Virtual reality at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 (updated 7/19)

For the past few years there have been virtual reality experiences available at San Diego Comic-Con, but to say that VR was a presence at the con would be to overstate it. The 2014 convention had a 90-second X-Men experience on Oculus Rift at the Fox booth and a Sleepy Hollow Rift experience of about the same duration at on off-site location. The 2015 convention had OVERKILL’s The Walking Dead VR experience available at Walker Stalker Fest, which was an off-site event. 2016 has been crowed as The Year of Virtual Reality. This year’s SDCC will reflect that with enough VR to strain a VR blogger’s schedule.

Panels

Thursday

State of the Holodeck in Room 32AB @ 2:00pm to 3:00pm

“It’s been only a year since these speakers surveyed the VR landscape in their Building the Holodeck panel, but it seems like a lifetime in terms of what virtual and augmented reality are offering consumers, scientists, and media today. In this update, panelists Tony Christopher (CEO & president Landmark Entertainment Group), Mary Jesse (Chief Strategy Officer, VRStudios), Julian Reyes (VR producer, Fusion Media Network), Chanel Summers (Co-Founder at Syndicate 17/Lecturer at USC), and Eren Aksu (Sales Director & Head of Business Development, Emblematic Group) will discuss how they create immersive environments ranging from zombie-infested castles and martian landscapes, to Syrian refugee camps.”

Friday

di-VR-sity: Opportunities in VR/AR and Immersive Storytelling in Room 29AB @ 11:00am to 12:00pm

“This panel will highlight talented and diverse individuals who are making waves in virtual reality and augmented reality storytelling. These forward-thinkers will discuss emerging opportunities for women and other minority voices in this innovative medium. The panelists will also touch on the ‘state of VR’ as an industry, including trends and different approaches to content in VR. The panel will culminate with tips for aspiring VR filmmakers and an audience Q&A. Moderators: Jonathan Nafarrete (editor-in-chief, VRScout.com) & Jana Davidoff (senior publicist, CW3PR). Panelists include Christina Heller (co-founder/CEO, VR Playhouse), Jenn Duong (director of VR, 1215creative), Evette Vargas (producer/writer/director, Digital-Reign Productions), Elia Petridis (founder/CEO, Filmatics Creative Services), Helen Situ (VR evangelist, NextVR) and Maureen Fan (CEO, Baobab Studios).”

The State of the Industry: Animation in Room 28DE @ 5:00pm to 6:00pm

“What do the pros think of the animation scene today? Is hand-drawn and VFX gone for good? What will be the impact of VR? How do I get a job? This panel will explore how animators fit into current business models of animation studios and the ever-changing landscape of motion pictures, television, and new media. Moderator Tom Sito engages in a lively discussion with Bill Plympton (Hitler’s Folly, Cheatin’), Careen Ingel (The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show), Peter Ramsey (Tank Girl, Rise of the Guardians), Ken Duncan (Tarzan, Coca-Cola Man and Dog), and Camille Kanengiser (Freeform VR Labs, Elementerra).”

Creating Your Own Universe in Room 5AB @ 7:30pm to 8:30pm

“Len Wein (co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine) moderates a panel that will discuss the many ways one might create a universe, whether in comics, novels, gaming, television, film and virtual reality. Panelists include James Lopez (creator, Hullabaloo, an animated Steampunk series), Mark Murphy (co-creator, Neil deGrasse Tyson Presents: Space Odyssey), Peter S. Beagle (author, The Last Unicorn), and representatives from cutting-edge VR companies, including HTC Vive and Samsung GearVR.”

Saturday

Comics of Tomorrow: Innovations for the Future of Comics in Room 29AB @ 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The official write-up doesn’t plug VR, but Daniel Corey will be discussing his VR comic book Moriarty: Endgame.
“Marv Wolfman (creator, Blade, New Teen Titans), Zac Atkinson (writer, Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Transformers: Rescue Bots), Daniel Corey (writer, Image Comic’s Moriarty and Red City), Rob Cain (producer, Abattoir and Mongol), Ralph Miranda (artist/creator, Man Fighting Street and Bone Saw) and Shaene Siders (writer, Herokins and Discovery Channel’s Great White Sharks) discover exciting new twists and technological advances that have begun to transform the future of comics, including interactive comics with motion sensors, choose-your-own story comics, social media comics, and more.”

