On February 7th, 2019, 17 member company representatives and USC SCA faculty gathered at Disney to develop the plan for an ETC@USC Immersive Media Challenge. The two-fold goal of the IM Challenge is to challenge students to come up with new defendable concepts for engaging experiences that could be buildable in 3-5 years, and for ETC member company reps to have a structured opportunity to interact with students who are preparing to be the next generation of creatives.
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 what needs to happen in order to build their idea, and of equal importance, how likely is it that those things will happen? What technology, infrastructure, standard, or feature needs to be developed? What consumer behavior needs to be adopted or deemed socially acceptable?
The best ideas will embrace the idea of ‘audience engagement’ at their core, and should not be constrained by current ideas or products. The best ideas will have at least one element that is conceptually new and unique.
Students can submit ideas under any one of four broadly stated categories; city play, for good, for fun, and for health. There is a standard format for submitting ideas that is based on a form already used by the SCA gaming division.
The ETC member company participants will have opportunities to engage with the students as submission screeners, mentors during the submission development process, judges at the pitch event, and advisors and co-creators for the projects selected and funded for pre-viz. They can also work with and support students interested in presenting their ideas at festivals and conferences.
The IM Challenge faculty advisors met at the ETC on February 26thto draft a timeline for the challenge that will attract the most student involvement without interfering with their school work. April 25this the proposed kick-off event date. There will be a few rounds of reviews and filtering before the ideas are pitched and 3-5 projects selected for further development at a May 24thevent. The students who submitted the selected ideas will be funded to form a team and work on a pre-viz of their idea over the summer under the guidance and support of ETC and member representatives. The resultant pre-viz’s will be presented at an August 29thevent that will also act as the kick-off for a Fall semester IM Challenge, assuming sponsorship from member companies and outside sources to continue the program.