Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

The Gathering of the Immersive Tribes: VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver Takes It Up a Level

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The industry gathering that officially cemented Vancouver as one of the major centers of virtual reality and augmented reality (or, just use extended reality – or XR – as your umbrella designation), the VR/AR Global Summit, provided a view of the technology and creative sectors that are driving new avenues for audiences and investors on a global scale. Held at the gleaming Parq Vancouver hotel and casino, which just recently celebrated its first anniversary, the event was largely sponsored by Vancouver’s events chamber, and had the British Columbia economic development stamp of approval all over it. And, for those of us who have known Vancouver as a powerhouse in the visual effects and videogaming spaces for years, the increased emphasis on Vancouver as a hub for XR development of all kinds is both obvious and welcoming.

Nathan Pettyjohn welcomes the crowd at the VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver, September 21, 2018

HP Entertainment’s Joanna Popper details HP’s work in the immersive space

While the VR/AR Global Summit, held on Friday, September 21stand Saturday, September 22nd, was as much a homecoming and meet-up for members of the three-year-old VR/AR Association, many of whom had never met in person (and, yes, Kris Kolo, the elusive, near-mythical executive director, was there for people to actually meet, and dispel rumors that he is merely a clever avatar), the event summoned an even greater level of introduction to innovation that is happening rapidly in the immersive space, even for those whose revenue depends on some form of XR development.

 

The brainchild of Anne Marie Ens, executive producer of the event, the VR/AR Global Summit brought leaders from Hollywood, New York, Washington, D.C., the Bay Area, Taiwan, Ukraine, New Zealand, and, of course, all across Canada. What was resident, even from hardware providers, at the event was the level of creative production that is just starting to bubble in a meaningful way from major tech companies, from Intel’s Optane platform, showcased in its Smithsonian Museum Renwick Gallery walk-through, to HP’s impressive work with the likes of VR Studios, which itself got a PR boost the week prior to the event with Cineplex’s announcement of more than 40 full VR arcades to be installed across Canada by 2021.

Intel’s Raj Puran, with YDreams’ Daniel Japiassu; VR Studios’ Chanel Summers; Dark Slope Studios’ Ben Unsworth, and DreamCraft Attractions’ Krystian Guevara at the location-based entertainment panel, September 22, 2018

Perhaps the most famous global IP that was on display at the show was from Taiwan’s Studio2 Animation, which debuted its VR series of shorts for the popular animated character Barkley the cat. The 6-minute block of 25 shorts marks a major move into VR for animated content; the Barkely feature film was a huge hit in mainland China and Taiwan in 2016.

Chris Pfaff, Grace Chuang, and Chiu Li Wei (Studio2 Animation) with Studio2’s Barkley the cat

Producers were quite evident at the show, and highlighted by back-to-back panels on Saturday afternoon, as Chris Pfaff led the ‘Producing in XR: What to Know Before Immersion’ panel, with Silverscreen Cinematics’ Jeff Olm; AWE Company’s Srinivas Krishna, and MediaCombo’s Michael Owen. The panel explored major AR and VR production techniques, as well as post-production considerations. A second panel, ‘Storytelling and Content Creation in VR/AR’ featured Observe Media’s Travis Cloyd; InspireVR’s John Penn; Vuze’s Jim Malcolm, and Cloudhead Games’ Denny Unger.

Michael Owen, from MediaCombo; Jeff Olm, from Silverscreen Cinematics; Chris Pfaff, from Chris Pfaff Tech Media, and Srinivas Krishna, from AWE Company, prior to, and on the ‘Producing in XR: What to Know Before Immersion’ panel, September 22, 2018

Michael Owen, Srinivas Krishna, Chris Pfaff, Travis Cloyd, and John Penn after their panels, September 22, 2018

Local Vancouver firms were quite visible, from Cognitive3D to Mythical City Games to Stambol Studios. Dark Slope Studios, based in Toronto, held a private event with its principals; the studio is creating location-based immersive entertainment and features an all-star cast of principals, including Raja Khanna, Ben Unsworth, and CJ Hervey.

