Transforming Digital & Marketing Agencies with VR and AR | Q&A Series #3 featuring Pound&Grain

This is the third feature in the series showcasing Vancouver digital and marketing agencies (non-traditional VR/AR companies) 

Our own Laura Ryu (Marketing and Communications Manager at VRARA Vancouver) sat down with Michelle Knight of Pound&Grain based in Vancouver. They've worked with a number of clients on their interactive digital and brand strategy including SAP, Arc'Teryx and Lululemon.

Tell us about your agency & what you've been working on.

At Pound & Grain we work hard to add value to the brand by creating something useful for the user. We found creating a VR experience is an all-round win. It’s a tool with immersive qualities that are unparalleled. We’ve used VR as a demo tool for SAP and to show off CFL’s new Adidas gear. We also love the odd passion project.

Tell us about a VR or AR campaign that you've enjoyed or were inspired by.

We are huge horror fans (sisters), but when it comes to VR storytelling we first fell in love with loVR. Who knew a data led love story could be so beautiful? It was the game changer for us, or as some would say our ‘Jesus moment.’ That being said, cowzVR is a pretty fun and an incredibly random experience.

We are starting to see competition build up in advertising, especially with big players such as Saatchi & Saatchi building on-site VR labs. What are your thoughts on competition and what do you think will set apart the strong agencies from the rest?

We’re in such an exciting time right now! For us, a VR experience should only be created if it makes sense for our client and the concept is VR first. Today, like any new platform, there are gimmicky experiences that don’t add as much value. The difference between the ‘strong’ and the ‘weak’ VR agencies will come down to content and of course context.

How do you think the structure of agencies and its landscape will change in the next 5 years given anticipated rapid growth in VR/AR technology?

There will be an AR team and a VR team and the two technologies will exist independently of each other, with the odd overlap during integrated campaigns. It will also become a more specialized and integrated role throughout the agency at a deeper level. We hope AR will become a tool people rely on to get from A-B, to cook, to shop etc. While VR will allow the user to escape into a new role – hopefully interacting at a greater level with the possible addition of haptic responses and more attention to sound.

What is currently your biggest challenge (or as the industry) in regards to integrating VR/AR?

Getting headsets onto faces is still a pill the smaller brands are battling to swallow.

We know that VR/AR will be disruptive in many different industries, how will this affect your company and clients?

VR will allow us to share our client’s emotional and intellectual being in a space of presence. AR will allow us to communicate and create ways that make brands more useful and integrate them into everyday life.

Why is it important for agencies to be onboard now and join the VR/AR Association?

VR is the coming together of many, many skills and mindsets. And we are all in a learning stage, we want to harness all failures and celebrate all successes together. This combined knowledge will allow us all to experiment and learn at a much greater pace.

What benefits do you see in being a member?

Collaboration and insight. We are part of two committees with professionals that are open to share and learn from each other. Being part of the VRARA means being part of an inclusive group of professionals playing with one of the most powerful storytelling tools that’s ever existed.

 
 

We'd like to thank Michelle Knight from Pound&Grain, please visit them at www.poundandgrain.com

Join the VRARA Marketing Committee and others, here

Transforming Digital & Marketing Agencies with VR and AR | Q&A Series #2 featuring Domain 7

This is the second feature in the series showcasing Vancouver digital and marketing agencies (non-traditional VR/AR companies) 

Our own Laura Ryu (Marketing and Communications Manager at VRARA Vancouver) sat down with Kevan Gilbert, Director of Engagement Strategy of Domain 7 based in Vancouver. They've worked with a number of clients on their interactive digital strategy including Microsoft, Telus and UBC.


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Tell us about your agency & what you've been working on.

Domain7! We've been working on using virtual reality as a way to inspire our partners to envision a more positive future. From in-studio demos to taking the technology to conferences, we see this as an opportunity to help people reduce their cynical barriers, and start dreaming together about the future we want to co-create. 

