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August 17th, 2017

After a successful SXSW 2017 hosting a panel on The Impact of Audio on the VR Visual Story, The Mill’s Gawain Liddiard (VFX Supervisor, Emerging Technology) is once again primed to take the stage at SXSW 2018. 

To ensure this happens, we need your help! Click here to vote for our partnership panel with SoulPancake, ‘Augmenting Reality (for Good)’. Gawain will be joined in discussion with SoulPancake’s Golriz Lucina (SVP, Creative + Content), Bayan Joonam (Head of Production) and The Mill’s Bowe King (Creative Director).

As technology continues to push the boundaries of “possible,” content creators have more opportunities to tell stories with impact. SoulPancake and The Mill plan to discuss how to use emerging technology to engage creatively and inspire for good. Drawing from their combined experience—from bringing VR journalism to The White House's SXSL, creating stories using mixed reality, and more—the panel hopes to explore how to make these technologies work best, while doing a little good in the process.

Sxsl The Guardian '6x9: a virtual experience of solitary confinement' at SXSL 2016

We sat down with Gawain to get a closer look at what’s in store:

Tell us a little about how ‘Augmenting Reality (for Good)’ came about?

As The Mill grow our portfolio of work in the AR, VR and emerging technology space, we are committed to retaining the quality we are known for. We constantly give consideration to how we translate meaningful messages into these new platforms, and ensure our content stands out from all the noise.

As we collaborate with clients in these exciting new spaces, the old model of forcing advertising on people isn’t working. Instead, viewers are seeking out messages that they proactively want to engage with, which has changed our industry in a positive way as the only option is to create genuinely strong content.

As we immerse ourselves in these worlds, we are constantly wondering what will benefit people and encourage them to engage. SXSW 2018 felt like the perfect opportunity to share the learnings we’ve gathered in this process, and of course we are privileged to share a stage with our friends at SoulPancake who have been making similar strides on this topic.


Can you share any sneak-peeks on the content of the panel?

You’ll just have to vote and then come see for yourself! But we are excited to explore how AR can enhance real life experiences. In a social setting, for example, we can bring back ownership of the phone actually being a positive tool. Gone are the days of sitting in a restaurant looking at a screen not engaging with the real people and world around you; rather it can be used to engage with people who’re with you in fresh and innovative ways.

AR is adding to the world already around us. Even early incarnations, such as translation apps allowing two people who don’t speak same language to communicate, are having such a positive impact on society.

How did the relationship with SoulPancake come about?

SoulPancake constantly strive to elevate their content and work in the AR space at the next level. They are never satisfied in simply engaging audiences; they want to have a genuine impact, too. The Mill and SoulPancake both appeared at Social Media Week LA this past June, where I presented on VR: From Cinematic Blockbuster to Passion Project and SoulPancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi shared insights on The Science Of Storytelling: Why Just Having Video Content Is No Longer Enough. There was an instant correlation and connection between us on our shared ethos of wanting to create content that expands beyond being superficially fun, and makes people want to think and engage.

Gawainsocialmediaweek2Gawain presents at Social Media Week LA

You spoke on ‘The Impact of Audio on the VR Visual Story’ at SXSW last year. How was that experience?

The whole SXSW experience was really exciting. It was fun to transition from relating to people via virtual projects and putting them into the digital world; to getting on stage, talking to real people and hearing that live response! In the run-up to SXSW we knew that we wanted to do more than just stand there and present. We wanted to show people what we were thinking and demonstrate it live, using the talents of World-Champion Vocal Experimenter Reeps One, and we got a fantastic response from that.

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How has SXSW compared with your expectations?

I’ve been to SXSW twice now. The first time, in 2016, I was honoured to collect the SXSW Interactive Innovation Award in the VR & AR category for Mill Stitch. Then this year was my first time attending as a presenter.

The atmosphere of the whole festival is charged with innovation. The collective group that visits from The Mill describe it as “filling up the bucket of inspiration” for the entire year. That short week in Austin provides enough fuel and creativity to keep everyone busy until the next SXSW.

Also, the festival is monstrous in scale; you are constantly aware of how precious your time is. I agonize over what to choose to check out as it’s impossible to see it all. If you’re going to share something at SXSW, it’s a crime to put on a talk or show that wastes anyone’s time! The bar is set extremely high and you have to validate the people who take time to visit whatever you have to offer.

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Vote for ‘Augmenting Reality (for Good)’ to bring this panel to SXSW next year!