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Monthly Archives: October 2017

10 months ago

‘VIRTUAL GETS REAL’ FORECASTS STRONG NZ CROSS REALITY SECTOR GROWTH

The NZVRARA (The New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc.) has today released the first of two reports commissioned on the New Zealand VR/AR Ecosystem.

The Report, titled ‘VIRTUAL GETS REAL: The Explosion of Cross Reality in New Zealand’ profiles a rapidly growing local industry that is predicted to contribute to New Zealand’s Digital Nation with annual revenues of NZ$324M and employ over 2,200 people in 2019.

Download the full 120-page report.

Cross Reality (XR) is increasingly being used to refer to the virtual-to-reality continuum of immersive technologies including augmented and mixed reality.

The report has calculated that over 1100 fulltime employees are currently working in the sector in New Zealand, and that this is estimated to double within two years. The Association’s members and industry participants have identified that filling these roles is a key issue facing the sector. The report recommends undertaking annual independent sector surveys for headcount, revenue and other key metrics so that actual and forecast growth can be measured and appropriate actions taken.

Authored by Michael Gregg for the New Zealand VR/AR Association, VIRTUAL GETS REAL celebrates the wider VR sector and highlights some of its domestic organisations, individuals and early achievements to date. It reports on data and developments across the globe and locally, celebrates the broad activity across the main centres, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and in local R&D and adoption by the architecture industry as an example of broader business benefit.

A second report is currently being prepared and will explore games & entertainment, tourism, training & education, the role of VR in Enterprises and explore offshore channels to market. It will consider New Zealand as a global testbed. Importantly it will include an independent assessment of the value of the domestic cross reality sector and its benefit to New Zealand’s economy, both as a sector in its own right, and the value of potential productivity gains from the adoption of these new immersive technologies within enterprises.

The reports are supported by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The first report was also sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, Jasmax, ATEED, WREDA, and ChristchurchNZ (formally CDC). Additional support was provided by Blackeye VR and NZTech.

VIRTUAL GETS REAL acknowledges the ‘gap of disappointment’ which has forced a downward revision of global analysts’ bullish predictions for virtual reality, and highlights the new technology releases and discounting that is fuelling a second wave of growth.

Sector participants who provide production and content creation services are adamant that building scale amongst members to provide an internationally competitive offshore offering is important. New Zealand has some service providers, such as Auckland-based Staples VR, who are already expanding into other markets including Australia and the United Kingdom.

The report recognised New Zealand’s strong positions in some market segments such as holographic capture led by New Zealand company 8i, local games development such as Weta Workshop’s partnership with Magic Leap, and augmented reality through companies such as M Theory and Wingnut AR who delivered the AR showcase at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this year.

New Zealand has researchers operating at the peak of the industry including Victoria University’s Taehyun Rhee who chairs SIGGRAPH Asia’s VR programme and Christchurch’s HIT Lab NZ which is a global market leader in academic education and research in AR and VR since its formation in 2002. In Auckland, the AR/VR Garage is a catalyst in driving international R&D collaboration and in Wellington, PROJECTR® is supporting collaborative R&D between universities and that city’s startup community.

The report raises issues such as the pending skills shortage stating that building national capability in the use of VR equipment and AR platforms and building expertise in immersive technologies requires assistance beyond the voluntary and ad hoc activities of the sector such as the NZVRARA’s Student Chapter which is channelling tertiary students into on-campus VR clubs and linking graduates to member companies for internships and employment to accelerate skills development.

The report makes a number of other recommendations including that the cross reality and games development communities will benefit from greater alignment; continued growth in immersive screen sector support will enhance New Zealand’s strong leadership in story-telling and content creation; and that there is a need for tailored business education, training and support for sector startups.

NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas is excited about sharing the report. “VIRTUAL GETS REAL will help the NZVRARA to promote our amazing new technologies and solutions to the rest of New Zealand and to prospective clients of our member companies from around the world. It also sets out some challenges for us to work on collectively to make sure we succeed as best as we can in this exciting new industry,” says Ms Lomas.

The NZVRARA was formed in September 2016 to champion, support and grow innovation in the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors throughout New Zealand. Its objectives include promoting collaboration, education, R&D and economic development for the benefit of its 100+ sector members.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Courteney Lomas, Executive Director, NZVRARA
Mobile 027 738 9340 or courteney@nzvrara.nz

Michael Gregg (Author)
Managing Director, Blackeye VR Ltd
Mobile 021 83 85 83 or michael@blackeye.nz

11 months ago

BLACKEYE PARTNERS WITH NZVRARA TO SUPPORT THE NEW ZEALAND VR/AR COMMUNITY

 

The NZVRARA (The New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc.) and Wellington-based Blackeye VR Limited have announced a strategic partnership between the two entities to jointly promote the fast-growing New Zealand VR/AR sector and accelerate adoption of virtual and augmented reality technologies within New Zealand organisations.

