Redefining the Future With Virtual Reality


Photo by Bob Toy.

Academy of Art University’s second Virtual Reality (VR) Summit in 2016 has continued to show off the latest revolutionary developments in immersive media. Despite the rain, the 79 New Montgomery Theater was jam-packed with attendees on Dec. 8, 2016. The summit gathered thought leaders and VR industry pioneers from Zeality, Dysonics, Oculus Story Studio and Jaunt VR.

“We are bringing all of the top people in the VR world to our school,” said Executive Director of Immersive Technology James Egan. “We want students to learn how VR can be an amazing job opportunity in various industries. This is a new world that is going to change every department.”

The panelists made their point clear that VR is still in its early stages of development, and the potential of this cutting-edge technology is endless.

“Immersive media is a whole new platform that will revolutionize the way we create and consume content and define the use of media,” said Dipak Patel, co-founder and CEO at Zeality, the first immersive media network delivery platform. “It doesn’t matter whether it is augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality or holographic reality. We are talking about moving someone from square to a physical place, where everywhere you look something is going on.”

Patel explained that the VR industry is still lacking the audience awareness. Most users don’t know how to experience 360 and 90 percent of the content is going completely unexplored. He then challenged the students to produce content that invite users to do something beyond just looking around.


(L-R) James Egan, Kim Adams, Andy Wood, Dipak Patel, Brooke Chapman, Alex Pearce and Bob Dalton were a part of the 2016 VR Summit panel. Photo by Bob Toy.

Robert Dalton, the co-founder and CTO of Dysonics, an immersive audio technology company, mentioned that one of the ways to guide audiences’ movements is through sounds. “In VR, audio is going to play a much more fundamental and important role. The audio cue is going to be your guide to experience things that are happening all around you in 360 content,” he explained.

Oculus Story Studio brought up the importance of creating a good story in new emerging media. The Summit’s attendees also got the chance to step into the world of Dear Angelica, an Oculus Story Studio movie that was entirely illustrated using Oculus Touch, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month.

“There is nothing to stop students from making the next VR masterpiece in a better way of doing something that no one else has figured out yet,” said Andy Wood, production manager at Oculus Story Studio. “Academy of Art has a lot of VR equipment that students have access to, and it’s exciting to see what students can do with that.”


Photo by Bob Toy.


Photo by Bob Toy.


Photo by Bob Toy.


Photo by Bob Toy.

The VR Summit 2016 also showcased students’ VR projects from the Academy’s advanced VR classes this semester. One of the students was industrial design graduate Ivan Lee. He and his team created a psychological horror short film in 360 that received a positive response.

“The students learned so much in a short period of time and they were able to create stories that surprised industry people,” said Academy VR instructor Alex Pearce, who is also a producer at Jaunt, the leading company pioneering cinematic VR. Students have access to software and equipment, including the award-winning 360o Jaunt ONE camera. He encouraged students from all majors to take the VR introductory class, which has no prerequisite. “This is the best time to get into the VR industry, the major technical hurdle has already been solved, but the real potential hasn’t been seen yet.”

VR is an interesting new medium to express creativity. Having skills in immersive media also opens up many job opportunities. Take the introductory class as soon as possible and get ready to enter the VR world.