SXSW VR Events and Panels

SXSW VR Events

As expected, there’s lots of VR events at SXSW this year. And virtual reality was the focus of a number of sessions (including ours) at SXSWedu last week as the medium begins to impact entertainment, education, health and a host of other areas.

We’ll do a write up shortly on the very well done NYT VR session at SXSW last Saturday but for now, here’s a useful list of VR events from VRFocus and other sites. 2016 marks the first-ever SXSW VR/AR Track at SXSW with some 21 events. And it’s just the beginning – with Oculus and HTC one the market (and possibly a Google VR headset coming), next year we’ll see an even greater focus on VR.

Even if you’re not at SXSW, it gives you a sense of where we’re headed in the virtual reality realm and what’s on everyone’s mind.

For a truly fascinating session description, check out HoloGramma: How Tech Can Bring Back Our Departed below.

SXSW VR Events

Here’s the schedule starting from today (March 15th):

Tuesday, March 15th

Storytelling with the New Screens at 9:30am.

How will 3D printers, virtual reality, augmented reality, smart objects and smart cities reinvent the future of storytelling? USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab (AIL) believes the media and entertainment industry is seeing its greatest period of upheaval since Edison invented the Kinetoscope – and the AIL’s Edison Project is finding the opportunities amidst the disruption.AIL technical director + research fellow Geoffrey Long, research associate Francesca Marie Smith and research affiliate Alisa Katz will share the AIL’s findings from a number of the lab’s transmedia storytelling experiments and prototypes (including a combination of 3d printing and augmented reality, a “smart home” entertainment experience built in the Oculus Rift, an “asymmetric multiplayer movie-watching experience” in Google Glass, and a tangible media prototype connecting a smart designer toy to a data-driven iPad storybook) and where the AIL believes the media and entertainment industry is heading next!

Cinematic Virtual Reality: Immersive Storytelling at 11:00am. 

SXSW VR - Immersive Storytelling

Panelists will discuss their experiences mixing spectacle and story while trailblazing the new medium of virtual reality in their films “The Mission”, “Kaiju Fury!” and “Black Mass.”

Oculus Effect: How VR Will Change TV and Retail at 12:30pm.

In this Meet Up, we’ll offer hands-on demonstrations of the latest technology from Occulus Rift and Intel, and share examples of work in broadcast and digital that hints at a possible future for immersive environments on the screen in your living room to the physical retail showroom.

DocLab Presents: New Frontiers for VR and Interactive NonFiction at 2:00pm

The web is maturing (and losing its innocence), but rapid breakthroughs in virtual reality, science and tech are once again redefining the art of interactive (non-fiction) storytelling. Caspar Sonnen (curator IDFA DocLab) presents his favorite new and upcoming projects, VR artist Robert Overweg (Triple IT) explores falsified virtual memory and creative technologist Brian Chirls (POV) launches a DIY toolkit for web-based VR.

HoloGramma: How Tech Can Bring Back Our Departed at 3:30pm.

VR Events at SXSW


Grandma passed away last year, but she’s coming back for Thanksgiving dinner this year.

This may sound like a horror story, but it could be the future of family reunions if you ask some of these panelists. And, if we can bring Tupac back to do a show w/ Dre and Snoop, then why can’t we bring Grandma?A lot of technology has to jive in order to do this well though – and of course, great attention to ethics must be paid. But no one can argue that we are living at an exciting time when video technology, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and predictive software are coming together making it possible to ‘reconstruct Grandma’: to put together all the personal data we have – videos, photos, the sound of her voice, her Facebook feed, etc. – and create a hologram of her or a virtual world we can visit whenever we want to see and talk to her.In this session, learn from experts in the areas of virtual reality, social data, and memory what the future may look like.

DocLab Showcase: How to Play with VR, Physical Spaces and Ink at 3:30pm.

VR has learnt a lot from gaming and cinema, but what happens when we compare it to physical artforms, like theatre, performance, or even pen and paper? IDFA DocLab presents a playful session with two of its favorite artists exploring physical and virtual media: Jan Rothuizen and We Are Anagram. Expect immersive and interactive drawings and a live performance challenging the boundaries between humans and technology.

Wednesday, March 16th

Crashing Oculus Rift and Hacking New VR Experiences at 11:00.

Earlier this year we turned over 5000 members of the public into Crash Test Dummies and slammed them into a wall at 60km/hr. With emerging VR technology, the right programmers, engineers & brave clients it is entirely possible to create fully immersive virtual brand experiences that the audience can actually feel. Find out how we sold this idea to Australia’s biggest insurance brand. Hear about the challenges we faced hacking the Oculus Rift and extending the experience through some creative engineering.

A Conversation with John Gaeta and Ana Serrano 12:30pm

From pioneering virtual cinema for the Matrix Trilogy to proofing the future shapes of Star Wars, John Gaeta has had a hand in the creation of some of the most iconic and soon to be most immersive moments ever created for mainstream audiences.