Raja Khanna, center, executive chairman of Dark Slope Studios, welcomes the audience at a private event, Tap & Barrel, Athlete’s Village, Vancouver, September 21, 2018

Of all the myriad experiences being demonstrated on platforms from Vive to Hololens to, yes, Magic Leap, perhaps the most compelling was YDreams’ ‘The Last Squad,’ produced with ArkaveVR. The 3-person VR shooter is an ideal arcade game, and is addictive in its graphical clarity, screen direction, and sheer entertainment value. As a sign of Vancouver’s attractiveness for the XR community, YDreams recently moved its company to the city. The BC Tech group put the final punctuation on the event by holding an after-party at The Cube, the 6,000-square foot co-working space that hosts a wide range of start-ups in the VR/AR space.

The Cube, scene of the after-party for the VR/AR Global Summit, Vancouver, September 22, 2018

Overall, the VR/AR Global Summit was an affirmation of what the VR/AR Global Association set out to accomplish when Nathan Pettyjohn and a few people started a truly global organization in 2015: bringing the immersive community together on a grand scale. This is still an industry in its early days, and yet even those who have been involved in it for decades see something new every day. So it was in Vancouver; another eye-opener for the immersive crowd.

Amar Dhaliwal, Atheer; Parm Sandhu, Telus, and Kris Kolo, executive director of the VR/AR Association 

 

 

IBC Video Content Innovation Summit Kicks Off IBC 2017

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

On the first morning of IBC 2017, Chris Pfaff Tech Media and Integer 1 hosted the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at the Rockstart Accelerator in Amsterdam, which featured some of the leading innovators in the broadcast technology space today, including Vimond; Verizon envrmnt; HCL, and Valossa.

Emceed by Chris Pfaff, the breakfast event, held in the main event room at Rockstart, featured a technology keynote from Sanjay Macwan, focused on the shifting landscape for content distribution and consumption, and presented the audience of 55 producers, distributors, and vendors a view into where global content behaviors are headed. Macwan moderated a panel with Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond, Mika Rautiainen, CEO of Valossa, and Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt (Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP of Media for HCL, could not make the event, due to a delayed flight). The event literally presented some of the leading figures in OTT (Vimond), VR and AR (Verizon envrmnt), AI (Valossa), and cloud infrastructure (HCL).

Chris Pfaff emcees the IBC Video Content Innovation Summit

Sanjay Macwan, CEO of Integer 1, presents his keynote 

Sanjay gets into discussing the Muybridge experiment

Poster on front door of Rockstart Accelerator, Amsterdam

Raheel Khalid, CTO of Verizon envrmnt

Helge Hoibraaten, CEO of Vimond

Sanjay Macwan, left, and Mika Rautiainen, right

Long shot of the event room at Rockstart Accelerator

Sanjay poses a question to the panel

Raheel Khalid, Verizon envrmnt           Helge Hoibraaten, Vimond                   Mika Rautiainen, Valossa                     AI, OTT, and VR/AR all-stars

Highlights from the panel discussion included Helge’s discussion regarding content consumption (“we now have all the content we would ever want – in some ways, we don’t have to produce any more”) and content behaviors (“we interviewed teenagers about TV and they said ‘I have everything that I need in my phone'”). Raheel discussed the issue of every-cinreasing on -demand behaviors, in that people will “not wait for large files to download.” he said that Verizon envrmnt can now stream large-file content by taking game logic and running it on the fly. In this sense, VR and AR content is seamlessly distributed. He discussed Verizon envrmnt’s mobile edge compute strategy – which takes 20 milliseconds for a round trip. With 5G coming in, 1 gigabit bandwidth will enable VR content to be flawlessly streamed. Mika talked about the need to understand how video can be read and how machine learning can train to enable smarter questions around content itself.

See the promo highlight video at: https://youtu.be/lfZPjMLZa-w

The event was a swan song for Rockstart, as it was the last event in the main room at their 182 Herengracht location (they have since moved slightly north to a larger facility). But, it was a kickstart for IBC 2017, and in addition to a good meal, the crowd feasted on some hearty discussion.