Blackeye VR was founded in September 2016, the same month as the Association incorporated its organisation, and since then has focused its early efforts on educating New Zealand companies about the benefits of adopting virtual, augmented and mixed reality solutions through its consulting activities.

Since July 2017, Blackeye and the NZVRARA have been working closely together to produce an informative report on the current state of the wider cross reality sector. A second companion report is planned to be released later in 2017. As a Strategic Partner, Blackeye is providing funds and an in-kind contribution to help accelerate the growth of the industry.

Blackeye VR director and shareholder, Michael Gregg was the founding Chair of the NZVRARA Incorporated and is currently serving his second term as Chair and Executive Committee member.

The company was pivotal in the establishment of Wellington’s XR industry co-working, collaborative R&D and events space, PROJECTR and remains a cornerstone shareholder in this industry-good initiative.

The New Zealand VR/AR Association was established to champion, support and grow innovation in the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors throughout New Zealand with objectives of promoting collaboration, education, R&D and economic development for the benefit of its over 100 sector members.

This strategic partnership formalises the roles of both organisations to work together to accelerate the education, development and evolution of this burgeoning sector.

Blackeye’s Michael Gregg is passionate about supporting collaboration between sector companies as a way of accelerating expansion. “I’m really excited about using immersive technologies to create stories and build brands. I believe we have a window of opportunity as a sector to leverage our position as an early adopting nation,” states Michael.

Blackeye is focusing on Singapore and Los Angeles as early stage locations to seek international assignments. Michael is confident this is the best way for his business to expand and acknowledges a powerful role for the NZVRARA in making this happen. “We are building a strong base of early expertise here talking to and working with a wide range of New Zealand sector companies, and I’m excited about the potential of being a part of taking this shared capability offshore to assist international brands and grow a strong export business. Being a member of the NZVRARA has introduced me to a motivated group of like-minded colleagues.”

NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas agrees. “Having the NZVRARA as a talent aggregator and sector promoter, an educator and a networking resource for our industry represents a fantastic opportunity for all of our members to grow and having strategic partners such as Blackeye can help make all of this happen faster.”

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Blackeye VR Ltd:
Michael Gregg
Managing Director, Blackeye VR Ltd
Mobile 021 838 583 or michael@blackeye.nz

NZVRARA:
Courteney Lomas
Executive Director, NZVRARA
Mobile 027 738 9340 or courteney@nzvrara.nz

11 months ago

M THEORY JOINS NZVRARA AS STRATEGIC PARTNER

The NZVRARA (New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc.) and M Theory have signed a strategic partnership aimed to drive greater collaboration and export growth of VR and AR solutions.

Co-Founder of M Theory and Managing Director, Sam Ramlu will join the NZVRARA Board and is pledging to advocate for greater engagement between those New Zealand VR and AR companies producing marketing communications solutions, to build the scale necessary to secure international projects.

“We need to come together to showcase our work internally, work on our compatibility and capability, and work together to present a consortium of VR/AR skills to the outside world,” enthuses Sam.

In May 2017, Auckland-based creative agency, Method, launched a specialist augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) arm, M Theory, to increase capacity and to further invest in creative solutions using these digital technologies.

Despite the technology being new, Sam and her team delivered their first commercial VR experience in 2015 for Unitec and have already produced a wide range of brand experiences since, including an immersive tour of the digital advertising sites for QMS’ commuter network, and virtual and augmented reality experiences for Contact Energy, NZ Post, Panuku Development Auckland, and Torrens University Australia. They also partnered with other NZVRARA members, Staples Productions and AR/VR Garage to deliver an interactive tour of the Kumeu Film Studios.

Their AR and VR retelling of James Hurman’s ‘The Boy and the Lemon’ has been invited to exhibit at ‘The Future of Storytelling’, the world’s leading immersive storytelling event, to be held in New York in October 2017. Sam will be visiting New York and Los Angeles during October and will post field reports for NZVRARA members. We’re looking forward to a report from THE VOID (https://www.thevoid.com/) in New York, Sam!

For the NZVRARA, this strategic partnership formalises the roles of both organisations to work closer together to speed up the growth of the VR/AR sector for the benefit of New Zealand – a key objective of the Association.

