Hi Nancy! Wonderful to talk to you. You have over 20 years of experience in film, television & commercial production, VFX & animation. From your perspective, how has the entertainment business evolved over the years?
The silos are breaking down. And the hierarchy is breaking down. For example feature films used to be the ultimate measure of success. Now Intellectual properties are used to build an audience following whatever that may be. It could begin with a graphic novel, then a game, then a series or vice versa. The new entertainment companies are diversified tech companies who understand the value chain.
Tell us about your background and how you became the Executive Director of Vancouver’s Media and Entertainment Centre at the Vancouver Economic Commission?
I had been working in the film industry for 20 years. Four years in Physical production in various capacities and 16 years in VFX/ Animation as a producer and executive producer. During a promotional tour of Siggraph 2010 to promote that Vancouver was hosting Siggraph 2011 I was asked to consider joining the VEC as a business development officer to facilitate the growth of the VFX/ Animation industries. Is was the beginning of a growth period when companies like Pixar, Sony Imageworks and Digital Domain were looking at opening studios in Vancouver. As a VFX Executive Producer selling Vancouver and the benefits of doing business here was something I was very comfortable with. The position evolved into supporting all screen based industries
What is Vancover’s Media and Entertainment Centre? What are the tax incentives in Vancouver and are there additional incentives if VR, post work, and/or visual effects works are done in Vancouver?
The Vancouver Economic Commission is the economic development agency of the City of Vancouver. The M&E Centre is department at the Vancouver Economic Commission that overseas the growth of the screen-based entertainment sectors. This includes features, series, VFX, Animation, Post, Games and Virtual/ Augmented Reality. This includes Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), government advocacy, investment capital attraction and several talent initiatives. We are currently the #1 VFX/ animation hub globally, the third largest production hub in North America, top 10 game developers world-wide and the fastest growing VR/AR ecosystem according to the VRAR Association. We have a 40 year history of film production, 35 years in VFX and animation, 35 years of game development and a growing tech industry. Not every city can claim this. We are poised for the entertainment of the future whatever that may be. The M&E Centre leverages the ongoing convergence of the screen based sectors to help create a new playbook which includes new monetization models.
We have tax incentives for physical production, animation and visual effects which are under the “film industry” banner. Linear VR can be included in this. The interactive tax incentives are for games and interactive VR. Both are labour based so you received a percentage of labour costs for British Columbia residents.
Where do you see the involvement of VR in Entertainment? There are doubts about the monetization of VR technology. Where do you see this going? How is the advancement of technology effecting the creation and the consumption of entertainment and content?
Technically VR has been around for 50 years. The dream was way ahead of the technology. Adoption to VR has been slow for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it currently is not easily incorporated into one’s life. Unlike the personal computer (we used computers at work) or a phone (its not that much of a stretch to covert a sale from a flip phone to a smart phone), a VR headset is not natural progression from something we are currently exposed to. The second is quality and comfort. I personally find the headsets uncomfortable especially if the content is not engaging. Also, coming from a visual effects background, I am not happy with the screen resolution of the content most of the time
I believe we will get there eventually and people will want to be submersed in entertainment which will include wearable to enhance the experience. We can’t wait for the headsets/ technology to be perfected as there is much learning to do. Its time to play in the playground. So for now VR is great as a marketing tool and that is where the money should come from. If I could give one piece of advice, Hardware manufacturers should not only give out headsets to developers, they should invest in good content. Without that there will not be consumer adoption because the value proposition isn’t there
What is “Downloaded” and how did you become involved with it?
Part of my mandate as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Media and Entertainment Centre is to facilitate cross sectoral collaboration, Downloaded VR is a microcosm of that – it successfully cross-pollinates the skill sets of storytelling, film production, VFX & Animation, Interactive engagement and VR/AR innovation. It represents the culmination of Vancouver’s more than 40 years of entertainment-making history.”
How is the advancement of technology effecting the creation and the consumption of entertainment and content?
Technology is changing everything. What we know is that there is a wide shift in how viewers are consuming content. Content is offered on multi platforms. Content creators are leveraging data and audience insights to inform on future decisions. They are adopting the games model of studying analytics and habits to respond to the consumers’ needs and requests and interacting with their customers. This is building a fan base: Your audience. They are paying close attention to what you are watching, when, where and how much. Others are branding content and using influencers who are capitalizing on the web economy. New players in the distribution space are operating like tech companies because they see technology and content creation as of equal importance. How do they get as much content to the consumer as quickly and efficiently as possible? Regarding VR there is a movement for viewers to shift from passive to active. Game-like storytelling and traditional storytelling are merging to create new experiences. This is a mashing of film, VFX, Animation, games and technology. It is predicted that by 2020 Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will be a $250 billion dollar global industry. And we are barely scratching the surface.
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