Virtual reality at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 (updated 7/14)

This year is my second year of attending San Diego Comic-Con as a “virtual reality blogger.” That title bestows no special privilege, though. In every measure I am just an average attendee only my schedule is slanted with a specific agenda: do all of the VR stuff at the con. I have given up on the big pop culture panels in order to maximize my virtual reality experiences. It worked out pretty well last year and I’m eager to try again. One of the things that I did last year was to post about the VR offerings at the con, updating the post as new info was learned. This post is where I do that all over again, as though I’ve started a blog tradition.

Panels

Thursday

Simulated Worlds: Writing for Virtual Reality and Games in Room 25ABC @ 7:00 p.m.

Writers for games and virtual reality talk about the industry’s next big thing. What’s different about writing for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)? And how does it change the way gamers interact with your games? Game writers and industry professionals discuss the potential pitfalls and challenges of this next leap in technology as well as the potential for new narratives moving forward. Panelists include Jonathan Callan (senior writer, Survios and “Raw Data”), Collin Kelly (writer, adviser to the USC Games Program), Andrew Robinson (senior writer, Animation and Cinematics at Blizzard Entertainment), Nathan Burba (chief executive officer, Survios), and Bennett Jobling (writer, game designer).

Friday

Stan Lee & Friends: A Celebrity Tribute to the Comic Legend in Room 6DE @ 12:30 p.m.

Hot off immortalizing his hand and footprints in cement at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, 95-year-old comics legend Stan Lee heads to San Diego Comic-Con for an intimate Q&A with Felicia Day, Mythbuster Adam Savage, and Stan’s longtime manager Max Anderson.Hear little-known anecdotes about Stan’s life, career, and hilarious encounters with fans and celebrities. The panel will also premiere footage from Icons: Face to Face, a cutting-edge VR project featuring Stan and Kevin Smith, coming soon from Legion M, the world’s first fan-owned media company.

Skybound Entertainment: Creators, Fans, and Franchises in Room 6BCF @ 4:30 p.m.

Skybound Entertainment’s Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead franchise, Invincible) and the company’s CEO and fellow producer David Alpert (The Walking Dead franchise, Outcast) discuss their upcoming slate of television and film projects, including the film adaptation of Kirkman’s long-running comic series Invincible, their AMC comic book docuseries Heroes and Villains, and more. Kirkman and Alpert will be joined by Skybound Entertainment’s Catherine Winder (The Angry Birds Movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Sean Furst (Star-Crossed, Dice), and T. Q. Jefferson (Telltale’s The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: Michonne), who will dive into what’s next for the company in the VR, gaming, and animation space. Moderated by Steve Zaragoza.

World Creators: Crossing Platforms (Film, TV, VR, AR, Gaming, and Comics) in Horton Grand Theater @ 4:30 p.m.

A discussion of what it takes to make worlds come alive across a multitude of platforms, featuring some of the great creative minds in the business. Panelsits to include Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson(StarTalk, Cosmos), Ted Schilowitz (Fox Futurist), Kiki Wolfkill (Halo), Colum Slevin (Oculus), with a couple of super-cool surprise panelists to be announced. Produced in partnership with VRCon, hosts of the Futurism and Tech Pavilion at the Omni Hotel.

ASIFA-Hollywood: The State of the Animation Industry in Room 28DE @ 5:00 p.m.

What do the pros think of the animation scene today? Are hand-drawn and VFX gone for good? What will be the impact of VR? How do you 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 (Beauty and the Beast) engages in a lively discussion with John Van Vliet (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Samantha Vilfort (Disney Television Animation), Danny Young (FuseFX), and Brooke Keesling (recuiter, Nickelodeon, Disney).

An Adventure in Digital Storytelling in Room 11 @ 8:00 p.m.

