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VRTO Presents the FIVARS 2016 Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories

The VRTO crew = the FIVARS crew: Friends and family and 3rd party free-agents pouring sweat equity into a generally undefined industry with (sometimes) millions of dollars being poured into it, and financial predictions that resemble a four-year-old’s first adventure with crayons. This is the engine that powers the Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories.

FIVARS 2016

FIVARS focuses on a series of narrow criteria to induce the height in creativity in this emergent media language. The primary focuses of FIVARS are:
1. Find unique modes of narrative expression
2. Find unique mechanics
3. The most dignified, seamless user experience possible for showcasing virtual and augmented reality

Held at the beautiful 6000 square foot, renovated and converted warehouse space now run by MSMU Studios, FIVARS employed award-winner Pandor Productions to help set up a highly customized environment, designed specifically for optimized turnover, exhibition and exiting of over 30 ground-breaking virtual reality experiences.

FIVARS black light

The festival, dubbed the most “Cutting Edge Storytelling Festival in the World,” in the Huffington Post, also featured a 20-point 3D audio chamber designed and built by David McKevy and the soulful augmented reality art exhibit by L.A. artist Daniel Leighton.

Daniel Leighton exhibition

The sold-out festival also featured special talks by master storyteller Dan Yashinsky (Toronto Storytelling Festival) and Daniel Burwen – Director of Publishing (JauntVR) in addition to 3 panels featuring international content producers in the immersive media spectrum.

The 2016 festival, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, sold-out on its second day and featured over 30 immersive experiences from countries as diverse as China, Jordan, UK, USA, Switzerland, Canada, Spain and others. The winners, announced September 20th, 2016 at the Cadillac Lounge in Toronto were as follows:

  • People’s Choice Award – Best Immersive Spherical Video – “Help” – director Justin Lin – Google Story Studios
  • People’s Choice Award – Best Interactive Experience – “Pearl” – director Patrick Osborne – Google Story Studios
  • Grand Jury Prize – “Real” – Connor Hair

Learn the rest about the best at the official FIVARS site

VRTO Meetup on 3D Spatialized Audio for Virtual Reality

VRTO Meetup on 3D Spatialized Audio at Brightlane, Toronto - photo Copyright 2016 Jessy Blaze
VRTO Meetup on 3D Spatialized Audio at Brightlane, Toronto – photo Copyright 2016 Jessy Blaze

This sold-out (but free) special Meetup focused on the undercovered subject of audio design for virtual reality post-production with a special focus on 3D Spatialized Audio, the software solutions and companies offering solutions and methods, and software development kits. Added to these resources the evening featured a panel that included the team behind BVRNED (dir. Jeff Preyra), one – of Canada’s first scripted virtual reality films alongside creative director David Sorbara from Grayson Matthews one of Canada’s top music and audio production facilities.

The full panel featured:

Dave Sorbara
(Creative Director – Grayson Matthews)

Grayson Matthews, is one of Toronto’s top audio and music production houses who are increasingly focusing on VR productions and software solutions.

Grant Edmonds 
(Professional Sound Mixing Engineer – The Dark Studio)

Grant started The Dark Studio Sound Company in 1998 and has many awards to his credit including a Gemini for Best Sound in a Documentary. He was the Mixing Engineer on the VR film BVRNED.

David Federman
(Composer – Federmusik)

Holds a Master of Music degree in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games from Berklee College of Music, Valencia Campus. David’s practical experience in scoring for media has been complemented by his research on the history and practice of video game music, which he presented at the inaugural Interacting With Immersive Worlds conference in 2007.

Anne-Marie Ront 
(Sound Designer/Mixer and Audio Integration Specialist at ‘The Post Office‘)
Anne-Marie has worked on various web/interactive games, VR experiences, feature films, shorts and web series. In the VR realm, The Post Office have worked with companies like Globacore, Seed Interactive, Occupied VR, Shaftsbury and CFC to produce VR experiences and games. Some notable projects include Sonar, Slasher, David Cronenberg Body/Mind/Change experience and Toyota’s VR driving game.

The panel will be moderated by VRTO Director Keram Malicki-Sanchez whose company Transportive Technology produced the world’s first Stereoscopic 360 ASMR Video “Snow Globe,” and is amusic producer with over 25 years experience had a lot of questions about special considerations for producing audio for this new platform. Discussions led to psychoacoustic techniques, best practices, the state of the art and how game developers can work with audio specialists, composers and traditional cinematic sound designers to create better immersive experiences.

Video coming soon!

