Three messages of strong growth, a focus on international and enterprise, and an acknowledgement of much work-in-progress were offered to attendees at the 2018 AGM for the New Zealand VR/AR Association Incorporated held at PROJECTR Wellington on Thursday July 5.
Review of 2017/18
Outgoing Chair, Michael Gregg presented the latest audited accounts and the following review for the XR industry audience:
- Major Growth – strong revenue and membership growth, strategic partners, event attendance
- Membership – big growth in members: a broad mix of student, individual, start-up, and tertiary members
- Key Highlights – MOU with Taiwan’s TAVAR; sold out 3D Acquisition events; industry reports.
- Major milestones – unanimous decision to withdraw from the VRARA model; successful managed wind-down of another NZ VR group;
- Thanks to our Executive Committee, seconded members and strategic partners for their diligent representation of the industry.
- Special thanks to Courteney Lomas for her commitment to the efficient operation of the Society during 17/18 as our first paid Executive Director and as our first Student Chapter President.
Signalling a direction for the incoming Executive Committee to consider was the following eight-point plan:
- Increase focus on national student services, engage enterprise users, build international links to secure a sustainable future for the NZVRARA and effectively promote our sector;
- By demonstrating value, we will retain and expand our membership & strategic partner base;
- Undertake our first NZVRARA National Conference;
- Find ways to help members get offshore to demonstrate our national capability;
- Stronger partnerships with central government departments and agencies to ensure XR is part of their future digital economy plans and aspirations for New Zealand;
- Build partnerships with the international brands that are the backbone of the global VR/AR industry;
- Increase the operational assistance needed to execute our marketing, membership & events; and
- Build out the Student Chapter nationally to provide a clear pipeline to on-the-job training and careers.
Retiring by rotation and to facilitate the reduction in the size of the Executive Committee down from 16 to 10 were Michael Gregg (Chair), Dr Roy Davies, Alejandro Davila, Raqi Syed, Amy Nally (Treasurer), Daniil Ivshin and Henry Lane.
Taking the five vacant positions were five nominees: Maher Hatab (Auckland), Sarah Gibson and Oscar Keys (Wellington), Rob Lindeman (Christchurch) and Holger Regenbrecht (Dunedin). They were appointed without election and join Sam Ramlu and Alex Legg (Auckland), Peter Houston, Rachel Hatch and Brian Lucid (Wellington) to make up the 2018/19 NZVRARA Board. It was noted that the NZVRARA now has representation across four main centres.
Acknowledging Michael Gregg’s leadership role in establishing and driving the Association as Chair, he was voted to become the first Life Member of the NZVRARA and awarded an Ambassador role to continue to support and promote the Association nationally and internationally. Michael was presented with a carved Waka (Māori canoe) in recognition of his efforts and achievements for the Society.
The NZVRARA (New Zealand VR/AR Association) and specialist XR co-sharing space, PROJECTR Wellington are now halfway through a wide-ranging strategic partnership to accelerate the growth of the virtual and augmented reality sector from Wellington.
PROJECTR Wellington, founded by virtual reality industry leader Michael Gregg, opened in February last year as a collaborative AR/MR/VR co-working, R&D project hub and events venue.
The facility provides desk space to cross reality (XR) startups and entrepreneurs, to student interns and tertiary sector researchers, and to allow for collaborative projects to be undertaken in a neutral environment, together with access to leading immersive technology hardware and event facilities.
Already, PROJECTR® has provided the desk of the NZVRARA Executive Director since that role’s inception, and home for the monthly meetings of the Association’s Executive Committee. The 2017 AGM was held at PROJECTR® Wellington, as well as the inaugural NZVRARA Student Chapter Exhibition. This strategic partnership formalises the provision of workspace, events space, hosting of industry events and access to equipment for the NZVRARA.
