Highlights From New York City’s Upcoming VR In The Sky Event

Beyond the well-known gaming experiences, immersive reality impacts a collection of entertainment industries by way of ads, live event broadcasts, news shows, and more. Different markets are catering to these new experiences to varying degrees and New York continues to make significant efforts.
One example of the increased exposure in New York City is VR In The Sky, a two-day event focused on the ads, brands, and media communities in the city. The event will be home to a collection of content and premiers exclusively in VR, AR, 360-degree media, and MR from movie studios, television networks, producers, distributors, and more. The schedule is pretty dense and we’ve got a few of the highlights.
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The opening night event takes place on Tuesday July 11th and features a reception presented by AMD and The Foundry. The Foundry will be debuting new updates for their 3D compositor Nuke and you must RSVP to attend. The following two days are riddled with keynotes, presentations, and more and these are just a few of the highlights for each day:
Wednesday, July 12th
10:15 am – 10:45 am | Keynote: The World’s Most Compelling New Experiences (Unity)

Tony Parisi | Head of VR/AR Strategy, Unity
Tony Parisi is a virtual reality pioneer, serial entrepreneur and angel investor. Tony is the co-creator of 3D graphics standards, including VRML, X3D and glTF, the new file format standard for 3D web and mobile applications.Tony is also the author of O’Reilly Media’s books on Virtual Reality and WebGL: Learning Virtual Reality (2015), Programming 3D Applications in HTML5 and WebGL (2014), and WebGL Up and Running (2012).

Julie Shumaker | Vice President, Business Development, Unity
In her role at Unity Technology, Julie leverages the power of play as an ad medium to drive the largest independent monetization platform in games. She has led this charge through game industry platform shifts, beginning with the ’01 launch of Electronic Art’s advertising business in online casual and console game environments. Subsequently, Julie navigated the migration of games from web to social and mobile in growing the ads business at Zynga to its leadership position today. Prior to diving into the gaming space she led revenue for fifaworldcup.com at Yahoo! and was a key player in Quokka Sports’ 1999 IPO.
3:35 pm – 3:55 pm | 360 & VR: News & Documentaries (Time, Inc./Life VR, CNN and Discovery VR)

Joelle Zerillo | Account Director, Video, VR/AR, Social, Time Inc.
In September 2016, Joelle co-led the launch of LIFE VR, Time Inc.’s multi-platform virtual reality brand. Driving marketing strategy and sales development across Time Inc. for 360 and VR solutions. Following the success of LIFE VR, Joelle co-led the launch of LIFE AR with the first-ever AR-enabled issue of Sports Illustrated. Joelle continues to strategically implement immersive storytelling across Time Inc. via sales and marketing channels.

Jason Farkas | VP, Premium Content Video, CNN
Jason Farkas is Vice President of Premium Content Video for CNN. Farkas works across CNN Digital’s premium vertical channels, including CNNMoney, CNN Media + Entertainment and CNN Style.
He also runs Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, CNN’s Sunday program that examines the role of the media. As executive producer of the show, Farkas has managed the expansion of the program to a multi-platform product that produces a daily e-newsletter and regular digital content for CNNMoney including the NewTube and Headliners video series.
Additionally, Farkas spearheads CNNVR – the network’s virtual reality newsgathering and storytelling operation. He led CNN’s efforts to be the first media outlet to live stream a major news event in virtual reality with the trailblazing project of capturing and streaming CNN’s Republican and Democratic Debates. Praised by critics for “flipping conventional wisdom on its head” and “pushing the brand as technologically savvy,” Farkas continues to experiment with VR as a journalism tool for the network.
Prior to joining CNN, Farkas ran afternoon programming on Bloomberg Television, and launched several primetime shows at CNBC.
He’s a graduate of Middlebury College, and a New York City native.

Mia Tramz | Managing Editor of LIFE VR, TIME
Mia Tramz is the Managing Editor of LIFE VR, Time Inc’s company wide virtual reality initiative. Since joining TIME as an Associate Photo Editor in 2013, Mia has embraced immersive digital storytelling in many forms, culminating with her involvement shaping the editorial voice of Time Inc.’s new VR brand, developing and producing VR content across the media company’s 30+ titles. LIFE VR launched as a multi-platform virtual reality brand in September 2016.
Thursday, July 13th
9:20 am – 9:35 am | Broadcast & Brand Studies (Natpe)

Lori H. Schwartz | Principal, StoryTech
Lori H. Schwartz is a true technology catalyst (‘Tech Cat’). As a leading advisor and speaker in marketing and tech innovation, Lori collaborates with top creative and strategic executives of multiple brands, tech and content companies to ensure their understanding of emerging business models while designing unique experiences to create engagement.
Los Angeles Based, Lori is a CNN Technology Contributor and a frequent speaker at major industry events as well as for private companies helping to facilitate conversations around new business models and technology innovation. You can find her broadcasting weekly on Voice America’s business channel on her ‘Tech Cat Show’​.

