Inaugural "Future of Reality" Summit to be presented by UNCSA School of Filmmaking

The School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will present the inaugural Future of Reality Summit on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 5 and 6, at the school’s campus in Winston-Salem.

“The Future of Reality (FoR) Summit is an opportunity for attendees to explore, discuss and network as we delve into the ways emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality will redefine every aspect of our world,” said UNCSA School of Filmmaking Dean Susan Ruskin.

Professionals in the fields of medicine, business, technology, entertainment, sports and more are expected to attend.

Day One, Nov. 5, will be an “Immersive Arcade,” an unstructured “hands-on day” where participants can experience a wide spectrum of immersive media featuring eight exhibitors, from surgery to e-sports. The second day, Nov. 6, will be a full day of TED-style keynotes and panel discussions featuring more than two dozen speakers who are industry leaders and technology pioneers.  

Future of Reality Summit emcee Kent Bye is the host of a popular VR podcast

Summit host and emcee Kent Bye is host of popular VR podcast, "Voices of VR."

Kent Bye will be the Summit host and emcee. Since 2014, Bye has traveled to the top VR gatherings around the world and has published more than 700 Voices of VR podcast interviews featuring the pioneering game developers, enthusiasts and technologists driving virtual reality. He has conducted more than 90 interviews about artificial intelligence for his podcast The Voices of AI, which recently launched.

While the Summit is open to the public, registration is required. General admission tickets are $70. VIP tickets are $175, which will enable ticket holders to enter an hour early and have preferred seating in the theater.

“FoR is an intimate event intended to establish a network of executives, practitioners, researchers and thought leaders who will not only contribute to the narrative of FoR but will also help to create an environment for inspiration and collaboration between attendees and speakers,” said Ryan Schmaltz, Founding Director of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking’s Media and Emerging Technology Lab (METL).

Ryan Schmaltz is Director of the Media + Emerging Technology Lab at UNCSA

Ryan Schmaltz is Director of the Media + Emerging Technology Lab (METL) at UNCSA.

The Future of Reality Summit is the first event of the Lab, which was established by UNCSA Chancellor Lindsay Bierman and Dean Ruskin in spring 2018. As a spin-off of the Institute for Performance Innovation, funded by a $10 million gift, METL is dedicated to the exploration and production of immersive storytelling content.

“It’s both a public service and instructional unit, acting as a hub bringing immersive content, its producers, and technology companies together with UNCSA, our community, and venture capitalists to explore, test and develop new opportunities for economic growth in North Carolina,” said Dean Ruskin, who is also the Executive Director of METL.

“The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is uniquely suited to be at the forefront of this rapidly evolving technology due to the skills we teach and our faculty connections to the industry,” Dean Ruskin continued. “With the high level of tech innovation, bio-medical research, and engineering across the state of North Carolina, we have the ability to leverage one of the leading University systems in the country, as well as private universities, and focus on the acceleration of home grown startups in VR and AR.”

Susan Ruskin is Dean of the School of Filmmaking and Executive Director of METL.

Susan Ruskin is Dean of the School of Filmmaking and Executive Director of METL.

Among the industry leaders and technology pioneers who will take the stage at the Summit are:

  • Zeina Abi Assy, a writer and media artist who is the Director of Interactive Programs at Tribeca Film Institute.
  • Jacquie Barnbrook, winner of an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Her experience in leading-edge technology has led her to producing VR projects including “The Martian VR Experience,” a narrative interactive experience which was the first of its kind as an immersive cinema experience.
  • Phaedra Boinodiris, a member of IBM’s Academy of Technology and IBM’s Blockchain team, where she is responsible for strategy and engagement.
  • Diana Ford, the Global Academia and Industrial Research Head at Unity Technologies Labs. Prior to Unity, she taught the world's first AR|VR Games Computer Science (CS) courses at UCLA, and created and taught the first Storytelling Game AI Engineering course in CS at Stanford.
  • Teal Greyhavens, a partner and creative director at Dark Corner Studios, one of the world’s leading VR content studios and distribution platforms. Since its launch, Dark Corner has consistently been one of the top downloaded free apps on the Oculus Store for Gear VR, Rift, and Go.
  • Vi Hart, a mathemusician and education futurist known for popularizing the beauty and joy of mathematics through work such as Doodling in Math Class, Hexaflexagons, Twelve Tones and Parable of the Polygon.
  • John McBride, the CEO and Founder of Looking Glass Studios, a VR/AR consulting firm headquartered in Winston-Salem which is dedicated to utilizing immersive technologies for improving how businesses operate and connect with their audiences.
  • Guy Primus, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Virtual Reality Company (VRC), a market leader in the production and distribution of cinematic Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality content.
  • Yelena Rachitsky,  Executive Producer of Experiences at Oculus, overseeing dozens of groundbreaking, narrative-driven VR projects that range from Pixar's first VR project to original independent work. Prior to Oculus, she was the Creative Producer at Future of Storytelling (FoST).
  • Dav Rauch, who directs product development at IDEO with a focus on immersive experience design and emerging tech such as VR/AR. Most recently, he helped shape design concepts for the future of gaming, a robotic vision system for the blind, and the consumer experience of autonomous space flight.
  • Ted Schilowitz, the Futurist at Paramount Pictures and former Futurist at 20th Century Fox. He was a founding member of the product development team at RED Digital Cinema.
  • Josh Shabtai, Lowe’s Innovation Labs’ (LIL) Director of Lab Productions and Operations. He leads a global team whose mission is to make the future real today: developing, testing and ultimately scaling LIL’s narrative-driven productions across the Lowe’s network.
  • Kevin Vitale, CEO and Chairman of VRstudios, a leading innovator and provider of commercial virtual reality solutions to the location-based entertainment industry.

Sponsors of FoR include AirtypeLooking Glass, the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the ArtsLenovoLowe’s Innovation LabsWheelhouse MediaD-Box, and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

by Marla Carpenter

October 29, 2018