SXSW Special: Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg’s new movie Ready Player One was one of the hot topics at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. People lined up hundreds of meters to get a seat for the world premiere of the Metaverse blockbuster. However, the reason for the festival buzz is not the quality of this decent action fun flick but sentiment. 

Mister Spielberg himself joined a cheering crowd in Austin’s Paramount cinema. Writer Ernest Cline talked about the production in a fireside chat the day after, explaining his affinity for Spielberg, video games and Sci-Fi („Sci Fi explains tech from a human perspective“).

Yes, Ready Player One is definitely a SXSW highlight, and I bet it will be successful at the box office and beloved amongst many fans. Why? Because of the appreciation from Hollywood for video games. It feels good that the great Steven Spielberg pays tribute to the medium. The Ready Player One VR experience they showcased was a blockbuster in itself, with fans and professionals queuing Berghain style.   

Ernest Cline wrote a book that everyone knows who is working in the games industry. The novel is an endless sequence of video game references and shows Cline’s deep understanding of nerd/pop/mainstream culture. The film is the most recent addition to a row of cultural products like Netflix’ hit show Stranger Things. What we get is a warm feeling of familiarity. A campfire for gamers, tabletop fans and Amblin enthusiasts.

That, of all things Steven Spielberg is adapting the novel, shows that the time is ripe for video game movies to become finally acknowledged, again, somehow. Because SXSW is a festival for tech and pop culture, it’s the perfect place for kicking off Ready Player One and that’s worth a celebration. I only hope the movie will live up to this.   

A summit where VR meets Film & TV – during the Berlinale

EFM VR NOW Summit – about different kinds of moving image. Half a day conference where Virtual Reality meets film and television. Customized for the needs of entertainment professionals. With high profile speakers in packed sessions and networking. During the European Film Market at the Berlinale Film Festival. Early Bear tickets only 99 Euros.

Learn how film, television and immersive media like Virtual Reality and 360 video are coming together. Get excited by fantastic stories and inspiring opinions of international VR figure heads about how entertainment advances today.

Who is there?

Matthew Collado (Littlstar), USA
Eddie Lou (Sandbox VR), China
Anika Giese (Axel Springer SE), Germany
Ditti Bürgin-Brook (La Siala Entertainment), Switzerland
Paul Bouchard (WIDE VR), France
Oli Lane (VR Concept), UK

Soon we will be able to announce another highlight speaker, coming from a renowned Canadian immersive media production company. Stay tuned for more.

Get your Early Bear ticket, for only 99 Euro.

EFM VR NOW Summit 2018 – 18.02.2018

[/tatsu_text][/tatsu_column][/tatsu_row][/tatsu_section]

International Local Heroes of VR

The VR NOW understands itself not only as a platform for the best international producers of VR, AR, MR and 360 video. It’s also about the people who drive the diverse local community in Berlin and Brandenburg, mostly smaller companies who work on an large and international level and want to showcase their latest successful work. 

Sara Lisa Vogel and Daan Kip (VR Base) started the session on our second stage. Daan explained how he managed to create a 50 Mio Dollar fund – the XR Base fund – to support great early VR and AR entrepreneurship. He and Sara then pointed out the creative and business potential of companies and upcoming talents from Europe.

Pedro Lopes (Hasso Plattner Institute) showed the amazing latest research development in EMS wearables. With attached electric muscle stimulation gloves (and more wearable devices soon), objects and walls will be part of the haptical experience.

Peter Hu (Auctoreal Inc.) explained what it means to live from VR development in the world’s probably most interesting (and hyped) market – China. Susanne Dickel is co-fonder of INTO.VR, specialized in 360 journalism. Their holistic approach on production and storytelling is fit for all major platforms for VR.

Max Sacker and Iuolia Isserlis are the two heads of Anotherworld VR. Right before they came to speak on the VR NOW Con, they won the prize for Best Immersive Experience at the VR Core Awards in China for their Horror VR Experience Kobold. In 30 minutes they showed what it means to create suspense and horror without torturing the user.