 

Chris Pfaff Tech Media hosts IBC Video Content Innovation Summit at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam

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This year’s IBC will likely have more content producers and distributors seeking solutions in AI, VR/AR, OTT, and cloud management. So, in order to help kick off this year’s show right, we have curated some of the leading players in media innovation today, and they are all at IBC 2017 at our Video Content Innovation Summit. 

Come have breakfast, network with industry peers, and enjoy discussions on the latest in VR/AR; AI for media; OTT; cloud and mobile content distribution and more. Meet with leading players in the broadcast; cable; OTT, and infrastructure arenas.
Our venue is the event space at the Rockstart Accelerator, one of Amsterdam’s main innovation hubs, at Herengracht 182, 1016 BR. 
Attendance is free, with registration. Please register your RSVP at: http://bit.ly/2gmeKYa
Produced by Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and Integer 1, the event will feature:
  • Helge Hoibraaten, CEO, Vimond
  • Raheel Khalid, CTO, Verizon envrmnt
  • Mika Rautiainen, CEO, Valossa
  • Kanwaldeep Kalsi, VP, Media & Entertainment, HCL Americas

Our esteemed colleague, Sanjay Macwan, will deliver a keynote presentation, and moderate our expert panel.

Hosted by Chris Pfaff Tech Media & Integer1.

8:00 am – 8:45 am – Registration and Breakfast

8:45 am – 9:00 am – Welcome and Opening Remarks (Chris Pfaff)

9:00 am – 9:30 am – The State of Global Video Technology and Content Innovation – keynote (Sanjay Macwan)

9:30 am – 10:00 am – Panel discussion with HCL, Verizon envrmnt, Valossa, and Vimond

10:00 am – 10:10 am – Closing Remarks

10:10 am – 10:30 am – Networking 

 

 

Ad:Tech New York Panel, ‘Ad-Tech and Content Collide: Producing in the Programmatic Era,’ Packs the House

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The revivified Ad:Tech New York 2016 show featured a rollicking panel that the Producers Guild of America (PGA) produced on Thursday, November 3rd, Day 2 of the show, in which leading New York agency producers (all but one PGA members) discussed the trends that are shifting behaviors among brands and consumers alike.

Produced and moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and head of consultancy Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, the panel, ‘Ad-Tech and Content Collide: Producing in the Programmatic Era,’ featured Jason Jercinovic, global head of marketing innovation and global brand director for Havas; Cindy Pound, executive direct, R/GA; Tom Goodwin, executive vice president, head of innovation, ZenithOptimedia, and Raoul Didisheim, consultant with Mariana Media.

A packed house filled the “Titan Hall” in the Javits Center, listening to a discussion that focused on various topics, including:

