VRTO 2021 The Flotilla – Final Report

Return to a Bigger, Better Flotilla

report written by Stephanie Greenall and Keram Malicki-Sanchez

In celebration of the 6th annual VRTO, we returned to the virtual Flotilla.  Created by founder Keram Malicki-Sanchez and his team, including Stephanie Greenall who co-produced the event, Bettina Fimio (administrative support) and longtime team members Chrissy Aitchison (executive administrator and graphic designer), and Joshua Miles Joudrie (tech coordinator and live event consultant), the show incorporated lessons from the previous year’s exploration into the spatialized web.


“What I really think stands out about VRTO is the way in which the line between the stage and the audience is blurred. We create as many interactive events and opportunities as we can fit and it is always inspiring to see how attendees step up.” – Keram Malicki-Sanchez confides.


This year’s participatory and networking events included:

  1.  Immersive Improv workshops featuring attendees who volunteered to learn while on camera and then put on a live-streamed performance on the final day.
    (Image credit: Ana Ballano)


  2. Daily “pirate radio” transmission live-streaming from 3D space to Discord (and recorded) featuring Max Noir’s Lunch Hour show, where daily guests were chosen from the attendee list to talk about their work.
    Dean Yeats brings his trombone into the virtual space in Mozilla Hubs on a LIVE session of Lunch Hour with Max Noir.


  3. Scavenger hunt in the custom build Crystal Caverns.


  4. Photo challenges where attendees took selfies in the many different environments or times of day, in exchange for game key bundles and other prizes.
  5. Every talk included a live Q&A where questions were fielded in realtime and also recorded via the Discord discussion channels
  6.  Eight showcase galleries:
    Pepperdine University (Kate Parsons)
    OCAD University (student projects)
    Trinity Square Video (artist NFT projects, with daily artist talks)

    Image captured by Jose Matute in the TSV gallery
    Image captured by Jose Matute in the TSV gallery


    The Pearl Hyacinth Gallery (created and curated by Melody Owen) featuring portals to other 3D virtual galleries (Style, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Second Life, NYC Music Center)
    The Cream Digital showcase/Dynamic Digital Humans and production gallery (Survivorman, Low-Fi, Wild On w Dominic Monahan)
    the Gregory Panos lidar scan gallery
    – the Bernie Roehl Avatar Museum
    – not to mention the 10 spaces created by Whystler, and Keram for the Hubs world.

Key Learnings:

  • last year having two messaging platforms (Whova + discord) fractured the audience and the team had to manage conversations and content on multiple fronts
  • This year we used Discord as the central arena for the Flotilla with Mozilla Hubs acting as the virtual spaces where attendees could engage with each other and 3D environments.
  • Developed a video wall to house videos after the LIVE sessions rather than using additional services/platforms
  • Pushed Discord to its limits by using its streaming functionality; which we then learned was capped and had to incorporate Google Meets
  • Decided on one ticket and provide access to everyone
  • Building on the success of the machinima contests we developed interactive workshops and performances

Show Highlights Include:

    • NFT Micro Summit featuring superstars of the new art economy:
      Curated and moderated by Michelle Brown, the NFT microsummit comprised two hours of discussion around the new economies and communities growing up around non-fungible tokens and how to find sustainable practices while supporting the work of artists and the hunger of collectors. Featuring Estella Tse VR/AR Creative Director (Oakland, California), Jose Andres Virtual Events Producer, Crux (Santa Fe, USA), Manu Vision Senior UX/XR Designer, Unity Technologies (Montreal, Canada), Sutu Eats Flies Visual Artist, Co-Founder of Eyejack (Los Angeles), David Plant Trinity Square Video (Toronto, Canada), MOON HMZ Visual Artist (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
      MOON HMZ and the NFT summit at VRTO 2021
    • Rhythm & Fitness Game Micro Summit – Both summits showed the importance of developing and leaning on each other to build a successful game or ecosystem (when one of us wins, we all win)
      VRTO 2021 vr fitness games summit
    • Interview with Jesse Schell, CEO and Dave Bennett, Senior Game Designer / Project Director for Until You Fall, Schell Games, interviewed by Kat De Shields, Schell PR Manager

      Schell Games interview VRTO 2021
      Jesse Schell and Dave Bennett of Schell Games interview VRTO 2021 virtual conference


    • Immersive Performance Workshop – led by Dasha Kitteredge (Creative Director, Metaforyou and Guest Field Instructor, NYU Tisch (Los Angeles, USA) and Ari Tarr (Lead host and VR acting consultant, Adventure Lab and Active Replica)
    • WebGL + VRML Veteran meetupGregory Panos (former Siggraph LA chair), Bernie Roehl (VRML pioneer and author), Larry Rosenthal (virtual worlds pioneer), James Baicoianu (JanusWeb) 
      An impromptu meetup of the VRML and WebGL veterans including Greg Panos, Larry Rosenthal, Bernie Roehl, and James Baiconianu.


  • Pixomondo half-day behind-the-scenes on advances in Virtual Production featuring Asad Manzoor, Zachary Dembinski (huge Fan favourite)
  • Dyscorpia – a sprawling half-day survey of work being done by artists, researchers, galleries, spearheaded by Marilene Oliver and University of Alberta
  • Extensive discussion around Virtual Events and Hybrid Events with the team behind BRCVR

  • Discussions around accessibility and inclusion in design featuring talks with Regine Gilbert (author: “Inclusive Design for a Digital World: Designing with Accessibility in Mind (Design Thinking”), Max Noir (neurodiversity), AnnMarie “Wirrel” Bartholomaeus, Charles Babb (Fairchild Consulting), OCAD: “Decolonizing the Past: Reimagining the Future” (Priya Bandodkar MDES Graduate, OCAD University (Toronto, Canada), Nadine Valcin MFA graduate, OCAD University (Toronto, Canada), Lilian Leung Designer and Researcher (Tkaronto and the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people, Canada)
  • Report on the Immersive Ecosystem in China from FXG’s Nikk Mitchell

What Are Our Attendees Saying?

VRTO 2021 AttendeesVRTO 2021 AttendeesVRTO 2021 Attendees