In this blog, we take a closer look at the range of talented VR specialists that make up our panel discussions for VRWC17. Among the areas covered are startup finance, haptics, development, writing and how to harness VR for positive change.
PANEL: UNITY: Challenges faced in VR: Past, present and future
Thurs 13th April, 16:00
We’re seeing many success stories emerge from companies starting or transitioning to the world of Virtual Reality. Many of these companies have had some hardships that they’ve overcome over the past few years and there’s always more challenges to come. Hear from 5 successful companies from across Europe and how they solved problems they faced and what issues the envisage in the future.
Host - Josh Naylor, Sr. Evangelist, Unity
Joining Unity as a graduate in Computer Science, Josh’s love for Unity led him down the path of getting a job telling everyone how awesome it is. He spends his days helping our users in EMEA, showcasing new features, delivering training and writing tech blogs. By night he develops his own 2d games. #madewithunity of course.
Adam Robaszyński-Janiec, Creative Director & Owner, The House of Fables
In game development since 2009. Known for popular Time Management titles Fix-it-up and Gardens Inc. as well as many Hidden Object Puzzle Adventure titles, eg: Dark Heritage: Guardians of Hope, Mind Snares: Alice's Journey and most recently Eventide series. Since two years engaged in AR and VR productions like Wrath of Loki VR Adventure or ISS VR Tour.
Daniel Kihlgren Kallander, Game Designer and Programmer, SVRVIVE
Programmer and Game Designer at SVRVIVE Studios, Daniel has been making VR games since he forced his university to purchase VR development kits in 2013, and has since gathered experience by (among other things) making games for Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm, spending a year as a VR consultant helping clients such as Kelloggs and Tobii, and frequently speaking at events about VR development.
Michał Wróblewski, Head of VR, Setapp
Some sources may lead to VRóblewski. After spending 8 years in game development, Michal is now at the core of VR division in Setapp with a challenging task - to find the best answers to the question “How to VR?”. Michal has worked with the Setapp team on Overflight for Gear VR and Neverout coming out to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Sam Watts, Director of Immersive Technologies, Make Real.
Sam is actively engaged in the immersive technology community, living his passion for VR and games. Focused on delivery and deployment of Make Real products, he ensures that Make Real’s production teams are fully aligned with customer needs and that quality is assured.
Katie Goode, Creative Director, Triangular Pixels
Katie is the Creative Director of award-winning Triangular Pixels. She has worked in VR and AR and has been described as a VR ‘pioneer’ by pushing the technology forward in “Unseen Diplomacy”, nominated for the BAFTA award for innovation. She is passionate about developing VR and the VR community.
PANEL: BAFTA VR Panel - Is VR a legitimate new type of entertainment?
This panel of BAFTA VR Advisory Group Executives and leaders in the VR industry will discuss whether VR is just an add-on to the TV, film and games industries; or a stand-alone medium, deserving of its own ecosystem, rules and regulations.
Thurs 13th April, 11:40
Host - Sol Rogers, Founder & CEO REWIND
Founder and CEO of REWIND, the content production agency behind award-winning work such as BBC Home - A VR Spacewalk. Sol is a BAFTA VR Advisory Group Executive and advisor to globally recognised conferences including Autodesk University, FMX.de and MIPTV. He was recognised as one of the digital industry’s brightest stars in the BIMA HOT 100 in 2016.
Mark Burvill, Technical Director Aardman
Mark has been Technical Director of Aardman’s Interactive department since 2012 where he oversees development of a wide range of VR projects, mobile apps, and HTML5 web games. He is currently representing Aardman on the Bafta VR Advisory Group.
Bradley Crooks, Head of Digital Entertainment & Games, BBC Worldwide
Bradley had his first VR experience when he should have been in lectures at University. It involved lots of money but very few pixels. Since then he's always had a dream of recreating the magic and immersion of that experience, but with a bit more fidelity and a little less neck-ache. He has worked in television, film, ‘new media’, gaming and now looks after bringing BBC brands to interactive digital platforms.
James Knight, Virtual Production Director, Radeon Technology Group
James Knight is Virtual Production Director for AMD, based in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to being Performance Capture Supervisor on Columbia Pictures' The Amazing Spiderman, he spent four years managing the motion capture for James Cameron's Avatar. Additionally he has done Performance Capture and Virtual Production for films including I Am Legend, 2012, Hulk and Prince Caspian and various video games including, Batman Arkham City, Scene It, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Gotham Racing. He is a member of the Visual Effects Society (VES), on the Board of Directors at the British Academy's Los Angeles chapter (BAFTA-LA) and an Executive Member on the BAFTA VR Advisory Group.