  • AI and automation are dominating discussions among producers. How do we harness machine learning and real-time technologies for greater storytelling?
  • “Conversational content” is now part of the lexicon. How are these devices and platforms – from Amazon Alexa to Cortana to Siri and Google Talk – part of the “targeted consumer?”
  • Chatbots are the rage now; everyone’s mother seems to have a chatbot. Every VC is talking about chatbots. Is this another fad, like Pokemon Go, or are chatbots going to be a sustained part of the producer’s world?
  • The luxury sector of the economy is still robust.  The whole premise of the luxury relationship is to have a bespoke experience. How do you deliver that in an era of commoditized personalization?
  • The “cognitive” era may be upon us, but can we deliver truly “real-time” experiences that swing with societal trends, fast-moving news, or even more granular data on consumers? How does human creativity catch up to the massive technological capabilities comingout of our research labs?
  • “Targeted advertising” has reared its head again, largely from AT&T. How do you see this playing into the mix of platforms you leverage for reaching consumers?
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(From l to r): Cindy Pound, R/GA; Tom Goodwin, ZenithOptimedia; Jason Jercinovic, Havas; Chris Pfaff, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC; Raoul Didisheim, Mariana Media
Tom Goodwin talked about how AI has created a new set of expectations, for brands and agencies, and that the industry has to manage these expectations carefully.
img_7618Tom Goodwin discusses agency expectations for AI
Jason Jercinovic iscussed the “humans behind AI” and how cognitive computing – namely, IBM Watson – has helped generate better decision-making for clients such as TD Ameritrade, where customers were more likely to honestly interact with machines than with their human counterparts.
20161103_144241Jason Jercinovic discusses the cognitive era of producing
Cindy Pound mentioned the Pumpkin Spice Latte chatbot that Starbucks set up in October, 2016, where more than 500,000 interactions yielded impressive engagement for the coffee company.
20161103_152320Cindy Pound discuses the chatbot phenomenon
Raoul Didisheim outlined the challenge that luxury brands still have with new technology, and said that the integration of human high-touch retail experiences must be delicate and seamless in order not to offend luxury customers. He said that “any email list of a luxury brand would show that a large percentage of their consumers still have AOL addresses.”
20161103_144612Raoul Didisheim discusses the luxury sector 
The audience discussed opportunities that have been seized upon – such as the smart integration of brands in NetFlix’s ‘Luke Cage’ – and possibly missed – such as Game 7 of the World Series, where no “Dunk in the Dark” moments emerged on social media (despite, as an audience member indicated, the success of Twitter’s Hashtag World Series).
Ad:Tech New York 2016 was a milestone for the digital media industry: the 20th anniversary of a show that used to be mostly about platforms and technologies, but has now recognized that th content creators are still behind what is sold to consumers. Kudos to Lori Schwartz, Kendall Allen, and the team that produced the show. It brought in many firt-time visitors to Ad:Tech, and that in itself will help shape the future of this vital industry sector.
img_4885 A view from the audience.

Augmented Reality for Producers Event Packs the House at NYU Data Future Lab

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The latest augmented reality (AR) technology, and some of its leading producers, packed the house at the NYU Data Future Lab last night in SoHo, at Chris Pfaff’s ‘AR for Producers: Bending the Arc in Real Life’ event, presented with the VR/AR Association, New York Chapter. The event was held at the end of the first day of Advertising Week New York 2016, and brought together technologists and producers alike for demos and discussions regarding AR’s application to multiscreen content.

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Ariff Quli, chief commercial officer, Americas for Blippar answers a question at ‘AR for Producers’ at the NYU Data Future Lab

 

A full house of more than 75 people crowded into the Think Tank at the lab, and witnessed a presentation of Provision’s Holovision holographic display unit, which is used by several leading consumer brands. Ted Iannuzzi, creative business technologist with design and development firm Ixonos detailed the product’s significance in the context of his long history in emerging technologies. Ixonos is currently working with Provision to design the next generation of the Holovision experience, which will incorporate the first ‘touchless’ touch screen.

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Ted Iannuzzi, creative business technologist with Ixonos, demos the Provision Holovision holographic projection kiosk, and discusses past visions of AR

 

Blippar’s US director of commercial operations, Ariff Quli, led off the event, showing how the Blippar app drives interactive engagement for brands including Spotify (a playlist driven by Blippar from a Coca-Cola can) and others. Ariff even pulled an audience member aside to draw a picture, which was then rendered elegantly using Blippar’s recognition technology.

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Ariff Quli demos Blippar; activated Spotify playlist, tagging physical objects, and bringing audience member’s drawing to life (a butterly!)

Diego Florentin, head of business development for Montevideo, Uruguay-based Squadability, showed some of his company’s industry-leading AR work for brands, including the Harry Potter exhibit at Universal Studios. He made a passionate pitch for producers to drive more content with AR tags and hooks, to enable greater development.

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Diego Florentin, from Squadability, inspires the audience with demos of AR work for brands and media companies

Futurefly’s founder and chief product officer Ozz Hakkinen discussed his career as a successful game publisher, who wanted to move into game development, and how that spurred his latest work, the RAWR app, which applies contextual content hooks to an avatar-based experience that enables a new kind of chat.