Find these and more exciting talks on YouTube. 

With: Sven Bliedung (SLICE), Marcus Ritter (Interlake), Sönke Kirchhoff (INVR.SPACE), Gayatri Parameswaran (NowHere Media), Greg Louden (3rd Eye Studios), Pawel Gajda (Carbon Studio), Christian Glessner (Hololux), Gerda Leopold and Sebastian Endler (both Amilux Filmproduktion), Lina Reinsbakken (Nornstudio) and of course the fabulous Thomas Bedenk (Exozet) and his friends.   

Photo by Shane Pilon

What we gain (and divulge) in the new realities

In 2016 the VR NOW Con keynote of Alysha Naples was all about making VR for better human interaction. Make VR pro social, less commercial and anti-isolating, she said. Everybody was moved, everybody agreed. 

This year Ian Forester, CEO of VR Playhouse, hold a similar critical note. While we wonder what we in the new realities, with immersive video and another level of information that will guide us through the world, Ian asked what we divulge.

The keywords here are: #Big Data, #Subconsciousness, #Depth. Scary, isn’t it? In real life that translates into make societies drift away even further apart, with social engineering, manipulated elections, Facebook bubbles and presidential fake news bullshit bingo (I hate the term “fake news”, we use it too often and help the guy who claims to be its inventor).

But we also wanted to show off a little. What is VR capable of right now, why is VR such a great medium, how will it define our entertainment, gaming, storytelling, industry training and information in the near future.

Max Salomon (Black Dot Films VR) and Maria Courtial (Faber Courtial) showed how to produce high quality immersive content for the old media e.g. National Geographic and ZDF. Laura Jeffords Greenberg told us what content is popular on the LittlStar platform.

Dominik Kaeser is the inventor and team lead of Google Earth VR and gave an in depth look into the development process of one of the most popular and smoothest VR experiences you can get right now.

Gabo Arora (Lightshed) talked about using VR for making people empathic, sharing also uncomfortable experiences about wars, crisis and the people suffering from it.

Kristian Costa-Zahn (UFA LAB) and Oliver Schreer (Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute) shared how they are going to start with volumetric video, a major advancement in making films you can actually freely move in.

Marcus Kühne is Audi’s head of VR and has set up more than 100 point of sale experiences for Audi customers who can compile their own cars from scratch, as well as making fun experiences like Audi sandbox.

Our guests from China (Yiming Niu is president of the VRAR Association of China, Rebecca Liu is head of VR Core, China’s biggest association for VR creators) gave insights about the Chinese market, what content is wanted by the consumers, what content is produced by the creators.

Two roundtable discussions concentrated on the American market, especially Hollywood (with Chris Sibley from Phenomenon Media, Andrew van Wyk from River Road Entertainment and, again, the amazing Laura Jeffords) and the trinity of markets in Europe, China and the USA (with Chris Sibley from Phenomenon Media, Drew van Wyk from River Road Entertainment, Sven Bliedung from SLICE and Yiming Niu from VRARA).

Check out the VR NOW Con & Awards 2017 playlist on YouTube to see the talks you missed. 

Photo by Grzegorz Karkoszka  

The best VR NOW Con in the history of Earth

At the closing event of each Olympic Games, the Head of the Olympic Committee traditionally claims: This is the end of the best games ever. Even if they were not. But he has to say it, as a matter of politeness towards the people of the hosting country, and because of self-preservation. 

As it also follows the unwritten rules of capitalism and press announcements: Either grow or die (or you have a very good excuse you’re still alive).

Now I am wondering: Would we do the same? Would we say “Contrary to our better knowledge, this was the best VR NOW Con in history”?

Just to be clear: We are happy to announce that we don’t have to lie. The VR NOW CON & Awards were again successful, which means: more people, more partners, more press, more speakers and more exhibitors on a bigger area.

