This weekend I attended XOXO in Portland for the first – and hopefully not last – time. I’ve been to a handful of conferences during my career so far, but this was quite different from the rest, and I absolutely loved it.
By the way, this is me.
Sarah Stumbo is a software engineer at Pixvana who loves VR (obviously) and sees it as major new medium for artists and creators. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 2014 and recently relocated to Seattle to join the Pixvana team. When not building the virtual future, Sarah enjoys yoga, traveling and drinking rose.
What is XOXO?
It’s a festival and conference celebrating independent artists, creators and developers who make things on the internet. The weekend also showcased some of the best and most interesting projects of the year ranging from games, software, art and film.
While I was there I also did my first “Social Media Takeover”, where I forced myself to use Twitter at least 3x a day and attempted to post artistic Instagram shots on Pixvana’s accounts. In case you missed it, here’s the professional corporate headshot I chose to share with all of our followers pre-takeover.
Here are my highlights from the weekend, in order of occurrence.
My XOXO experience begun on Friday with the #vr slack meetup, where anyone who had an interest or project related to vr/ar could attend. At the meetup, I shared Pixvana’s tech, showing off some of our videos streamed onto the Gear VR using FOVAS.
The Foo Show, a live interview in VR
For the first time, Will Smith (the creator of FOO VR), recorded an episode of his VR talk show live in front of an audience. He interviewed game designer Brendon Chung inside of his critically-acclaimed game, Quadrilateral Cowboy. During the interview, they explored a scene from the game and discussed some of the various props and the meaning behind them. Overall, the live interview went pretty smoothly, considering the amount of technical setup involved in a multi-user HTC Vive setup with an in VR camera. The only big glitch was when one of the props just started randomly levitating through Will’s head. It was actually hilarious.
Friday night featured an arcade party, where several modern indie games were set up and played by attendees. Each game had a huge projection screen, so it was really easy to wander around and check out all of them. Although I watched several people play, I only had time to play one game myself. I tried the beta version of Luna, which is a VR game using the Oculus where you solve a few puzzles to complete a story. I loved the storybook feel and simple, yet beautiful interactions.
Film & Animation Night
The main event Saturday night was a film and animation night, where a variety of diverse internet video projects were discussed and premiered. I got to catch the first 3 featured projects. They were all amazing.
Every Frame a Painting is a YouTube series that dedicated to the analysis of different film form.
Auralnauts remix sound to do things like changing the dialogue in movies to turn them into comedies or changing dialogue in commercials to turn them into dark glimpses of dystopian futures.
Feminist Frequency discussed and premiered their new series about women throughout history who have defied stereotypes to change the world.
— Pixvana (@pixvana) September 11, 2016
Jenn Schiffer’s Programming Satire
If you follow me on Twitter (or followed my Pixvana Twitter takeover) you may have noticed the unusual surge of tweets during Jenn’s talk on Sunday morning. Jenn is a developer, artist and writer, who enjoys writing creating satirical programming tutorials and blog articles. She reminded me of a funnier version of myself. She made me laugh. A lot. Check out her blog featuring the most important articles about code and technology you’ll ever read.
— Pixvana (@pixvana) September 11, 2016
Creative process with Frank Chimero
The weekend closed with a talk by designer Frank Chimero where he discussed the human creative process as a whole. The big question he asked was “why do we make things?” The answer he came up with: hunger. I agreed with this, as I too feel the hunger to be constantly creating things, whether it be software – art and music – or catchy tweets that very few people read.