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Ozz Hakkinen, founder and chief product officer of Futurefly, demos the RAWR app, with contextual emojis for avatar chat

Much discussion ensued regarding the coming of Magic Leap’s platform; head-up displays (HUDs), including Osterhout Digital Group’s glasses, and the incredible impact that Pokémon Go has made on the AR industry. Much discussion took place around the latest developments in AR from the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

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Chris Pfaff, CEO of Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, and Ted Iannuzzi, before the event

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Paul Wilford (gesturing), research director at Bell Labs, talks about VR as a Service (VRaaS) before the event

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Mina Salib, manager of the NYU Data Future Lab, welcomes the audience

Producers Guild of America New Media Council East event, ‘Virtual Reality for Producers: Through the Looking Glass,’ gathers the VR creative tribes at The New School

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The power of virtual reality (VR) platforms is now fully realized in the explosion of creative content that is being delivered to headsets, PCs and smartphones every day.

 

The producers who are delivering new experiences for VR comprise a profile that is part-pioneer, part inventor, and all storyteller. This encapsulates the panel that was convened at The New School’s Lang Auditorium on Tuesday, February 9th, as part of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council (NMC) East salon series.

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datavized’s Caitlin Burns and Deborah Anderson prepare demos for attendees

 

With the recent introduction of the $99.00 Samsung Gear VR headset, the announcement of the Oculus Rift CV-1 headset, and the innovative apps that are powered by low-cost (as low as $10) VR glasses and Google Cardboard, VR is creating a new market for production companies. With customized camera rigs, stereoscopic lenses, and streaming applications, producers are creating new experiences for brands (Tommy Hilfiger); news organizations (Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times), and media companies (HBO; 21st Century FOX, NBA), as audiences prepare to dive into content in ways not felt, or seen, before.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) estimates that 1.2 million VR headsets will be sold in the US in 2016, and estimates that, by 2020, the overall VR market will be somewhere between $50-150 billion. As VR content moves onto mobile devices and cost-effective headsets at an increasing pace, producers will be in greater demand for new forms of immersive storytelling.

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Dennis Adamo (right), COO of daydream.io, demos his virtualizer platform for an attendee

 

Produced and moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and a former national delegate to the PGA NMC board; former delegate to the PGA National Board of Directors, and head of consultancy Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, the panel featured Caitlin Burns, COO of datavized, a VR production company that has developed new forms of WebVR content; Shazna Nessa, director of journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Marco Ricci, director of EdgeDNA, and Dennis Adamo, COO of daydream.io.

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Chris Pfaff welcomes the audience at the PGA New Media Council ‘Virtual Reality for Producers’ event at The New School

 

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Marco Ricci, director with EdgeDNA, prior to the event

The event featured a packed house of more than 180 people, mostly PGA members and guests, as well as many stalwarts of the New York 3D, VR, and immersive industry. Demos were provided for the audience, pre-show, by datavized and daydream.io.

PGA VR Event at New School, Bill Platt Photo, 02.09.16

Chris Pfaff leads discussion on the VR industry

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Marco Ricci, from EdgeDNA, presents

 

Caitlin Burns discussed the need for VR workflow and post-production protocols for VR, detailing how difficult it is to pull frames to conform to Samsung Gear VR headsets. Together with Prime Focus Technologies, she and her team have created what is one of the first VR post-production workflows in the industry.

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Caitlin Burns, from datavized, presents

Dennis Adamo showcased daydream.io’s virtualizer technology, which renders individual user’s smartphones as VR engines for their own content.

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Dennis Adamo, from daydream.io, presents

 

Marco Ricci gave what amounted to a tutorial on how to prepare for VR shoots, and what to expect from VR clients. The proverbial “I want the world…for $5,000” conundrum was discussed amongst the panelists.

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Shazna Nessa, from the Knight Foundation, presents

 

Shazna Nessa gave an in-depth look at how journalists are using VR, with an overview of how the Knight Foundation has nurtured storytelling from outlets that include the Des Moines Register, among others.

