SEAN MATHIS GETTY SX19
There are some outstanding specialist events which offer a deep dive into all things immersive. There are also many conferences and festivals that offer much broader programming, while presenting fantastic opportunities to learn more about virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).
Here are just some of those events on my radar.
SXSW Conference & Festivals (13th - 22nd March: Austin, Texas)
South by Southwest offers 10 days of discovery, learning, and networking with creatives across the film, tech, and music industries. This annual multi-genre, multi-medium festival is one of the largest creative gatherings in the world with over 70,000 attendees.
The SXSW Conference has 22 tracks of programming. XR (eXtended Reality) is one of the ten convergence tracks that shine a spotlight on the connection that tech, business, and culture have. Focusing on current capabilities with immersive interfaces, the XR Track (running 16th - 19th March) explores where these systems are heading. Formerly known as VR/AR/MR, this track complements the Virtual Cinema programming. You can browse the XR sessions here.
A Platinum Badge gets you primary access to everything at SXSW and will set you back $1,600, if you buy before 14th February. Walk-up price is $1,725.
MERRICK ALES / SXSW
NAB (18th - 22nd April: Las Vegas, Nevada)
NAB is the annual trade show produced by the National Association of Broadcasters. It is a great event for media, entertainment, and technology professionals looking for innovative ways to create, manage and deliver content.
The acceleration of innovations in the field of AR and VR offers new ways to transform the media and broadcasting industries placing these emerging technologies firmly on the agenda. Over 1,600 exhibitors use the event as a global stage for their latest innovations and with 90,000+ attendees—it’s definitely a good place to start if you are looking for access to decision-makers and buyers.
There are a variety of different passes on offer to suit all needs and budgets. Check them out here.
ROBB COHEN / HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
FMX (5th - 8th May: Stuttgart, Germany)
FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Immersive Media is an event by Filmakademie’s Animationsinstitut. It takes place at the exclusive Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart every spring and will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020.
The theme for this year’s conference is Imagine Tomorrow. Attendees are invited to look beyond the status quo to the future, and break through the limits of what can be brought to life on screen. Creators will share their passion for XR and present cutting edge tools, pipelines, realtime technologies, and innovative business models. Attendees can get a hands-on experience with the latest innovations at the Marketplace, attend workshops, masterclasses, and network in the Recruiting Hub.
Early Bird tickets are available until 13th March for €400—get your hands on them here.
FMX / DOMINIQUE BREWING / LUZIE MARQUARDT
Future of StoryTelling (3rd - 4th June: New York)
The Future of StoryTelling (FoST) is an intimate event that brings together leading thinkers and practitioners from diverse fields who are shaping the arts, science, and storytelling in the 21st Century. In addition to opportunities to network and form new relationships with important influencers and creators, attendees can also expect roundtables with Fortune 100 leaders, workshops with creators and technologists to learn new skills, and experiences from the world’s best immersive storytelling projects and technologies.
While the Future of StoryTelling is not solely dedicated to immersive technology, the Story Arcade exhibit and FoST main stage always have a fantastic selection of immersive experiences.
FoST’s theme for 2020 is “Better Stories for a Better Future”. The focus will be on arming the next generation of creators with the skills they need to build empathy, bring audiences together, and enact lasting change.
You can apply for your invitation to the event here, and if your application is successful will be able to get your hands on a standard ticket for $3000, or upgrade to the VIP experience for $5000. This includes access to the opening night party, guaranteed placement in your top speaker and workshop sessions, as well as early access to exclusive immersive experience throughout the event.
MICROSOFT VIA YOUTUBE
Cannes Lions (22nd-26th June 2020: Cannes)
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is considered to be the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry in the world with around 12,000 delegates from over 90 countries.
Over five days, the festival covers eight themes that have been carefully curated by The Lion’s content team to be structured around the most business-critical areas of branded marketing and communications. You can see the full list of all eight tracks here.
Over the past few years, the number of tech companies at the festival has grown as technology and creativity have become increasingly intertwined. Immersive technology allows brands to cut through the clutter to connect in novel ways—so it’s no surprise VR, AR, and MR have a strong presence at Cannes Lions.
The Cannes Lions Awards also embrace immersive—VR and AR categories were added to submissions for the first time in 2017 and hundreds of content creators competed in 2018. The Digital Craft Lions now includes a ‘New Realties’ section for projects that have used VR/AR to create meaningful and immersive brand experiences. If you have an immersive project you’d like to enter, you can do so here.