By Natalie Cole
The Fun, Flair & Magic of VR & AR emerged during the VR/AR Mardi Gras Mixer
While the rest of the world came together to celebrate Fat Tuesday aka the last day of Mardi Gras, a unique twist of the celebration took place in Los Angeles - The VR/AR Mardi Gras Mixer. This celebration allowed our guests to be immersed and to celebrate and discuss the “Fun, Flair and Magic of VR and AR in entertaining the masses.”
Attendees were greeted with refreshing glasses of Sangria courtesy of Wikitude who sponsored drinks for the event. They also got a slice of New Orleans from the delicious traditional King Cakes that were flown in directly from New Orleans thanks to Paper Triangles.
As the crowd awaited the main event, they were treated to demos from four rising startups, Storytech Immersive, Milk(vr), VR Ecards and G’Audio Lab.
Each startup provides their own unique contribution to the industry that guests enjoyed in their respective corners. VR Ecards, a member of the Los Angeles chapter of the association showcased their cool way to send cards including their awesome Valentine’s Day Cards. Milk(vr) had guests preview their cinematic virtual reality video that they worked on with The New York Times which meant that attendees definitely had some great choices of VR immersive experiences.
After a brief introduction of the VR AR Association and the LA Chapter from our president, Josephine Munis, the moment we were all waiting for was here. Gracing the stage were the three key players in the creation of the PBS VR Experience “My Brother’s Keeper.” Brian Seth Hurst (Executive Producer), Connor Hair (Co-Writer/Director) and Alex Meader (Co-Writer/Director). Led by Brian Seth Hurst, the crowd got immersed in the creative process for my “My Brother’s Keeper.” with Brian informing the crowd, “if you are VR and AR producers, don’t be discouraged,” said Brian Seth Hurst, “the reward is great.”
To keep the momentum going, Chapter president, Josephine Munis took the stage once again to introduce the panel of chosen experts in augmented reality and virtual reality. This collective brilliant group included none other than Armando Kirwin (Director of VR at Milk(vr), Jen Duong (Director of Virtual Reality at 1215creative), Andrew Couch (CEO of Candy Lab) and Malia Probst (Brand Development Director at VRScout).
From L-R: Josephine Munis, Andrew Couch, Armando Kirwin, Malia Probst and Jenn Duong
This lively and engaging group of panelists discussed various aspects facing the industry from challenges regarding monetization to their respective contributions to the field, to whether there is any merit to the ongoing question what’s better: VR or AR? Each panelist brought their unique experiences to enlighten the gathered crowd. Malia Probst pointed out “something that we spent a lot of time thinking about, is how do we get this content into people’s hands.” Armando Kirwin shared some insights on how his team created a cinematic VR experience while Andrew Couch shared some great information on how his Augmented Reality company is successful in the fluctuating market. Jenn Duong said it best when she hyped up the crowd by exclaiming “This is an exciting time to be alive! Why are we not celebrating this and being hopeful!?” Thankful for all the information being given, it was clear the crowd had so many more questions they wanted to ask but there was still one more speaker to enthrall the group.
Closing speaker Mike Bonifer, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BigStory took to the stage and captivated the crowd with his tale of how he got involved in virtual reality and his latest VR venture with a Hollywood director. He was not only honest about his experiences with the industry but inspiring, pushing people to think outside the box and be more creative when tackling and interacting with augmented reality and virtual reality.
The knowledge communicated to the crowd was indispensable and they erupted into applause after each speaker and panel. While the rest of the world partied in the streets, VR and AR enthusiasts connected and understood more about virtual reality and augmented reality and they left inspired to generate thrilling experiences for the masses to be entertained years and years to come.
We can’t wait to see what’s next in VR and AR from the energy created in that room in Santa Monica!
Some quotes from our Mardi Gras Event
“I loved hearing about the perspectives on the future of VR/AR and thinking about it’s growth”
“Thank you for putting on such an awesome event!”
“Another great event by @vrarala!”
The event was so great! Thank you for organizing it!
“I attended your VR/AR mixer this past week. Want to connect and let you know it was really great. The panels/discussions were interesting and entertaining. I made some good connections - and the sangria was a nice touch!”
I wish I would have been able to catch the whole thing instead of just the last hour but like I said just that hour was immensely helpful for a multitude of reasons. Met an industry veteran animation and previs/layout supervisor that knows all of my favorite people and am now actively trying to figure out how we can work together and that was all while being there the last hour of the night.”
Thanks again for hosting an awesome event at ROC!
We hope to see you at the next one!