The Digital Hollywood Experience

The Digital Hollywood Experience


Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM - The VR - AR - Immersive Track

Session I: Herscher Hall, Guerin A, Live Webcast from this Room

The VR-AR-Immersive - Innovators & Disruptors - Entertainment, Technology & Brand Vision

Jeff Nicholas, Director of VR Creative + Production, Live Nation Studios

Tanna Frederick, Producer/actor, Defrost (VR Narrative Film)

Peter Oberdorfer, President, Tactic

Michael Conelly, founder, Blackthorn Media

Michael Yang, Managing Director, Comcast Ventures

Euan Macdonald, CEO, Holor

Carolyn Giardina, Tech Editor, The Hollywood Reporter, Moderator


Tanna Frederick is a producer, director, actress, and activist. In her decade plus collaboration with indie film icon Henry Jaglom, she has starred in and helped produce six of his feature films, including the recently released, The “M” Word, the highly anticipated, Ovation, and three of his plays, including Train to Zakopane, which just completed a  run at the Edgemar Theatre in Santa Monica. Frederick — who got her start performing at the Steben’s Children’s Theatre and then the University of Iowa — is also a mainstay of the Los Angeles theatre community.  She has starred in successful productions of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker — which was a Los Angeles Times Critic’s Pick — and Claire Chafee’s Why Why Have a Body, which also marked Frederick’s

directing debut. She and Jaglom also collaborated on the stage adaptation of his film, Always… But Not Forever and the yearlong run of his original play Just 45 from Broadway, which was later adapted to the 2012 film of the same name. An Iowan by birth and a Californian by choice, actress Frederick is passionate about both of her home states. She is also the cofounder of the Iowa Independent Film Festival and of Project Cornlight, an initiative aimed at bringing film productions to the Hawkeye State and through which she produced her upcoming film Garner, Iowa. Project Cornlight currently has two other films are currently in development. Frederick has been hard at work producing the series, DEFROST in collaboration with Randal Kleiser, a revolutionary virtual reality experience using the Oculus Rift. She has a great skill for seeking out talented and dedicated individuals for her team. In California, Frederick fell in love with surfing and in 2007, she founded Project Save Our Surf, which is dedicated to ocean conservation, the improved availability of freshwater to those in need and exposing a wide range of people to the joys of the ocean through surfing. Since 2012, Project Save Our Surf Camp has reached thousands of underserved children and teens in Southern California and Mexico, educating them on environmental issues and giving them hands-on instruction in yoga and surfing. She has been instrumental in coordinating fundraising events, camps, beach clean-ups, and carrying out the mission of Project Save Our Surf. For her work on an off stage, Frederick has received numerous awards, including Broadway World Best Actress Award for Rainmaker, Best Actress awards from the Wild Rose Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, the Fargo Film Festival and the Montana Independent Film Festival. She has been named “One to Watch” by MethodFest and received the CineCause Award, the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Maverick Award.


Jeff Nicholas, Director of VR Creative & Production, Live Nation Studios: Jeff Nicholas is an award winning Creative Producer and Director with a passion for creating compelling and engaging VR content. Since the new cycle of high-end VR and 360° content creation emerged in 2014, Jeff’s focus has been primarily on creating these experiences and pushing the boundaries of cinematic VR/360° production through original and branded content experiences. In addition to directing and executive producing the ON STAGE series for Hulu and Live Nation, Jeff is overseeing the development and execution of all of Live Nation’s live and episodic VR content initiatives. Prior to his work with Live Nation, he has been at the helm of a variety of VR experiences with partners and collaborators such as CBS, WEVR, Oculus, Ford, Mike Shinoda, Budweiser, Kenan Thompson, Hoonigan Racing, RAIN Agency, A World At School, and many others. Outside of VR content creation, Jeff is most well-known for his work producing, directing and collaborating on a wide array of creative experiences - from music videos, commercials and original content to design, digital and experiential campaigns - for top-level agencies, brands, studios, promoters, labels and artists such as Rihanna, Dreamworks, Justin Timberlake, Bud Light Platinum, Shakira, Apple Music, Jason Mraz, Beats By Dr Dre, Linkin Park, AKQA, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sony, Foo Fighters, Nixon Watches, Beastie Boys, and many more.


Peter Oberdorfer, President, Tactic: Peter is a 20 year veteran in digital entertainment and CGI. Peter has co-founded several well regarded digital post-production firms, including the interactive/UX firm Float Hybrid Entertainment, the Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning visual effects studio Giant Killer Robots, as well as Hollywood's original previsualization firm, Pixel Liberation Front. With Tactic, Peter has joined forces with several other seasoned digital artists, combining his past experience in as a visual effects artist and supervisor with interactive visualization and storytelling through involvement in interactive projects, interactive experiences and products centered around new digital formats: virtual Reality (both stereoscopic video capture and 3d CGI), gesture tech, mobile apps, augmented reality, visual effects, as well as real-time 3d environments and experiences made with game and visualization engines.


