Biggest Takeaways from SXSW 2018

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SXSW is a conference and festival that certainly has matured over the years. Once known mainly for its emphasis on music and film, in recent years it’s expanded to be “the” weeklong event to go to to learn from thought leaders from across virtually any industry.

This year, I was fortunate to be able to attend SXSW (or “South By” for those who perfer the shortened lingo that all the cool kids use) for the first time and it lived up to the hype. Outside of getting to see some incredibly cool tech and brand activations, where many brands literally take over and theme-out entire houses, bars and restaurants, there was a week’s worth of sessions to take in from experts and innovators on nearly any topic imaginable.  While I also attended some on topics ranging from driverless cars, to urban design…and even RompHims, I’ll save the space below for my couple biggest takeaways on what the future holds for the world of video.

VIDEO

Video is about to get a whole lot more interactive. I went to a session called “How Madden Made People Cry”, where the panelists talked about how the Madden video game incorporated an interactive movie called Longshot into this year’s game, and talked about how they created it. Users could literally make decisions for the characters and based on what the user selected. The movie would change direction, seamlessly in realtime, so that each user experienced it differently. The creators used motion capture technology to do this one, but it’s not hard to imagine how this technology could be incredibly powerful in the way we can tell stories through video and how an audience interacts with it in the near future.

VR and AR

VR and AR is becoming more and more powerful and will continue to change the way we see video moving forward. I think up until the last year or two there still were some questions surrounding VR from a video standpoint. Was just a fad of the moment or if it actually had staying power. SXSW was just another firm indicator that it’s not only here to stay, but is just going to keep growing. Throughout the entire conference, and even walking through the trade show and seeing emerging technologies, VR and AR stole the show. I attended a great session called “NASA’s Universe of Storytelling Tools” where their social media team showed off some incredibly powerful ways that they use video and photos to tell their stories through this technology, including this project they recently created with Google: https://accessmars.withgoogle.com

Overall, SXSW was an incredible experience and something I definitely plan to go back to next year. The best way I can describe it is like the opportunity to go to grad school for a week, but where everything is an elective and you get to learn from some the smartest innovators and thought leaders in the world. Add on top of that the movies, music, comedy and culture that Austin has to offer, and SXSW should be on the top of your list if you’re able to swing it in the future.

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