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Wednesday, June 3 • 18:30 - 19:00
Case Study of Award-Winning XR Comedy “The BizNest” & How It Paves The Way For Immersive Narrative

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This talk shares an unconventional and highly successful approach to narrative in XR. Most notably, where others express the problem of directing in 360 as “how do you get the viewer to look where you want?,” I say, “you don’t,” and embrace the viewer’s ability to look anywhere as an opportunity, not an obstacle. Similarly, where others encourage creators to ask about a project, “Why VR?,” I say instead ask, “Why is the viewer there?” as it gives the creator a more specific and actionable place to work from. This approach has proven to be incredibly successful, leading The BizNest, of which this talk will present a case study, to be recognized with awards and publications for it’s pioneering work.  The immersive medium of extended reality (XR) presents plentiful opportunities to invent and reinvent. Some of these opportunities are technical, some are creative and some are a mix. One of the agreed upon areas in this new medium that has been in need of invention and reinvention is storytelling. Stanford Professor Jeremy Bailenson, in his excellent book on virtual reality, Experience On Demand (2018), devotes a whole chapter to what he calls “stories in the round.” He covers various solutions and approaches that he’s gathered from talking to everyone from the director of Lawnmower Man to James Cameron’s VFX guru for Avatar. And yet, there is one genre his chapter does not consider and one format unaddressed: that of comedic XR. To be fair, when his book was published in January 2018, this specific genre didn’t yet exist. Now, with The BizNest, the world’s first 360VR sitcom, it does. And it’s getting attention. In January 2020, The BizNest won DreamlandXR’s Best Project for Television at Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s largest and most influential technology event. Independently produced by Exelauno’s all-female team, The BizNest beat out XR projects by NBC Nightly News, ABC News, CNN, America’s Got Talent, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, NBC Universal and Verizon; judges for the awards included experts from Google, Dell, Paramount, HTC, Lenovo, HP, the Producers Guild of America and MIT. The show is an innovative workplace comedy that takes place in a co-working space where the viewer is one of the members; imagine watching The Office from the desk next to Jim. The BizNest has developed a new approach for telling stories in a 360-degree environment, one that is poised to have as much effect on storytelling in immersive media as the invention of multi-cam did on storytelling for TV (i.e. shaping sitcoms from I Love Lucy to Friends). Recognizing this, the textbook Handbook of Research on the Global Impacts and Roles of Immersive Media, edited by Jacki Morie and Kate McCallum and publishing in February 2020, devotes an entire chapter to a case study of The BizNest.  This talk will include a case study of the award-winning show and go beyond the published work, sharing exclusive insights about the world’s first 360VR sitcom. Writer/director Eve Weston will share how her work on popular television shows like Will & Grace and Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place has informed her XR work; she’ll show how The BizNest builds on the unique “interactivity” she achieved with the viral YouTube sensation she wrote and choreographed for Selena Gomez. And she’ll elucidate why The BizNest promises to open up a new avenue of storytelling for virtual and extended reality. Weston, who has spoken at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences of Emmys fame, will elaborate on revelations gained during all stages of creating The BizNest — from rehearsals through post-production. She’ll include insights about narrative, directing, comedy and more, in the context of this new, immersive world. She’ll also share insights from a variety of perspectives, her own and those of team members like actress Ellie Araiza (FX’s Legion and The Bridge) and Emmy-nominated “Epic Lloyd” Ahlquist (YouTube's Epic Rap Battles of History, 14m subscribers). The lessons and anecdotes included in this talk will be valuable for anyone working in -- or aspiring to work in -- XR.

avatar for Eve Weston

Eve Weston

Eve Weston believes in storytelling as a force for positive change. She is writer/director of the award-winning first immersive 360VR sitcom (JoinTheBizNest.Com) and a published expert in XR narrative with three double-blind peer reviewed publications out this year, including chapters... Read More →

Wednesday June 3, 2020 18:30 - 19:00 UTC
Stage: Hopin