Within the broad digital realities sector, PROJECTR® is well-placed to align tertiary talent with industry needs, develop local solutions for global challenges and connect New Zealand talent internationally. The PROJECTR® residents extend beyond VR and AR practitioners to include AI (artificial intelligence), 3D motion graphics and other innovators, with cross-disciplinary collaboration a powerful reason many enjoy this unique space.
The strategic partnership between PROJECTR® and the NZVRARA was executed in July 2017 to formalise the roles of both organisations to work together to accelerate the education, development and evolution of this creative sector for the benefit of New Zealand, whilst ensuing a clear demarcation between the education and industry proselytisation role of the Association and the benefits that PROJECTR® delivers specifically for its resident base.
As part of this partnership, PROJECTR® which now houses over 16 high-growth company tenants, is a corporate member of the NZVRARA. The partnership allows for Association members’ innovative technology solutions to be showcased in Wellington.
The NZVRARA will run its Wellington operations from PROJECTR Wellington for the duration of this partnership at no charge.
PROJECTR® Founder, Michael Gregg is enthusiastic about the arrangement saying, “… the reason I was adamant about the need for both the Association and for PROJECTR® XR Centres is that innovation accelerates when passionate people can collaborate, share their vision and collectively work together to drive our embryonic industry forward.”
Mr Gregg was at the centre of the establishment of the New Zealand VR/AR Association and has served as its founding chair for the first two terms of its existence. He is now proceeding to establish additional PROJECTR® XR Centres in other VR-centric locations such as Taipei, Taiwan (the global home of VR) and Los Angeles, California to focus on cinematic reality.
NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas, has been based at PROJECTR Wellington since July 2017.
The New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc. (NZVRARA) and Massey University School of Design have announced a strategic partnership to support the fast-growing New Zealand virtual and mixed reality sector.
Virtual reality technologically isolates a user from the real world to create a simulated one; while augmented or mixed reality merge real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
Professor Brian Lucid, Head of the School of Design, is a founding board member of the NZVRARA and oversaw students at Massey University establishing New Zealand’s first tertiary VRAR Club, VRTX, in early 2017, going on to establish a specialised VRAR room on the Wellington campus.
Professor Lucid says the development of virtual and augmented reality, and the public’s access to it, was expected to greatly expand before the end of the decade.
“The mixed and virtual reality industry in New Zealand is estimated to double within two years”, Professor Lucid says. “The School of Design is committed to building expertise in story-telling and content creation for immersive technologies to ensure that New Zealand has the capacity and capability to remain a leading force in this sector. Our partnership with the NZVRARA not only supports educational and student initiatives, but builds stronger connections between student and faculty research, industry partners and sector members.”
Massey University is ranked in the top 1.2% of universities in the world, and the School of Design within the College of Creative Arts is ranked the number one design school in Asia-Pacific by the prestigious Red Dot Awards. Professor Lucid says Massey University continues to push the boundaries in design and innovation and recognises virtual and mixed reality as a transformational technology.
NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas expressed excitement at the partnership with Massey University to build closer relationships between both international and national industry corporations and staff and students at Massey. “The incredible design-led work from Massey graduates promises a bright future for the New Zealand VRAR industry and we enjoyed celebrating their success at the NZVRARA inaugural Graduate VRAR Exhibition earlier in December.”
The New Zealand VR/AR Association was established to champion, support and grow innovation in the virtual, augmented and mixed reality sectors.
Association Chair, Michael Gregg says the NZVRARA is is seeking to build deeper links to the academic and research community.
“Connecting with Massey University at this level sends a strong signal of our intentions to play an active role in cultivating a strong VR-capable graduate community to provide a skilled workforce for burgeoning New Zealand-based cross reality (XR) businesses to employ, as well as creating the next wave of start-ups.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Head of School of Design, Massey University
Phone 04 979 3963 or B.Lucid@massey.ac.nz
Executive Director, NZVRARA
Mobile 027 738 9340 or Courteney@nzvrara.nz
Chair, New Zealand VR/AR Association
Mobile 021 838 583 or Michael@blackeye.nz
Hi NZVRARA members,
As our Association activities for 2017 ease off, it’s timely to look back over the year and consider the progress of our local cross reality community.
