Thursday, June 16, 2016

So You Want To Get Into VR?

Photo: The Virtual Reality Company
When it comes to advice on how to get into virtual reality or VR, it's hard to imagine a better two people to give that advice than two of The Virtual Reality Company's (VRC) co-founders, two-time Academy Award-winning director Robert Stromberg and entertainment executive, Guy Primus. 

VRC recently raised $23 million as part of a large equity-financing round, and is a producer of first-class VR content, including the critically-acclaimed "tentpole" VR experience, The Martian VR, a 20-minute interactive and fully immersive journey created for the 20th Century Fox Innovation Lab.

I recently had an opportunity to talk to Guy and Robert, and asked them about advice they had to give for anyone wanting to get into the industry.
Guy: "I always give advice, I got started in the entertainment industry in New York in the music industry. The first piece of advice is probably the same that I would give to anybody who's looking to do anything, which is you have to be in it to win it. If you're really serious about it, you have to invest your time in either going back to school or even picking up and moving to Silicon Valley or Los Angeles where it's all happening and really get involved. That involves going to meetups and really sacrificing your time, but I think mostly just creating. It sounds simple. I don't think it has to be great but picking up a camera and shooting with it and putting together something and just experimenting with what works and what doesn't because even if it doesn't look the best and it's not the highest quality output, the input and the process is really where the value is. That's kind of the key piece of advice I have for anyone looking to get anything that they are potentially passionate about, just get involved and immerse yourself in it."
Robert: "I think that what's interesting about this new medium is that it really is a new medium, as different as radio is to television as films is to stage plays is to books. It's just a new way to experience or tell stories. What's really interesting is that it's a field that's somehow cross-pollinating the world of film, the world of visual effects, the world of gaming. Still, at the end of the day it all requires creativity and art and storytelling. It's really pulling elements and occupations from really every direction and sort of focusing on this new thing. The opportunity is potentially enormous for this budding business." 
"Not many films are filmed in Los Angeles anymore. Visual effects, citizen communities are spread all over the world now. In a weird way Los Angeles has sort of become this fledgling hub of VR. I know there are companies in Silicon Valley and everywhere else but it seems to be focusing here, which is really exciting for us because it gives Los Angeles the careers here, a new pathway to something that doesn't change where they were going but only enlightens and heightens what they've already spent years learning how to do."
There you have it. When it comes to career advice, it doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thoughts And Prayers

In this powerful song Roger McNamee of Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System puts words to what so many are feeling and thinking in the wake of the worst mass killing in U.S. history. 

The second bridge says it all:

"The time has come 
The time has come 
The time has come to stand and fight 
Not getting shot is a human right
Join us and make a stand
Stand up and hold my hand
Together we’ll make a stand
Stand to be free"

Thoughts & Prayers
Words and music by Roger McNamee

News alerts cut through the noise
Bodies broken like fragile toys
Shooters rule another day (while)
Politicians say it’s time to pray

Every day another story
Images both sad and gory
Bullets rule another day (while)
Politicians say it’s time to pray

Take your thoughts and prayers
And scatter them across the sea
If thoughts and prayers are all you have
Then stay away from me
Stay away from me   ….  

Legislators love their guns
In courtrooms gats have mostly won
Ninety people killed each day (while)
Politicians say it’s time to pray

We’re only safe when packing heat
In schools and churches, on the street
The handiwork of the NRA (while)
Politicians say it’s time to pray


Orlando, Blacksburg, Newtown, DeKalb
Tucson, Red Lake, Charleston, and Flint
Roseburg, Oakland, Santa Monica
Aurora, Columbine, and every town we love

Second bridge
The time has come
The time has come
The time has come to stand and fight
Not getting shot is a human right
Join us and make a stand
Stand up and hold my hand
Together we’ll make a stand
Stand to be free

