SXSW Roundup
BY Victoria Spencer — October 18, 2021

For the first time, this year’s South by Southwest is featuring a dedicated VR/AR track—with talks, panels, and lots of tech demos exploring the various ways technology lets us redefine reality. Here are just a few features we’re excited about so far.

Deloitte Digital is showcasing an immersive lab that explores the future of interactivity through music. The Audience Reaction Composition (ARC) is a massive sound, light, and performance installation that allows participants to “collaborate” with musicians like Grammy-nominated RAC, indie artist Oberhofer, and Vampire Weekend’s Baio. No musical experience is required. Users can roll a “crystal ball” instrument to create tones and vibrations, or sit on a musical “swing set” that lets them create music by swinging back and forth. Users can take their original compositions home and share them online.

In addition to helping attendees live out their rock star fantasies, SXSW 2016 is also offering trips to Mars. Well, almost. Partnered with Microsoft HoloLens, NASA has created the most accurate 3D reconstruction of the red planet ever. This afternoon, NASA project leads will participate in a panel about the future of virtual space exploration and its applications in science and media. The space agency is also presenting a VR journey to Mars, created with NVidia and Fusion VR. Built with the utmost attention to detail, the experience gives viewers a sense of what it would be like to live on Mars, millions of miles from Earth.

Last but not least, FoST’s very own senior producer Julia Sourikoff, along with former creative producer Yelena Rachitsky (now creative producer and head of education at Oculus Story Studio), spoke on a panel yesterday with Oculus Story Studio about the best practices of virtual-reality storytelling—including a range of theoretical and technical tips for those interested in learning more about the ins and outs of VR in this increasingly tech-focused world.