It’s been a productive year of growth for the Association. As we wrap for a well-deserved summer break, I can announce that DATACOM (sponsoring our Student Chapter) and MASSEY UNIVERSITY have both signed on as Strategic Partners. We now have 116 paid-up members and 44 members in our Student Chapter. We are on track to reach 100 student members by April ’18 and we are progressing discussions with other prospective Strategic Partners.
Our searchable member directory of Organisations and Individuals is looking very healthy. If you have not yet added your details or uploaded a selfie, please add this to your pre-Xmas To-Do list. It is a heavily visited part of our website.
Thanks to all of our Members for your support and involvement this year, and a particular shout out to the (now) six Strategic Partners: Datacom, Massey University, the AR/VR Garage in Auckland, PROJECTR® Wellington, M-Theory and Blackeye for your collective investment and commitment to our sector.
We ran 31 events this calendar year in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington – a phenomenal effort. As the NZVRARA, we sponsored a VR/IoT/AI industry event at Tech Week, represented the sector at ad:tech Auckland, and launched our NZVRARA ‘Virtual Gets Real’ Report One. The well-executed inaugural Student Exhibition was a huge success and I hope you made it to one of the three tech sector end-of-year parties that we were part of.
Congratulations to all our members for the many achievements and positive milestones that you’ve hit, only some of which we’ve managed to report on during the year. I encourage you to use our Association Slack channel to share any good news – a rising tide lifts all ships.
Pleasingly, earlier this year we also united the members from the other sector association that was formed late last year into our New Zealand VR/AR Association. It’s great to now have a single clear voice from our community.
I would personally like to thank our NZVRARA Executive Committee who have diligently met monthly to advance our collective vision. Thank you all for your input and leadership. A special mention to Amy Nally, our fabulous treasurer, who deserves a big thank you on behalf of the membership for her consistent effort in carefully managing and reporting on our funds this year. Thanks, Amy.
On behalf of all our members and the Executive Committee, I’d like to especially thank Courteney Lomas, who came on as our first paid Executive Director mid-year and immediately threw herself into wrangling our membership register, building partnerships, event management, crafting board reports, driving the Student Chapter, and the many other responsibilities that come with this wide-ranging role. Thank you for everything you’ve achieved in 2017, Courteney. You’ve helped make us real!
A considered decision we took in recent months was to cancel our membership of the VRARA in order to deliver greater benefits to our members onshore and by using our limited resources to build deeper, meaningful relationships with other offshore groups. Internationally, we remain the New Zealand voice of the global cross reality sector. We will announce the first significant steps in our international outreach activities in early 2018.
Next year we have plans in place for ‘VR in Architecture’ and ‘3D Asset/Environment Acquisition’ sessions in February and March 2018, across all three main centres, plus the launch of our second NZVRARA Report: Going Next Level, in Christchurch in mid-February. Look out for invitations to these events in January.
Further out, we’re now planning for our first independently-run industry survey in May 2018 to collect some annual data that will help inform our planning for the sector’s continued growth.
I hope you’re able to enjoy a relaxing summer break and return safely for a fantastic new year of rewarding opportunities in our dynamic, fast-growing cross reality space.
Chair, New Zealand VR/AR Association Inc.
The New Zealand VR/AR Association will be hosting its first NZVRARA Student Chapter Exhibition at PROJECTR® Wellington on Wednesday 6th December 2017.
This showcase of work comes from a selection of the 44 student members who joined during 2017 and demonstrates the extensive breadth of work being undertaken by undergraduate and post-graduate students, primarily sourced from the Wellington region.
The NZVRARA Student Chapter was formed in mid-2017 and is driven by NZVRARA Executive Director, Courteney Lomas, who is also the Student Chapter President.
