech Corridor Council’s annual magazine, florida.HIGH.TECH, as well as on its website. Another Orlando-based Faces of Technology innovator, Dr. Sudipta Seal, is in search of ways to make big impacts on people and the planet with the smallest of things. As director of the AMPAC (Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center) and NanoScience Technology Center at UCF, he and his colleagues are engaged in materials research and education. The rare earth-oxide nanoparticles they create can be used for a variety of

biomedical applications, including Alzheimer’s disease, retinal degeneration, anti-inflammatory therapies and anti-angiogenesis (cancer) treatment. They recently discovered that by treating the surfaces of fly ash, which is a byproduct of power plant smokestacks, they can convert it into a cement substitute and create a concrete block which has excellent strength and is also very lightweight. By doing so, they will greatly reduce CO2 emissions. Seal’s aim is to tailor the material properties in such a way as to find applications for tomorrow. “Our work with waste materials and cleansing nanoparticles will create a better environment for years to come,” he says. In a previous career as a commercial airline pilot, Bill Ferree spent his days several thousand feet closer to the sun than most of us, so it’s no surprise that he has an interest in solar power. At WattNext in Eustis, he is looking to leverage that interest into the development of clean energy solutions. What started as a desire to design and install a solar heating system for his personal residence led him to where he is now. The dual-purpose products from WattNext not only capture the sun’s rays, but provide shade for those beneath at the same time in areas such as parking lots, bus stops and personal driveways. He hopes his work will hasten the arrival of electric cars into the mainstream marketplace. “Leaving a place better than you found it is a great life goal,” he says. The stories of these and many other Faces of Technology are available online at, where you can hear firsthand how they are using technology to create products and advance innovations that are helping make the Florida High-Tech Corridor a breeding ground for technology and creativity. x

Richard Sweat

Bill Warren

Dr. Sudipta Seal

Bill Ferree


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Hollywood &




You won’t meet more of a “straight shooter” than Cheryl Hines. Spend even a few minutes with her and you’ll see that Hollywood hasn’t spoiled her Florida charm one bit. Born in Miami and raised in Tallahassee, Hines may be easily recognized for her dazzling smile, but she’s infamous for her lightning-quick wit — a talent that’s served her well in her highly improvisational role as Larry David’s wife in HBO’s loosely scripted comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”


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By Kristen Manieri

This eight-season mega-hit (HBO’s longest-running scripted series) has been showered with accolades, including thirty Emmy nominations and a 2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy. But before Hines headed to Hollywood, she spent a handful of for midable years in Central Florida, where she studied at UCF and worked at Universal Studios, experiences that proved to be critical milestones in her forthcoming successful acting career.


T Texture: Congratulations on Serious Moonlight, your directorial debut. I understand that you studied Theater Performance at the University of Central Florida (UCF), but did you know then that you’d like to direct one day? ch Cheryl Hines: No, actually. I never thought of directing back then. I was really focused on acting. But when I changed my major to Communications (Radio and TV) it made me think outside of the acting box a bit. It was a good experience learning how to produce a segment and I have carried that knowledge with me to other projects I’ve worked on. T What drew you to UCF in the first place? ch I was living in Tallahassee and my older brother moved to Orlando after graduating from Florida State. At that time they were about to open Universal Studios and my brother kept sending me articles about studios opening in Orlando and told me I had to move down there because this is where all the TV and film production was going to happen. So, I moved. I had known since I was in middle school that I wanted to act. I remember I had a journal from my senior year of high school where we had to write about where we wanted to be in ten years. I wanted to be making a living in acting. T Did you achieve that goal? ch I did achieve that goal. I was a working actress at Universal Studios within ten years. T So it’s true that you once had a stint as a “victim” in the bygone Psycho Soundstage attraction. How did that experience contribute to your overall career success? ch It was good training for what was in store for me. I had so much fun at

Universal. It gave me quite a sense of accomplishment to be a working actress. It helped me stay confident about my career choice. When I auditioned, the studio wasn’t open yet and over a thousand actors showed up. I remember it like it was yesterday. We all had to wear numbers on our shirts like marathon runners. It was a grueling process but that’s part of life as an actor.

T Orlando’s film industry has come a long way since Universal Studios opened in 1990. Central Florida now boasts 10 state-of-the-art soundstages, a new 22,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility at Full Sail University, and the only professional motion capture studio on the east coast with fully integrated film, video and audio facilities (House of Moves). What’s your perspective on Central Florida as a viable and competitive location for the filmproduction industry? ch I think Central Florida is a great film location. With the facilities that they are building, it’s going to make more and more sense for big projects to come there. I honestly would love to come back there and do something. I did a movie in Hollywood, FL and it was so exciting for me to be shooting a film in Florida. T Places such as Orlando’s Digital Animation and Visual Effects (DAVE) School are consistently graduating film professionals who head straight to work on huge blockbuster films such as Avatar. Do you get the sense in L.A. that these schools are positioning Central Florida as a breeding ground for serious film-production talent? ch I think technology is changing so quickly that if someone is looking for a career in filmmaking that has to do with special effects, they need to go

somewhere to learn the latest process. Because Orlando has the facilities to teach people that technology, of course it’s going to be a breeding ground for bigger projects.