 

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Marco Ricci during the Q&A session

The Q&A session, always a staple of PGA NMC East events, included questions regarding the challenge of overcoming user nausea with VR; the New York State Start-Up New York program (from which daydream.io has benfitted), and the growth of New York VR production.

 

The number of attendees who represent VR production companies, or are working on VR projects, comprised at least half of the audience. With the vast majority of media buyers; agencies; brands, and media outlets in New York, VR should reflect a New York attitude, if it doesn’t already.

 

Slush Investor Ingenuity Event a Major Success; First Launchpad USA Event Features Funderbeam Co-Founder Urmas Peiker

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The Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel’s Bling Bar, in the proud century-old structure located near the Helsinki train station, was the site for the 1st Launchpad USA event, at Slush 2015. Hosted by Mike Klyszeiko, director of AmCham Finland’s Launchpad USA program, which helps prepare Nordic/Baltic ventures for the US market, and Erika Sauer, director of AmCham Finland New York, the official Slush side event, ‘Slush Investor Ingenuity,’ featured a one-on-one with Chris Pfaff and Urmas Peiker, co-founder of Funderbeam, the Estonian venture that provides a dashboard for start-up insights and a blockchain trading platform.

 

Watch video of the first part of the conversation at https://youtu.be/xHz8DiYoQO0.

 

Urmas Peiker, co-founder of Funderbeam, and Chris Pfaff, CEO/founder of Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC, at the Radisson Blu Plaza, Helsinki, for the Slush Investor Ingenuity event, 11.11.15

Urmas Peiker and Chris Pfaff at the Slush Investor Ingenuity event

 

More than 90 entrepreneurs and investors crowded the Bling Bar for food, drink, and conversation. And the conversation with Pfaff and Peiker included the following topics and threads:

  • Funderbeam, as an Estonian venture, combines the fearlessness of the “Estopreneur” with an innovative way to disrupt existing markets
  • Urmas Peiker’s background as a regulator with Estonian’s financial supervisory group helped prepare him for the creation of the 2 1/2-year-old Funderbeam
  • Funderbeam was described as “what would happen if Bloomberg Angellist and NASDAQ had a baby”
  • Urmas Peiker described the opportunity for investors to trade, using blockchain, in their start-up investments almost immediately, thereby creating a more vibrant investment ecosyst
  • Funderbeam is looking carefully at the U.S. market, and examining the vagaries of the U.S. regulatory market to try and disrupt the venture community

Pfaff gave a major shout-out to Tarmo Virki, founder and publisher of Co-Founder magazine, which had its launch at Slush 2014. The quarterly publication’s 5th issue arrived at Slush on Tuesday, and features the Slush 100 start-ups. Virki had introduced Pfaff to Peiker.

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Mike Klyszeiko, director of the Launchpad USA program, and Erika Sauer, director of AmCham Finland New York/Launchpad USA, welcome the audience at the Slush Investor Ingenuity event at the Radisson Blu Plaza, Helsinki

 

Pfaff, who had coined the term “Finntrepreneur” in 2011 (initially to market his firm’s ex-Nokian clients who had made the plunge into forced entrepreneurship) coined the term “Estopreneur” at Garage 48 in Tallinn in 2014. Both classes of entrepreneurs are adept at creating essential start-ups with highly innovative concepts, and doing this with few resources.

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Chris Pfaff and Urmas Peiker discuss Funderbeam’s forthcoming launch at the Launchpad USA event at Slush 2015

 

 

The conversation with Peiker also touched on the co-founder’s passion for extreme athletics; Peiker has competed in the Ironman triathlon competition, in Hawaii. He compared the triathlon experience with start-up experience, stating that endurance and focus is required for both pursuits.

 

Funderbeam (www.funderbeam.com) will launch a beta soon.

 

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The inaugural Launchpad USA event was attended by more than 90 people during Slush 2015

 

Advertising Week New York: Producers Guild of America New Media Council East panel on branded entertainment was so hot…they had to call the NY Fire Department!