Euan Macdonald has provided leadership and innovation in visual effects supervision for over 25 years on leading edge projects at Industrial Light + Magic, Electronic Arts, Disney’s ImageMovers Digital, and Pixar. His supervision credits include blockbusters Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Star Wars Episode 1.  Expanding into virtual reality in 2014, he was 3D VR supervising consultant to Samsung and Jaunt.  In 2015, he founded immersive media company Holor (pka Cryworks), where he oversees strategic direction and business management as CEO. In addition to creating content for global brands, Holor is helping to shape the way people interact and share 360/VR experiences. Euan was integral in gaining Holor’s unprecedented behind-the-scenes access on the set of Transformers 5 with director Michael Bay, where he was almost blown up several times to capture world-first VR footage.


Michael Yang, Managing Director, Comcast Ventures: Michael joined Comcast Interactive Capital in March 2009 and is a Managing Director based in our Silicon Valley office. Previously, he was a Vice President/General Manager at Yahoo! in the Media Group as well as the Local Markets & Commerce Division where he managed Yahoo! Autos, Yahoo! Real Estate and Yahoo! Health; co-led Yahoo! Shopping; and was part of the team that formed Yahoo!’s strategic alliance with the Newspaper Consortium. Prior to that, Michael was a Principal with Atlas Venture, a trans-Atlantic venture capital firm, where he focused on early stage enterprise software and IT investments in New England. Earlier in his career, he served as senior director of product marketing and business development for Zaplet, a venture-backed collaboration software company, and was a member of AOL’s Business Affairs team which focused on e-commerce and interactive marketing partnerships. Michael graduated from Harvard University with an MBA and the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Economics from The Wharton School. Michael serves on the Board of Directors of Accolade, Inc. and Carwoo, Inc.


Michael Conelly is the President & Creative Director of Blackthorn Media: A former Digital FX Supervisor, his characters have grossed over two billion dollars at the world-wide box office. Michael’s last film was nominated for a VFX Oscar. A prolific author, designer, and inventor and the creator of the VR sensation The Abbot’s Book. The future of The Abbot’s Book is now very exciting for Award-winning VFX artist Michael Connelly and his team at Blackthorn Media.  The Abbot's Book was selected as a participant at the New Frontier program at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The original VR offering hints at a massive gothic fantasy to come, with episodes planned from 2016-2019. The serial tells the tale of four generations of an Italian noble family, cursed by the corrupting power of an ancient book unearthed from the catacombs beneath their estate. Rich with traditional gothic-inspired mythology, the story follows a scion of this cursed family attempting to shield his heirs from inevitable darkness. British stage actor and multi-talented Hollywood thespian, JB Blanc voices multiple roles As VR will be finding its legs as a mass market medium is confident that they are on the ground floor of the next phenomena in Film.   Fantastic image quality will be possible in fully head-mounted displays, with no wires running everywhere.  The image quality will improve dramatically - we'll see light field technology which brings organic depth of field to the VR experience - we'll see a melding of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality - we'll see some wonderful examples of VR as a sustained entertainment experience, adopted by the mass market.  We hope to be leading that charge with The Abbot’s Book. Michael Connelly wrote the original story of the Abbot's Book back in 1989 and have been working on it here and there ever since.  He's designed the world, and expanded the concepts into an episodic format and written the treatment for that expansion, and he’s overseeing every aspect of the project's development.  He ordered the original development kit from Oculus when it first shipped back in 2013 and he has working with the technology ever since.  When he founded Blackthorn back in 2013 it was immediately clear that VR was going to play a huge role in the company's future.  Connelly is also largely responsible for the look of the finished product, lighting the environments, and making sure the game engine runs smoothly while displaying the highest quality imagery that the filmmakers can put into it. Prior to founding Blackthorn, Connelly was the Digital Effects Supervisor for the movie Snow White and the Huntsman, where his work garnered an Oscar nomination.


Carolyn Giardina, Tech Editor, The Hollywood Reporter: Journalist and author Carolyn Giardina is tech editor at The Hollywood Reporter and writes its Behind the Screen blog. Her work as an editor, reporter or columnist has also appeared in titles such as CinemaEditor, SHOOT, TVBEurope and SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal. She’s co-author of Exploring 3D: The New Grammar of Stereoscopic Filmmaking (Focal Press, 2012). In 2015, Carolyn was presented American Cinema Editors’ Robert Wise Award, which recognizes a journalist for contributions to film editing. She was the 2011 recipient of the International Cinematographers Guild’s Technicolor William A. Fraker Award for journalistic contributions to cinematography.