T In your career thus far you’ve acted, produced, and directed. Which do you enjoy the most? ch I certainly love acting—that’s my first passion. I really like producing as well. It’s very gratifying in a completely different way. T Looking at your career path, it’s obvious that comedy has been your forte, even scoring you a 2006 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Why do you think that’s been your strength? ch I have a tendency to see the humor in most situations, even in dire situations. That can actually be annoying to people but it’s also unusual. My leg could be bitten off by a shark and I’m sure I would find something funny about it. T What projects do you currently have in the works? ch I have a reality show coming out on NBC in September called “School Pride.” We’re going to schools around the country, renovating them, encouraging the community to come and grab a paint brush and fix the school. It’s been a very exciting project. The show was born from life experience. In real life, I cold-called a school in Compton and met with the principal there. We renovated the school and then went to a different school and renovated that one. Hines is the executive producer and creator of “School Pride.” For more infor mation, visit x school-pride.


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special fx

On By Gretchen Miller-Basso




Advances in technology have allowed today’s brightest talent in the entertainment industry to live wherever they want and still achieve great success in their field. And many choose to live in Central Florida.



Two Door FX is a Lake Mary-based company that specializes in 3-D modeling and animation, visual effects, and much more.

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PREMISE ENTERTAINMENT Dominic Carola, president and creative director of Premise Entertainment, a Central Florida media-based production company that specializes in storytelling and character development for animation and live-action productions, agrees that his location is ideal. “I came down here for an internship on The Lion King and loved it so much that, 17 years later, I'm still here. I fell in love with Central Florida. The lifestyle is great, my family enjoys it, and the economics are good,” he says. In addition to local clients, Carola’s company has attracted some big names from around the globe. His notable projects include supporting Disney’s California studio in effects animation, background painting, cleanup animation, and ink and paint compositing for Princess and the Frog, in addition to providing support work for a Goofy short. Carola is currently directing an episodic computer-animated project, and working with various teams on ancillary products for upcoming Disney productions. Premise as a company is engaged in developing original content to be produced in Central Florida. “The main reason that I have stayed in Orlando is the tremendous veteran talent base that we have here, which is extremely rare in the country, in addition to all of the solid new talent coming out of the Central Florida schools,” Carola continues. “It’s exciting to see the new talent working with the veterans and to watch them realize the potential they find in themselves. It is inspiring to me — I love being around their creative spirit.”

TWO DOOR FX Diego Torroija of Two Door FX, a corporation that specializes in animation and visual effects, is also no stranger to high-profile projects. After working as a freelance game animator for companies such as Activision and produc-

ing games including Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater: Pro Surfer, and Spiderman, Torroija started Two Door FX in Lake Mary. Here, he began working on projects including music videos for Smashmouth and helping to design the functionality of the projection system of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. “I moved from Los Angeles to Central Florida because I felt it was a more suitable environment to raise a family,” he says. “The schools in the area, such as Full Sail, provide me with trained individuals that I can hire to keep the business growing. This helps keep a constant flow of energetic and motivated artists looking to create something and build up their skills.”

“Another aspect that is exciting for Two Door specifically is that we can bring many Los Angeles clients to the Central Florida market, and maintain the highest level of quality at affordable southeast rates.”

VIDAROO Ian McDaniel, chief information officer and production president of Vidaroo, says, “Orlando is a great place to have a business.” Vidaroo is a video technology company that provides online video platform, video production and advertising on its online video network to more than 10 million visitors monthly. “Vidaroo was started here a couple years ago, but the production arm


Staying current on the latest technological trends is no longer a location-based issue, either. “Since it is constantly changing, there is always a need to stay on top of technology,” says Torroija. “Trade shows and training classes online have been a helpful resource. I also read about new hardware and technology through usergroups and from colleagues. While on projects, we have the ability to talk about the latest advancements in the field.” The company is currently developing the next advertising campaign for Rooms To Go, which is a sports related, 3-D computer-animated series of spots. “We are using full-body motion capture technology captured from optical infrared cameras,” explains Torroija. “This gives us the ability to capture live performances to create 3-D animation data. Two Door is currently one of the only companies that can provide this service in the southeast.

of the company has been here since 2000. The majority of our talent pool is local, both for the production and software sides of our business. We prefer to hire local production help when we need it,” he says. The company’s recent projects include creating the screen content for The Black Eyed Peas’ stage shows and producing content for John Mayer, Nelly Furtado, and Keith Urban. “Orlando is very rich with knowledgeable production and programming personnel, and it’s great to have that in our backyard,” McDaniel continues.“We've been able to interact with the local businesses, while having access to national and international clients in the entertainment industry, all from our offices in Orlando. This ultimately allows us to work in a cost-efficient environment while being able to be competitive with the West-Coast-based production x houses.”


