Design Becomes Reality

Alumni, Features — By on January 22, 2013 3:57 pm

Mitchel Lathrop and Tracy Ford talk in the new John Moore Welcome Center. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell

Mitchel Lathrop, ’10, had to wait five years before his idea morphed, changed, expanded and became reality.

Lathrop designed a unique media plan to project images and videos onto walls and columns in the Hulman Memorial Student Union while he worked as a student assistant in Indiana State University’s video production office. While officials were intrigued by the idea, they ran into one problem.

“There wasn’t money at the time,” said Tracy Ford, ’89, ’05G, video production manager.

So Lathrop shelved the plans, but neither he nor Ford forgot about them. Besides, he had a job to find as he prepared to graduate in 2010. A month before his graduation, he landed a position while at a conference in Kansas City.

“I happened to run into the Disney booth and I happened to talk to the right person who happened to be looking for a video person that was also an Apple-certified tech,” Lathrop said. “It was the right place, right time and they offered me a job on the spot.”

After finishing his classes, Lathrop moved west to California and began working for the Walt Disney Company doing production work mostly for the California Adventure Park and Disneyland. In his job, he takes the video from designers and sends it out to screens in the parks in various displays.

Ford kept up with Lathrop as he moved on from the university.

“He’s special,” she said. “He has that energy and enthusiasm you wish you could see in every student.”

Ford immediately thought of Lathrop when Indiana State officials developed plans for the John W. Moore Welcome Center and wanted to incorporate an interactive display.

“He was the perfect person to ask because this is what he does at Disney,” she said.

Mitchel Lathrop (right) with member of Pixel Density inside the new Welcome Center.

Also as a side business, Lathrop had partnered with others to form a company called Pixel Density Design. When Ford called requesting references to create the interactive display, Lathrop dusted off his old plans, reformed and expanded them with the newest technology and found himself returning to Terre Haute to help welcome future Sycamores to campus. Pixel Density put together a system using Mac mini computers, touch screens and transparent screens to create an interactive experience of photos and videos to tell the story of the ISU experience.

“It is a story of hope and success,” Lathrop said. “You come in, you see the pictures and the video and you see what other students have already done…It’s the best of what we have to offer from the campus to the students.”

As an alumnus, Lathrop felt satisfaction in showing other Sycamores the possibilities for their futures.

“I kind of have a sense of pride in that know if I was a student and I showed up here and saw the system, it would definitely make me more interested and especially more interested that a graduate from ISU came back and did the work,” he said.

Lathrop came to Indiana State from Covington, Ind., on the recommendation of his drama teacher.

“When I came here what I was impressed with the most was the small class sizes,” he said. “Especially with theater being a smaller major, you get a lot of one-on-one with the professors and they are interested in developing your skills. It was definitely as much as you wanted to bite off, if you could deal with it, you could take the major as far as you wanted.”

He signed up for independent study courses, worked almost every production at the theater, participated in student government and Greek life, worked in the Office of Information Technology and video production. From all his experiences, he learned.

“For current college students, I would say make the most out of your major. You really get out what you put in,” he said. “As far as incoming students, I think that ISU is a good pick because you’re not just treated like a number. There is a network of people and connections in the professional world.”

That connection allowed Lathrop to return to ISU as a professional.

“I love working with Mitch. He’s so full of ideas and creativity that he inspires me,” Ford said. “Mitch is one of those students that had a spark and had a unique set of skills and knowledge of where he wanted to go with that.”

Lathrop sees himself continuing to work for Disney and the Pixel Density in the future.

“I really like what I am doing at Disney and I think I will always probably have a part with Disney, whether it’s a full-time employee or a contractor,” he said.

Jennifer Sicking, ‘12G, is the editor of Indiana State University Magazine.


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