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ETC@USC Immersive Media Challenge Details

September 5th kick-off event

September 12th initial submission deadline

What is the Immersive Media Challenge?

  • Come up with a concept for an engaging experience that should be buildable in 3-5 years.
  • Explain what needs to happen that will make building it possible.
  • It can be — a world, a tool, a game, a platform, a product, a service, a _____, …
  • Think about what happens when tech catches up to an idea that resonates with people –
    • e.g., Facebook, Fortnite, Minecraft, global K-Pop, esports/Twitch, smart speakers, Bird/Lime, Airbnb, ….
  • Think about what happens when an idea out of the blue is suddenly possible –
    • e.g., iPhone, Uber, digital influencers (Miquela)…

Your idea should be related to any one of these four broadly stated topics

  • City Play –city as location-based entertainment, gov’t function better, retail, …
  • For Good – social good, education, …
  • For Fun – dramatic but with a twist that advances the art-form, plotless but engaging, …
  • For Health – medical resource for doctor or patient, life-style improvement, …

Format for IM Challenge initial ‘paper pitch’ submissions due September 12th

Answer a 6-question sequence:

  1. Idea Title (evocative logo)
  2. What is the experience?
    • Describe it in detail.
    • What is it like to engage in the experience?
      • This can include memorable moments in the experience.
  3. What are you trying to achieve, create, or build?
    • Why is it a worthwhile thing to build?
    • Where is the fun or social benefit?
    • How does it address one or more of the challenge categories?
      • City Play
      • For Fun
      • For Good
      • For Health
  4. Why will your intended audience love it?
    • What about it will capture their imagination and hold their interest?
  5. What is unique about it?
    • Why is it different from other experiences that are available?
  6. What about it is not practical to create today, but will likely be create-able in 3-5 years
    • What needs to happen in 3-5 years to make that possible?
    • Why do you think your assumptions are reasonable?
      • Why is it Tomorrowland, and not Fantasyland?

Next step, if industry executive Mentors select your idea — due October 3rd:

  1. Expand on your answers to the 6 questions
  2. Create the elevator pitch video.This should be the last thing that you create as you answer the 6 questions, but you should be thinking about it from the beginning. It should contain the key points from your comments above. The video should be no longer than 3 minutes.
    • We are looking for ‘a great idea well-told.’ Narrative excellence is valued in the challenge


    • Develop first-pass answers to questions 1-6
  • September 12th is the DEADLINE for submitting your first-pass answers to questions 1-6 to  PLELYVELD@ETCENTER.ORG
    • Executives will review them and return with questions and comments
    • 1 or 2 rounds of this before the judging (by email, phone, or meeting)
  • October 3rd JUDGING BEGINS
    • 3-minute elevator pitch video and final answers to 6 questions due
    • 3-5 ideas selected for funding for the production of a previz/vertical slice
  • October 8th thru January Aug 16th 
    • Owner of the selected idea will form a (virtual) team to construct the previz/vertical slice
    • Sponsoring companies will support this effort
    • October 22nd team meeting with advisors and mentors to plan the project
    • Work continues over Winter Break
  • January 16th  PRESENTATION of the previz / vertical slice
    • KICK-OFF the of the SPRING 2020 semester IM Challenge competition

Throughout this process, sponsor companies may individually decide to independently fund further project development of an idea

Why would you want to participate in this Challenge?

  • It is an interesting exercise
  • Working executives will provide you with feedback
  • Casual structured way to interact with executives
  • The 3-5 best ideas will get funding for you to create a pre-viz over the Winter Break and present in the Spring
  • Some submitters will be sponsored to speak at conferences and festivals
  • Sponsoring companies may independently fund your idea!

We hope you will accept the challenge!

Please register here to attend the September 5th kick-off (and to help us get an accurate headcount for catering).

Phil Lelyveld, Immersive Media Experience, director
Entertainment Technology Center @ USC

ETC@USC Immersive Media Challenge

Sign up below to get information about the Immersive Media Challenge


The Entertainment Technology Center at USC invites students and recent grads to participate in an Immersive Media Challenge.
The ETC@USC is funded by the major Hollywood studios and Tech companies to help them recognize and prepare for “the ‘next‘ next new thing”.

Your challenge is to come up with a pitch for an engaging experience that should be buildable in 3-5 years.

  • Experiences should fit into one or more of these four broadly stated area; city play, for good, for fun, or for health.
  • Why judge submissions in the 3-5 year timeframe? If an idea can be realized in less than 3 years, it can probably be built now. This is not a hackathon, it is a ‘futurist’ challenge. Part of the judging criteria of submissions will be how well the submitter can describe how we get ‘from here to there’; what technology, infrastructure, story mechanic, standard, or feature needs to be developed? The best ideas will have at least one element that is conceptually new and unique.
  • The winning ideas will incorporate new and unique concepts that are not possible today, but that you anticipate will be possible within 3-5 years (we are looking for Tomorrowland, not Fantasyland).
  • Think like a futurist! Part of your pitch will be to describe what needs to happen to get ‘from here to there’ and why those assumptions are reasonable.

All participants will be connected to executives at ETC@USC sponsor companies who will help you refine your pitch.

  • This is an opportunity for you to casually interact with and network through working professionals.

The 3-5 best ideas will get funding and support to create a professional-quality pre-viz or ‘vertical slice’.

You are invited to attend the Fall 2019 Immersive Media Challenge kick-off Q&A event, with catered food, on Thursday, September 5th, at 6:00pm in the SCA Gallery, Spielberg Building, School of Cinematic Arts. At this event we will describe the format for submitting your ideas.

If you are interested in attending the kick-off, or would like to learn more about the Immersive Media Challenge but cannot attend, please sign up below.



What is the Immersive Media Challenge?

What is the Immersive Media Challenge?

  • Come up with a concept for an engaging experience that should be buildable in 3-5 years.
  • Explain what needs to happen that will make building it possible.

 Click here for more information about the Immersive Media Challenge:

  • why you should participate
  • the submission format
  • the challenge timeline

 September 5th Kick-off event, Thursday, 6:00pm

SCA Gallery
Spielberg Building
School of Cinematic Arts

All USC students and recent grads are encouraged to participate!

Please register here to receive more info about the challenge and for a food headcount for the Sept. 5th kick-off event.

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