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the Script By Jack Roth


Flash back to Orlando, 1989. Universal and Disney commit a combined $1 billion for production facilities and studio tours. Suddenly, there is an arms race of sorts, as Disney-MGM Studios and Universal Studios Florida each open sound stages mere miles apart along Interstate 4.

Film crew hard at work on a commercial for BOSE speakers in the New York City area of Universal Studios.



When Valencia Community College was looking to expand its film program in 1988, officials turned to Ralph Clemente. Twenty-two years later, Clemente continues to represent the industry expertise exhibited by educators in the region. Initially, film technology and

were offered in Florida, but they were sporadic and limited — typically available at the beginning of the state’s fiscal year but gone after six months. “For a while, it was very difficult to compete because the state wasn’t offering incentives equal to Louisiana and Michigan,” says Spang. “But those states were trying to build an entertainment industry from scratch. Michigan was even willing to train their automotive workers to work in the film industry. But here in Florida, we already had the talented crew and infrastructure support. We just needed the money to help level the playing field.” While Florida has been in and out of the incentive game, the state has never been a major competitive force — until recently. In the 2010 legislative session, Metro Orlando’s legislative leadership — Florida Representative Steve Precourt and Florida Senator Mike Haridopolis — wrote and championed the

production classes began at DisneyMGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and soon, under Clemente’s direction, expanded into a full-time program at the main Valencia campus in Orlando. These days, students focus on making feature films, which have budgets of up to $1.2 million, not funded by the college. Series pilots have been produced upon request, in addition to public service announcements and TV action, drama and cable shows, among other work. Students have even shot on location in places such as Los Angeles, although most work is done in Central Florida. Clemente, whose career as an actor, producer and educator spans

Q How many national commercials are shot in the region every year?

four decades — he was a stand-in for the lead actor in “Flipper” (1963) — holds firmly to his theory about

A Approximately 60

filmmaking. “To teach how to make films,” he says, “you have to actually state’s most aggressive entertainment incentive legislation to date. Specifically, Florida is offering $242 million in transferable tax credits over five years, with $53.5 million transferable tax credits authorized for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. “It’s definitely a game changer,” says Spang. Created within the state’s Office of Film and Entertainment, the 20102011 Florida Film & Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program is intended to attract film and digital production, plus “develop and sustain

go out and make them.”



That same year, the arrival of Steve Martin on the set of Ron Howard’s Parenthood prompts local media to proclaim Orlando as “Hollywood East.” National media outlets such as NBC and Newsweek, among others, take notice. “That was never our intention,” says Suzy Spang, vice president of the Metro Orlando Film & Entertainment Commission, a division of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. “Hollywood East was a complete misnomer thrust upon this region, not by the local industry, but by the media. Our intention has always been to be the best Orlando possible.” David Nixon, a longtime filmmaker, agrees: “Hollywood East? No, eventually, Hollywood East was wherever the money was.” Nixon is the head of Orlando-based DNP Studios and Possibility Pictures, which specialize in commercial/corporate work and faith-based films, respectively. Long known as the world’s premier tourist destination, Orlando has also been a haven for production within the entertainment industry. With ample assets for film, television and commercial production — including state-of-theart sound stages and unique locations — the region also has year-round filming capabilities, a skilled crew base and supportive local communities. Orlando’s healthy feature film, episodic, and commercial production market is valued at roughly $845 million per year, with more than 3,400 employees in film and television production-related positions. But in the early 1990s, the region began losing production work, initially to Canada and then to other states such as Louisiana and Michigan, which were buoyed by government incentives that attracted commercials, TV series and movies. Incentives funds


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national commercials to the area.

Jennifer followed in her parents’

She also helped create the Metro

footsteps. She started out as a free-

Orlando Film & Entertainment Com-

lance production coordinator and pro-

mission and the Florida Chapter of

duction manager in the commercial

Women in Film & Television, both of

and music video market 15 years ago.

which continue to be strong organi-

She then worked as a production

zations today because of her signa-

executive at Showtime in Los Angeles

ture professionalism. Each year, Film

before moving back to Central

Florida, the statewide industry asso-


ciation, honors Sara by awarding student scholarships in her name.

