Honorary Research Fellow
Matt Thunell is an executive producer, technology strategist, and entrepreneur with 18 years of experience in multi-platform visual storytelling, skunkworks, and software product development. Thunell has executive produced and produced 250+ projects that feature high-end computer graphics and design for film, television, advertising, gaming, VR/AR, and special venue. His clients have spanned Jon Favreau to Lady Gaga in the entertainment realm. In 2015, Thunell developed a strategy to leverage Zoic Studios’ expertise in “Hollywood” visualization toward solving national security problems, and he became a Partner at Zoic Labs. His role as Principle Investigator on Zoic’s first prime government contract (National Geospatial Intelligence Agency) fueled a spirit of curiosity and patriotism that has catapulted the company into successful collaborations with the National Reconnaissance Office, Air Force Research Lab, National Space Defense Center, Space and Missile Systems Center, and Combined Space Operation Center. Zoic’s resulting products feature video game-like UI/UX and bespoke data visualizations, aimed to improve the effectiveness of integrated operations in the areas of air, space, land, sea, and electromagnetic spectrum.
While studying rhetoric and film at U.C. Berkeley, Thunell began his career at Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, where he contributed to the Star Wars franchise and Terminator 3 under visual effects luminaries Dennis Muren and Pablo Helman. Thunell draws influence from thinkers such as Bran Ferren and Alain de Botton; his talks and presentations often emphasize existential themes and philosophy’s relevance to everyday life and technology. Thunell is a guest lecturer at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Department of Computer Science, where he sits on the Industry Advisory Board. He is a mentor for the “Hacking For Defense” Management Science and Engineering course at Stanford University, and a vocal advocate for nontraditional government contracting – which brought him to speak at the South By Southwest Interactive Conference in 2017.