VRTOC2016 - photo by Jaime Espinoza Captive Camera

VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo 2016 – Official Recap, Stats & Figures

The largest virtual reality conference and expo on the North American eastern seaboard took place at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs) June 25th through 27th, 2016.

Produced by VRTO (Virtual Reality, Toronto) – one of the diverse city’s largest Virtual Reality Meetup groups, the inaugural show consisted of hacker workshops, intensive training and exhibitors from the across the spectrum of the immersive technologies industry. A milestone meeting of CEOs, PhD professors, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and technologists joined more than 800 attendees from around the world to learn about the creative production, business and societal implications of this rapidly growing industry, of which VR is a part.

Among the most impactful activities launched at the VRTO Virtual and Augmented Reality World Conference and Expo, was the drafting and ratification of the Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation. Led by award-winning scientist, academic, artist and father of “wearable technology”, Steve Mann, authors of the Code of Ethics of Human Augmentation also included Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author David Brin (“The Postman”,) KOBO co-founder Ken Nickerson, founder of CG Blockchain Mir Adnan Ali, Graeme Moffat –  founder of Muse, Hollywood filmmaker Brett Leonard (“Lawnmower Man”), VRTO Executive Director Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Canadian Film Centre (CFC) Chief Digital Officer Ana Serrano, CEO of Venn.Agency Samantha Mathews, programmer Zack Harris, CEO of Ingle Insurance Robin Ingle, Ryan Janzen (ieee) and others.

“As technology moves from theory and prototyping into the marketplace, we encourage and support the development of a living document to safeguard against possible future abuses and the recommendation of accountability and safety standards for this incredibly powerful and transformative media,” VRTO Executive Director Keram Malicki-Sanchez said. “The Toronto Code – the colloquial title for the Code of Ethics in Human Augmentation – is the cumulative result of 42 years of work by Professor Mann, and those with whom he has prepared the discussion to this point.”

Mann – a professor at the University of Toronto who also founded the Wearable Technology Lab at MIT – followed his opening keynote, panel discussion, and town hall during VRTO, commenting: “We have spent years developing the Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation to craft its three fundamental principles:

i.) the right to know when and how you are being monitored in the real and virtual world;
ii.) the right to monitor the systems or people monitoring you and use that information in crafting your own digital identity;
iii.) the user should be able to understand the world they are in immediately – feedback delayed is feedback denied

The conference also featured a pavilion previewing the 2016 FIVARS VR stories festival selections including several world premieres, over 60 speakers and panelists, many from the bustling California VR scene, and a special panel comprising luminaries from the hot Montreal VR scene.

There were also special tracks dedicated to the conceptualization, authoring, production, post (stitching and stereoscopy) and even distribution and DRM for 360 video content and another on VR game design sponsored by Indie Game Reviewer and moderated by Alex Davies featuring some of Canada (and the world’s) finest virtual reality game designers.

On the augmented and mediated reality side, the panel titled “Mixed & Augmented Reality – The Holographic Future” featured leaders from such frontrunner visionary companies as HTML Fusion, AWE Company, SULON and ARHT.

The next phase is aggregating signatures of support from the public, standards committees and policy makers so that this inescapable new wave of technology can be extrapolated from a position of conscientiousness, accountability and responsibility!

The Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation is at: www.eyetap.org/hacode

For more information about VRTO visit: conference.virtualreality.to.

Event Stats:

  • 800+ attendees
  • 4 separate tracks (Conference Room 1 & 2, Intensive Training and Hacker’s Guide to the Metaverse)
  • Delegates from all over the world including Canada, China, France, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, UK, US
  • Over 50 speakers, panelists and presenters including Prof Steve Mann, Dir Brett Leonard, CFC Chief Digital Officer Ana Serrano and USC VR Head Phil Lelyveld
  • 20+ interactive exhibitors and dozens of instructors

Major sponsors
Bell Fund, Samsung, CFC, DEEP Inc/Liquid Cinema, Mettle, Dashwood, Cream 360, Pandor Productions, Sulon

A complete list of Associate Sponsors and Community Partners listed at the main conference site)

Exhibitors
Canadian Film Centre, Cream 360, Dashwood Cinema Solutions, Deep Inc/Liquid, Cinema, Eye-Live, Game Pill, Globacore, HTML Fusion, Metavrse, Mettle, Nirvaniq Labs, Realtra VR, VR Co-op, Vrvana Inc., Minority Media, Foundry

FIVARS (Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories)
Debuted 15 films including various World Premieres and Canadian Premieres