In her current role as Director of Project Development for the EDC’s

Jennifer’s father, Bradford Fuller,

Metro Orlando Film & Entertainment

started his career in his hometown of

Commission, Jennifer proactively

Jennifer Fuller Pennypacker is pas-

Winter Haven in the 1960s. He went

works to bring outside productions to

sionate about the film industry

on to specialize in commercials and TV

because it’s in her blood. From a

movies, particularly as an expert in

young age, Pennypacker was on sets

filming boating and waterskiing.

Jennifer Pennypacker on set at age 7

with her parents — the late Sara

In 1980, Bradford and Sara, along

Fuller and Bradford Fuller — both of

with Bradford’s brother, Mike, com-

whom helped pioneer the industry in

bined their collective experiences pro-

Florida and played a significant role

ducing, directing, and shooting

in making Orlando one of the state’s

national TV campaigns to create

top regions for film production.

Florida Film & Tape, one of Orlando’s

As one of the first female mem-

pioneering commercial production

bers of the prestigious Director’s

and post-production companies. Both

Guild of America, Sara Fuller was one

Bradford and Mike have garnered

of the most respected location man-

local and national awards, including

agers in the industry. Sara worked to

recognition by Film Florida in 2008

the region, as well as support existing

showcase Central Florida as ”Any-

as “Film Florida Legends,” the orga-

indigenous production infrastructure.

where USA,” attracting numerous

nization’s most prestigious honor.

Sara Fuller on the set of “The Adventures of Superboy,” a TV series filmed entirely in Central Florida.

As the first female president of Film Florida, Jennifer finds her involvement in the organization to be an extremely personal investment. “I am very passionate about this industry and am honored to help lead Film Florida into its next chapter,” she says. “I credit much of my success to literally having been born into this industry, but more importantly, to having two incredible role models as my mom and dad. Of all my titles, my

Jennifer Pennypacker with her father, Bradford Fuller (left), and her uncle, Mike Fuller (right), who were inducted as Film Florida Legends in 2008.


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favorite and the most humbling is that of Sara & Brad’s daughter.”




the workforce and infrastructure for film, digital media, and entertainment production.” A box-office bonanza is anticipated — with no trailer necessary. “The exciting thing about our multiyear tax credit is that it allowed us to go after big TV series,” Spang explains. “It made Hollywood look at us as a destination again. In Orlando, we haven’t had a big, multi-series TV show scouting us for about three years, but we do now. It has opened the world’s eyes that Orlando is a destination. There’s interesting content being created here, and we have the incentives to back up our quality crews and production facilities. The diversity of our landscape is also a huge plus. So this kind of activity has put us back on the global radar.” Among the first to submit a request: Nixon at DNP Studios, which most recently won industry acclaim for Letters to God, a faith-based movie of inspiration, hope and redemption.

Pam Tuscany, vice president of production at Universal Studios Florida, is in charge of leasing the soundstage areas and says she can already see increased production. Some 38 companies operate on the Universal lot, including vendor and support companies. Noting that “we’re at a very healthy place,” she expects the new tax incentive to present greater opportunities and promises more action to come. In mid-June, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a $200 million-plus attraction, opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, resulting in increased global attention and park visitation.

And, as Tuscany contends, more visitation equals greater audience awareness of the depth and breadth of live TV being produced in Central Florida. The opening also represented a show of force, as the region’s “bench strength” of production people became evident. For the opening events, attended by scores of U.S. and international press, Universal created a media center stocked with a team of all-local production talent — camera operators, editors and satellite providers, among others. A total of 75 production personnel worked full time on live events surrounding the celebration.

Q What Ron Howard film starring Steve Martin, Rick Moranis and Keanu Reeves was shot almost exclusively in Metro Orlando? A Parenthood


Notably, the movie was to be shot in Tennessee, where the story was based, but instead was produced in Central Florida by virtue of state incentives. “We’re thrilled about the [new] incentives. It will bring work here and keep the work that’s already here,” says Nixon, who is looking to get two more films made in Central Florida, noting that the state gives an extra 5 percent for family-friendly movies.

Filming takes place on the set of the main character’s house in Ace Ventura Jr.; October 2007 at Universal Studios.


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enjoying great audiences associated with that production.” A major advantage of Orlando being the world’s number one tourist destination is the top creative talent that the region’s theme parks help employ — engineers, artists, writers and more. In addition, one of the bestselling video games franchises — EA Sports’ Madden Football — is produced in Orlando. Several highly regarded animation studios are also located here, including Premise Entertainment, Two Door FX and others.




