Simon Kent’s SXSW Diary: #1

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SXSW (2).jpgSimon Kent, creative technologist at M&C Saatchi Sydney is attending SXSW 2019 in Austin, Texas. Here Simon shares his experiences straight from the conference exclusively for Campaign Brief.

The scale of SXSW is immense. There seems to be a hundred talks or events happening at any one time varying from insights from Sandy Carter, VP of Amazon Web Services, on A.I to dystopian Black Mirror-esque speculative design exploring the consequences of misuse and abuse of technology and everything in between.

Languages from every corner of the world can be heard in Austin right now. Austin is buzzing and so am I.

Highlights so far include a talk by architect Alison Killing sharing her work ‘Migration Trail’ – journalism and storytelling of displaced Libyan migrants told through a medium inspired by google maps and messenger.

Nike’s VP of Creative Concepts, Tinker Hatfield provided a glimpse into his mind and his design process. Tinker shared the story and inspiration behind the seminal ‘Air Max’ with original sketches and drawings and the building that inspired the shoe.He divulged his reckless attitude, openly admitted he’s not a perfectionist and is willing to get fired for a good idea he’s passionate about.

However, the magic of this talk was in the crowd – his fans. The anticipation in the queue, the cheers, the frenzy generated from a signed giveaway and the contagious excitement when Tinker shared a sneak peek of a new product. Brands should watch and learn.

My favourite talk so far was by Diego Prilusky, head of Intel Studios, which genuinely felt like an evolution for cinematography and storytelling.

Diego shared his work on volumetric video – a paradigm shift from pixels to voxels, (think the Matrix bullet time but for an entire shoot).

Diego reshot Grease’s iconic “You’re the One That I Want” with the original directors, only this time there was no frame, no foreground, no background – the talent had no cameras to work to. Everything was captured from every angle simultaneously.

The result is volumetric video which has the ability to place the camera anywhere, at any time.  The content looked like a weird mashup between a video game and film, scrubbing through the footage and panning around in 3D.

Naturally, this technology is scalable to VR, AR, MR however I’m more interested in the opportunities for new forms of storytelling – – spacial stories told from multiple perspectives and narratives, inviting user interaction and exploration.

The list of highlights could easily be longer. I’ve only been here a few days and have been lucky enough to attend talks on playable cities, explored a virtual cinema, tried new and weird products and stumbled on inspiring talks and ideas far removed from technology and innovation.