Live from The Wave VR: Inside Imogen Heap’s VR concert

Music and Virtual Reality have the potential to be part of a must have reason to get VR.  If the video looks cool, then imagine being there! Music helps make up for some of the resolution issues with early VR headsets, and we’re at the dawn of a new music format. You are not really at a concert but part of an intimate connection with the music in a new way, that is part concert, but something more as well.

Walmart’s Tech Incubator Store No. 8 Acquires VR Startup Spatialand

I’ve been consulting in VR for Store No. 8 for the last year, and joined full time last December. Excited to share publicly what we’ve been working on and planning for the last few months!

“Today, we are thrilled to announce our acquisition of Spatialand, which will create the foundation of Store No 8’s third portfolio company. The new venture will operate in stealth with Kim and Jeremy at the helm as co-founders. I’m proud to join this team as well, as interim CEO, in addition to my role as Principal of Store No 8. The team will develop and explore new products and uses of VR through immersive retail environments that can be incorporated by all facets of Walmart, online and offline.”

Read the full post from our CEO Katie Finnegan!

In addition to co-founding this new company with Kim, I will be serving as Chief Product Officer, continuing our focus on using Virtual Reality to power the future of retail.

I couldn’t be more excited to parter with Kim, Katie, and the rest of the Spatialand and Store No.8 team!

Walmart’s Tech Incubator Store No. 8 Acquires VR Startup Spatialand

BLACK EYED PEAS MAKE VR HOT – MASTERS OF THE SUN

Masters of the Sun VR is a VR graphic novel adaptation presented by the Black Eyed Peas. Fresh off buzz from at Sundance, it’s available now on Samsung Gear VR. Despite some performance issues on the Gear with my S7, I think this is one of the most promising episodic VR experiences yet!

Black Eyed Peas and Marvel Comics previously teamed up on a comic book called “Masters of the Sun – the Zombie chronicles”. The VR adaptation lets you control the story and brings some much-needed hip hop energy to VR.

What I like the most is Master of the Sun has a unique feel, not a quite a video game, not quite photo realistic, but a vibe I havent quite felt in VR yet.

You’re in the comic…

As you turn around and explore youll see a record rack, and some comics, looks amazing in the headset….

Translating the subtlety of a comic books tone to an immersive format isn’t easy. Most experiments I’ve seen go backwards. Somehow adding interactivity often takes away from the magic you remember.

Master of the Sun overcomes that, with creative use of rendering style, perspective, music, even the fonts – all coming together to give you an enhanced sense of wonder in a comic book world. The story and the richness make it worthy of VR’s enhanced ability to look around and soak it in, it feels immersive, curious, familiar, new all at once. At each decision point, I found myself looking around, soaking in the environment, before moving the story forward.

The experience itself is broken up into a series of separate episodes, or VR graphic novels but I only wish they would have gone higher end and made this for the VIVE. There were issues on the Gear, it couldnt quite keep up with my head movements and some of the camera pans made me a little motion sick. The story and quality begs for more!

But I can see past all of that for the great moments. This feels like new ground on the path to VR becoming legitimate medium for stories. According to Forbes the team has grander ambitious

“From this, we now are planning to leverage the project into becoming a full VR studio,” adds Taboo. “Other artists who we know from Rihanna to Usher all want to do something with VR. We’re in a perfect position to collaborate them and others for the VR space because of what we are doing and who we are,” will.i.am told me. “We’ve got the whole system down. We created the prototypes to this project and demos in order to get the other artists on board with MOTS, and once they could see the vision, we just kept building from that.”

Here’s Why Everyone Is Talking About This Hot VR Project At Sundance Film Fest

Welcome to Store No. 8

Happy to share I’ve started a new role as Chief Product Officer for VR in Store No. 8.

Walmart Launches Tech Incubator Dubbed Store No. 8

I’m staying in Los Angeles, where we will build out a team to explore the future of VR and it’s impact on commerce and the world around us.

I’ve been consulting for Store No. 8 since April, and I am excited to make it full time. Lots more to come, for now check out a few links on what we’ve been up to in 2017 so far!

Store No. 8 Is Revolutionizing Virtual Commerce

Store No. 8 Sees the Future, and It’s VR

 

Mindshow Nuze hits its stride!

Mindshow Nuze is an original short form comedy show, produced and created in virtual reality using Mindshow. I’ve made a lot short from content from Warner Bros Records, to Disney, but this one was a true first!

When you use Mindshow with an HTC vive, you become the characters…but writing about it is like describing “Dark Side of the Moon” to someone who never heard it. With Mindshow you feel it!