Also, Family Feud recently began taping at Universal Studios’ Stage 19. The game show, starring comedian Steve Harvey as the host, produces eight episodes a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through September 19. A new season starts airing September 13 for national syndication, produced by FremantleMedia North America. In addition, PowerBall drawings are broadcast twice weekly from Universal, and Total Nonstop Action Impact Wrestling is shot on site for Spike Television. Says Tuscany, “We are

These and other local businesses recruit from the area’s numerous schools. The University of Central Florida (UCF) has combined the disciplines of computer science, graphic arts, communication and film into the Center for Emerging Media. UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) provides a master’s level degree for students specializing in the interactive entertainment/gaming industries; while Full Sail University, which is the set location of the popular “Daily Buzz” news program, offers degrees in digital media, computer animation, game design, and film/video production. The Digital Animation and Visual Effects (DAVE) School is a nonpublic career education school providing technical training for aspiring computer animators and visual effects artists. More than 7,500 higher-education students annually enroll in digital media programs throughout the region. And in 2007, Los Angeles-based motion capture studio Vicon/House of Moves set up shop in downtown Orlando’s budding “Creative Village,” co-located with UCF’s FIEA. The nationally recognized company designs and equips the only professional motion capture studio on the East Coast with fully integrated film, video and audio facilities.


Q What comedy’s climactic Bourbon Bowl scene was shot at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl stadium? A The Waterboy

Students at work on one of Full Sail University’s soundstages.

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Along with film and television production, the digital media sector sprung from the convergence of several of the area’s established technical fields, including modeling, simulation and training. Generally, as new



INSIDE THE METRO ORLANDO FILM & ENTERTAINMENT COMMISSION At the EDC’s Metro Orlando Film & Entertainment Commission, Spang and her colleagues promote film and digital media development and production in Central Florida while assisting in further developing the local production infrastructure. They work with production teams to help scout for locations, handle permitting and offer support throughout the entire project schedule. The office assists everyone from student filmmakers to the Michael Bays and


Cinematographer Marty Mullins on a local shoot for This Man’s Life, which was produced by the Celebration-based company Stars North.

applications for digital technology continue to emerge, they extend into entertainment. There is vast potential — particularly as it relates to production work. “The industry is moving toward a CG [computer-generated] arena,” says Ben Noel, a former executive at EA and now executive director of FIEA. “I think there’s a wonderful opportunity for film and digital media in studios here in Orlando.” Diego Torroija of Two Door FX agrees. “The industry in Central Florida has a lot of potential to grow with many qualified schools such as UCF, Full Sail and Valencia that continue to crank out a new generation of artists every year,” he says. “The ability to bring in these artists and get new perspectives is an advantage that most companies cannot fully comprehend or implement. If these students are brought into the business in the right way, they can help evolve this field by constantly bringing new ideas to the table.” Two Door, for example, developed

an advertising campaign for Rooms To Go using full-body, motion-capture technology through optical infrared cameras to create 3-D animation data. The company was able to produce 30 seconds of animation with multiple characters, motion capture cleanup and rendering in less than four weeks. Interestingly, in 1995, much of the first fully computer-generated feature film, Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story, was produced in Orlando. It became a resounding commercial success. Such events could be heading full circle. “Los Angeles and New York made their mark years ago in film and TV, as well as the theatrical world. And now Central Florida is working on bringing in all aspects of arts and entertainment into their area,” comments Torroija. While Tuscany maintains that the region has been ready and able for production work for years, she contends that the timing has never been better: “I always say, ‘Just come with your laptop; we can handle the x rest in Central Florida.’”

Jerry Bruckheimers of the world, providing the following services: >> 24-hour access to the Orlando Filmbook >> one-stop permitting for location filming >> maintenence of an extensive digital location library ... accessible anytime, from anywhere >> preliminary scouting, evaluation of locations, and familiarization tours >> assistance with local hotels and accommodations >> support throughout entire production schedule Visit for more information.


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tech trends


The ‘Appiest’ Place on by Todd Deery



In 2005, Stan Van Meter was driving with a cell phone in his hand and another beeping in his lap. He was, in many ways, the typical distracted driver. His wife, concerned for his safety, said that cell phones shouldn’t work when you’re in the car.


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“They should know when you’re driving,” Van Meter recalls her saying. And in that moment a great mobile software application (or app) was born. Van Meter’s resulting app, tXtBlocker, disables your phone’s many features, such as texting, talking and e-mailing, while you’re driving (by using GPS or other technology to determine your speed) or in designated areas, such as a school or your home. It’s just one of the numerous successful apps being developed by entrepreneurial minds in Central Florida. These software developers are entertaining, informing and assisting us, one download at a time. Van Meter’s tXtBlocker helped launch his company, United Efficiencies, and made the self-described “country boy from Eustis” a full believer in the power of technology to change behavior. “Our philosophy is to create something for the good of the public, beyond the entertainment value,” says Van Meter. “We’re looking for functionality and to develop something that’s going to help lots of people do something better.” Functionality and fun are hallmarks of the apps that local entertainment, learning and marketing studio IDEAS Orlando has developed. It created “Florida Evacuates” for Blackberry and iPhone to help kids and adults find the closest shelter in case of a storm. At the same time, it released an iPhone app called “Shake & Date” that suggests date-night activities and even allows users to input a budget. While no developer knows for sure that an app will be successful, most point to several factors that all good ones have in common. “A seamless user experience, optimization (for battery, speed and graphics), and making good (and innovative) use of mobile capabilities,