Jon Wadelton, CTO of Foundry
Jon has been instrumental in driving the engineering and product development of Nuke since he joined Foundry in 2007. Since becoming CTO, Jon’s remit has expanded to include all IP at Foundry, both existing in its current product range and beyond into R&D. Jon has over 20 years experience in software leadership roles within the media production and telecom industries.
PANEL: Writer’s Room Panel
The panel will discuss the future of narrative design and creative storytelling for Immersive Entertainment formats, aimed to provide different viewpoints and outside expertise. Original VR Writers Room.
Thurs 13th April, 16:50
Tanya Laird, Founder & CEO, Digital Jam
Tanya has worked in film, TV, comics, music, immersive theatre, Transmedia VR, AR and AI. She is the creator of VR Writers Room and the co-organiser for the world’s largest meetup group “Augmenting Reality”, a Trustee for both the World Youth Organisation and UN Influx, the winner of a Women in Games Award and the vice chair of BAME in Games.
Rob Yescombe, Freelance
Multiple award-winning writer & narrative director Rob Yescombe began his career in videogames, where he worked on blockbuster franchises including THE DIVISION, ALIEN and STAR WARS, along with experimental indie games like QUBE: DIRECTOR’S CUT and RIME.
His feature screenplay OUTSIDE THE WIRE landed on the 2014 Brit List, and is set with London-based production company 42 (WELCOME TO THE PUNCH), to be exec produced by Automatik (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY).
Currently, he is working on three major Virtual Reality projects: FARPOINT and HOW WE SOAR for Sony Entertainment, and THE INVISIBLE HOURS for Tequila Works and Game Trust. He is also writing the feature film GOOD GAME for Universal Pictures.
Resh Sidhu, Creative Director, Framestore
Resh is Creative Director of Framestore VR studio and one of the most well-regarded names in Virtual Reality, her most recent work is the groundbreaking Fantastic Beasts VR experience launching on Google’s Daydream Headset.
Tom Nelson, Creative Producer, Royal Opera House
Tom is Creative Producer at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. His work encompasses digital firsts, live streaming and exhibitions. Recent projects include 360-degree initiatives, World Ballet Day and The Opera Machine – an award winning online experience taking viewers behind the scenes.
Simon Barratt, Director, Cooperative Innovations
Simon started in the games industry as a low-level programmer in 1999. He ran indie studio Four Door Lemon from 2005 to 2015 producing a large range of games across many genres and platforms. In 2016 he setup Cooperative Innovations to develop social VR titles including recently announced ‘Raiders of Erda’. He’s also a board member of trade association Ukie and ambassador for charity SpecialEffect.
Kim Majkut, Director, Great Guns
A multi-media VR/360/AR expert, Kim is a BAFTA nominated, award winning creative & director born in Canada and based in London. Specializing in high impact visual storytelling, her background as an illustrator and designer imbues each project with imagination and originality, while her skills as writer, director and producer ground her ideas in the reality of what works on screen.
Kevin Williams, Founder & Director, KWP
Kevin Williams has an extensive background in the development and sales of the latest amusement and attraction applications and technologies. The UK born specialist in the pay-to-play scene is well-known through his consultancy KWP and as a prolific writer and presenter covering the emergence of the new entertainment marke
PANEL: VR for change
An informal panel with VR creators, directors and charity professionals discussing the subject of how VR/360 can be used to drive change in perception or increase charitable giving amongst government or the general public.
Wed 12th April, 16:20
Host - Erfaan Saardati, Director/Producer, Surround Vision
Erfan Saadati, director/producer for Surround Vision, has created 360 films for clients including United Nations and the Royal Opera House. In 2016 Erfan directed Home: Aamir, a VR expose about the Calais Jungle alongside Rufus Norris and Toby Coffey of the National Theatre which won two awards including Best Director at SIMA2017.
Alex Asen, Communications Lead, UNCCD
Alex is a communications expert for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and leads the Great Green Wall public awareness campaign. He is the Executive Producer of the award winning VR film Growing a World Wonder which premiered to world leaders at the Paris Climate Conference leading to USD 4 billion pledges for the Great Green Wall over the next 5 years.