Because anyone can use Mindshow to make short animated content, producing our own show wasn’t enough. The goal was to build a show around the community of Alpha users who have access to the Mindshow today. (Get your alpha code here)

The idea was to build a connected world with everything our users are creating, and work with the community to define what’s possible. Midnshow Nuze takes clips made by users, and contextulaizs them in our weekly news format. It’s fun, it real, and it’s starting catch on. It took a few episodes to really figure our the rules of the game with our users. From the beginning it was a hit on Facebook, and as of a few weeks ago, it’s found it’s organic audience on Youtube. We’re getting about 60k views an episode across both platforms and were getting more clips from our users every week. Take look at some of my favorite episodes, or watch them all below!

MINDSHOW NUZE – Ep 3: FLYING CHICKEN GHOSTS

MINDSHOW NUZE – Ep 5: PINANA SURGERY GONE WRONG

WATCH THEM ALL!

Passive and Proactive Virtual reality: Learning from social media immersion

The 2016 election cycle highlighted a deep division in our country’s psyche. From fake news to the idea of a personal information bubble, social media played a role in altering our reality, fueling our collective ability to move beyond facts into a sort of real time chaos.

Reality is in not what it used to be!

This piece from Jacqueline Schneider uses music as a lense to explore something much deeper, something that’s been building over time into an alternative perception driven by our mobile social habits.

“How Social Media Normalized Mediocrity: Through the Lens of Music”

“The fact that a message or image penetrates your very eyeballs, means it’s getting into your brain which means it’s affecting you whether you realize it or not”

We unintentionally create a new reality around us everyday.

“Social media has disconnected us so much from reality that we digest things about people and organizations before even having a first-hand experience or thinking critically about the information we are being fed”

If virtual reality is supposed to be the next big thing, what is the role of these ecosystems being built by Facebook and Google if we already entering a virtual space everyday?

Are we using virtual reality for empathy or as a response and escape from a “social media reality”?

“After interacting with digital and social media for a large portion of the day, we create our own version of reality which is highly influenced by our feeds.”

Our current state of reality seems to have happened to us. Social media = a sort of passive virtual reality. We innocently check our phones without acknowledging we’re leaving one reality and entering another. We enter the space before we’ve examined the effects. Images in real time feeds can distort the facts and validate views that are shifting faster then our ability to find solid ground.

On the other hand, headset enabled virtual reality is something we’re creating from scratch right now, in a post “social virtual world”. This new wave of VR seems like a more deliberate choice, the promise of the future we choose with bulky headsets and complete immersion, we should know what were getting into? Or is this “choice” yet another illusion?

I believe part of the intent Jacqueline’s article is to convince us to unplug, but the course of humanity so far seems to indicate we will only integrate it more and more.

Is it strange to suggest we need more technology to bring us closer to reality?

What would fake news look like in a fully immersive virtual environment? How about abuse in a virtual environment? We should be cautious not to just bring our existing social media patterns and problems into these new VR ecosystems. To build a new VR ecosystem will require an honest assessment of our current relationship with reality.

This next wave of technology promising a virtual reality is currently in development and under our control, so we do have a chance to reset some ground rules based on what we’ve learned from what I’ve called “social virtual reality”. VR wont be the next big thing without learning from the current virtual world we’ve found ourselves in, and baking in some preventative measures. Maybe we can dial it back, use VR to escape from what we’ve built before. For those that call it an empathy machine, rememebr that was once the promise of the internet itself.

It’s the beginning of a new journey! Store No8, Walmart and Virtual Reality

I’m excited to work with Walmart on their virtual reality strategy. The project is within Walmart’s incubator called Store No. 8. The Store No. 8 reference comes from the name of Sam Walton’s early store, where he experimented with new and bold ideas for retail.

I was impressed with the Store No. 8 team from the first meeting. Creating a culture that plans for change that is 3-4 years out is hard, many say it cant be done within large traditional organizations. I’m up for the challenge!

Were building the ground floor for V-COMMERCE and planning a major VR event in October.

Stay tuned as a new adventure begins and I will share more details as our projects progress!

Background on Store No. 8

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-20/wal-mart-unveils-store-no-8-tech-incubator-in-silicon-valley

Walmart VR Focus:

http://www.roadtovr.com/wal-mart-zeros-future-vrar-new-silicon-valley-tech-incubator/

IT IS THE END OF AN AMAZING ERA AND PERSONAL JOURNEY AS MAKER FOLDS INTO DISNEY

Being at Maker at the beginning was a special experience. There were no “digtial stars” before Youtubers and this new medium began to scale just as we started building Maker. The original founders, Lisa, Ben and Danny, figured out the most important thing. This new generation of talent was on to something and it would be huge.

I met so many amazing people who identified talent in this new wave of creation. The network dev team at Maker were culturally light years ahead of everyone, understading how special these creators were, believeing in them when others just saw wacky videos. The whole idea of video game content on Youtube was so new, and The Game Station team was so dialed into that culture.

As Maker grew, it was hard dealing with all the startup growth issues and what quickly became incredible competition to sign talent. But whatever you read about MCN’s going away, or Maker missing the mark, in this first era of MCN growth, Maker dominated and seperated from the pack.