We were able to welcome over 550 people, we expanded the exhibition area, we had a full pre-event at Audi City Berlin and two workshop a day after the conference. That’s growth. So why do I come up with the Olympics?

As you might have realized for yourself, the competition of conferences and other shows that concentrate on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is very high. Everybody wants a piece of the next big thing when it’s still hot.

And the core crowd that attends events not unlike the VR NOW Con is international and rather picky. Especially in times that are labelled as “trough of disillusionment”.

Looks like we have survived the shallowing attention and excitement about XR for now. But to be honest: I was thinking about the other option as well, about what to say when things don’t turn out too well.

Maybe it’s a German thing, like Angst and Weltschmerz. But it helps with the grounding and, o boy, we are happy now. This is why we again like to thank everyone who was involved in this critical endeavor – foremost the VRBB association and the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

It was the best VR NOW Con & Awards in its two year old history. We’re going to have another (and better) one in 2018.

Photo by Grzegorz Karkoszka  

Program of VR NOW Con is updated with awesome sauce!

Our program is online, check out the schedule. We have got news about amazing international speakers (Google, VR Playhouse, LittlStar) and free workshops at the VR NOW Con & Awards in Potsdam and Berlin. Purchase your conference ticket (prices begin at € 199) and get a free MeetToMatch business update.

image

DOMINIK KÄSER

(Google)
TALK The Making of Google Earth VR, 2pm, Main Stage

image

In 2014 Dominik started the Google Earth VR project with the goal of letting anyone travel anywhere in virtual reality. Google Earth VR launched in late 2016 to wide acclaim, and went on to win the Lumiere Century award by the Advanced Imaging Society (AIS). It is only the second time in history the AIS handed out a Century Award; the first award went to James Cameron for the movie Avatar.

IAN FORESTER

(VR Playhouse)
TALK Dream Hacking: Subconscious Metrics in the Age of Big Data, 10am, Main Stage

image

Ian is the CEO and Co-Founder of VR Playhouse and based in Los Angeles. Working in Chicago theater instilled in him a passion for creating transformational experiences. He developed, directed, and performed in dozens of plays and immersive events. After winning LA Weekly’s Award for Best Direction in 2008, he served as the Artistic Director of Needtheater in LA from 2011 until his first encounter with a VR headset in 2014.

LAURA JEFFORDS GREENBERG

(Littlstar)
TALK: A 360 Degree View of Content Performance, 12pm, Alternative Stage

image

Laura is the Senior VP of Business & Legal Affairs at Littlstar, the leading global platform dedicated to immersive virtual reality and 360° content. She manages and oversees the company’s legal department, advising the company on international content acquisitionand distribution, development and licensing of software and applications, and business operations. Before that she was Senior Legal Counsel at Red Bull Media House in Austria.

ALL SPEAKERS SO FAR

Gabo Arora (Lightshed), Melek Balgün (Moderator), Thomas Bedenk (Exozet), Sven Bliedung (Slice Studios), AC Coppens (The Marketing Catalyst), Kristian Costa-Zahn (Ufa Lab), Maria Courtial (FaberCourtial), Daan Kip (VRBase), Susanne Dickel (IntoVR), Sebastian Endler (Amilux FIlmproduktion), Ian Forester (VR Playhouse), Pawel Gajda (Carbon Studio), Christian Glessner (Hololux), Laura Jeffords Greenberg (LittlStar), Peter Hu (Auctoreal), Ioulia Isserlis (AnotherWorld VR), Dominik Käser (Google), Sönke Kirchhof (INVR), Marcus Kühne (Audi), Gerda Leopold (Amilux Filmproduktion), Pieter van Leugenhagen (Yondr), Rebecca Liu (VRCORE), Pedro Lopes (Hasso-Plattner-Institut), Greg Louden (3rd Eye Studios), Yiming Niu (VRARA China Chapter), Gayatri Parameswaran (NowHere Media), Lina Reinsbakken (Norn Studio), Max Sacker (AnotherWorld VR), Max Salomon (Blackdotfilms), Dr. Oliver Schreer (Fraunhofer Institut), Christopher Sibley (Phenomenon Media),  Daniel Sproll (realities.io), Sara Lisa Vogl (VRBAse), Sven Slazenger (Interlake) Andrew Van Wyk (River Road Entertainment) – and many more.

