A SPECIAL REPORT: MULTIMEDIA INDUSTRY

BEYOND VIDEO: The multimedia industry--which produces computer programs for products like games that combine video, sound, graphics and text--gathers steam in Orange County. A decade ago, there were just a few one-person firms; now there are more than a dozen companies with hundreds of employees. . . . Enter Jon Sidoli, a UC Irvine fine arts graduate, who started Digital Artists Agency in Irvine to supply multimedia companies with performers. "We're the talent scouts," Sidoli says. "We provide the actors and actresses that appear in the new digital world."

SUBCONTRACT: People used to smirk when William C. Fisher told them a decade ago that he created computer games for a living. "Now it's so vogue that people get googly-eyed and say it's cool," says Fisher, 35. His Quicksilver Software Inc. in Costa Mesa, which has 12 employees, helped Interplay Productions Inc. produce its award-winning Castles II: Siege & Conquest multimedia game about life and war in medieval times. "It's like a Hollywood job," Fisher says. "It's not always glamorous. . . . It's half technical and half artistic."

CULTURAL: Shelia Monique and her husband, Ron May, above, started May CoII Entertainment, a multimedia company in Santa Ana, to produce multicultural children's education programs for media, including TV shows and computer programs. The firm's initial project is "Yesterday," a set of animated short stories that will run as a TV show. Monique is the voice of a 6-year-old character "Little Ms. Monique."

DAY JOB: Michael Salazar, a 28-year-old actor with a fine arts degree from UC Irvine, never thought he'd be using his stage voice in computer multimedia productions. But it certainly pays the bills while he's looking for theatrical work. Salazar's voice may be heard in an upcoming Shakespeare edition of Irvine-based World Library Inc.'s electronic books, which run on personal computers. Such "books" feature the text of the work on a computer disk but also supply audio and video clips. Says Salazar: "I've had more calls in the last year than ever before."

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