Women in AR/VR
Women in ARVR (WIARVR) founded by Amber Cordeux (Humense), Alison Nolan, Michela Ledwidge (MOD Productions) and Carli Johnson (Virtual Method) organized an extraordinary gathering of like minded professionals sharing their passions for the projects they have and are delivering and the journeys that led them to be where they currently are in their careers today.
Held at AIT (Australian Institute of Technology) in Ultimo, the event was MC’d by Alison Nolan, strategist/EP with a wealth of background in the event and VR production space across the five continents, introducing key speakers. These included Michela Ledwidge who shared reflections and insights dealing with the how to work through the process of designing interactive immersive environments.
Carli Johnston co founder of Virtual Method presented the new product developments Zapper, a London based AR/VR company, has brought into the market. As we downloaded the app https://www.zapper.com/download.php QR based trigger, we then experienced some of the new developments, as videos played and everyone pulled out their mobiles zapping and experiencing the video playbacks the app streams.
Mikaela Jade of https://www.indigital.net.au/ shared via skype from her home in Arnhem land, along with De Greer Yindimincarlie of http://www.yindiartz.com.au/ the making of and background to The Magic Canoe and paddle (read more here: http://www.yindiartz.com.au/WINconference.html
For me personally, this form of using technology to bridge gaps culturally and share with a global audience the knowledge indigenous cultures have brought to current day society, is probably the most inspiring to see actualized. Here are women working with their communities not only to share knowledge but to empower with skills many who would normally not have access.
Jessica Gilroy of Catalyst VR shared the work they are currently engaged in and growing as they work with their clients delivering innovative marketing solutions using VR immersive technology and AR application to engage audiences in the amplification of key product placements. What was clear here was the induction process they are having to take their clients through, as we did in the beginning when interactive media became a digital reality.
A fireside discussion post presentations brought up key questions amongst all including background knowledge that led them to wanting to create within the AR VR space. Most participants shared that they literally threw themselves in the deep end to understand the process involved in executing an ‘idea’. Learning code, design, investigating the how to’s and what was the software required or to be improved on…in order to get something visual on screen or in writing.
The hundreds or better said thousands of hours spent, they only know, but I do know it takes dedication and a passion that is driven by the desire to create. Truly humble women, shy you could say, but what incredible talent they bring and share. Egos are healthy and balanced, it’s not about standing out against others but of creating beautiful work that opens the audience to new experiences and also guiding others who are wanting to enter into the industry.
One of the key understandings they also each experienced as they worked out the how to’s, was the clear understanding of the skills required and the talent you would need to bring together to help to actually develop the vision into a reality.
Here team work, supportive environments, either workplace or personal where you can draw people in who want to support the reality of ‘making it happen’ and getting it into the market place, was key. It’s not easy finding those that share the same vision with a balance of skills for all of you to work together to make it happen.
Everyone has a skill they can bring to projects. They may have additional skills they want to develop further, but when working as a team, the key skill that they bring is the one that will support the whole.
At times the vision is ‘massive’ out there, something that is applicable a few years down the path, because the audience or technology has not reached that point where it can be executed, without costing a fortune, or received by a global audience due to the ‘need’ not being there yet.
This doesn’t stop you from moving forward, it just brings caution to the wind on how each step you take forward should be managed, and whom you should let in and share with.
Ultimately money to fund is the key to all successful ideas coming to market. The period we seem to be in now is supporting clients in understanding how their marketing dollars can actually be spent successfully to bring greater awareness to their products, services, key message, and adapting these technologies to work for them successfully.
Other times it’s simply a technology or an idea that does need venture capital, a technological solution that could help many, entertain, educate, provide additional solutions in research, support systems that need faster solution based technology to cut through thousand of hours of data… Venture capital is out there, but here it’s a man’s world, and it’s not easy breaking through, but one can’t stop trying.
On the couch at the fireside chat we shared and heard from Aniese Josey of http://www.snepo.com/ a quietly brilliant mind who has received the support of her company to bring some advanced software developments into fruition.
Kim Neale of Character Mill and PTC THingWorx shared the experience of working with disgruntled clients who were misleadingly informed in the first instance by ever too eager companies trying to make a mark in a still too fledgling market, that AR or VR was the solution, when at the time it probably wasn’t. They are changing this client relationship experience now. Clients are looking for companies like Kim’s and all those that these women work with and have created. It’s the relationship of walking hand in hand and not just putting out your hand to get the dollars.
Many of us who have been in the industry long enough, have experienced clients who have been misled at some point in time, and it makes it hard for us, but trust is gained and relationships formed. Projects are launched and the experience of money well spent and also a clearer understanding of the production process and the results it brings, bridges the gap. It’s important to guide clients and be as transparent as possible. It’s the only way forward in such a competitive landscape.
Along with Claire Marshall an award winning creative who will be speaking at Vivid this year, Michela who was leading the fireside discussion then raised the issue of gender inequality in our creative technological landscape. It’s not a topic we want to have to discuss, it would be great if it didn’t exist but it does still, but slowly amongst software engineers, developers, technologists, creative directors, company leads, women are starting to find their place and they are there because of the thousands of hours they dedicated to their passion.
Many workplaces are now encouraging women to be part of the core leadership teams. It’s not that we do it better, we just do it and most understand the importance of nurturing fellow team members. Our male counterparts do also, but to be honest over the last 22 years, my personal experience has been to see women open doorways for others, mentoring and the spiral effect this has created.
It was a great night, and I felt honoured to be part of it, sharing my own experiences as an entrepreneur.
It’s taken me a month to finish this post, work has taken over, as it tends to, but hey we love what we do and the new people we meet as we are brought into new environments.
If you want to read more about the evening AIT wrote an insightful piece http://ait.edu.au/blog/women-in-ar-vr
To all who are entering into these amazing new storytelling interactive creative environments of AR and VR, reach out and ask for help when you need it – there are always people willing to share and support. Don’t stop your vision because you get stuck. At MOD Productions they encourage this and Michela and her crew are certainly people one can trust and they are pioneers in this space. But I can also say this of all the women listed in this post.