www.vrnowcon.io

VR NOW Con & Awards – Submit Your Project

image

Give us your best shot. Submit your hyper immersive VR experience. Your thrilling 360 degree movie. Your VR game masterpiece. Your convincing business model for VR, AR and every digital enhanced reality you can imagine.

The VR NOW Con Awards 2017 celebrate outstanding technical, business, and artistic achievements in Virtual Reality. They are part of the VR NOW Conference, taking place in Potsdam/Berlin on November 15-16, 2017.

You can submit your project and compete against an international community of friends and strangers, fellow creatives, beautiful minds and smart business cats.

Where do I submit?

www.vrnowcon.io

Please note that applying for the VR NOW Con Awards and paying the application fee on this page doesn’t give you access to the award show. Only VR NOW Con ticket holders will be allowed to participate in the award show.

Yet, a successful application gives you a discount of 25 % (that’s nearly one third) on the ticket price.

Please use the discount link you get with your confirmation of submission.NOMINEES GET A FREE EXHIBITION SPACE DURING THE EVENT on Nov 15+16, 2017.

What’s in for me?

image

This animal. It’s called Winkebär.

image

It’s a hybrid version of the Maneki-neko

image

… and the heraldic animal of Berlin, the Berliner Bär (photo by Ebert).

It’s also our trophy.

With each submission, contestants receive a VR NOW Con ticket discount code of 25%. The discount code will be sent via email once the submission has been approved.

Each of the nominees will receive 2 VR NOW Con business tickets (worth 499,- euros each), a dedicated space in the nominees exhibition area to present their project during the event and a mention in the pre-event press release.

Each of the award winners will receive a trophy, a 1-year Virtual Reality e.V. Berlin-Brandenburg association membership, a mention in the post-event press release and will be featured in the newsletter of our funding partner Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, in addition to the honor that goes with winning the second VR NOW Con Award.

Do you have dedicated award categories?

Yes. Even with a new formula! Four projects will be nominated for each of the following categories:

VR NOW Grand Prize

The best virtual reality project of the year, based on overall quality and innovation. The best of the best of the best.

VR Tech Award

The VR Technology Award seeks to recognize the technically most advanced Virtual Reality projects, tools, services, hardware and techniques.

VR Entertainment Award

The VR Entertainment Award acknowledges the most outstanding and fun experience – including interactive, storydriven or experimental formats.

VR Industry Award

The VR Industry Award highlights handy and innovative virtual reality business-to-business applications and solutions.

VR Impact Award

With the VR Impact Award we support projects aimed at making a difference – through journalism, artistic expression or by social or non-profit organizations.

Can I submit my immersive high school project from 1993?

Nope. Any virtual reality project is eligible as long as it has been first exhibited or released to the public between December 2016 and September 2017. Sorry, no ancient vomiting machines allowed.

Submissions must be compatible with one of the following platforms: Gear VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive (consumer version), Oculus Rift (consumer version), PlayStation VR, Microsof Hololens. Projects not compatible with any of these platforms can still be submitted, as long as the applicant provides the jury an opportunity to evaluate them in Berlin, Germany.

How much of my money do you want for that? 

Not much. We aren’t going to fill our pockets with of your hard earned $€¥. Actually, our fees are quiet fair.

Early Bird fee: 25 € + 19% tax (ends August 6, 2017)

Regular fee: 40 € + 19% tax (ends October 1, 2017)

Please note that applying for the VR NOW Con Awards and paying the application fee on this page doesn’t give you access to the award show. Only VR NOW Con ticket holders will be allowed to participate to the award show.