Viacom’s emerging entertainment technology group, Viacom NEXT, and NYC Media Lab have created a fellowship program to “encourage the development of premier music-based virtual reality content for audiences.”
Viacom NEXT, in collaboration with NYC Media Lab, recently launched their 2017 Viacom Music + VR Fellowship, a program that will give six graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to create music-based virtual reality experiences centered on an individual piece of music of their choice from Viacom’s vast library of over 25,000 tracks—as well as individual instrument recordings from the Viacom catalog.
Each fellow, who is allowed to work independently or in teams of two, will be encouraged to create a unique VR experience that merges the worlds of music, interactive art, virtual reality and storytelling, in hopes of coming up with innovative methods for recording artists to deliver new music to their fans. In turn, fans will be able to experience music from their favorite artists in ways that transcend anything they’ve ever encountered.
Participants in the fellowship have eight weeks between June and August to work on their VR experience. In addition to the library of music Viacom has made available, each fellow will have access to an array of media and technology services, including VR-ready computers, HTC Vives, and other VR headsets. During those eight weeks, fellows will also have an opportunity to be mentored by Viacom executives and industry innovators from other cutting-edge organizations. Each fellow will be required to have weekly critique meetings at the Viacom offices, all leading up to their final critique at the end of August.
“Viacom is working to pioneer original VR content that transforms fan and artist engagement in music,” said Viacom NEXT Virtual Reality Producer and co-leader of the fellowship program Mac Lotze in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome these creative young talents to Viacom and continue exploring the amazing potential of this medium with them.”
Participants of the fellowship program were chosen based on their diverse backgrounds, talent and expertise in art, technology and design. This year’s 2017 class of fellows include: Corey Bertelsen, NY Game Center; Danny Dang, Parsons School of Design BFA Design & Technology; Juan Jose Egúsquiza, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program; Or Fleisher, NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program; Mikei Huang, Parsons School of Design BFA Design & Technology; and Chao Jin, NYC Game Center.
At the end of the program, participants will showcase their work to organizers along with organizations such as MTV and Nickelodeon. Also in attendance will be leaders in creative coding, game design, and film and music. The 2017 fellows will have additional opportunities to showcase the results of their work at the end in August at NYC Media Lab’s Annual Summit in September, and during NYC Media Lab’s Exploring Future Reality in November.
Last year’s fellows produced five unique virtual reality experiences with two of the fellows being asked to stay on staff at Viacom NEXT to assist in continuing shaping its leadership in the industry. Other highlights of the 2016 class included the innovative music experience Withdrawal featuring Atlantic Records recording artist Max Frost, Hot Sugar’s The Melody of Dust, Chocolate by award-winning animator Tyler Hurd, and Smash Party VR, a game released for the HTC Vive headset.
“We are thrilled to continue our work with Viacom this summer and push the boundaries of what’s possible with virtual reality storytelling,” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab in a statement. “As virtual and augmented reality technologies advance, the ability to quickly produce high quality experiences will grow more important for media corporations.”