Ryan A. Bell | Director of Digital Strategy, Hydro Studios
Ryan A Bell represents an intersection of entertainment and emerging tech. As a judge for both Shorty Awards and The Emmys he also bridges new digital with traditional film. His eye for creative strategy helps showcase his work at Hydro Studios and redefines the ways that collaboration in broadcasting, content creation and technology combine. Work with NATO, Intel, BMW and other major brands is balanced with coordinating the first live 360 broadcast of a US President during Obama’s Farewell speech. Ryan is a member of The Television Academy, recipient of The Presidential Volunteer Service Award for his work with Special Olympics, an award winning poet, actor and songwriter who has received recognition from Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, TechCrunch and many other outlets.. His goal is to create the undefinable and to uncover the next renaissance in creation and connection.

Elijah Blitz | VR Director, TIME
Elijah Allan-Blitz is one of the first Virtual Reality directors for TIME magazine. His award winning VR experience about the holocaust was created as a companion piece for the Ken Burns PBS documentary, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War. Elijah has also directed VR experiences for Aloe Blacc, Byron Katie and HBO.

Graham Sack | Director, Lincoln in the Bardo
GRAHAM SACK is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and academic. Graham wrote and directed a VR experience for New York Times VR based on LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, the acclaimed novel by author George Saunders. He is currently developing VR episodic series for Felix and Paul Studios and for Google. He previously wrote and directed DON’T LOOK AWAY, an interactive cinematic VR experience about aging, time, and the scarcity of attention; a VR documentary about solar power for the Rockerfeller Foundation and Matter Unlimited; and SUBJECT:OBJECT, a VR experience for New York Theatre Workshop about the private life of objects. Graham’s most recent screenplay, SEPTILLION TO ONE, made the 2015 Hollywood Blacklist, sold in one of the most competitive spec sales of the year, and is scheduled to go into production with Odd Lot Entertainment. He is currently writing OPERATION IVY LEAGUE, a true crime story about a drug cartel based in a college fraternity, for Langley Park Entertainment (GANGSTER SQUAD, TRAFFIC). Graham began his career as a child actor on Broadway, starring in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers and in films such as Dunston Checks In and TV shows such as Law & Order and New York Undercover. Graham also holds a BA from Harvard, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and is completing a PhD in Digital Humanities at Columbia University, where his research is focused on computational approaches to storytelling. He is represented by the Gersh Agency (Bayard Maybank & Bob Hohman).
4:45 pm – 5:10 pm | Tent – Pole Theatrical Features VR, Create VR, and Legend VR

Mia Tramz | Managing Editor of LIFE VR, TIME

Jake Black | Head of VR, CreateVR
Makers and marketers of VR experiences, specializing in movie studio and entertainment-based IP. Major work includes Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ghostbusters, and The Walk.

Will Maurer | VP, VR and Animation, Legend
With nearly two decades of experience in the Entertainment Industry, Will has worked his way up through the ranks, beginning as a PA, and is now currently an Executive at Legend where he has built and grown multiple lines of business, including VR, VFX, Animation and Content.
His ability to deliver complex projects on budget and schedule, while striving to provide clear and transparent communication, has been a key factor in building and maintaining long-term trusted relationships with Filmmakers, Financiers, Brands and Studio Execs. Will has Produced VR, VFX, Animation and 3D projects for Fox, Sony, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Paramount, Legendary, The Weinstein Company, ABC, AMC, TBS, Annapurna Pictures, Alcon Entertainment, Samsung, Oculus, MasterCard, Stub Hub, and the legendary Stan Lee.
Will has passionately shared his industry experiences and expertise on panels and keynote presentations at Sundance, TIFF, The VR Society’s Inaugural Inform Series, VRLA, The Hollywood Film Festival, VR on the Lot, VES, Digital Hollywood, VRevolution, the HP Summit, and at the NASDAQ, where he wrung the closing bell to recognize VR as a viable business platform. In addition to his speaking engagements, Will has also been interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, [a]list daily, Variety, VES Magazine, Tubefilter and High-Def Digest. He currently sits on the board of the VR Society and is a contributing member of the PGA and VES.

The main portion of the VR In The Sky event takes place on July 12th and 13th. The event will be open from 9 A.M. EDT – 5 P.M. on each each and tickets are available here. 2-Day General Admission is sold out, but the single day tickets are still available at $449 each before fees. Ticket sales will close this evening and the full schedule is available here.
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