How VR Dominated SXSW This Year – Our Highlights + Recap

Virtual Reality

VR dominated SXSW this year, with the festival debuting a new track focused exclusively on AR/VR. Developers, storytellers, enthusiasts, and more gathered in Austin to discuss the state of VR today and the future of the industry tomorrow. Here were some of the highlights from the show.

Our SXSW Panel on 360 Storytelling in VR

VR Dominated SXSW

Subvrsive hosted a panel titled Ultimate Empathy Machine: 360 Storytelling in VR to discuss the challenges and successes of working in the new medium. We were joined by Andrey Doronichev, group product manager of VR products at Google, Mehrshad Mansouri, director of VR business development at GoPro, and Emmy Award-winning journalist Sarah Hill, chief storyteller at StoryUp VR. It was amazing to see just how many people were interested to hear what our panel of experts had to say. It was also interesting talking to folks before and afterward to hear how they themselves are using or intend to use 360 VR video. What amazed us most was hearing the breadth and depth of applications and use cases.

Brands are Embracing VR in Big Ways

VR Dominated SXSW

Lots of companies used VR at SXSW this year to get people interested in what they were showcasing at SXSW. Here are the onsite activations that we saw around the fest:

  • Samsung gave VR roller coaster rides and showcased Milk VR content and one of our projects for Showtime Boxing
  • IBM let attendees go on a 4d VR bike ride
  • Google Fiber let people experience Tilt Brush 
  • Gillette also did a VR roller coaster
  • McDonalds provided an HTC Vive experience

One of the most interesting things for us was to listen to people who had never in their life experienced virtual reality. Hearing them talk about it in excited voices affirmed to us why we started Subvrsive.

We Had A Blast:

Upload VR And AR/VR Austin hosted a fun night of drinks, demos, and conversations with VR’s emerging thought leaders, developers, and enthusiasts. One of the best parts about the party was to see just how connected and community oriented the VR industry is right now. It very much mirrors the early days of the tech scenes that have come before it, and the spirit of collaboration is contagious. In the words of Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist at Oculus, “These are the good old days.”

One of the standouts at the party was Pitch Hit, a fun indie game for the HTC Vive in which players can destroy the environment using baseballs and a baseball bat.

We were also given a look at Thrillbox’s VR 360 analytics platform, which launched at SXSW this year.

We Worked With Some Fantastic Clients

We worked closely with MTV to capture two 360 VR videos to capture the essence of SXSW. The first video was with hip hop artist A$AP Ferg and Har Mar Superstar cruising the streets of SXSW. The second was a street performance with rising country singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless performing on 6th Street.

We also hosted a VR breakfast with Weber Shandwick along with some of their clients and captured a talk with Guy Kawasaki for Comcast.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding VR right now, and rightly so. The Oculus Rift ships this month, followed by the HTC Vive in April. That excitement was contagious at SXSW, and between client work, panel obligations, and the general craziness of the week, we were kept quite busy. There are lots of things happening in VR in and around Austin year-round, and we’re excited to be a part of the community that has formed here as we continue to do great work for our fantastic clients.

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