Tell us about a VR or AR campaign that you enjoyed or was inspired by. 

We're loving the demos coming from ARKit from Apple, including the portal-to-another-world demo: http://mobilesyrup.com/2017/06/30/new-video-of-apples-arkit-shows-off-interdimensional-portals/

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We are starting to see competition build up in advertising, especially with big players such as Saatchi & Saatchi building on-site VR labs. What are your thoughts on competition and what do you think will set apart the strong agencies from the rest? 

Rather than simply stealing attention or building on negative habits, the way our over-optimized 2D web has become, perhaps the work that will stand out in VR is work that answers this question well: "Does it help the human who is using it live the life they want to lead?" 

How do you think the structure of agencies and its landscape will change in the next 5 years given anticipated rapid growth in VR/AR technology?

I think it will remain important-as-ever to invest in healthy workplace cultures, since there will be more competition amongst agencies for smart technologists, designers, writers, creators, etc. How can we grow healthy workplaces that affirm human value even in this coming gold rush, where companies may become tempted to start taking shortcuts in hiring and culture.

 

What is currently your biggest challenge (or as the industry) in regards to integrating VR?

The chicken-and-egg-ness. What comes first: becoming an expert in the technology, or waiting for client demand? Since the technology doesn't have wide adoption in the user base, clients aren't necessarily asking for it. But in the meantime, they'll never ask if they don't see expertise and opportunity. 

We know that VR/AR will be disruptive in many different industries, how will this effect your company and your clients?

I'm curious to see how, in 10 years time, fully integrated VR/AR solutions have the opportunity to influence HOW we work, not necessarily what we work on. For instance, workspaces are very physical right now, because of the need for computer monitors, and the human desire for social proximity that has no other outlet. But if through VR/AR, the work isn't on your screen, how would we redesign the workplace? Similarly, if through VR/AR I can "feel" like I'm right beside my colleagues, even when I'm in my house, do we still need offices in the same way? And if a certain percent of the workforce can become not just "remote" workers, but "virtual" workers, how can this influence commuting, and thus, carbon emissions and air quality? (I'm not saying we'll all become hermits, but I do hope we ask ourselves more, "Why am I commuting, and is there another way?")

Why is it important for agencies to be onboard now and join the VR/AR Association?

To anticipate what's coming, to develop your imagination, and be part of a community of changemakers. 


 
 
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We'd like to thank Kevan from Domain 7, please visit them at www.domain7.com

Join the VRARA Marketing Committee and others, here

Transforming Digital & Marketing Agencies with VR and AR | Q&A Series with Intergalactic

This series will feature Vancouver digital and marketing agencies (non-traditional VR/AR companies) 

Our own Laura Ryu (Marketing and Communications Manager at VRARA Vancouver) sat down with Michael Farquhar, Managing Partner of Intergalactic based in Vancouver and London. They've worked with a number of clients on their interactive digital strategy including SXSW, HP and Sundance Film Festival. 

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Tell us about your agency & what you've been working on.

Intergalactic is a creative technology agency that specializes in the creation of amazing interactive experiences. We’re this unique blend of creative folks and business edge, a culture that we created on purpose with the goal of creating solutions that are both inspired and effective.

We’ve been busy! We have a number of projects on the go at any time in both our Vancouver and London (UK) offices. Right now in Vancouver we’re using Apple’s ARKit to develop an AR app that provides a 1000m view of a new mountainside community. You feel like you are looking down from Olympus through the clouds at the future of this development. Computer vision reads a physical topographical model of the mountain and then we display virtual renderings of the community, lifestyle, trails, transit, and amenities. This is combined with beautiful 360 photos of the entire area and interactive points of interest; It's a great way for our client to help convey the scale and quality of their development while embracing and respecting its surroundings.

Our London office is busy building a 3D retailing visualizer to help their global retail client plan the layout of their stores and associated merchandise. When the project is complete our client will be able to switch between 2D views to full 3D VR views of their stores with all their next season merchandise laid out according to their merchandising rules. These visualisations will then push critical product information into their ordering system to trigger the fulfillment of clothing and accessories through the supply chain.