Worldbuilding: Creating Realistic Fantasy Settings in Room 9 @ 2:00pm to 3:00pm

“Words are important. But how are they made? Claudia Christian (Wolf’s Empire), Gini Koch (The Alien Series), Seanan McGuire (the October Daye and InCryptid series), Brandon Mull (Five Kingdom’s Series), Scott Sigler (The Generations Trilogy), and Jon Skovron (Hope & Red) discuss how they set the stage for their stories and explore the dos and don’ts of building a living, breathing world for their characters in a panel moderated by Cindy Pon (Serpentine).”

Sunday

An Adventure in Virtual Reality Storytelling in Room 23ABC @ 1:30pm to 2:30pm

“There is no limit to the depth of experiences that can be created in the realm of virtual reality. But is a trip to the bottom of the ocean or a walk on the surface of Mars enough to keep audiences coming back for more? Creators who are working on the front lines of this exciting new technology discuss innovations such as 360-degree movies and the art of creating interactive story experiences. Moderator Neo Edmund (screenwriter, author of the Red Riding Alpha Huntress Series) is joined by panelists Micke Hjorth (chairman of the board, Starbreeze Studios), Sarah Kinga Smith (producer of motion picture, digital and VR, CEO of RES literary talent management & production), Andrew Cochrane (digital & interactive director, Mirada Studios), Varun Lella (digital, business development & TV literary agent, Paradigm), and Kane Lee (head of content at Baobab Studios).”

Experiences

Exhibitor Hall

DC @ Booth # 1915

The DC booth will have both displays and interactive elements, like autograph signings and a demo of Batman: Arkham VR experience. If you just want to check out the displays you can wander by any time, but if you want to try on the VR goggles you’ll need to get a wristband that morning in the Sails Pavilion. Since the autographs will be happening on Saturday I’m betting that the better odds of getting a wristband are on the other three days.

Nickelodeon @ Booth # 4113

In the mid-90s there was a TV game show called Legends of the Hidden Temple. Nickelodeon is making a TV movie of it now and to promote it they are featuring a Legends of the Hidden Temple VR experience at their SDCC booth. Expect a line if you want to try out their VR.

Off-Site

Amazon @ 1st Ave Trolley Stop (1st Ave and MLK Promenade)

Amazon is promoting their show The Man in the High Castle with a VR experience that moves you through sets, props, and costumes from the show and then has you partake in a mission. They’re promoting other series with other experiences, too. I expect a queue for their VR, but due the location of this off-site it likely won’t be as long as some of the other VR queues.

AT&T & MTV @ Blush Ice Bar; Friday 6:00pm to 9:00pm

I haven’t found any details about the VR experience being offered, but the Blush Ice Bar will be transformed into the AT&T & MTV Fandom Awards Virtual Reality Lounge. It’s an 18 and older event with the ability to RSVP (email to attfandomRSVP@mtv.com), although even if you RSVP it’s billed as “first come, first served”. They will have the cast of Teen Wolf on site, so it will likely be hard to get into this event. I’ll personally be skipping this so I can attend the Creating Your Own Universe panel.

DC @ Hard Rock Hotel

I think most people have heard of Arkham Asylum, where all of the lunatics get locked up after being collared by Batman, but in the DC world there is another place just as infamous: the Belle Reve penitentiary, birthplace of the Suicide Squad. To promote their upcoming movie DC is transforming the Hard Rock into the Belle Reve. Among other experiences they’ll be offering a VR experience where you step into a scene from the movie and fight side by side with members of the Suicide Squad. Expect lines that circle the block.

Fox @ Hilton Bayfront Lawn

Fox is offering up a range of hands-on experiences like climbing a rock wall and leaping down onto a stunt bag, but for those of us who prefer adventures with both feet flat on the ground they are offering a Rocky Horror Picture Show</em> VR experience.

