VRLA 2017: Our highlights.

VRLA 2017: Our highlights.

This year was VRLA’s biggest yet. On April 14th – 15th, the Expo took over the LA Convention Center to demo some of the craziest and cutting-edge tech that the immersive sector has to offer – think virtual objects that feel real but aren’t, tech-fuelled psychedelic trips, and driving in MR.

VRLA also brought industry leaders in VR, gaming, media and entertainment together to present thought-provoking keynotes on the most vital issues of the medium right now, from cognitive states in VR to breaking into the mainstream. For those who didn’t make it this year, here’s our breakdown of the most inspiring talks from the expo.


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All set for #VRLA @vrlosangeles!! Here we go! #VR #AR #MR #XR rock us!

What we really need for VR to take flight – from gaming industry veteran John Riccitiello

Unity CEO John Riccitiello took to the stage for Friday’s keynote. Riccitiello not only led the transformation of EA during his time there as CEO, but played a crucial role in Unity’s growth as one of the world’s most popular cross-platform game engine over the last two years and has been a key investor in emerging VR and AR companies (including Oculus). As you’d expect, Riccitiello’s talk was packed with business realness and actionable advice for the burgeoning VR sector. Over the course of the keynote, Riccitiello outlined a framework for pushing VR towards real success, without hyping the medium into disappointment, and without running out of money along the way.


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Price & content are CRITICAL along the development curve of #VR (& its gap of disappointment) @johnriccitiello #VRLA @vrlosangeles

Riccitiello also shed light on trends, patterns and predictions suggesting a bright future for VR content, and reminded us how crucial the present moment is for the medium. The key players of VR content, Riccitiello predicted, will emerge from the current generation of innovators and developers. Riccitiello pointed to mobile, streaming and haptics as the key ingredients for success in VR, and broke down the factors that made The Void’s Ghostbusters a winning experience.

Meeting people in VR, Riccitiello added, is possible and will happen. Maybe not as soon as we hope – in fact, a lot of big dreams for VR won’t become a reality for a long time coming. But it’s precisely this long-term mindset that’s crucial. The job of top VR companies now, Riccitiello concludes, is creating the opportunity; The current generation will create the industry.


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Keynote of @johnriccitiello CEO @unity3d @vrlosangeles #VRLA: no need to convince you that #VR & #AR are gonna take off, but figure out how!

Watch the full keynote here:


Get funded! Pitching VR to VCs

Later in the afternoon, the audience had the chance to meet the companies creating the opportunities central to pushing VR forward – the VCs. A panel talk led by global lawfirm Latham and Watkins brought together VP Peter Liu of Pritzker Group, who contributed to IrisVR’s $8 Million Series A round; Anarghya Vardhana, Senior Associate at Maveron, lead investor for social VR startup PlutoVR’s recent $13.9 Million Series A round; and Kevin Zhang, partner at Upfront Ventures, who recently led a $4 Million Seed round for TheWaveVR.

Early-stage VR founders had the chance to pitch and ask questions about the ins and outs of funding VR today. Liu, Vardhana and Zhang gave insight into what VCs are really looking for in a startup. Aside from the tech, of course, this included team’s talents and working culture, a smooth demo, user knowhow and the potential to leverage the product. Execution, they agreed, is important no matter what when it comes to pitching VR.


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VR #VC #pitching workshop #VRLA @PritzkerVC @Maveron @upfrontvc what matters most: team, #tech, demo, user knowhow & potential to leverage!

Catch the rest of their pitching pointers here:


What’s next? Pipeline convergence in AR, MR, VR, Film, Gaming and more. 

2016 saw an unprecedented amount of content created for games, film and interactive experience. Today, convergence is on the horizon. Leading VR firms including The Foundry Team, VR Playhouse, PsyOp and Magnopus came together for a panel on the future of crossover content, from films with VR counterparts and to new collaborations between gaming, advertising and creative industries.


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VR #AR #MR #convergence panel with @TheFoundryTeam @VRPlayhouse @psyop @magnopus @vrlosangeles #VRLA

See the full discussion on pipeline convergence here:

The case study: Wonder Buffalo

Wonder Buffalo is one of 2017’s standout VR moments. The immersive experience combines an emotive and innovative approach to both storytelling and visual tech to bring viewers to the heart of issues of body image, culture and bullying. For this panel, Wonder Buffalo creators and contributors Christine Berg (Director), Brian Frager (VR producer), Scott Gershin (Sound director at Technicolor) and Rainer Gombos (Realtra VR CEO) shared their ideas about the relationship of art and socially-aware storytelling, and discussed the strengths of a mixed-media approach, blending photogrammetry, animation and immersive sound design.


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art & #tech merging to connect #users to #storytelling: Wonder Bufallo #interactivity #gamification & #volumetrics #VR @vrlosangeles #VRLA https://t.co/2DyJahrTWH

Watch the panel in full below:


All in all, an action-packed two days with a keen focus on the issues at the heart of the VR industry right now and in the near future. See you next year!