The Digital Hollywood Experience

The Digital Hollywood Experience


Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM - The VR - AR - Immersive Track

Session I: The Guerin A, in Herscher Hall, Live Webcast

The Power of VR-AR: A New Language of Artistry - A Unique Moment of Commercial Possibility and Marketplace

Johannes Saam, Senior Software Developer, Framestore

Peter Akemann, President of Skydance Interactive

Maureen Fan, Chief Executive Officer, Baobab Studios

Neil Mandt, founder and CEO, Mandt Bros Productions & Mandt VR.

Clay Weishaar, creative director at Tool of North America

Pete Blumel, co-founder, CEO, and Creative Director, The Rogue Initiative

Anna Marie Piersimoni, Instructor, Department of Cinema and Television Arts, California State University, Northridge, Moderator


Johannes Saam, Senior Software Developer, Framestore: Senior Software Developer, Johannes Saam had an early interest in 3D and began by teaching himself at home. While in studying at SAE Institute, Johannes began his career interning at Scanline VFX in Munich. Johannes continued his education at Bournemouth University where he earned his Masters in Computer Animation. Following his time at Scanline, Johannes moved to Rising Sun Pictures where he continued to work on a variety of feature films. His Film Credits include: Legend

of the Guardians, Mad Max 4, Thor, Captain America - The First Avenger, Prometheus, 300 Rise of an Empire, Exodus: God and Kings. Among many achievements and honors, Johannes has a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his development, prototyping and promotion of technologies and workflows for Deep Compositing, six Siggraph showcases and three animago AWARDs. While at Framestore he produced the 'Eyes on Gigi' 360 app for BMW, Time, Inc.'s LUMEN for LIFE VR and Intel's most recent VR partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Johannes is constantly looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, better workflow and creating solutions to creative problems.


Maureen Fan, Chief Executive Officer, Baobab Studios: Maureen has held leadership roles in film, gaming, and the consumer web.  She was most recently vice president of games at Zynga, where she oversaw three game studios, including the FarmVille sequels, which contributed to 40% of the company's revenues.  Previously, she worked on Pixar's "Toy Story 3" film and at eBay in product management and UI design.  Her most recent collaboration, "The Dam Keeper," directed by Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, was nominated for the 2015 Oscar Best Animated Short.  She received her undergraduate degree in an interdisciplinary program in computer science, art and psychology from Stanford University graduating Phi Beta Kappa and earned her master's degree in business from Harvard university.


Neil Mandt, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, MANDT VR: Neil Mandt is an Emmy Award-winning producer, and the CEO and founder of both Los Angeles-based production companies, Mandt Bros. Productions and MANDT VR. Neil has a wealth of experience delivering award-winning content to television, film, internet and mobile audiences, and is now parlaying his expertise in the field to immersive digital content. In addition to creating over 3,000 television episodes, Neil owns and operates a turn-key production facility in the heart of Hollywood. Neil’s notable credits include the development and creation of the hit ESPN series “Jim Rome Is Burning,” ABC’s “Frozen Christmas Parade,” the Syfy Channel’s hit series “Destination Truth,” Food Network’s “The Shed,” Speed’s “The Car Show with Adam Carolla,” Versus’ “Sports Jobs with Junior Seau” and daily coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial for ABC News. In 2014, Neil was a co-producer and developer of the Walt Disney Pictures feature film “Million Dollar Arm,” starring Jon Hamm and Alan Arkin. Neil has also produced and directed a number of award-winning short films starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew Perry, Justin Timberlake, John Hamm, Seth Meyers, Jamie Foxx and Will Ferrell, among many others.


Peter Akemann, President of Skydance Interactive: As President of Skydance Interactive, a dedicated subsidiary of Skydance Media that creates and publishes original virtual reality experiences and video games, Peter Akemann oversees and executes the strategic vision for the group. Skydance Interactive was formed in April of 2016 when Skydance acquired leading game developer The Workshop Entertainment, of which Akemann was President and Co-Founder. Akemann launched The Workshop in 2008 alongside the other original members of Treyarch, which sold to Activision in 2001 and now leads the Call of Duty franchise. He co-founded Treyarch in 1995, where he oversaw the development of the company’s cross-platform graphics engine. Akemann has shipped over 20 titles across first, second and next-generation platforms and built the Treyarch team from three to over 200 employees. He has over 20 years of experience in gaming and his experience span a wide breadth of acclaimed franchise games, including The Evil Within, Armored Warfare, Free Realms, Medal of Honor, Spiderman, Spiderman II and Die By The Sword, among others. He holds a PhD from University of California Berkeley and BA in mathematics from the University of California San Diego.


Clay Weishaar is a creative director at Tool of North America. His work has been honored by Cannes Lions, the One Show, D&AD, and the FWA. He serves on the judging panel for the CSS design awards.  His work has been featured on the Creators Project, Fast Company, Creative Applications, Mashable, and many others. Brands he has worked with include Nike, Apple, Google, Netflix, and Airbnb  Most recently he has creative directed a variety of VR projects these include IBM, Ford, and Adidas.


Pete Blumel, co-founder, CEO, and Creative Director, The Rogue Initiative: Producer, creator and designer of real-time, story-driven immersive entertainment with 21 years of experience in feature film, animation and blockbuster AAA interactive production. Prior, he served in a key producer role for 8 years at Activision’s Infinity Ward game development studio where he became intimately involved as co-creator of the CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE series and GHOSTS video games utilizing his filmmaking background to bring more high-end cinematic production values and immersive real-time story telling to the CALL OF DUTY franchise which has since come to characterize the long running series earning a combined total near $4 BILLION in worldwide grosses and winning countless awards including three BAFTAs.   Before joining the CALL OF DUTY founders, Blumel spent over 10 years at DREAMWORKS SKG first at Dreamworks Feature Animation Technology and later at Amblin Entertainment.


Anna Marie Piersimoni, Independent Digital Media Consultant: Anna Marie specializes in the creation and marketing of on-line content across a broad range of digital platforms. She supervised web content development for a companion website to the KCET program, “Your Turn To Care.” Formerly, as Director of Internet Communications for the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, she managed 8 web sites, including blogs, as well as online marketing campaigns, and was founding Director of AFI's Digital Content Lab, an acclaimed R&D program in interactive digital. She began her career as a writer/producer of video content and on-air promotions for ABC Entertainment, E! Entertainment, and KCET Television, among others.