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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
Khayyam Wakil, Media & Technology Innovator, Live Planet
Thomas Wallner, CEO and Founder, DEEP Inc/Liquid Cinema
J Lee Williams, Preside, Occupied VR
Russell Wu, Creative Director, Dirtywork VR
Morgan Young, President, Quantum Capture
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
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
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?
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