March 1 – Animation & AI


Amulya Yadav PhD. candidate will present on behalf of Professor Milind Tambe.

Amulya is part of the Teamcore Research Group working at the USC Center for AI in Society.

How Can AI be Used for Social Good? Key Techniques, Applications, and Results

Discussions about the future negative consequences of AI sometimes drown out discussions of the current accomplishments and future potential of AI in helping us solve complex societal problems.  At the USC Center for AI in Society, CAIS, our focus is on exploring AI research in tackling wicked problems in society. This talk will highlight the goals of CAIS and areas of ongoing work. We will focus on the use of AI for assisting low-resource sections of society, such as homeless youth.



Dinant from citadel


Mark Thielen

Mark Thielen is an award winning leader in creating computer generated visual effects for films, TV, and commercials for over 15 years. He is one of the premiere crowd animation specialists in the world. Being the person creating crowd animation departments around the world, Mark has had the unique opportunity and skills to understand the varying needs of the leaders in all the departments of a production and deliver powerful results.

He has a passion for creating compelling stories that get at the heart of the characters. He supervised many visual effects heavy commercials. Some of the places Mark has produced work are Walt Disney Animation, Digital Domain, Reel FX Creative Studios, and Zoic Studios. Most recently, Mark brought the realistic robot Sophia to life for Hanson Robotics.

“When I was asked to be the CG Supervisor for Katy Perry’s “Firework” music video, the proj­ect looked impossible for the amount of work needed and the limited time constraint. We had two weeks to deliver over sixty shots of visual effects, that should take six weeks. We created a system to incorporate fireworks as quickly as possible into the shots, while having flexibility in the final look. The end result created a music video topping the charts and winning multiple awards that people emotionally connected to through the visuals we created.” This is what Mark brings to each production.


Film/TV Credits:

Big Hero 6 (2014) (crowd specialist)

Frozen (2013) (crowd specialist)

Ender’s Game (2013) (Massive supervisor)

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007) (animator)

The Express (2008) (Massive technical director)

Vantage Point (2008) (Massive technical director)

The Leatherheads (2008) (Massive technical director)

Blades of Glory (2007) (Massive supervisor)

The Ant Bully (2006) (animation supervisor)

“The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” (2002-2004) (animator) (15 episodes)

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) (character animator)

Monkeybone (2001) (miniature sets builder) (uncredited)

Other Projects:

Sophia robot (2015-2016) (Hanson Robotics)

Zeno robot (2007) (Hanson Robotics)


Katy Perry – Firework


3 thoughts on “March 1 – Animation & AI

  1. Artificial intelligence is a fascinating subject. It’s something that promises to completely change the way we live. It could be something to fear, like years of science fiction has told us, or it could improve the quality of human life like nothing ever before. I for one tend to lean towards the latter, and I think this seminar proves that nicely. From entertainment to social services, AI will be expanding the limits of human capability and creativity.


  2. This seminar was really interesting; I enjoyed hearing the more social work aspect to AI as told by Amulya Yadav, and then the more entertainment form of AI as described and worked on by Mark Thielen. Personally, AI and computers/technology all kind of make me uneasy, so it was great hearing how AI can impact the homeless and help that community. However, they said at some point, down the line, it’s likely that AI will become so advanced that we won’t be able to tell they’re not real. Even though that is ages from now and won’t be during my lifetime, it still freaks me out. The world of ‘Ready Player One’ seems more like a reality, where social interactions are done in an AI world and the ‘real world’ is very bleak. I don’t mean to sound like a big pessimist or a crazy anti-technology person, but I’m just not all that keen on some of the aspects of the computer world and what it has done to society (for instance, Facebook and online bullying.)

    In any case, I really did enjoy this seminar and what Amulya and Mark discussed regarding AI. I love Sci-Fi, so it was really intriguing seeing that some of these things are becoming a reality. My favorite part was how AI is helping homeless communities, which are so rampant in LA.


  3. I’ve always have mixed feelings towards Artificial Intelligent, it’s fascinating but also frightening. The scare got bigger when I saw Alpha-Go won over Sedol Lee, a Korean pro Go player.
    But listening Amulya’s talk regarding how AI helps social work, and how AI stimulated crowds, effects etc in films – I felt less scared (or threaten..?) by AI.

    I could see the development of technology has brought a lot of benefits, but still has some remained thoughts in question that.. how we prevent if AI effect badly to human being.. (like private issue etc)..


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