With the ability to build massive interactive video game worlds and the rise of virtual reality technology, creators now have the ability to tell complex and immersive stories that can span hundreds or even thousands of hours. This group of panelists will discuss how creators can turn a story concept into a boundless world inhabited by countless threads of drama and adventure. Moderator Neo Edmund (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Red Riding Alpha Huntress series) is joined by Andrew Robinson (senior writer at Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch), James Waugh (VP development, LucasFilm), Micky Neilson (New York Times bestselling author, World of Warcraft: Ashbringer, The Howling), and Jonathan Callan (writer, Justice League Action; senior writer, Survios).

Saturday

Comic-Con How To: Advanced Computer Graphics Techniques in Room 2 @ 11:30 a.m.

Brian Haberlin will demonstrate advanced cutting-edge 3D and computer graphics comic art techniques that will speed up and improve your storytelling using a wide range of programs from ZBrush to Poser to SketchUp and many more. Learn all the tricks that have been used in the industry for years that no other pro will show you, and learn how to use this information for print, web, or VR. Brian Haberlin is an American comic book artist, writer, editor, and producer best known as the co-creator of the Witchblade franchise and for his digital art innovations.

Rising Stars in Tech: Drivers of Innovation and Entertainment in Horton Grand Theater @ 12:00 p.m.

This panel spotlights contributors from the worlds of virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, sustainable tech, and robotics. Some of the notable companies on hand include JPL, Mira Labs, and Bandai.

How Entertainment and Tech Leaders Are Uniting in Mobile VR to Deliver New Content Adventures: Power Rangers VR Experience in Horton Grand Theater @ 7:00 p.m.

From feature film promotion to interactive toys and gaming, mobile VR is shaking up the entertainment industry as a bold technology platform for blazing new, engaging content experiences. Learn how creative minds in entertainment and technology are coming together from Lionsgate, Qualcomm, and Reel FX to use mobile VR for designing and developing blockbuster content experiences. This adventurous discussion will open your mind to new VR possibilities, plus get you full-featured access to the immersive Power Rangers “Zords Rising” mobile VR demo. You’ll also score some cool Power Rangers swag, too. Buckle up for the ride and book your front row seat today. Featuring David Edwards (Lionsgate), Patrick Costello (Qualcomm), Jen Cadic (Reel FX), and moderated by Anshel Sag (Moor Insights). Hosted by Qualcomm Technologies and VR Con (curators of the Futurism and Tech Pavilion).

From Comics to Virtual Reality with American Gothic Press in 23ABC @ 7:00 p.m.

A good story should work in any medium, and comics can make a great starting point for other forms of entertainment-television, film, and more recently, virtual reality gaming. Join American Gothic Press publisher Philip Kim, editor-in-chief Holly Interlandi, and top creators for a discussion on how to best adapt your panels to this rapidly developing art form.

Sunday

None.

Experiences

Exhibitor Hall

Netflix @ Booth # 3729

Netflix will have goggles in their booth showing (so far) un-named 360° videos. Based on my experiences last year I recommend visiting this booth early, because I suspect they’ll be giving out time-stamped reservations rather than allowing people to queue in the Hall.

Off-Site

Amazon’s Tick Takeover @ 1st Ave Trolley Stop (1st Ave and MLK Promenade), daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sunday)

In the same spot as their installation last year, this year Amazon is bringing all things related to The Tick. They’ll have a scavenger hunt, a lounge, photo ops, fun and games, and a virtual reality escape room. Last year their VR experience was one of the best at the convention. Be sure to try it this year.

Blade Runner 2049 @ Fifth Ave. & L St., daily 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Sunday)

Setting the tone, the experience begins as guests enter through a gallery of art from “Blade Runner 2049.” An Oculus VR experience will immerse visitors in the world of the film. But that is just the start: as the VR presentation ends, guests will walk into a neon-lit Los Angeles street scene, where they should be prepared to experience what our potential future holds, including impromptu tests to determine if they are humans…or replicants.

You can make same-day appointments by checking in at the venue. You do not need a badge to enter this exhibit.