Friday, June 10, 2016

Creators Of The Martian VR Build First Great VR Content Studio

The Virtual Reality Company (VRC) recently raised $23 million as part of a large equity-financing round. The funds will be used toward producing original virtual reality content and positioning VRC as the premier VR storyteller and industry leader. 
Founded and managed by two-time Academy Award-winning director Robert Stromberg and entertainment industry executive Guy Primus, VRC is a producer of first-class VR content, including the critically-acclaimed tentpole VR experience, The Martian VR, a 20-minute interactive and fully immersive journey created for the 20th Century Fox Innovation Lab.
Robert Stromberg - The Virtual Reality Company
"VR is no longer just a dream of visionaries," stated Robert Stromberg, VRC co-founder and Chief Creative Officer. "Leaders across a number of industries, who months ago dismissed VR as a passing fad, are racing to participate in this rapidly evolving landscape. The assurance of VR's longevity has never been more evident than it is today."
"The limitless potential of the technology has enabled us to unlock characters, dreamscapes and adventures that for decades have been captive thoughts of my imagination. We cannot wait to share these experiences with the world," explained Stromberg.
VRC already has several notable projects on its slate, including an original family-oriented VR program created with VRC advisor and shareholder, Steven Spielberg.
The timing of the investment is advantageous to VRC's team of artists, storytellers and technicians, who are now able to execute exclusively on their creative ambition. The team is focused on delivering original, cinematic, story-driven experiences that will forever shape the marketplace and define VRC as a first-rate VR content studio and premium story-telling household brand.
The equity investment made by Hengxin Mobile Business Co., Ltd., a Beijing-based mobile services and technology provider, was a strategic decision, securing for VRC a platform for the distribution of its content in the greater China region. 
"This recent injection of capital allows us to discover new creative territories and stake our claim in this exciting frontier," said Stromberg.
Guy Primus - The Virtual Reality Company
Investors in VRC also include Metallica lead singer James Hetfield, Rothenberg Ventures, and Elementum Ventures. "We were approached by dozens of investors, but ultimately chose to accept investment from Hengxin because of the complementary nature of its operations," stated VRC CEO and co-founder, Guy Primus. "Hengxin opens up the world's most populous country to us in ways that few western companies will be able to match."
In addition to its in-house creative and VR technical teams, VRC has a significant competitive advantage in the creation of VR experiences through its partnership with Hollywood pre-visualization studio, The Third Floor, which is led by another VRC co-founder, Christopher Edwards. The alliance uniquely positions VRC to benefit from the pipelines used by TTF to prototype through previs the majority of Hollywood's blockbuster films.

Large Investments in VR in Q1 2016 

Data from VBProfiles shows that last quarter saw the largest amount of investments in the VR landscape in the last five quarters. Compared to the same period of time last year, the budding industry has seen four additional investments and almost $588M more in funding — an increase of over 120 percent. 

While the total number of investments has decreased, with only 19 investments in Q1 2016 as compared a high of 32 in Q2 2015, the total amount of funding has skyrocketed, with more than $1 billion invested — mostly in Magic Leap and MindMaze. 

With the current financing for The VRC, the yellow brick road to the Internet Of Experiences just got a little brighter and shinier!

Source for The VRC material: PRNewswire

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sheffa Foods Doing Everything To Play Its Part On World Environment Day

This Sunday, June 5th, is known as World Environment Day (WED) and was created by the United Nations General Assembly to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.  Since it began in 1974, it has become widely celebrated in over 100 countries as a global platform for public outreach.  Above all, WED serves as “the people’s day” for doing something to take care of the Earth or become an agent of change. 

One brand looking to do its part is Sheffa Foods out of New York.  Their newest project, Better for the Planet (BFTP), was created to introduce eco-friendly packaging for their line of healthier snacks.  Their goal is to help revolutionize the food industry with 100% compostable packaging made of bio-based raw materials.  This new packaging, made by TIPA, a clean-tech startup, is designed to break down and fully return to nature. 

Sheffa is currently raising money on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform to bring to market their coffee-house inspired Granola Bars in 3 flavors in this new packaging.  Also choosing to partner with 1% for the Planet, which connects consumers, businesses and non-profits, 

Sheffa is on their way proving that small companies can have a big impact and change the way we think about packaging and sustainability.