such as accelerometers, cameras, touchscreens and GPS, are all keys to a good app,” says IDEAS’ Lead Developer, Thomas Gorence. The products of another local company, IZEA, are designed to enhance and reward current user experiences. IZEA is a social media marketing company that specializes in connecting content creators with businesses through sponsored tweets and products such as WeReward and SocialSpark. While SocialSpark is a marketing network that efficiently connects bloggers to companies that are looking to create online buzz, WeReward is a mobile phone app that pays people who use their smart phones to do things such as shop and eat. Users earn points for taking pictures of themselves eating at local restaurants and posting them along with short reviews on Facebook or Foursquare. Earn enough points and WeReward puts money into users’ Paypal accounts. It’s a way to incentivize the kind of social media, word-of-mouth

advertising that many already do on Facebook and Twitter. In late July, the app was listed in the Top 20 free iPhone Social Networking Apps on iTunes. Some local developers aren’t companies, but individual entrepreneurs. Central Floridian David J. Hinson, who describes himself as a “polytech” who just happens to write and design software, developed the uber useful Cheap Gas, an iPhone app that finds the cheapest gas based on GPS location or postal code. A new feature in version 3 called “Cyborg” superimposes nearby gas station icons into camera viewfinders as users scan their surroundings with the camera on. Hit one of the icons and maps and prices appear. Cheap Gas was purchased in 2009 from, which uploads up-to-date information to the app. When asked why Orlando seems to be a breeding ground for good software developers, some cited the area’s strong technical schools or business-friendly

climate, while IDEAS Art Director Millo Aldea offered another reason. “Orlando excels in all parts of the word ‘art.’ And technology is an art in itself. As we grow, people are noticing that Orlando is far from just theme parks.” So what’s the final key to developing a great mobile app? Lots of testing. Van Meter said he ran numerous focus groups to find out what kind of features people wanted out of tXtBlocker and many of their suggestions made it into the final product. Van Meter enjoys collaborating, and says he would be open to meeting with other local mobile app developers. “I’d love to have a roundtable with the other folks in Central Florida who are doing mobile software development, to see what everyone is doing, maybe share successful strategies,” he says. “Sometimes it’s better to cooperate than be in competition with each other.” x


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Real Life of

By Jackie Kelvington




When Universal Orlando premiered its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Muggles from far and wide traveled to Central Florida to experience the magic. But Orlando also is home to real life wizards who are brewing up spell-binding potions in the fields of medical training, energy storage, malaria research, and more. From doctors and researchers to businessmen and entrepreneurs, here are some of Central Florida’s up-and-coming science and technology wizards.

Dr. Chakrabarti (center)



Cannaday and Zietlow

ASHLEY CANNADAY, THOMAS MOORE AND SARAH ZIETLOW This trio of Rollins College student, physics professor and alumna, respectively, are “battling the dark arts” through their research using lasers to locate buried land mines. Their efforts led to the invention of a process called “speckle subtraction imaging,” which in turn contributed to a new method of finding buried objects that can be made to vibrate. The three have submitted a grant proposal to the U.S. Army and will work side-by-side in the laboratory this year as part of the Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship program.


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”There is a very good possibility that the answers to cancers, malaria and other diseases may be found in the ocean,” says Dr. Debopam Chakrabarti. This University of Central Florida (UCF) marine science wizard is uncovering phenomenal medical uses for sponges, sea worms and other underwater life forms. This is no mythical gillyweed — these creatures could hold the key to creating drugs that effectively fight diseases such as malaria, which kills more than one million people every year. “Why am I so optimistic?,” asks Chakrabarti, who is working in partnership with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. ”Just consider that the oceans cover 70 percent of the planet. Among 36 of the phyla of life, 34 are found in marine environments, whereas the land represents only 17 phyla, and we haven’t even begun to explore the oceans’ depths.”

SCOTT FARIS This transfiguration specialist’s work on next-generation compact batteries has transformed the energy storage universe. Faris, CEO of Planar Energy, and his team have created thin film batteries with mega-storage capacity (at half the cost and triple the performance of lithium-ion batteries) that are likely to be the future of electric-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In addition to new materials development, Planar’s new proprietary manufacturing process (known as SPEED) is industry-defining, as it has re-engineered the materialsdepositing process to be more flexible and scalable than what is now used.

