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Venice 2021 - Venice Production Bridge

Industry Report: New Media

VR technologies and metaverses are set to change media production and entertainment modes, say panellists at the Venice Production Bridge


Experts discussed how creators are pushing the boundaries to create real-time, multi-person experiences ranging from festivals, live performance, games and other artistic forms

VR technologies and metaverses are set to change media production and entertainment modes, say panellists at the Venice Production Bridge

Over the past 18 months, we have witnessed a huge growth in the use of social VR platforms to work, play and experience new forms of art and entertainment. This is the premise of one of the sessions hosted by this year’s Venice Production Bridge (2-7 September), which explored the current virtual ecosystem and  tried to predict where it is heading. The event, moderated by expert programmer consultant of the Venice VR Expanded competition Liz Rosenthal, saw the participation of Double Eye Studios’ creative director Kiira Benzing, futurist, author and metaverse consultant Theo Priestley and Eden Labs’ co-founder and CTO Rick Treweek, who all attended virtually.

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In his contribution, Priestley said that one of the key challenges for VR technologies will be accessibility, which may determine how many people could enjoy the experience through headsets or via web browsers. With the use of avatars, furthermore, we will be able to express ourselves in potentially endless ways. The development of avatar creation tools will be crucial; one might become a person, but even a plant, a table, or anything else. As a result, the construction of a metaverse may create new etiquettes for social interactions, it will force us to think data in three dimensions, and it will allow us to explore new – and, perhaps better – modes of entertainment and to open dedicated marketplaces for v-commerce.

The expansion of the whole sector has been impressive, explained Treweek. Specifically, some figures show that digital twin/industry 4.0 market was projected to grow to $29.57 billion by 2025, but new reports suggest that its size is anticipated to reach $86.09 billion by 2028. By far, the largest opportunity remains in the consumer space. Meanwhile, the global metaverse market is expected to reach $280 billion in 2025, a growth of over six times compared to the $46 billion recorded in 2020. This growth is accompanied by that of another industry, that of digital gaming, whose spending is expected to top $129 billion in 2021. Finally, the new opportunities for the creative and cultural industries will include new movie and e-sports experiences, NFT marketplaces, digital land ownership, metaverse social apps and many more.

Later, Benzing talked about her outfit’s commitment in creating high-quality, immersive content, presented at Sundance, Venice, NYFF and TriBeCa, among others, and their work Loveseat, presented at the Lido in 2019. The 60-minute experience followed two ordinary people drawn into a reality show competition to win the love of a Perfect Partner, mixing storytelling and interactions between the real and the digital, performed simultaneously with both virtual and physical audiences. Next, she presented a short sneak peak video about the studio’s latest effort, Finding Pandora X, presented in the VR Expanded strand at the festival.

Treweek spoke about the initial difficulties of using VR for people attending public events, describing their fears and their mixed feelings. He also spoke about Eden Labs’ work on VR and AR, its content distribution platform which allows users to create content while wearing the headset but also to share it and post images, and a simple touch screen system which helps users to swap scenarios before wearing the headset, among other innovations. Notably, Treweek hosted the entire presentation by showing his own avatar, moving around an entirely digitally-built environment.

The second part of the talk hosted an open discussion covering, among other topics, NFTs, cross-platforms, the ticketing systems of metaverses and other commercial opportunities offered by these groundbreaking technologies.

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