“Our student members primarily come from the two on-campus VR Clubs we’ve formed this year at Massey University (VRTX) and Victoria University (Looking Glass),” says Ms Lomas. “The concept of forming on-campus interdisciplinary clubs and supporting these students with NZVRARA Student Membership has worked extremely well and the NZVRARA is proud to support their work.”
Ms Lomas encourages commercial users and the industry’s creators of virtual and augmented reality solutions to take the necessary time to come and see what the students have been working on this year.
“These students are the future of our industry; our interns, graduate employees and a deep pool of ideas to fuel the growth of New Zealand’s VR/AR sector,” stated Ms Lomas.
“In 2018, we expect to bring in members from other New Zealand centres, particularly the Auckland institutions of AUT, Media Design School and Auckland University. We’re really excited about the idea of hosting a nationwide exhibit this time next year and are on track to have over 100 student members by the end of March 2018,” Ms Lomas stated.
Local VR company, Blackeye, has stepped up to cover the costs of this foundation event. Blackeye Managing Director, Michael Gregg is highly supportive of the exploratory work undertaken by the graduates.
“We’re delighted to step in and play our part to support our sector,” says Mr Gregg. “A recent survey identified an approaching VR/AR skills shortage, so it’s important we encourage undergraduate students from across disciplines to access these new immersive technologies and build strong capability with a range of cross reality applications,” said Mr Gregg.
The 2017 Student Chapter Exhibition will open at 5:00pm at PROJECTR® Level 2, NEC House, 40 Taranaki St, Wellington. Please register attendance at http://bit.ly/2z84z1O .
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Courteney Lomas, NZVRARA Student Chapter President
Mobile 027 738 9340 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Zealand VR/AR Association Incorporated (NZVRARA) will hold its first Annual General Meeting on Thursday 29th June, 2017, at PROJECTR, New Zealand Virtual & Mixed Reality Centre, in the Wellington CBD.
All paid up members should have received via email, the formal Notice of AGM, our Audited Annual Accounts for the first year of the organisation and other documents relating to the upcoming AGM. Only paid up members are invited to this event, so please contact us at email@example.com if you would like to join the NZVRARA prior to this event, or join up through this website.
We will have drinks and nibbles from 5.30pm, showcasing some member applications, prior to the AGM starting at 6pm. We look forward to seeing all members at this milestone event.
2016/17 NZVRARA Executive Committee
Rush Digital, based in New York and Auckland and one of the world’s leading creative technology studios, is to become a strategic partner of the New Zealand VR/AR Association (NZVRARA).
Global VP Sales & Marketing, Ghanum Taylor will become a strategic partner on the NZVRARA board and Rush Digital will drive the Auckland arm of the organisation.
Since setting up in September 2016 to champion and grow innovation and investment in the burgeoning virtual, mixed and augmented reality businesses in New Zealand and showcase them globally, NZVRARA has already recruited a membership heading towards 100 creative organisations and individuals.
The NZVRARA is the official New Zealand chapter of the International VRAR Association http://www.thevrara.com, a global association, combining the best minds in virtual and augmented reality providing global connectivity for its members.
The New Zealand chapter is also supported by the BAFTA VR Advisory Group http://www.bafta.org/about/key-personnel/vr-advisory-group based in Los Angeles.
New Zealand is recognised as a country that is at the forefront of the VRAR industry.
“New Zealand has shown extraordinary success in the development of VR/AR technology, particularly in the development of ground-breaking VFX and computer animation to enhance the visual panorama of cinematic story telling. We welcome NZVRARA joining our international group of VR/AR innovators and the mutual benefits of our relationship,” said Roy Taylor, Chairman, BAFTA VR Advisory Group.
“We are encouraging membership from all parts of the creative industries, organisations and individuals, as virtual, mixed and augmented reality becomes more integrated into all innovative creative thinking,” said Executive Director Jessica Manins,
“And having a leader in the industry such as Rush Digital put their hand up to be one of our active champions is a major coup.”
