XR on the Bay Recap: aka the Day Roger Didn’t Get to Meet Silicon Valley’s Gilfoyle (Part 2)
(Continued from Part 1)
Dave Ward, Cisco, left; Ben Havey, Walt Disney Studios, right, during “the reveal” of Disney’s StudioLAB
Leslie Ellis: Such as what it takes to make a blockbuster film. As in, hundreds of people, and it takes months. Whereas with new and emerging VR tools, smaller teams can work together more tightly: “It allows directors and writers to connect in new ways.” He talked a lot about “location-based entertainment,” LBE, like The Void. Have you done it?
Roger Sherwood: I have not.
LE: You should. There’s one in Vegas. It’s a Star Wars “hyper-immersive experience, where you’re moving through environment. He said it’s getting very, very high satisfaction ratings and return visits. Exact words, “honestly, we can’t pry people out of there.”
RS: Have you?
LE: No. But at least I’ve seen the movies now … long story! Switching subjects, Ben also shared some really interesting insights about how he sees the future. One element, he said, is that volumetric capture will the next big experience in cinema. So there was that volumetric capture thing again. “What if you could take that geometry all the way through, and really render it at the edge — or at the local device?” Along with that, he said that “the future is real-time,” and that the “the future experience is going to be social and participatory.” All of which has to sound like angels singing, to someone who works for Cisco.
RS: I was just going to say something just like that! Is that how he got to “the big reveal”?
LE: It is. That’s when Dave Ward joined the stage. I don’t have to tell you this, but for our readers, he’s CTO of engineering, and chief architect, at Cisco. (And yes, he came out in sock feet, cool socks, as usual.) They hugged. It was sweet. Together, Dave and Ben announced your collaboration on the new StudioLab, in Burbank, which Ben described as “a place and program dedicated to storytelling via new technology.”
Here’s a “you were there” tidbit: Ben was pretty jazzed (understatement!) that the studio is on the Disney lot, in the same building that Walt Disney himself built, after Snow White was such a success. So where you guys will be working is a wing in the old animation building, where 60-some Disney animators made who knows how many beautiful films! (I think you need to invite me there. Eh?)
RS: I can do that. What did Dave have to say?
LE: He said this: “If you want to progress into mobile VR, you need a company that provides mobile to entire nations. We’d like to create a bigger Internet, and increase the value of how people use it.” To which Ben said: “78,000 new friends, coming to the lot!”
RS: Ha! This is great. Thank you. Keep going. Are we up to Martin Starr yet? Gilfoyle? Your hero?
LE: Not quite. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the presentation given by Rick Champagne, head of industry strategy and marketing for media & entertainment at NVIDIA. He went a little long, but the audience was eating it up.
RS: What all did he cover?
LE: Oh, it went from what’s happening in the GPU segment — I have to quote him here, because it’s so impressively nerdy: “We recently released the world’s most powerful GPU ever created, the DGX2. It has 16 interconnected Tesla GPUs. There’s over 2,000 Teraflops of tensor cores in there. It’s designed for deep learning and it’s super fast.”
RS: Oh baby oh baby.
LE: Right? Hot!. LOL. So much good stuff. One of the things I marked in bold: “A lot of things happening in AI are focused on video.” He also did a really (really) nice job of explaining the difference between AI, ML, deep learning, and all the new lingo. He was great. A gifted and practiced explainer.
RS: More angels singing!
LE: Another interesting thought, and the second time it was stated that day: Moore’s Law is petering out. “GPU, on the other hand, the performance is just going at an exponential rate — not just the hardware, but the ecosystem around it.”
And then, after that, FINALLY! The main attraction — Martin Starr. Who looked slightly different than Gilfoyle, because he grew a thick beard. He was wearing a blue Kansas City hat, black jeans, and a gray t-shirt. You know. For the “you were there” aspect of it.
Jim “Mad Dog” Chabin, Advanced Imaging Society, with Martin Starr
RS: What’s he like?
LE: Down to earth. Respectful. Grateful. Funny, very funny! Dry sense of humor. Relaxed and alert. (And I gotta say, Rog, that Jim Chabin is a really, really good interviewer. And that’s me saying that. I study interviewing with a passion!)
RS: LOL. He is. We’ve nicknamed him “Mad Dog”. What did you bold from the interview?
LE: All of it.
RS: LOL! Un-bold some of it, then. Pick out your favorite parts; the things you were surprised to learn.
LE: Ok. A lot of friends had asked me to find out if he’s really a tech person; if he really gets the reason why so many people love Silicon Valley, because it so accurately portrays that whole scene. He said this: “Mostly it goes over my head. I have no connectivity tissue in my life for it; I’m still at a very base-level relationship with technology. A lot of it I learn and understand … for 40 minutes, and then I forget it. For the rest of my life.”
RS: Were you disappointed?
LE: Not at all. Truth is truth.
RS: Did you ask your question about bitcoin? What was it — if he could rig a noise like his “bitcoin noise” on the show, what would trigger it?
LE: I did! He said he mostly keeps his phone on silent. I can relate. Those are the “bold points.” And a lot more. Are you informationally satiated?
RS: I guess so. I am definitely not missing the next one.
LE: When is that? I want to go!
RS: Not sure yet, but I’ll keep you and the Silicon Valley and Hollywood worlds informed to the best of my ability! Thanks for doing this. And thanks to the AIS for co-hosting, and to everyone in front of and behind the scenes — you know who you are.
LE: Speaking of which, a big shout out to the emcee of the day, Lori H. Schwartz. She has the gift. She was great. Thanks again Rog.