The Digital Hollywood Experience

The Digital Hollywood Experience


Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM – The VR - AR - Immersive Track

Session I: Haas Conference Center - Room 172 & 173, Live Webcast

VR/AR as Change Agent: Social, News, Documentary and Political Media

Kevin Tsukii, Immersive Video Lead, Emblematic Group

Angel Manuel Soto, Creative Filmmaker™ - ‎RYOT

Dylan Roberts, war zone VR filmmaker, Freelance Society

BC Biermann, Founder, The Heavy Projects

Moderators - Robert Hernandez, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, USC Annenberg School of Journalism and

Stuart Sender, President, Balcony Films, Inc.


BC [heavy] Biermann is the founder of Heavy Projects and a Fellow at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. With a PhD in Humanities [ Intermedia Analysis ] from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, BC is a futurist who’s work investigates the intersection of emerging technologies and semiotics in ways that address impending social, political, ethical impacts. As an internationally recognized digital artist, BC is a leading pioneer in interactive augmented reality design and his work can be seen in cities such as Austin, New York, Miami, St. Louis, San Diego, Perth, and Geneva. A thought leader in the converging technologies space, BC serves on the IEEE Mixed Reality and Artificial Intelligence Group as a Part of The Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in the Design of Autonomous Systems.

Dylan Roberts, war zone VR filmmaker, Freelance Society: Dylan Roberts is a proud Texan, born in Dallas and growing up in Austin, he became a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan and first learned filmmaking at Austin Film Society. He graduated from the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) in 2012, having majored in broadcast journalism. At the age of 18, Dylan began travelling internationally as a journalist, filmmaker, and VR Producer. Through media, Dylan has been able to travel all over the world to countries including Iraq, Lebanon, Paraguay, Uganda, Gaza, Somalia and more. From these experiences, Dylan joined forces with Christian Stephen, to establish Freelance Society in 2013. Together, they worked to expose stories primarily in complex countries, such as Vicar of Baghdad. A documentary featuring an Anglican priest working inside the red zone of Baghdad Iraq, while under ISIS threat. Dylan is the CEO for Freelance Society and manages multiple international projects and production teams simultaneously.


Angel Manuel Soto, Creative Filmmaker™ - ‎RYOT: A Puerto Rican local, Angel M. Soto studied advertising at the Sacred Heart University of Puerto Rico. At an early age he began his career as a TV producer for WAPA-TV, and later moved to Art Direction at a local advertising agency. Angel later continued his pursuit in the film industry, directing his first short film "22weeks", which earned him multiple awards and presentations including Cannes Film Festival, U.S. Congress and countries like Australia, Thailand, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea. His second film, "En la privacidad de mi hogar" earned various prestigious nominations for Best Short at the HBO Latino Film Festival and the Miami International Film Festival and is used as a local campaign against domestic violence. During that time, Angel continued to experiment in the field of direction by making countless music videos, including the breakthrough videos for Foglia and Domino Saints. His last film, "La Carta", won awards on several festivals and was exhibited at Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Forward, La Havana and Miami International Film Festivals to name a few. Recently Angel just got involved in the production aspect of the advertising industry, co-directing a NHTSA PSA in Austin, TX and editing for Latitude 18 Films. He currently has his first feature film, LA GRANJA, in the early stages of development.


Kevin Tsukii, Immersive Video Lead, Emblematic Group: Kevin is the lead on 360 video and live-action experiences at Emblematic Group, a studio founded by VR pioneer and journalist Nonny de la Peña. At Emblematic Group, Kevin is helping produce a series of pieces in partnership with Frontline PBS. Before that he worked on VR projects at the Los Angeles Times Datadesk and designed motion graphics for Al Jazeera America. He's a recent graduate of both the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and the Media Arts + Practice Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.


Stuart Sender is an award journalist and filmmaker whose work has been nominated for two Academy Awards. Much of his work lives at the intersection of entertainment and social issues. Stuart’s work includes writing, producing and directing HARMONY, A New Way of Looking at Our World, a primetime special for NBC in a unique collaboration with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles).  HARMONY, called “breathtaking and beautifully filmed” by The New York Times, look at the global environmental and economic crisis.  HARMONY premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington where it was introduced by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton   He also was as a producer for the Emmy winning Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously. Which investigates stories of global climate change through the eyes of celebrity correspondents. Stuart produced segments featuring actors Matt Damon and Michael C. Hall. Stuart’s work with VR and immersive video includes teaching Environmental Journalism and Disruptive technology at USC’s Annenberg School with JoVRnalism pioneer Robert Hernandez. The project, which is publishing student produced VR in partnership with USA Today and the Desert Sun Newspaper, focuses on the impending environmental disaster at The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake. Stuart’s credits also include Prisoner of Paradise, nominated for an Academy Award and a Directors Guild Award for best documentary feature.  He was Executive Producer of The Garden, also nominated for an Academy Award.  He wrote the story for the movie The Vow for SONY Pictures, starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. Stuart was Senior Producer of the PBS newsmagazine South Africa Now, winner of  a Polk Award for excellence in journalism and an Emmy award.   A career and life highlight was producing the first exclusive interview with Nelson Mandela following his release from prison.


Robert Hernandez, one of the few true veterans of Web journalism, has made a name for himself as a journalist of the Web, not just on the Web. His primary focus is exploring and developing the intersection of technology and journalism – to empower people, inform reporting and storytelling, engage community, improve distribution and, whenever possible, enhance revenue. He describes himself as a mad scientist of journalism. He believes in “open source,” sharing knowledge and experiences among journalists. To that end, he has taken the leading role in uniting and building a community of digital journalists and technologists, as a national board member of the Online News Association, the leading organization focused on developing digital journalism. He’s also a co-organizer of the Los Angeles chapter of Hacks/Hackers, an international network of journalists and technologists that is rethinking the future of news and information. Many journalists know him as the co-founder of #wjchat, a weekly forum on Twitter that engages participants from around the world. This virtual gathering is perhaps the best example of his commitment to collaboration and crowdsourcing. Others know him as the intrepid questioner who asked AOL’s chairman and CEO if is “evil.” Hernandez also is passionate about diversity in journalism. He is co-chair of programming for the UNITY conference (Las Vegas, August 2012) and is a lifetime member and former board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. As director of development for The Seattle Times, where he worked from 2002 until 2009, he helped shape and execute the vision for the Web site and company, leading a team of engineers and designers in creating innovative tools and applications for readers as well as staff. He also worked as a Web designer and consultant for El Salvador's largest daily newspaper site, La Prensa Gráfica, Web producer for The San Francisco Chronicle and online editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife of more than 10 years, young son and Boston Terrier. He hopes to restore his 1960 Volvo 122 that the freeways of Los Angeles killed one extremely hot summer day.