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Catching up with Eliot Mack and Lightcraft in L.A.

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 7, 2010 01:22 PM

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In Los Angeles for a conference on Saturday, who should I bump into but ex-Cantabrigian Eliot Mack, an alum of MIT and iRobot who is now running a small start-up in Venice, CA?

I last wrote about Mack and his company, Lightcraft Technology, just over two years ago, as they were starting to pitch TV and movie producers on their real-time compositing system; essentially, it can instantly meld live images in front of the camera with digital scenery and characters that were created in a computer, and show the results on a screen. What's cool is that as the camera moves — even if you take it off the tripod to hold it on your shoulder — the background perspective adapts flawlessly.

Founded in Cambridge in 2003, Mack took the company out to California, where the customers are. Since then, Lightcraft's system (the base price is $78,500) has been used regularly on the ABC series "V," and for Tim Burton's recent film version of "Alice in Wonderland." Mack says there's a children's TV series also using the system, but he can't yet drop the name yet. He has also been hiring a few more employees, including a director of sales.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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