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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?

Download and Sign the Individual Immersive Media Challenge Consent & Release form


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 and the signed Consent & Release form to PLELYVELD@ETCENTER.ORG
    • Executives will review the submissions and select the projects they want to mentor
    • Mentors will provide 1 or 2 rounds of feedback (by email, phone, or meeting)
  • October 3rd JUDGING BEGINS
    • 3-minute elevator pitch video and final answers to 6 questions due (send to PLELYVELD@ETCENTER.ORG)
    • 3-5 ideas will be selected for funding for the production of a previz/vertical slice
  • October 8th thru January 29th 
    • 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 29th  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
  • Sponsoring companies may independently fund your idea!

We hope you will accept the challenge!

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

The Sept. 5th Immersive Media Challenge launch event presentation is here.


Our Youtube channel can be found here
Watch the vNAB videos below



  • To advance technology and innovation within the entertainment industry
  • To provide a neutral setting for the entertainment industry, technology and electronics companies and to identify and discuss pressing issues
  • To understand the impact of technology on the consumer experience and the creative process
  • To connect and leverage the University of Southern California’s extensive research facilities, faculty and student body with companies
  • To provide insight about emerging consumer habits
  • To convene industry peer groups and partners to share knowledge and experience
  • To create an environment for testing and evaluation of proposed technology solutions
  • To help identify new business models for the entertainment industry
  • To improve the consumer experience and advance the art of entertainment as the 21st century unfolds

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