Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are poised to change the way we interact with the world around us. That’s the reason VR and AR were the focus of the seventh MIA Animation Conference & Festival, held Oct. 13 and 14 by Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus. Considered the nation’s top forum by animators and gamers, the conference featured world-renowned speakers who explored virtual reality storytelling at the popular Arts & Technology Breakfast, as well as an interactive VR and AR exhibit. “While the technology isn’t new, it is more accessible,” said Mauricio Ferrazza, conference founder and chair of the Miami Animation and Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at MDC. However, Ferrazza did more than expose attendees to this technology. “I want to make sure that the industries here understand that these technologies are available for whatever their business needs,” he said. With exhibits featuring everything from deep-sea VR imagery from marine science non-profit the Angari Foundation to immersive documentaries and games using VIVE headsets, the conference did just that. Applications for VR and AR go beyond entertainment. In fact, the faculty at MAGIC is creating simulations for four different industry certificates at MDC: banking, building construction, food and beverage, and hospitality. Alongside VR and AR talks and demos, the conference featured several workshops and three contests to highlight fresh voices in animation and game development. The third annual game competition, Game On; the pitch to the industry contest; and the MIA Animation Festival, featuring students and young directors, all highlighted new talent. “The mission of the conference is really student focused,” Ferrazza said. “We provide them with an environment where they can network, understand more about the animation and video game industries, make friends, see opportunities and compete.” – BC
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