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Last night, I hosted/moderated/produced a panel on branded entertainment, ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers,’ at The New School that was super-hot, for two reasons. First, the session occurred during Advertising Week New York, and included a veritable all-star roster of panelists, including Ian Schafer, founder/CEO of agency Deep Focus, and founder of its recently-formed branded content studio, DFx; Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment Condé Nast Entertainment; Colas Overkott, CEO of multi-screen content and ad firm Sync; Luis de la Parra, senior vice president, partner solutions, Univision; Andy Oakes, managing director of the UK’s leading marketing publication, The Drum, and Warren Weideman, CEO, First Look Productions LLC.

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Ian Schafer; Will Misselbrook; Andy Oakes; Colas Overkott; Warren Weideman, and Luis de la Parra.

 

Second, the event’s content and discussions got so hot that the NY Fire Department was called in. Yes, just as the panel discussion started, a fire alarm sounded, followed by a slightly panicked intercom message from “The Fire Captain,” beckoning us all to the street. So, an impromptu networking session, amongst 96 passionate industry professionals, convened on West 13th Street. Only in New York. Some might just call for a short networking break; they call in the fire engines with my events. That’s how we roll.

 

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NY Fire Department fire engine and firefighters arrive at the scene, 55 West 13th Street (note: a server in a 4th-floor rack overheated, and set off a temperature alarm. Yep – we were jes too darn hot…)

 

Ian Schafer showed a Ruffles case study on brand engagement, and discussed his views on the shortage of good content, saying that distribution has exploded, with new platforms every week, but great content has become more of a premium. Ian founded DFx to “take back” the production control of branded entertainment.

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Ian Schafer, founder/CEO of Deep Focus and DFx, discusses the new branded entertainment production paradigm

Luis de la Parra showed how T-Mobile and Univision have partnered on a Youth Awards program with a Miami event that now includes multiple platforms, and creates strong brand extensions.

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Luis de la Parra presents the Univision-T-Mobile branded entertainment case study

 

Colas Overkott showed Sync’s revolutionary Sync2Ad product, which has enabled – for the first time – synched TV-mobile ad units for brands including Samsung, Dunlop, and Air France, among others.

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Colas Overkott demonstrates Sync’s Sync2Ad product

Warren Weideman discussed the “Top 10 Things Not to Do in Branded Entertainment,” and gave great historic examples of brand integration into films. His new show on CBS, ‘The Inspectors,’ produced with Litton Entertainment, looks at postal inspectors, and includes U.S. Postal Service participation.

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Warren Weideman discusses the “Top 10 Things Not to Do in Branded Entertainment”

Will Misselbrook discussed his work with luxury brand Coach, and how he essentially led branded entertainment for a company that had not developed a solid branded entertainment play. Andy Oakes discussed the differences between U.S. and UK audiences and regulators with branded entertainment, noting that the tradition of non-commercial television had limited the scope of branded entertainment, but cited the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA) as one of the groups leading the growth of branded entertainment in the UK.

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Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment for Condé Nast Entertainment, with Andy Oakes, managing director, The Drum

 

The value of branded entertainment with jaded audiences, including millennials less susceptible to traditional advertising, led to discussion of storytelling for brands. The discussion, in a room full of producers, led to numerous conversations about platform-specific stories, whether on Snapchat or YouTube, that have now created a hunger for content that is instantly shareable.

 

The evening was significant for myself and for the guild. It was almost 10 years to the day that the PGA-New School relationship was formalized (for the record, we did an event on podcasting that featured the likes of Robert Spier, from NPR and Peter Rojas). Sponsored by the Media Studies program at The New School, our PGA New Media Council East salon series has included a number of venues (including The Core Club; the 57th Street Screening Room), but our relationship with The New School is special. And enduring.

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Paul Hardart, Director of the Media Management Program at The New School, welcomes the audience.

 

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Colas Overkott; Chris Pfaff; Luis de la Parra; Warren Weideman; Andy Oakes, and Ian Schafer after the PGA New Media Council East panel on branded entertainment, at The New School, 09.30.15