Digital Creative Studio Active Theory Create Immersive Events Wall for Street Journal's Future of Everything Festival
At The Future of Everything Festival May 11th-13th, participants will be able to immerse themselves in The Field, a virtual space that houses two unique experiences, produced by WSJ Custom Events and created by the award-winning digital creative studio, Active Theory.
The LA-based studio, known for creating next-level virtual events for Sundance Film Festival, Porter Robinson, Hulu and Google, and digital experiences for Acura, Adidas, JPL and others, has created two immersive exhibitions: One reflects on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global environmental crisis, and how we can use this moment to rethink moving forward. The other is sensory reboot, providing a calming meditative practice.
The two experiences are being presented in The Field, The Future of Everything Festival’s first-ever virtual reality storytelling experience, to break ground in digital innovation. This marks Active Theory’s continued expansion into digital events with their Dreamwave Platform, which helps translate dreary Zoom sessions to sensory engagement with spontaneous, online socialising.
Leigh Gilmore, general manager for Live Journalism and Events at WSJ Barron’s Group says, "We are thrilled to launch our first custom experience in virtual reality at the Future of Everything Festival. This is a transformative era for live events and we seek to pioneer impactful experiences that inform, engage, entertain and connect global audiences at scale, as well as creating unforgettable activations for our clients."
"A mainstream conception of technology is that it can be a very sterile thing," said Eddie Benson, strategist at Active Theory. "Through immersive VR as a medium, the WSJ Custom Events team is providing a more humanised and emotional take on what the future of technology can be. Instead of it being scary AI, this is much more artistic. The narratives explore new ways of thinking about the environment and wellness in an immersive, impactful way. These stories have been told a lot of times, but maybe not in this way."
While developed with immersive VR in mind, the experience can also be accessed by users on desktop or mobile devices, making it widely available to all festival attendees. In either case, people who attend these experiences will be immersed in a beautiful series of cinematic scenes before connecting with others to chat.
“The pandemic pushed virtual reality to a tipping point, kids use headsets to game, while the parents use them for work,” said Robin Wood Sailer, VP, programming and experience (custom and brand) - Live Journalism and Events. “Professionals no longer have to wait in line to experience VR at a conference, headsets are now affordable and accessible enough to have in the home.”
In late April, Active Theory, using its Dreamwave virtual events platform, staged an online music festival headlined by Porter Robinson which attracted 421,496 video views and 162,000 unique visitors. Desktop users averaged over 19 minutes on the site and pushed boundaries for how many people can livestream and share an experience seamlessly.
The narratives covered in the Field will intersect with many of the themes discussed in the custom programming at the Festival.
“This is a big year for the climate and wellness,” said Sailer. “The US has reentered the Paris Agreement, President Biden just hosted his Climate Summit, COP26 will be held in Glasgow later this year. Both business and government are coming together to make their sustainability commitments. Our clients, all industry leaders, are at the centre of these conversations.”
As for wellness, Sailer noted: “Coming out of the pandemic, wellness is a critical theme. The approach to wellness is holistic. From the mental endurance required to work through lockdown, to the tech enabled health solutions that 5G will enable as the global workforce returns in phases to the workplace, to healing through meditation and sound, these are all elements that we bring to life through the immersive virtual reality experience.”