NZVRARA Chair, Michael Gregg comments that the work has already begun, “With the support of M Theory, we have committed to presenting on the VR/AR sector and its members at the November Auckland ad:tech, and to hosting an Auckland summer speaker series to bring the industry closer to the sector. I encourage our members and industry participants to make the most of these opportunities to work together more closely to build the scale needed to engage meaningfully offshore.”

The New Zealand VR/AR Association is the official New Zealand chapter of the global VRARA (www.thevrara.com) and celebrated its first anniversary in September ’17. Current strategic partners of the NZVRARA include M Theory, AR/VR Garage, Blackeye VR and PROJECTR.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

For more on M Theory:
Samantha Ramlu
Managing Director, M Theory
Mobile +64 21 605 510 or sam@mtheoryvr.com
www.mtheoryvr.com

For NZVRARA information, or to arrange member access to the AR/VR Garage:
Courteney Lomas
Executive Director, NZVRARA
Mobile 027 738 9340 or courteney@nzvrara.nz
www.nzvrara.nz

For more on the NZVRARA:
Michael Gregg
Chair, NZVRARA
Mobile 021 838 583 or michael@blackeye.nz

11 months ago

NZ CHILDREN’S STORY TO FEATURE AT PRESTIGIOUS AR AND VR FESTIVAL IN NEW YORK

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) retellings of James Hurman’s The Boy and the Lemon will be in the global spotlight at The Future of Storytelling, the world’s leading immersive storytelling event, held in New York in October.

Showcasing New Zealand’s creative talent on the world stage, the project is an all-kiwi collaboration between M Theory, the specialist VR/AR arm of creative agency Method, author James Hurman and illustrator Juliet Burton.

Developed by Auckland-based M Theory, the virtual reality experience brings to life the charming story of Jack, a boy whose house is crushed by a giant lemon from outer space. A tale of luck teaching life’s most magical lesson – how to be lucky – Jack’s adventures are brought to life in a fully immersive virtual reality environment combining audio narrative and hand-painted pop-up style illustrations.

M Theory has also built an augmented reality version, via a downloadable phone and tablet app, which overlays the physical book with 3D scenes and makes the illustrations appear to come alive alongside the audio narrative. Both the AR and VR versions create a rich and magical story experience for kids and adults alike. The AR app will be available from the iOS and Google App Stores in early October.

M Theory Managing Director Sam Ramlu says she was stunned but thrilled to receive the invitation from the organisers of The Future of Storytelling: “It came out of the blue, we weren’t expecting it at all. This event is one of the most prestigious on the creative tech calendar, with just over 100 exhibits of work from around the world. The Boy and the Lemon will be the only New Zealand project at the festival and we’re very proud to showcase the creative and technical abilities to be found in the VR/AR industry here.”

The project was recommended to the festival organisers by Gabo Arora, Creative Director and Senior Advisor at the United Nations, and an award-winning filmmaker. Gabo’s critically acclaimed work includes Clouds Over Sidra, Waves of Grace, My Mother’s Wing and most recently The Last Goodbye. Gabo experienced The Boy and the Lemon story in AR and VR earlier this year when he was in Auckland for the Story Edge World Exhibition.

Sam Ramlu has been recently invited to join the Board of the New Zealand VR and AR Association (NZVRARA) and is pledging to advocate for greater collaboration within the local industry to build the scale necessary to secure international projects. “We need to come together to showcase our work internationally, work on our compatibility and capability, and work together to present a consortium of VR/AR skills to the outside world,” she says.

ABOUT M THEORY
M Theory is the specialist AR and VR arm of leading creative innovations agency Method, based in Auckland, NZ. M Theory focuses on delivering interactive, immersive and awe-inspiring experiences through a range of AR and VR services. This includes 360 video post-production, 3D modelling and digital storytelling, along with computer-generated imagery, app and game development. One of the earliest adopters and practitioners in New Zealand’s AR and VR industry, Method has been producing cutting edge AR/VR projects for local and international clients for several years and the launch of M Theory has enabled the agency to increase its capacity and further invest in the technology.

ABOUT THE FUTURE OF STORYTELLING
The world’s leading immersive storytelling event, The Future of Storytelling will be held on Staten Island, NY, on 4-8 October 2017. A showcase of the very best interactive, cutting-edge storytelling experiences from around the world, the festival includes over 100 exhibits – many of them world premieres – including the best in VR, AR, mixed reality, haptics, AI, games, and interactive films, alongside the latest immersive technologies from Microsoft, Oculus, Samsung, and others. The event kicks off with an invitation-only Summit, gathering a mix of leading thinkers and practitioners from diverse fields who are shaping the art, science, and business of storytelling in the 21st century. https://futureofstorytelling.org