Immersive Media Challenge Details

May 6th 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 ‘paper pitch’ submissions

Answer a 7-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?
  7. The Pitch
    • This should be the last thing that you write, but you should be thinking about it from the beginning.
    • It should contain the key points from your comments above.
    • You should be able to read it aloud in 3 minutes or less.
    • We are looking for ‘a great idea well-told.’
      • Narrative excellence is valued in the challenge


  • April 25th  LAUNCH DATE (the day before the last day of classes)
    • Starting tonight, develop first-pass answers to questions 1-6
  • May 6th 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)
  • May 24th JUDGING
    • Paper response to the 7 questions and…
    • 3 minute live pitch OR 3 minute video pitch (if you’ve gone home)
    • 3-5 ideas selected for previz/vertical slice
  • May 25th thru Aug 29th (Thursday of first week of Fall semester)
    • Owner of the selected idea will form a (virtual) team to construct the previz/vertical slice
    • Sponsoring companies will support this effort
  • Aug 29th  PRESENTATION of the previz / vertical slice
    • KICK-OFF the of the Fall 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 summer and present in the fall
  • 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!

Phil Lelyveld, Immersive Media Initiative program lead
Entertainment Technology Center @ USC

Data & Analytics Project

The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Precise Story and Character Mechanics to Box Office Returns

Our Data & Analytics Project held “The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Stories & Characters to Box Office Revenue” Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This study leverages the Dramatic taxonomy of film narrative to infer which scene-level character and story attributes generate more box office returns, by genre. We are extending this study to ads and movie trailers.

The project researchers used machine learning to map 70+ story attributes for 300 films to their box office returns to extract which story mechanics or character features in film generated the most revenue. This was the first time granular story and character mechanics have been used to predict box office returns, which opens up many avenues to make more data-driven creative and development decisions throughout the industry.

What’s a good story? The question has been hanging without a scientific answer since the dawn of man. It seems that a story’s lack of clear mathematical structure and universal taxonomy would relegate such classification of stories to the qualitative – and highly subjective- empire of critics and … people.

Until now.

The event presented results from the research, discussed applications for the development and creative process, and outlined next steps.

ETC Events

Adaptive Production – VFX Standards
March 20. 2019

ETC All Members Meeting
March 21, 2019

Adaptive Production – Blockchain
March 27. 2019

DTS 5G:  The Next Wave in Media Transformation – By Invitation Only
March 28, 2019

Adaptive Production – Archiving
April 3, 2019

ETC Nex Gen Tech Symposium @ NAB Show
LVCC – N257
April 10, 2019

ETC Executive Board Meeting – Board Members Only
June 6, 2019

ETC All Members Meeting 
June 20, 2019

ETC Studio Technology Leaders Dinner – By Invitation Only
USC Town & Gown
June 26, 2019



Industry Events