#439: Ted Schilowitz on Bringing VR & Interactive Storytelling to Hollywood

ted_schilowitz_p_2014When Ted Schilowitz was looking for what to do after traveling the world as the first RED Camera employee, he happened upon an opportunity to serve as a futurist for 20th Century Fox for looking at how to use emerging technologies for storytelling. Over the past three years, he’s had a lot of early access to hardware from all of the major virtual and augmented reality companies ranging from Oculus, Valve, Sony, Google, Magic Leap, ODG, and Microsoft.


He’s been exploring what’s possible with VR and AR, and he says that “the abilities of a new medium start to define the demands of a new medium.” He’s worked on a number of different VR experiments to discover how to best blend together narrative and interactivity within the context of these new “spatial mediums.” One of the first and most ambitious experiments was a half-hour long Martian VR experience that was one of the hottest tickets at Sundance. It integrated the D-BOX 4D effects chair and Oculus Touch controllers, and put you in the first-person perspective of many key scenes from The Martian movie.

I had a chance to catch up with Ted at VRLA where he told me the story of introducing VR and AR technologies to a lot of Hollywood studio executives and storytellers. He shares some of his favorite interactive narrative experiences ranging from Pearl to Valve’s Aperature Repair to The Gallery as well as polished interactive experiences like NVIDIA’s VR Funhouse and the Valve Lab demos. We talk about the balance between global and local agency in interactive narratives, what can be learned from storytelling in theme park rides, the emerging language of storytelling in VR, and what it takes to become a viable practitioner of these future technologies.

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Music: Fatality & Summer Trip