“Being a New Zealand business in the US we are right at the heart of this rapidly growing sector and we’re proud to be a partner in these early days of NZVRARA. We recognise the importance of collaboration and the unlimited potential of New Zealand’s future in this field and we can’t wait to leverage our international experience for the association’, said Rush Digital’s Ghanum Taylor.
The New Zealand VR/AR Association (NZVRARA) is the New Zealand chapter of the VRARA – a global association, combining the best minds in virtual and augmented reality. The board is made up of 16 executives across New Zealand.
For information contact:
About Rush Digital:
Rush Digital uses cutting-edge digital engineering and a unique breadth of skillsets to converge advanced development into outcome-driven solutions, whilst endowing partners with original, bespoke methodologies for navigating the forthcoming technological revolution. They are on a journey to share their deep understanding of rapid engineering, create world-first solutions and devise astute innovation strategies. They are regarded throughout the industry as the fail-safe team to turn to, as well as the outfit who has been pushing boundaries across the board since 2010.
The New Zealand VR/AR Association is very pleased to announce we have gained support from the BAFTA VR Advisory Group.
” New Zealand has shown extraordinary success in the development of VR/AR technology, particularly in the development of ground-breaking VFX and computer animation to enhance the visual panorama of cinematic storytelling. We welcome NZVRARA joining our international group of VR/AR innovators and the mutual benefits of our relationship.” Roy Taylor. Chairman, BAFTA VR Advisory Group
The Virtual Reality Advisory Group has been created to explore and help articulate the impact that VR will have on the current landscape of the film, television and games industries.
As a member of NZVRARA you now have access to the largest directory of over 1,688 organizations involved in VR AR MR.
The VR/AR Association (VRARA) launched theDirectory in January 2017, the most comprehensive database of solution providers in VR and AR, globally. Members of NZVRARA get access to this database allowing them to quickly and easily find solution providers or partners based on categories, qualifications, geography and more. theDirectory has over 1,000 companies in the system that are searchable by company name, category, location, and comprehensive search tags.
“The launch of theDirectory helps fulfill our mission at the VR/AR Association of making it easier to connect, grow and gain knowledge in the VR and AR ecosystem at global scale,” said Nathan Pettyjohn, Founder & President of the Global VR/AR Association.
“With nearly 300 new companies per month entering the VR and AR ecosystem over the last year, it has become a major challenge for brands and companies to know who is in the ecosystem, where they are located, and what they do, said Kris Kolo, Global Executive Director of the VRARA. “Our team at VRARA will be working everyday to build upon theDirectory to help connect our members at a global scale.”
Companies wanting to make sure they’re included in theDirectory can submit their information for validation here: thedirectory.thevrara.com
About the VR/AR Association
The VR/AR Association (VRARA) is the global industry association for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, connecting leading solution providers with brands and customers. VRARA accelerates growth, fosters research and education, helps develop industry standards, connects member organisations and promotes the services of member companies.
As the New Zealand Chapter for The VR/AR Association, NZVRARA members have all the same membership benefits as global members plus local benefits including a profile in the New Zealand searchable online directory and local events and meetups.
To join our growing community register at http://www.nzvrara.nz/join-us/
VR / AR, the new medium that’s going to make anyone who’s on the pulse a billionaire right? Well it seems to me that’s how people approach it at least. In mid October I attended a conference at Paramount Studios in LA called VR on the Lot. It was a gathering on makers, producers and distributors. A networking event really. There were talks and demos by some of the biggest players in the market, actually all of the biggest players in the market. All packed into a two tight day schedule. There was also a party on the first night with heaps of alcohol which meant I didn’t make it to the first half of the second day, but I think they knew that would happen and scheduled the day accordingly…
I learnt a few things whilst attending the conference, but one of the biggest things I came away with was the affirmation that I know quite a bit about this industry, and that in Wellington, we’ve got a real opportunity to compete with the big boys. I thought I was going to turn up and have my mind blown, I don’t know why, I just thought I was going to be a complete ignoramus and everyone would see it. What I discovered is that the whole industry has no idea about what to do. Every single person envied in VR / AR is trying to work it all out, which means the opportunity to stand out is still very available. In order to keep this concise, I’ve bullet pointed my learnings. What was surprising about the event is that the focus was mainly on 360VR, with very little mentioned in terms of volumetric VR or AR. Here’s my thoughts, with a strong focus on 360 VR.