FXhibiton @ San Diego Bayfront lawn, daily 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. (2 p.m. Sunday)

This Summer, FX bends the boundaries of Comic-Con’s reality and invites fans to enter FXhibition 2017. Visitors will immerse themselves in the mind-altering world of Legion in the Sessions Mixed Reality Experience, suspend the rules of normal in the Atlanta Shop Shot, and succumb to the twisted terror of American Horror Story as they stare deep into the hypnotic AHS Zoetrope.

IT @ Petco Park Interactive Zone, daily

New Line’s feature adaptation of Stephen King’s IT is getting its own installation: a VR school bus experience. The bus and FLOAT: A Cinematic VR Experience will be located at the Interactive Zone across from Petco Park. IT opens on September 8. No badge is required for this experience.

Netflix Experience @ Hilton Gaslamp, daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.  (3 p.m. on Sunday)

They’ll have giveaways, a look at upcoming Netflix originals, and three VR experiences: one for Bright, one for Marvel’s The Defenders, and one for Stranger Things (visit the Upside Down in VR!). Lines for VR experiences can be lengthy. Hopefully having three different experiences actually alleviates some of the wait time.

Gamer’s Lounge @ Hard Rock Hotel 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

The lounge is sponsored by and will feature the games of Skydance Interactive. Only a couple of titles have been named, one of them being Archangel. It’s a “story-driven shooter” in which “players are dropped into the cockpit of a six-story-high war-machine, a one-of-a-kind weapon that must stop a tyrannical corporation from taking over a post-apocalyptic America.”

Gelato eating contest @ Gelato Paradiso 3 p.m. Saturday

This barely rates as a VR happening. This gelato shop is holding a contest and one of the prizes is a free PlayStation VR headset. Only three people will compete. To enter you need to visit the Zenoscope booth (#2301) by 12 p.m. on Saturday. First prize is a belly full of gelato and a four-day badge to SDCC 2018.

(Impractical) Jokers Block Party @ Petco Park 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Block Party will feature merchandise from the show, autograph signing, and goofy things like bull riding and sumo suit wrestling. It will also have a VR experience wherein you cross a tight rope like the Jokers crossed in their 100th episode.

VR Con @ Omni Hotel Grand Ballroom (4th floor) 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily (5 p.m. Sunday)

The Futurism & Tech Pavilion is excited to show off the latest in tech and innovation at this year’s Comic-Con. Augmented Reality takes center stage with the exclusive launch of Mira Lab’s new headset, accompanied by some exciting new content. We have a wide range of Virtual Reality with incredible companies providing it: Survios’ Raw Data, VR Werx’ Paranormal Activity, Steel Wool’s Mars Odyssey, Project Cars from Bandai, Star VR’s John Wick, The Power Rangers presented by Qualcomm, Arcslinger from Big Red Button, something cool from Framestore (The Avengers and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), VR cubes courtesy of Exit VR, Augmented Reality, as well as mixed reality and 360 domes courtesy of FulldomePro (a relaxing way to enjoy fully immersive entertainment). Sega is presenting an AR Sonic experience and a special concert with the awesome Shota Nakama on Thursday evening, and dome takeover on Friday! We welcome the “A.I. Innovation Fair” with its focus on artificial intelligence, sustainable tech and advanced robotics; Hanson Robotics will be sharing Einstein and their remarkable ground-breaking robots. With more than 9,000 square feet of futurism and cutting edge innovation and immersive entertainment, the Futurism & Tech Pavilion hosted by VRCon is a must-see event at Comic-Con 2017!

Location Unknown

Final Space

What is known is that Final Space is a new series coming to TBS in 2018 and that the show’s creator tweeted about a VR experience. What is unknown is if it will be at the convention (all the SDCC blogs are reporting that it will), what form it will take, and where it will be located. I’ll update as I learn more.

San Diego Comic-Con occurs from Wednesday, July 19 until Sunday, July 23. See you there.