Jade Williams, Producer, Apache
Apache is a UK based VR/AR development studio founded 26 years ago. Jade joined Apache in early 2016 and has since produced numerous AR and VR projects for clients such as Cartoon Network and The NFL.
Mary Matheson Director Mamie’s Dream (Plan International UK)
Mary is an award-winning producer/director. She specialises in filming in difficult environments for international charities. In 2016 she directed her first VR film, Mamie's Dream, shot in Sierra Leone. Made for children’s charity Plan International, the film has become a vital tool for both campaigning and fundraising.
Amy Pearson, Marketing & Communications Officer, Plan International
Amy works in the brand and marketing team at Plan International UK and is the associate producer of Mamie’s Dream. The virtual reality film is part of the charities Because I am a Girl campaign helping to end the prejudices that threaten girls’ safety - and their lives.
PANEL: VR Finance - Startup to Scaleup
The panel will be discussing what financing options available are available at the moment, and the trends that investors and the government are keen to explore.
Wed 12th April, 15:20
Host - Jon Gill, Corporate Partner, TLT LLP
Jon leads LLP’s venture capital, private equity and corporate technology practice. His team advises a wide range of investors, from business angels through to institutional funds, strategic corporates and high growth companies on equity investment and corporate M&A deals. Jon holds an MSc in Entrepreneurship from Bristol University,is the author of “Business Law for the Entrepreneur” and is an advisory board member at Engine Shed.
Anna Mansi, Head of Certification, BFI
Anna works closely with key stakeholders in government and across the Creative Sector industries, advising on the application processes for every area of Creative Sector tax relief.
She has extensive knowledge in this field, being instrumental in assisting government with the structure of new cultural requirements as each new relief has been introduced. Through this Anna has extensive experience in working with the UK’s tax regime and state aid policy.
Anna was also involved with devising the BFI’s Diversity Standards which apply to lottery funded projects.
Andrew Mulvenna, Co-founder, Accelerated Digital Ventures
Andy co-founded Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV), a UK-wide Venture Capital investment company,created by entrepreneurs and operators, that invests in digital technology at every stage of the lifecycle from pre-seed to late stage. Previously, Andy co-founded internet software company Brightpearl which raised $36M Venture Capital and processes more than $3 billion of orders per year.
Fiona Kilkelly, Creative Industries and Immerse UK Lead /Innovate UK, Knowledge Transfer Network
Fiona has worked at the nexus of innovation and the impact of emerging technologies on the creative sector for over 25 years. At KTN, she identifies innovation challenges and opportunities, informs policy development, shapes funding programmes and supports access to investment and finance for business. She leads Immerse UK, a new, cross-sector network for businesses and research organisations.
Philip Tellwright, Business West
PANEL: Reaching out: the importance of touch in VR
This panel will explore the part haptics must play in the future of truly immersive, interactive experiences. From tactile experiences to kinesthesis, the panel will explore the information that the sense of touch can give the user, what current technologies can simulate this information, and how they see haptics being brought to virtual worlds in the future.
Thurs 13th April, 16:20
Host - Rowland Manthorpe, WIRED
Rowland Manthorpe is Associate Editor of WIRED, where he writes about the politics and philosophy of technology. An award-winning writer and journalist whose work has been published in the Observer, the Economist, the Atlantic and the Sunday Telegraph, he is also co-author Confidence, a philosophical novel published by Bloomsbury in August 2016.
Dr Alastair Barrow, Director, Generic Robotics
Ally has over 10 years’ experience in the field of virtual reality, haptics, robotics and simulation. He has worked as research associate on simulation projects, collaborated on training simulators and was awarded a research fellowship to explore the use of advanced haptic technologies. Ally acts as Applications Lead for Generic Robotics delivering products such as SimuTeach® and Toia®
Thomas Gere, The Realities Centre
Serial entrepreneur & angel investor with experience both in China and Europe. From a background in blue chip companies he has founded then various tech related start-ups as well as joining the angel investment community in London. Recently launched the Realities Centre in London to accelerate innovation in the AR & VR space. The centre is focusing on acceleration and co-working specifically for the AR/VR industry with events, courses and mixed reality production.
Tom Carter, CTO & Founder Ultrahaptics
Tom started exploring ultrasound technology studying for his Master’s degree in Computer Science Bristol University. In 2013 he founded Ultrahaptics, which develops a unique technology enabling users to receive tactile feedback using ultrasound without needing to wear or touch anything. Users can ‘feel’ touch-less buttons get feedback for mid-air gestures, or interact with virtual objects.