DR. STEVEN NGUYEN Steven Nguyen, M.D., is an orthopedic traumatologist and joint replacement specialist who has pioneered a revolutionary knee-replacement surgery called “Freedom Knee.” This minimally invasive technique offers a significantly more rapid return of knee function. Much like Madam Pomfrey “magically healed” her Hogwarts students, Dr. Nguyen helps his patients return to work and regular activities in record time, with most patients even walking within a few hours of surgery.

DR. LAYTON SMITH Potions Master Layton Smith, Ph.D., of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, serves as Assistant Professor and Director of Drug Discovery and Pharmacology. Dr. Smith uses ultra-high throughput robotics to screen hundreds of thousands of compounds to identify those that beneficially alter a disease target. The chemical structure of the compound is then tested in the pharmacology lab in experiments that mimic the body to determine if it has the potential to become a drug.

DR. RANDALL SHUMAKER Orlando’s simulation wizard and ‘headmaster’ is the director of UCF’s renowned Institute for Simulation and Training (IST), where key research and next-generation simulation systems are concocted for multiple industries such as military, medical, education and transportation. With the use of simulation technologies on the rise, Orlando, long known as a worldwide hub for this industry, will become even more pivotal. “Simulation is about creating models to make complicated things usable,” says Shumaker. “There are applications in every field. Pilots learn how to fly on simulators; weathermen use simulation to project wind conditions or rain patterns; teachers are now using simulation to hone their classroom-management skills. The future possibilities in the worlds of psychology and medicine are far-reaching, and Orlando is well-positioned to lead applications here.”

DR. SEAN SNAITH Economist Sean Snaith, Ph.D. can forecast the future much better than Hogwarts’ Professor Trelawney. Perhaps that’s why he has been named one of the nation’s most accurate forecasters by Bloomberg News. As the director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at UCF, Dr. Snaith is an award-winning economist, researcher and professor who applies his academic expertise to solving x real-world problems.


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off the wire


By Jennifer Wakefield



With buildings and facilities opening, companies moving to and expanding within the region, and new rankings and resources, Metro Orlando certainly has no shortage of economic development news.

OPENINGS >> AirTran Airways opened its new System Operations Control (SOC) Center at Orlando International Airport. This 16,000-square-foot, $6.9 million facility is the airline’s 24-hour nucleus. The company is opening a pilot base here this fall, which will create 100 new jobs.



>> When the Amway Center officially opens on October 1, it will be the first NBA facility to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) new construction certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The facility will use 20% less energy and 40% less water than arenas of similar size. >> The University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine has opened in Lake Nona, Orlando’s “medical city.” The $65 million, 170,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art medical education center is the most technologically advanced building of its kind in the nation.

global logistics company that uses radio frequency tracking devices in its plastic pallets — has announced plans to expand into a 23,000-square-foot facility in downtown Orlando. The company also intends to hire 75 new employees over the next three years.

>> Full Sail University opened its Full Sail Studios Gateway Project, a 2.2-acre landmark complex that includes Full Sail Live, a 22,000-square-foot live performance venue; a state-of-the-art game production studio and a recording studio; and an expanded professional backlot area.

>> Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company, is expanding its operations in Lake Mary by adding 300 new jobs over the next three years. The company will also add 23,000 square feet to its existing Colonial Town Park location.

EXPANSIONS >> Orlando-headquartered Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS) — a


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>> Saab Training USA — specializing in the development of advanced simulation training systems — has expanded its operation in the Central Florida Research Park and plans to add 33 new jobs within the next three years.

Th e n ew A mway Ce nte r, home to the Orlando Magic, opens October 1.

>> Search engine optimization company SEOP Online plans to establish operations in Casselberry and create 200 new technology-based jobs within the next two years.

>> Florida is number one in the nation for its workforce, according to CNBC’s newly released fourth annual America’s Top States for Business rankings. This is the second time Florida has been ranked #1 and the third consecutive year it has been ranked in the top three spots. The CNBC study evaluates all 50 states based on the education level of their workforce, number of available workers, union membership and success of the state’s worker training programs. >> Enterprise Florida has launched the online Florida Export Directory ( This resource provides Florida with international market exposure free-ofcharge via a searchable, web-based directory. >> Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement received a $4.2 million defense grant for surgical robotic research. >> The City of Orlando was the first participating city in the $37 million ChargePoint America program to install a charging station for electric vehicles. x

Be ready for WHAT’S NEXT. In today’s market, it’s tempting to try to wait it out. But coming to a standstill won’t get you anywhere. Now is the time to strengthen your business and your staff, so that you are ready for what’s next.

Valencia’s Centers for Advancement Each center provides the continuing education, training and employee development services you need to take your business to the next level.

