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Philip Van Horn Weems Dodds (May 17, 1951 – October 6, 2007), credited as Phil Dodds, was an audio engineer who appeared in the 1977 motion picture Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Working for ARP Instruments, Inc., Dodds was on the set to install and manage the ARP 2500 synthesizer used in the movie to play the five alien tones, and to program it for the sounds the filmmakers wanted. He had performed a similar function on other science fiction films, such as Logan's Run, and some of the early Star Trek movies.
Steven Spielberg, liking his looks, offered him a part in the movie on the spot; he spent the next nine weeks filming the now-iconic final scenes of the movie. He has considerable screen time for an extra, playing the notes on the synthesizer under the direction of several scientists and musicians, and gazing raptly up at the alien spaceship. In the film's credits, Dodds's name appears twice—once as "Jean Claude" (as Philip Dodds) and once as "ARP Musician" (as Phil Dodds). In his original script, with the working title of Watch the Skies, Spielberg had written these as two separate parts, but combined them into one character during filming.
Later vice president of R&D for Kurzweil Music (developer of digital keyboard products), Dodds was a project analyst with Randall House Associates, Inc. in Annapolis, MD. He was the chief architect of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) under the guidance of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, a project of the United States Department of Defense. The ADL SCORM is widely perceived as a means to achieve interoperability, accessibility and reuse of the component pieces of web-based instruction, irrespective of Learning Management Systems. Philip's work on SCORM will continue as hundred of organizations around the world continue their collective efforts to resolve remaining issues associated with SCORMs Simple Sequencing Models, such as lack of common instructional strategies and taxonomies (common definitions) for learning objects.
Dodds' grandfather was Philip Van Horn Weems, pioneering founder of navigational instrument company Weems and Plath.
Dodds died on October 6, 2007, after a long battle with cancer.
- Rhodes Chroma: Interview with Philip Dodds and Tony Williams
- Randall House Associates at the Wayback Machine (archived December 29, 2003)
- CE3K IMDB Page
- Memories of Philip Dodds: We've Lost a Great Navigator, but Not Our Way
- Rhodes Chroma