In the UK, We also have a strategic partnership with Aisle411, who’s indoor mapping and production search technology is used in over 15000 locations. Aisle411 are working closely with Google’s Tango team to leverage AR in the retail environment. Of course we still have other web and mobile projects on the go for clients such as Cisco, Microsoft and BC Liquor.

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Tell us about a VR campaign that you enjoyed or was inspired by.

There are quite a few and more coming out everyday and each is genre expanding. We actually have a dedicated internal Slack channel just to keep up on what’s new. However, one we’d mention is the Beyond Mars Experience Schoolbus by Lockheed Martin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5JTb_7qv78) - I like that this is a shared experience designed to inspire.

Some other mentions: Walking on Mars (hey we’re called Intergalactic so you may see a theme) - https://youtu.be/e76uBfWxD74; Haagen-Daz’s Honeybee VR Experience which combines brand, social consciousness and amazing cinematography. From a CG excellence and technological progress standpoint using real time rendering - The Better Days https://youtu.be/JThuL6Aq1Qg and from an art perspective - Microsoft’s Raven Mask using Hololens http://www.booooooom.com/2017/07/14/transformation-mask/.

We are starting to see competition build up in advertising, especially with big players such as Saatchi & Saatchi building on-site VR labs. What are your thoughts on competition and what do you think will set apart the strong agencies from the rest?

It's funny, I just finished a round of informal reviews within the Vancouver team and asked everyone the same question. We are in many ways a young organization and everyone sort of embraces competition. We look at it as a way to learn from others in the field and see how we can take ideas in new directions and use them to deliver more value. I don’t see the big agencies cornering the market on any of these technologies. In fact VR technology itself is very accessible and a great leveler; the best will be determined by what they create, not their head count. Of course some clients will play it safe and go with bigger multinational agencies, but what they don’t always know is that those same companies approach companies like Intergalactic to ideate and create the end experience. This is something we’ve been hired to help with on more than one occasion.

How do you think the structure of agencies and its landscape will change in the next 5 years given anticipated rapid growth in VR/AR technology?

I believe we will start to see roles expand or additional roles appear within agencies as they deal with 3D interface design. Up until now we’ve focused on good 2D design, now we will need to think in the third dimension and how information can be overlayed to convey priority. I also think everything will be tried through the lens of VR, which will need to be tempered by the need to make things of value, either functionally or aesthetically. As always, agencies that get this and find ways to reach broad audiences will do well.

What is currently your biggest challenge (or as the industry) in regards to integrating VR/AR?

The biggest challenge is finding ways to create multi person experiences that are truly immersive. We all know how important social is in the technology realm so we focus on using ubiquitous devices such as smart phones or enclosed environments to help us deal with shared social VR experiences.

We know that VR/AR will be disruptive in many different industries, how will this affect your company and your clients?

The bar keeps getting raised in terms of experiences. Our clients already acknowledge this truth and have been very keen to embrace VR/AR. As a result we’re seeing a lot of our very marketing conscious sectors such as Events, Retail and Real Estate be very open to our proposals. Interestingly enough, it isn’t just for the novelty, but seems to be for the long term as there is recognition that VR/AR present more complete ways to experience products and remove barriers to a sale. For Entertainment oriented clients and other Agencies we were already there and everyone we speak to just seems to be glad that the technology is catching up with our imaginations.

 
 

Why is it important for agencies to be onboard now and join the VR/AR Association?

Easy, so you don’t get left behind. Things are evolving so quickly, it’s nice to have a way to keep up to date that doesn’t require you to do all the research first hand - no one has time for that.

What benefits do you see in being a member?

Simply, visibility, information and analysis. We want to keep our mind share for our clients, be inspired and share what we’ve learned.

We'd like to thank Michael from Intergalactic for participating and you can check them out at www.intergalactic.com