As we became a huge company, we were at the forefront of bringing this new world into the traditional media and brand world at scale. We changed alot and it was hard, but I secretly loved working with the sales team to grow the business, perfecting the balance of infleuncers, brands and authenticty. Working side by side with the amazing executives who knew how to navigate this phase was special, packaging the company for growth, and eventually tapping into my own epxertise and becoming key man in the Disney aquisition.

MCN’s may not be the final paradigm, but to call Maker or MCN’s a failure is only possible if you didnt live it. We put our heart and soul into our creators before anyone else. Youtube and digital video platforms are huge now, but MCN’s birthed it, and it’s simply evoled into much more.

We got out on top, and it wasnt an accident, I learned it is a skill and I had the fortune to watch and learn from some of the smartest executives in the world who got us there. Not easy to do but easy to criticise 🙂

A few of my favorite pics from the good old days!

Disney’s Latest Maker Move Punctuates End Of Multi-Channel Network Era

TREEHUGGER : WAWONA WINS TRIBECA STORYSCAPES AWARD

I spent time last year working with Marshmallow Laser Feast Treehugger. I cant take any credit for the really cool stuff, but i did help out on several of capture trips and helped think out the strategy for how we brought this experience to the world.

For the fifth year, Tribeca awarded innovation in storytelling through its Storyscapes Award for immersive storytelling, went to TREEHUGGER : WAWONA!

Congrats to Barnay, Ersin, Robin, Nell Mike and the whole MLF crew, couldnt be more deserved to a better crew!

Tribeca Storyscape winner annoucement

Time.com: Most Mesmerizing: Treehugger Wawona

Mashable raves on Treehugger

Forbes on Trees in VR?

Mindshow Official Trailer!

It’s time for VRLA and I’m excited to be there this year working for Mindshow. We’ve been learning how to do some amazing things with Mindshow, creating new types of content from within VR!

Check out the new trailer for VRLA, featuring some the best we’ve made and seen yet! Everything you see here is acted out by a real person as the character in VR!

On the road to the future of MUSIC and VR

I recently read a great summary of what the major labels are doing in “VR” (link below). The initiatives mentioned are cool, and moving things forward. But I dont think any of these video based initiatives really are “VR”. 360 video and live concerts in a headset feel more an incremental new video format than a disruptive new medium.

Take a read and think about what it takes to create real disruption!

http://www.vrroom.buzz/vr-news/entertainment/can-vr-be-real-hit-music-biz

Charge your brain for 2017!

Over the holidays I always get a chance to catch up on my reading and thinking.

Here are a few stories that frame the future.- Some scary, some Hopeful, but all ring true. Lets make sure we know where we are going!

The end of adolescence

https://aeon.co/essays/adolescence-is-no-longer-a-bridge-between-childhood-and-adult-life

When every moment of childhood can be recorded and shared, what happens to childhood?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2016/12/07/when-every-moment-of-childhood-can-be-recorded-and-shared-what-happens-to-childhood/

How video games unwittingly train the brain to justify killing

https://aeon.co/ideas/how-video-games-unwittingly-train-the-brain-to-justify-killing

People will still power an AI workforce

http://www.theverge.com/a/verge-2021/stacy-brown-philpot-taskrabbit-ceo-interview-ai-gig-economy

The top artificial intelligence stories of 2016

https://techcrunch.com/timeline/the-top-artificial-intelligence-stories-of-2016/slide/6/

The Case Against Reality
http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/the-illusion-of-reality/479559/

Welcome to Mindshow!

I am excited to share I am working with Mindshow, a Virtual Reality app that lets you make your own VR cartoons using your body and voice, acting out your own parts, and then filming them in VR to create a clip you can share on all social platforms.

That’s a mouthful because talking about VR is always tough – so lets just say Mindshow has that “thing” that’s been missing from VR and I was hooked the first time I tried it!

Virtual reality does provide a platform to consume content in a new way, but what about creating content? Do I need to learn a programming language and visual effects tools to be in the game? How will VR meet the “everyone is a creator” ethos that YouTube helped solidify? How will VR disrupt creation in the same way Youtubers re-defined what’s “watchable” for an entire generation?

Mindshow takes advantage of immersive VR to create and share stories of your own. When your senses tell you you’re an alien or space captain – something NEW happens to your creative brain. But acting inside the characters is just half the fun, stepping out of the characters and then filming your performance in a virtual 360 space lets you express yourself in new ways. And when it’s done, you have a video you can share on all social platforms. Even if your friends don’t have VR they can be a part of it today!

I cant wait to see what a new generation of creators use it for! Working at maker convinced me that VR needs more then just content, we need to build an ecosystem that builds a deep connection between users and creators, getting everyone involved. Creating content = play for kids today, and Mindshow found a way to use VR to make a whole new way to play!w

So weather or not you have VR, wth Mindshow, I can share my VR experience with you in a way that makes it fun for everyone!