He has introduced us to Bullet Time, Virtual Cinematography, Nuvies and Holo Cinema. All of these form bending creative innovations have brought storytellers and story lovers alike one step closer to “stepping inside” cinema. Now he is poised to finish the job as the Executive Creative Director for ILMxLAB, the new Immersive Entertainment division created by Lucasfilm. Who’s speaking: John Gaeta, i.e. the pioneering cinematic force behind The Matrix, Star Wars, Virtual Cinematography, and now Lucas Film’s Immersive Entertainment division.

Want to Lose Weight? Hang Out with Your Avatar at 12:45.

SXSW VR - Health

We all look up to our role models for inspiration and motivation to improve our lives. But what if we could be our own role models?Virtual reality and augmented reality will allow us to do more than secretly watch cat videos during a boring work meeting: they can empower us to positively change our behavior and life habits. Recent virtual reality research suggests that watching a virtual avatar of yourself can change the way you think and act in the real world.This talk will cover how virtual reality and avatars are being used as tools to understand human behavior and thought. It will then explore how our experiences in virtual reality can shape our real-world behavior, from motivating us to save more money to encouraging us to exercise more.

Mars Experience VR  at 2:00pm. 

SXSW VR Event - Mars Experience

In collaboration with NASA, Nvidia and MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory, FusionVR presents a virtual reality journey to Mars. The multidisciplinary, award-winning team has come together to put viewers in the place of explorers, living millions of miles from Earth. The interactive project has been approached with the highest regard to scientific accuracy and is an exploration of where we are today in achieving mankind’s next frontier. Developed by members of Bioshock Infinite’s technical team, using Nvidia’s latest VR technologies and pioneering efforts in and multi-directional VR audio led by Source Sound, our SXSW panel will discuss the intersection of technology, education, and science currently at play to bring this experience to life.

Virtual Reality: Video Reinvented and Virtual Reality Journalism at 3:30.

Video Reinvented Session:
Thanks to a variety of technological and cultural advances, the light at the end of the virtual reality tunnel has never been brighter. This 60-minute panel will bring together perspectives on virtual reality from the worlds of sports, entertainment, gear, production and distribution. Join the conversation and demo some of the latest immersive VR experiences.

Virtual Reality Journalism Session:
While the potential for virtual reality has long been theorized, the launch of the developer kit for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has brought the technology into the mainstream. While most of the content development to date has occurred in the fields of gaming and film there is tremendous potential to use virtual reality for a new form of journalism – immersing users in events that they would otherwise not have access to – war, hardship, far away places. Highlighting the multiple immersive journalism projects built by de la Peña and exploring the virtual reality journalism projects of the Tow Center, Vice News and the Secret Location, this panel will bring together leading technologists, academics, and journalists at the cutting edge of this new field to ask whether virtual reality can effect how users empathize with and better understand international events.

Evolving 3D Production Into Immersive Technologies at 5:00pm.

From 3D production to virtual reality, this panel addresses how virtual products, environments, and their enabling technologies will create radical shifts in media production and delivery.3D workflows have become immensely empowering and central to the workflow of TV and film production designers, consumer product designers, 3D artists, and others. Currently, the vast majority of productions that utilize 3D technologies remain focused on creating 2 dimensional content such as images or movies.In this panel we look at novel uses of 3D content, 3D printing and platforms for virtual experiences, including Oculus Rift. We will overview the process for capturing and displaying photorealistic environments and products. We’ll illustrate concepts for entertainment and marketing that enable consumers to engage, interact and receive content and products in far more experiential ways than ever before.

Thursday, 17th March

Mixed Reality Habitats: The New Wired Frontier at 11:00am.

SXSW VR Mixed Reality
What happens when the world as we know it combines with virtual reality, streams of content, personal data, sensors, cameras and implantable or wearable devices? People will experience the world within a wired habitat, where computers mediate our perceptions of reality, objects talk to each other and experiences are hyper-customized based on carefully assembled, personal datasets. On the web of the future, Main Street won’t look the same to everyone. Mixed reality will revolutionize the world as we know it, creating an augmented dimension within which people live, work, communicate, collaborate, build, buy and sell. Without question, this pervasive environment will radically alter how we view people, environments, objects and illusion. However, with the unprecedented possibilities come inherent risks and threats. As mixed reality converges with life as we know it, how can it be structured to best serve humanity without jeopardizing all we hold dear?

Five Best Startup Ideas in VR at 2:00pm.

From the vision of Tron to Palmer Luckey and Occulus Rift, and beyond: what are the top trends, and who are the top startups, providers, manufacturers and mavericks to watch and partner with right now in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality? With 25 million headsets up by 2018, combining high-capacity networks with ultra-high resolution cameras, microphones and full-wall displays, this means amazing content to come. Artists and developers of all sorts will flock to this new form and begin to create a vast array of incredibly moving content. And will VR stay inside the context of gaming and entertainment, or move beyond into areas like education, telepresence, and AR as enterprise cases.

Virtual Reality: Building Healthier Social Brains at 5:00pm.

What if your most daunting aspiration was to make a friend? For many on the autism spectrum, reading facial expressions and knowing how to respond are confusing daily challenges that create barriers to relationships and career goals. Cognitive neuroscientists, therapists and game developers at the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas have created a virtual reality platform to help individuals on the autism spectrum achieve social and economic independence.