Storytelling in VR:
1 – Just beyond the line of reality and hyper reality is where you want to play. If you go too far out then the audience has no anchor to reality to make sense of the experience. If you give them something they understand, but then put a twist on that, then you blow their minds.
2 – The camera is the viewer. Being overly tricky with VR rigs is pointless unless it adds to the viewers experience and the story. eg, you wouldn’t drive somewhere on top of a car, so don’t rig a VR camera to the top of a car, unless of course you want the viewer to be sitting on top of a car, but again, that needs a purpose.
3 – You need to establish characters straight away. As the viewer gas the opportunity to look away, you have no way of directing their thought process and therefore no way to build characters if they’re not looking at them etc. Therefore you must use relatively obvious signals to tell the viewer who your character is and what role they play within that scene.
4 – The psychology of VR is very interesting. Things like height immediately tell your viewer something. Are you the dominant character in this story? Are you acknowledged, are you powerful, weak etc? These are all things that can be easily established by simply placing the camera at certain heights and within certain areas of a scene.
5 – Sound is 80% of the experience. I heard this a lot at the event. We all know how important sound is in film, but it’s even more important in VR. The sound allows us to fill in some of the blanks and helps us build a more immersive world of what we’re seeing, even if it’s only 2D, sound helps us feel like it’s 3D.
6 – Take stock from games. VR storytelling isn’t film and it’s not gaming. It’s more like a mash up between film, games and theatre. So learn from each medium and experiment with conventions from each medium.
Practical tips for making VR:
1 – Run a full rehearsal of your scene with your director standing exactly where the camera will be. This allows them to experience the scene as the viewer.
2 – Pre-Vis will save you A LOT of money!!
3 – Don’t over complicate the scene, it’s jarring for the viewer and nightmare for the editor.
4 – Shoot it as you want it. Don’t think you can just cut it out in post. You can, but it sucks and costs a shit tonne.
5 – At this stage shooting any closer than 4 feet can cause some issues with stitching in post… Not ideal and rig dependant. (360 only)
6 – Make original content. This is a new medium and only worth using if you’re going to use if for it’s new storytelling advantages!
1 – The market is only ready for 360 video at this stage. This is where brands and studios are putting their money for at least the next 2 years. More immersive experiences are expensive and have very limited audiences.
2 – Activation based content is highly desirable.
3 – Successful VR companies will be the ones who can truly utilise the technology for it’s new storytelling abilities.
4 – VR relies on the accessibility of headsets. Samsung’s bungle with the Note 7 is not good for the increase in consumer take up of VR.
5 – There’s an initial wave of brand uptake as it’s fun and exciting. We’ll see a downturn soon as the novelty wears off. Many companies will go back to conventional production while the dedicated VR story telling studios will survive until the medium really becomes solidified and sustainable as they have something truly great to offer.
6 – There’s going to be a shit tonne of money in this space for years to come. It’s going to be massive. The fact this was hosted at Paramount is a statement by the studios saying ‘we want this to happen’. It’s an exciting time and the companies who can master the true artistry of this new medium will prosper.
7 – VR production is very collaborative and requires a huge skill set, so certain cities have the opportunity to become hot spots for VR production. Wellington is one of them due to the creative and technical talent of the city. This could be a billion dollar industry for Wellington alone.
So that’s what I got from VR on the Lot. There were highs, there were lows, but I left feeling confident our business has made the right decision in pursuing this medium. It really is the future. What’s also exciting is that there are some Wellington based companies who will help pioneer this industry. We’re thinking ahead and we’re doing awesome work already.
Go make cool shit. Ben.