FX @ Hilton Bayfront Lawn

Horror is a big seller in virtual reality. FX is going to tap into that by offering the American Horror Story Fearless VR experience. You’ll experience various encounters inspired by the series as you test your courage under the goggles. Walk-ups are invited, but they’re also going to take reservations starting on July 19: http://ahsreservations.com/.

Mr. Robot @ Petco Park or 343 4th Ave

Mr. Robot is having something of a big virtual reality weekend. They’ve created a short video that will be simulcast live through the Within app at 10:45 a.m. PST. When the video ends it will vanish from the Within app. Users around the world can watch the video while it is being simulcast. If you’re at SDCC then get into Petco Park during the simulcast and they’ll give you a Cardboard viewer through which to watch it. Anyone anywhere watching the simulcast should have the Within app installed (Android, iOS, though it’s on Gear, Rift, and Vive too) and the Mr. Robot video pre-downloaded. If you’re at SDCC and miss the simulcast you can visit the Mr. Robot pop-up location at 343 4th Ave where it’ll be available to view for the remaining duration of the con.

Neil deGrasse Tyson @ Hilton Gaslamp Hotel (in The Spa)

The official SDCC Toucan blog is billing this as “VR Con at Comic-Con”. The details that have been shared are that there will be at least two VR experiences available here: The John Wick VR Experience and NASA’s Journey to Mars. It’s having a media and VIP preview on Wednesday which leads me to think this is a bigger deal than has been told. The event isn’t sponsored by a big media company and probably doesn’t have the type of brand hook that’ll form a line around the block, but I’m not going to underestimate this event. I’m planning for a long wait to try on their goggles.

Nerd HQ @ New Children’s Museum

Every year that Nerd HQ arrives in San Diego it brings with it a plethora of video gaming options. This year they’re bringing an Oculus Rift too. The details are disappointing so far in that they only clearly state they’ll have one Oculus experience to try and while you can pre-register for gaming sessions you cannot pre-register for the Rift. Nerd HQ is quite a popular destination and I imagine it’ll be a challenge to get their goggles over my eyes.

Rick and Morty VR @ Adult Swim on the Green (behind Convention Center), daily 11:00am to 6:00pm

“THE RUMORS ARE TRUE!! We are making the one-and-only Rick and Morty VR game in partnership with Adult Swim Games! Coming soon to the Vive!

Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality smashes together the absolute VR chaos of the award-winning Job Simulator with the ridiculous, all-out, take-no-prisoners comedy of Rick and Morty.”

Expect an insane queue and sweaty goggles. I can’t wait!

SDVR Comic-Con VR Mixer & AltspaceVR user meetup @ EvoNexus Downtown Incubator (101 W. Broadway #200), Thursday 5:00pm to 9:00pm

“Join us on Thursday 7/21 to kick off Comic-Con with VR friends, food and fun. Dinner will be provided courtesy of AltspaceVR, and there will be plenty of room to demo and socialize. Please bring your gear and projects to demo or connect to AltspaceVR. If you’re bringing a rig please message us so we can plan for space.

“Come out and meet fellow VR developers, enthusiasts and potential investors. We’ll share stories, have technical discussions and learn about the latest VR news. We welcome any and all levels of knowledge and involvement in VR.”

Various Locations

Warner Bros bags

The oversized rucksacks that Comic-Con provides are going to be branded with Warner Bros properties this year, but they’re also going to have a special augmented reality quality to them. Using the Blippar app on Android and iOS you can scan the bags for an AR treat. If you scan all eighteen different bags you’ll unlock additional AR goodies.

Stan Lee’s Cosmic Crusaders

This one really doesn’t count. POW! Entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter, and Genius Brands International are debuting the new series Stan Lee’s Cosmic Crusaders during Comic-Con. To promote the new show they’re going to be distributing Cardboard headsets at the convention, but have not disclosed the location(s?) yet. I checked and couldn’t find a booth for any of those three company names, so maybe they’ll be distributing on the street. Dunno.

San Diego Comic-Con occurs from Wednesday, July 20 until Sunday, July 24. See you there.