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Tech/Business/Arts –DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD SUMMIT by Tanya Young

A great article by Contributing Editor Tanya Young

REFLECTING WOMEN: DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD VIRTUAL REALITY SUMMIT FALL 2016

By Contributing Editor, Business, West Coast Tanya Young @Tanya1720

For the fifth year in a row, Victor Harwood gathered leading makers, gamers, fans and press to delve into all things digital in Hollywood.  The particular twist for this conference was its focus on virtual reality (VR) as a transformational tool for electronic media. The conference also explored binge watching as well as media finance and production for artists and creators of television, film and the internet.

Actually, Mr. Harwood and his speakers interpreted VR more broadly into augmented reality, immersive reality and what I call “enhanced” reality. Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated recreation of a real life environment or situation that makes the user feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily through vision, hearing and motion. In VR, your head movements are tracked in a three-dimensional world, making it ideally suited to interactive games, branded short subjects and even movies. It replaces the real world with a simulated one. Augmented reality (AR) is a live view of a real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

As one of twenty SAG-AFTRA members comped to the fall event, delving into the shoptalk of gaming creators, yeomen designers and engineers as well as profiteers was a bit jarring in light of actors’ current, overdue strike against the video game industry.

If dozens of Digital Hollywood panelists are to be believed, we are just a few years away from a storytelling revolution on par with the dawn of the film projector, VCR and the Blu-ray player. CEO Jim Stewartson of Awesome Rocketship plans to bring photo booth-style VR kiosks to malls, arcades and other public venues at a cost of $10 to $15 per experience. Media and entertainment engineer Ed Lantz presented a new venture Vortex Immersion Media that brings virtual reality experiences into the nightclub environment of Las Vegas.

But for all the VR and immersive reality cheerleaders, there are a handful of naysaying gadflies. Dave Cobb, VP Creative Development for Thinkwell Group, sees neither the cost and hygiene of hardware nor the appeal of content as compelling enough for the mass market. Yet. Currently, Cobb describes higher-end private resorts as better venues for VR and related programming at a more realistic price point.

According to polygon.com, forty-seven percent of gamers are between 18 and 49 years old.  Fifty-nine percent of those who play games on a regular basis are men; forty-one percent are women.  Women remain in the minority audience traditional single or multiplayer games. Top titles include Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Street Fighter and World of Warcraft.

Advocates of mainstream video gaming say the violence in popular games is about fantasy. Shoot ’em ups can be a really unique way to relax. The point is that, unlike real life stressors, video game shoot ’em ups are not real.

During one of the handful of panels focusing on women, Catherine Day of Jaunt VR posited hope that the virtual reality revolution in gaming will make empathy, rather than shoot ’em ups, the prime movers.

Contradicting this empathy direction, the panel on consumer points-of-contact described agency as the key to consumer enjoyment of ER in kiosks, domes, IMAX and other special venues that extend beyond the headset.

Cost and hardware, though available, remain prohibitive to the average $200-$400 console gamer with a PlayStation.  The more expensive options are Oculus Rift ($600), Samsung Gear VR ($99) and the HTC Vive ($800). The Oculus Rift was repeatedly clowned during the four days panels – both for its price and onerous equipment package. But these consoles really are ready for holiday purchase. Reviews and word-of-mouth on theses consumer VR packages is extremely limited at the moment.  So I’m not clear which VR gears delivers the biggest bang for your buck.

Let me praise the newer venue for the Digital Hollywood conference. Though the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey will always have its wind-blown charms, what a terrific conference venue Skirball is — from the elegant rooms and grand, austere structures in close proximity to the security staff and close, free easily accessible Wi-fi and plentiful free parking.

The highlight of each conference day was the wine, beer & snacks reception by the reflecting pool in the Taper Courtyard.

Truly, Victor Harwood is a supremely thoughtful expert in developing and producing conference events for professionals, executives and enthusiasts. Thank you to Digital Hollywood for working with SAG-AFTRA again this year to make Digital Hollywood accessible and inspiring for industry executives and creative artists alike.

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November 3, 2016 - Posted by | ART, BUSINESS, ENTREPRENEURS, FILM, TECHNOLOGY, Uncategorized, We Recommend | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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