An Interview with Keram Malicki-Sanchez – Executive Director of VRTO

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Keram Malicki-Sanchez is an actor, director, musician, futurist and the Executive Director for VRTO – Virtual Reality Toronto.

Last week, the VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo 2016 took place and there was quite an amazing lineup of speakers as well as some very interesting discussions.

We had a chance to do a quick interview with Keram and here is what he had to say about the Expo and the state of the AR & VR industry.

You had a great lineup of speakers this year at the VRTO Expo. What are some of the key topics that were discussed?

The Code of Ethics was a key moment – historic in fact; it began with Steve Mann’s keynote – the function of 14 years of talks and deliberation, to identify and ratify a set of standards and practices for future technologies concerned with surveillance, sousveillance, human augmentation.

Our panels, though seemingly about interactive VR and 360 storytelling, endeavored to test the boundaries while codifying the best practices for comfortable experiences, in other words, respect for the viewer. VR and AR are immensely powerful tools for humans, to manipulate and exploit cognitive biases and thus deserve respect. In the end, this was a show about better understand what we are as humans.
20160627---VRTO---Virtual-Reality---Toronto-Conference-Photography---Captive-Camera---Jaime-Espinoza-6386b

(20160627 – VRTO – Virtual Reality – Toronto Conference Photography – Captive Camera – Jaime Espinoza-6386)

One of the highlights this year was FIVARS. What can you tell me about that?

FIVARS seeks to create a very narrow filter with exceptionally high standards with the intention of pushing the boundaries and revealing what new forms of storytelling can really be about. We want to avoid simple reskins of a gee-whiz tech, and instead, focus on how we can express our personal experiences, our gestalt in previously unavailable ways. This was a preview of the FIVARS 2016 selections

Coming from a film background, what are some of the most pressing challenges with 360 video and where do you see it going in the future?

The challenges are just the limits of our imagination. Having studied with Werner Herzog I learned that often the biggest challenges to creating stories for others to experience is just our own unwillingness to try, our fear and laziness.

There is no boss here, no authority. It is up to us to fully liberate our imagination and explore. That said, stitching is a real bitch. I want to offer that as a consolation: if you are making 360 an think that the stitching part sucks, you are right. It is currently very expensive to have it done professionally, and laborious to do yourself, but with time this will get better, and easier. It is a manual, hand crafted process for now though, and I like that.

When do you think hollywood will truly embrace AR & VR as a standard?

It is trying hard to now, but the strange time issue is an obstacle. Most effective 360 experiences are 3-5 minutes. Also for some reason, the actors arent there yet, this may be because it really requires a specialized form of acting; you are almost self-editing since in 360 you arent cutting away from poor takes,you re always on camera and so must be constantly aware. Not only that but you have to hide all lighting and grip, directors and so on.This isnt universal in all immersive projects, but is as different to traditional contemporary cinema, as talkies were to silent film.

The adult industry is one of the top demographics for ROI in VR. I was told that you were in talks about discussing how VR / AR will effect the production, distribution and even licensing of the adult entertainment business? What can you tell us about that?

People always have this lightbulb over their heads like they are the first to realize that porn and vr might make good bedfellows. Sure thats true, but we have to consider all the unique parameters and effects that 360 brings; camera positions can make people seem gigantic or miniature. Also, with 2 and 3D on a single plane, porn wants to burst into your attention by invading the screen. In 360, personal space is a real thing, and person sticking their stockinged foot in your mouth can feel like a real invasion of privacy, which, when we are watching porn, is what we kinda signed up for. I think it poses interesting questions about the very nature of how porn is presented and received. There are experts in this field with PHds in psychology far better equipped to discuss it, but for me, what matters is how 360 and stereoscopic 360 disrupts the porn industry, just as it does standard film and tv.

In your experience, what are the key innovations that you anticipate we can expect to see this year for the AR / VR Industry?

WebVR, social VR, mediated reality (a ‘better term’for mixed reality coined by Professor Steve Mann) , untethered room scale vr, ambisonic spatialized, 3d audio – all of which will heighten the transportive qualities and sense of presence and also allow meaningful interaction to take place in new contexts.

When do you think we will reach a peak level of VR device distribution in the hands of everyone?

Eight years.

Do you think VR will ever become a prime time viewing experience, much like social media has dominated previous forms of media?

Yes.

Do you think Web VR will have a breakout in the next year?

JanusVR is exploding, and being built into browsers in a stable manner. There is a huge community growing around it and with HTC Vive and Oculus, and soon Razer slowly permeating households, Web VR is a platform agnostic, low overhead, interoperable. Our resident expert Alusion says “it is frictionless, and has the potential to go viral, which apps cannot inherently do.”

To learn more about VRTO, check out their website at: http://virtualreality.to/
The next VRTO Expo will held in June 2017: http://conference.virtualreality.to/

Photo above of Keram_Malicki-Sanchez_Director-FIVARS – Photo_by_Tim_Leyes

Sean

Sean Earley is the Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine, Virtual Reality Consultant at INSCALE, an author, blogger, musician, artist and virtual reality freak. He Loves coffee, guitars and making cool stuff.

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