Game Developers
Minority Media, Game Pill, Alientrap, Globacore, Red Meat Games, FIVARS, IRIS VR, Quantum Capture – award winning game developers participated in a panel on game design hosted by IndieGameReviewer.com and also taught courses in intensive training and presentation rooms

About the VRTO Virtual and Augmented Reality World Conference and Expo
Founded in 2015, VRTO (Virtual Reality Toronto) is an organization whose mission is to explore, develop and promote the intersection of arts, culture, society, research and science through immersive technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and wearable technology. Founders of VRTO host the widely known FIVARS (Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories), an annual festival designed to push the boundaries and definitions of interactive and immersive media. Though VRTO successfully ran VAR in 2015, Ontario’s largest VR technologies showcase, FIVARS and several sold out events, 2016 is the inaugural year for the VRTO World Conference & Expo.

 

Special thanks to the VRTO Team and Volunteers!
VRTO/FIVARS Alpha Team Members: Meg White, Adam Fimio, Sarah Bradley, Rory Wicks, Michael Duhacek
Volunteers: Elizabeth Blazejewski, Bridget Carter, Alex Bulbeck, Toya Sanchez Jankowksi, Fenny Sanchez Kani, Elvira Sanchez de Malicki, Mietek Stitsky, Marek Malicki, Kyle Blaze, Mark Taylor, Barbra Trott, Ryan Dickey, Chyanne, Kalyna, Gary Calzada
Videographers and photogs: RJ Muloney, Jaime Espinoza, Ian Sun, Nai Sun, Hal Swann

Keynote Speakers, Presenters, Instructors, Moderators & Panelists VRTOC2016

  1. Craig Alguire, Technical Director, Quantum Capture
  2. Mir Adnan Ali, Founder, CG Blockchain
  3. Alu, CTO and Co-Founder, Venn.Agency
  4. Nick Bicanic, Founder, RVLVR
  5. Ruth Birman, VR UX Designer, Secret Location
  6. Chris Bobotis, Creative Director, Mettle
  7. John Bolton, Creative Technologist, Globacore
  8. David Brady, Co-Founder, Cream Productions
  9. Dan Braverman, Founder, St. Anthony Capital Partners
  10. Richard Broo, Founder and CEO, Wemersive
  11. Edward Button, Cinematographer, “Invisible”
  12. Slavica Ceperkovic, Professor, Seneca College, School of Media
  13. Tristan Cezair, Co-Creative Director and VFX Supervisor, “Wild Things” – Cream 360
  14. Adam Cosco, Virtual Reality Director, “Knives” – Making 360
  15. Tim Dashwood, 360VR Post Solutions Developer, Dashwood 360VR
  16. Alex Davies, Tech Writer and VR Advocate, UploadVR
  17. Rick Dolishny, Founder and CEO, ardeeXYZ
  18. Paul Duffy, President & CEO, ARHT
  19. Nancy Eperjesy, Co-Founder, Mettle
  20. Ian Forester, CCO & Co-founder, VR Playhouse
  21. Pierre Friquet, Director, JetLag
  22. Alexei Gavriline, President, Mobile Capital Network
  23. Stefan Grambart, Creative Director, Secret Location
  24. Frédéric Guarino, Founder, VR Valley
  25. John Hamilton, CEO, Unlimited
  26. Christina Heller, Co-Founder & CEO, VR Playhouse
  27. Robin Ingle, CEO, Ingle Insurance
  28. Nyla Innuksuk, Founder, Pinnguaq Productions
  29. Awane Jones, Founder,Merchlar/5th Wall
  30. Srinivas Krishna | AWE Company
  31. Lucie Lalumiere, Founder, Lalumiere Media
  32. Philip Lelyveld, Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality Initiative Program Manager, University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC)
  33. Brett Leonard, Director/Producer/Futurist
  34. Philippe Lewicki, Captain, HTML Fusion
  35. Andrew Macdonald, Creative Director, Cream360
  36. Keith Makse, CEO, Red Meat Games
  37. Josh Maldonado, Co-Founder, DISCOVR
  38. Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Festival Director, FIVARS
  39. Professor Steve Mann, Chief Scientist, Metavision.com
  40. Samantha Mathews, Co-Founder and CEO, Venn.Agency
  41. Murray McKercher, Co-Founder, EyeLIVE Media
  42. Graeme Moffat, PhD, VP of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, Muse
  43. Ken Nickerson, Co-Founder, Kobo
  44. Kibaya Njenga, Product and Project Manager, SULON
  45. Philip Plough, President, Persistent Productions/TriggAR
  46. Jeff Preyra, President, 360 Story Lab
  47. Isaac Rayment, CEO, Four Eleven
  48. Blair Renaud, CEO/Lead Designer, IRIS VR
  49. Bernie Roehl, Founder, Virtual Escapes
  50. Gareth Seltzer, Founding Investor and Director, RYOT
  51. Ana Serrano, Chief Technology Officer, Canadian Film Centre
  52. Alan Smithson, Co-Founder, MetaVRse
  53. Jeff Tremblay, Lead Practice – AR/VR, Valtech Canada
  54. Rose Troche, President, Alfrobel Inc.
  55. Ian Tuason, VR Filmmaker, “The Closet” – Dimensiongate
  56. Ben Unsworth, Co-Founder and President, Globacore
  57. Lee Vermeulen, Co-Founder, Alientrap Games
  58. Michaella Vu, VR Filmmaker, “Neural Path” – Vunous
  59. Khayyam Wakil, Media & Technology Innovator, Live Planet
  60. Thomas Wallner, CEO and Founder, DEEP Inc/Liquid Cinema
  61. J Lee Williams, Preside, Occupied VR
  62. Russell Wu, Creative Director, Dirtywork VR
  63. Morgan Young, President, Quantum Capture
  64. Michael Zaidan, Co-Founder and SVP Creative Affairs, Minority Media

