Oath’s Oscar-nominated immersive media studio RYOT has partnered with the funding platform Kaleidoscope and Facebook’s Oculus to produce DevLab 2018, a two-day incubator for augmented reality and virtual reality projects.
DevLab will take place Nov. 10 – 11 on the RYOT campus in Playa Vista, where a group of 10 VR/AR artists will get the chance to participate in hands-on workshops, live performances and roundtable discussions with advisors from different backgrounds, including game design, immersive theater, magic and storytelling.
“It really is meant to be two days of total immersion within each of these projects, looking at it from a multitude of angles,” said Jake Sally, director of immersive development at RYOT. “They should have notebooks full of notes, and hopefully level-up each of the projects in new ways.”
Participants will develop working versions of their projects, which they’ll later present to 250 industry leaders at a “First Look” event next year for the chance to secure funding.
“Our goal and mission in running DevLab is to help independent artists who are already creating projects push those projects into interesting artistic places, but also make them financially viable,” said René Pinnell, CEO and founder of Kaleidoscope.
Pinnell said virtual and augmented reality projects are entering a new phase, in which projects have a chance to make a financial return for investors (if the projects are budgeted properly). That means they’re no longer reliant on backing from the major hardware platforms that need content to sell devices.
“We’re starting to get an ecosystem of private investors and other companies that are in a position to make acquisitions, to make investments, to license projects and get them financed and produced,” said Pinnell, whose funding platform has raised $14 million to support original projects.
The most prominent example of this emerging ecosystem is the seven-figure sale of the VR series Spheres, starring Millie Bobby Brown, Jessica Chastain and Patti Smith and executive produced by Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky. It was acquired at the Sundance Film Festival by VR financing and distribution venture CityLights.
This is the second DevLab. Participants in the last session, held in 2016, secured more than $3.1 million in funding from various partners, and have gone on to screen at Sundance Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and SXSW.
Artists and creators will be selected for this year’s program by the Sundance Institute’s Kamal Sinclair and Ruthie Doyle, Oculus’ executive producer of experiences, Yelena Rachitsky, RYOT’s Sally and Kaleidoscope’s Pinnell. Applications to participate in DevLab 2018 can be found here.