For more information or to schedule a corporate assessment, call David Lowell, Client Development Specialist, at 407-582-6730 or request information online at


intelligent forms of lifestyle

By Sarah Sekula


Why We Love Living



Metro Orlando is home to more than two million people, and the reasons are many. For some, it’s the unbeatable weather. For others, it’s because the area is a great place to start a business. Want more reasons? These seven locals are eager to share why they love living here. To see and hear their and other residents’ stories, visit the Metro Orlando EDC’s OrlandoWorks channel at

ANNA AQUINO KISSIMMEE, OSCEOLA COUNTY “My husband and I moved to Central Florida in 2000 and to Osceola County in 2005. We’re both from the north originally. Osceola County is a great place to raise a family. There is always something to do in the area. This is where we felt we needed to be for this season in our lives. It’s always nice to be able to call family in the north while it’s snowing to tell them you just turned the A/C down. We love being here because it’s a small town right next to “the big mouse.” There is always something happening in the community. The parks are always great, but the local stomps are always more fun.”

TOM & BOB CANNON LONGWOOD AND LAKE MARY, SEMINOLE COUNTY “We both grew up in Seminole County, and we’ve lived here most of our lives. Our grandparents, cousins and uncles live in Seminole, too. We feel most comfortable here, and I would be surprised if we didn’t always have a home here. Last year, we launched BungoBox as a way to keep unnecessary waste out of Central Florida landfills. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response, and I think that is partially due to the way that Metro Orlando embraces small businesses. Our family has had Seminole County-based businesses for more than 30 years. Bob and I are just keeping the tradition going.”

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JENNIFER FLUG ORLANDO, ORANGE COUNTY “On multiple occasions I have found myself passionately bragging about all of the wonderful things this city has to offer. I have been living in the Downtown Central Business District for the past three years and love the area. Once my weekend begins I have no reason to use my car since everything I could want is right downstairs. There are endless options for restaurants and cafés to suit every taste. Lake Eola is a popular spot for weekend strolls and community events. One of my favorite events is the weekly Farmers’ Market. Every Sunday many local farmers, food vendors and artists come out to transform the serene lakeside park into a fabulous outdoor market.”


KAREN CYR MINNEOLA, LAKE COUNTY “After bouncing around multiple apartments and houses for nearly five years (everywhere from Winter Park to east Orlando), I knew I found my home when I laid eyes on Lake County. That feeling was set in stone my first weekend in my new rental house in Minneola. Neighbors that actually wave and talk to you, beautiful rolling hills, serene lakes and a multitude of state parks are just some of the reasons why I love living in Lake County. The main reason, though, is the people. Living in Lake County is almost like taking a step back in time to a more family- and community-orientated era, where people take pride in ownership and respect their neighbors. There is a united feeling here — you feel like a person instead of a number. There is nowhere else in Central Florida that I would even think about raising a family, and friends and family who come to visit my new home are always speechless over the landscape of this unique area of Florida. It’s easy to see why I’m so passionate about my new home.”

“First, I love the city, the people and the pace. However, I had to grow to like it. I was dating my present wife at the time I moved here. After living in Winnipeg, which was like Siberia, I realized that I was allergic to cold weather. So that convinced me to move here with her. I am an entrepreneur at heart, so being in a place where people are open to new ideas and accepting of who you are as a person was very attractive to me. This region is a perfect place for entrepreneurs because of those reasons and all of the resources here. I also love coming home to the palm trees after traveling to other cities. What keeps me here is the fact that Orlando is a young city with much to give and more and more opportunities being uncovered every day. The move has been everything that I expected. Today, wild horses couldn’t drag me away. This is home.”

BOB O’MALLEY ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, SEMINOLE COUNTY “I have three kids, and Orlando is a great town for young families. I like Orlando because of the numerous options for outdoor recreation. In particular, we enjoy going to the beach (on both the east and west coasts), canoeing on the Wekiva River, and playing soccer yearround. We also really like the school our kids attend. I’ve lived in Boston, which is a great city, but the weather is miserable. I grew up in Maitland. My family moved here when I was entering second grade. In total, I’ve lived here x 30 years.”

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AbW[ cZObW]\ The modeling and simulation industry of Central Florida accounts for at least $3 billion in regional economic impact and generates as many as 25,000 jobs. Recently, Orlando and its medical city was chosen as the national site for the Department of Veteran’s Aairs Medical Simulation Center for Excellence.

I think we have barely touched the surface of modeling and simulation. Randall Shumaker DIRECTOR OF THE UCF INSTITUTE FOR SIMULATION AND TRAINING

For more, visit

Texture, Vol 7 Issue 2 2010  

A publication focused on the technology companies, personalities and innovations that are “putting imagination to work” throughout Metro Orl...

Texture, Vol 7 Issue 2 2010  

A publication focused on the technology companies, personalities and innovations that are “putting imagination to work” throughout Metro Orl...