Full List of Keynotes, Panels, Presentations & Intensive Training Sessions at VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality Conference & Expo 2016

 

Keynotes:

  • Steve Mann – Proposing A Code of Ethics on Virtuality, Robotics, and Human Augmentation
  • Brett Leonard – The Mythic Story of VR: Transformation or Control?
  • Philip Lelyveld – Hollywood’s Journey into VR
  • Ana Serrano – Altogether Now: Designing VR with the past, present and future in mind

Panels:

  • Ethics on Virtuality, Robotics, and Human Augmentation
  • How To Choose and Create Great 360 Stories
  • “Take My Point of View” – Creative vs Autonomous Control of Viewer’s Attention
  • Super Session: OK, So We Can Shoot in 360. Can We Start Making it Interesting Now?
  • Distribution and DRM For Immersive Content
  • The 2016 FIVARS Festival Selections
  • Finding Success in VR Game Development
  • Mixed & Augmented Reality – The Holographic Future
  • The Amazing Montreal VR Scene
  • Producing Immersive Video in Canada – Where’s the Money?

Presentations:

  • UX in VR: The Who What Where When and Why
  • How VR Will Democratize Experiential Learning
  • Exploring Mixed Reality: Merging Real & Virtual worlds with Hololens
  • Social VR and Virtual Theater: Expression and Interaction Within Virtual Worlds
  • Financing Options in Canada for VR/AR
  • Extending Your Runway Before Takeoff: Intelligent Financial Planning For Your Startup
  • The Power of Cinematic VR
  • “The Beautifully Specific Mind” – Bringing Back the Frame in Cinematic VR
  • The Toronto TimeWarp – Transforming Locations using AR Time Travel
  • 15 Minutes To Fame – An Approach to An All In One 360 Solution
  • Crossing the Valley: Exploring the Future of Digital Humans
  • Room Scale VR: Going off leash
  • The VR Headache – Best Practices for Creating Comfortable Stereoscopic VR
  • Create, Connect, Elevate – How VR is Going to Disrupt Every Business
  • Building the Next Web for the Coming Age of Mixed Reality

 

Intensive Training Sessions:

  • 360 Video is Not An Easter Egg Hunt – Let’s Get Started
  • The Upward Spiral of Virtual Reality: The Impact of VR on Consciousness & Society
  • Johnny 6 – Production for 360 Immersive Video Projects From An Unorthodox POV
  • 360VR Video Post-Production Tips & Tricks
  • Professional Video Stitching Techniques
  • Q&A With 360 Video Veterans
  • Planning, Communicating and Testing the User Experience
  • Creating Games for Gear VR – An Overview from Concept to Storefront
  • I Can See Holograms: How to Work with the Microsoft Hololens
  • Kit Bashing: Building Cohesive Worlds Out of Pillaged Assets
  • Dreaming of Superman – Game Design Language & Philosophy in VR
  • Room Scale VR: Latency’s a Bitch
  • Physics in Room Scale VR: Creating Modbox for the HTC Vive
  • Demystifying the Photogrammetry Pipeline for Real-time 3D
  • Training: Pitching Interactive Animated Stories

Report created by Keram Malicki-Sanchez. Special thanks to Matthew Celestial, Chrissy Aitchison, Candace Steinberg, Steve Mann, Joseph Ellsworth, Ana Serrano and Jessy Blaze for contributing and their invaluable input to this report