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VR in the Sierra showcases present, future of virtual, augmented reality

Panelists discuss the future of virtual reality and augmented reality at the VR in the Sierra event.at the Green Screen Institute in Nevada City.
Submitted photo |

Virtual reality (VR), fast becoming a hot technological trend, was the subject of the Green Screen Institute’s VR in the Sierra showcase.

The event, which took place Thursday at the institute in Nevada City, brought in venture capitalists, industry experts, business leaders and more to discuss the innovations within the virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) sectors.

The Green Screen Institute coordinated three distinct panels for the occasion; the first focused on the implications VR has on industries like entertainment, health care, real estate, tourism, news and gaming. The panel included locals Jesse Locks, executive director of the Nevada City Film Festival, and Julie Baker, executive director of the Center for the Arts, as well as retired Atari game designer Ed Rotberg, Hollywood composer Richard Altenbach and Next New Homes broker Christopher Brown.



The panelists discussed a wide range of VR-related topics, including its potential impact on movies and the household, whether or not the technology presents any ethical dilemmas, and how much VR tech should cost in order to enter the mainstream.

“For one, the technology has to be cheaper,” said Rotberg on the challenges facing widespread adoption of VR. “I think you’re going to have to be in the $100 to $150 realm for headsets (to really take off).”




Baker, who coordinates the annual WorldFest, spoke to the potential VR has for music festivals and other events.

“I find VR interesting from an entertainment perspective. When you do a music fest, it creates a sense of community. But that’s only for the four days, or however long the festival is,” she said. “I think, and you saw Coachella try and do this, VR allows people to experience the festival the other 361 days of the year. But I don’t think it’s going to replace being there in person with people dancing and sweating next to you.”

The second panel focused on the keys for success in raising early-stage capital in today’s start-up funding environment, and was helmed largely by angel investors and venture capitalists, while the third and final panel allowed start-up companies to showcase their plans to investors.

For the Green Screen Institute, which was established in May, the event was a boon and could be a good sign for the technological sector of Nevada County. The company provides a 10-week program for both virtual reality and augmented reality startups as well as a co-working lab. While the future of VR and AR is uncertain, the panels demonstrated that its potential is nearly limitless; a good sign for those interested in creating VR and AR movies, video games, or other programs.

“There’s a real power to it. VR can show people things they wouldn’t understand,” said Locks. “We’re moving forward with it. I think the argument regarding whether VR is good or bad is moot … There’s a lot of upshots to it.”

Spencer Kellar is a freelance writer living in Nevada City; he can be reached at spencerkellar@gmail.com.


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