Monday, May 26, 2008

Vancouver International Digital Festival

Charged up and ready to go!

Last week, the Vancouver International Digital Festival (Vidfest), presented by New Media BC, celebrated it's 5th year as a major local industry event, bringing together creative minds from a wide range of fields, for various talks, and panels educating and inspiring festival attendees.

This time around, the festival overlapped with the Vancouver Game Summit, but rather than being a rehash of what was covered at the summit, Vidfest offered much more than game development, covering web 2.0, interactive design, animation and mobile applications.

I thought the change in venue from the Vancity Theater the previous year, to various locations on Granville Island would cause some confusion for festival goers, but it turns out to have actually worked quite well. Some sessions took place at the Arts Club Theater, while others were at the Revue Stage, Emily Carr theater, and Granville Hotel, all were within short walking distances.

Some sessions that I attended included an awesome blogging discussion called The Care and Feeding of Audiences with top bloggers Heather Armstrong (, and Maggy Mason (, who gave some important tips, and lessons on maintaining an audience, dealing with readers/commenters, and the importance of branding your site with your unique online identity. The talk was humorous, informative, and definitely worth attending. You could say that I was able to relate in a few ways to the life of a blogger. It definitely inspired me to sharpen my overall blogging.

Another session I had a chance to see was McLuhan 2.0: The message of today's digital media. Now this one didn't really sink in until well after attending it. Dr. Eric McLuhan author of books such as Electric Language, and The Role of Thunder in Finnegan's Wake, went into a deep almost hippie, high-on something talk about metaphysics, and how it relates to communication in this day and age. A few people sitting in front of me silently poked fun at McLuhan for coming off like he was on drugs, with short cryptic answers at times. The host Michael Tippett, provided some questions, and tried keeping up with McLuhan's answers, but obviously got lost at several points of the discussion. You can't blame him though, all this talk about metaphysics, made many scratch their heads. Though as I thought about what was discussed later on that day, it started to make some sense, and really to stimulate my brain. I'm never gonna look at a phone conversation the same ever again.

Switching it up from metaphysics and blogging, to charities, and online Philanthropy Positively Charged: Do-gooding in a digital age, opened my mind to what's out there in terms of having a direct impact on those living in poverty-stricken areas of the world. The panel consisted of Tom Williams (, Eric Karjaluto (, Dylan Higgins (, and moderated by Jason Mogus (Communicopia). To see how these folks are using these sites for social change and responsibility was truly inspiring.

Lastly the session on Alternate Reality Games, and the marketing campaign behind the Nine Inch Nails album "Year Zero", was especially interesting featuring Susan Bonds president of 42 Entertainment, and Alex Lieu chief creative office of 42 entertainment. "Let the People Play: The future of interactive Entertainment, highlighted the process, excitement, and organization behind the scenes of the alternate reality game experience.

And speaking of interactive experiences, the screening for Late Fragment, a film in which you can interactively explore each characters stories within the movie was interesting to say the least. The idea of giving the viewer the ability to view the film in a very non-linear fashion is a unique way of exploring a film, but because the audience members were given the remote to control what viewers saw, it felt very jarring. Especially since the cuts from scene to scene never really hooked up. It definitely isn't designed for an entire theater. The use of the interactive narrative film may not be mainstream currently, but it should be exciting where this tool ends up in the future.

Entertainment around the festival. Spidey! I'm totally surprised it never transformed!
In the theme of digital entertainment. Touch-screen paint program.

Overall Vidfest was another great success, in my opinion better than last year's. Though many attendees expressed a certain dislike for the way the program guides were designed -- causing more confusion then a clear program most people expected -- I think the show was excellent. The Popvox Awards were great, I met a few of the nominees, and winners, like folks from A.C.R.O.N.Y.M games creators of the award -winning Rocketmen Axis of Evil, award-winning creator of Cellmap, and Leah from Though the food in the dark without much light illuminating it was pretty funny, I think the food was pretty good.

Watch the entire Popvox award show courtesy of

Related: PopVox - CellMap, PopVox - Local Gaming Gets Recognized, Vidfest 08 Summary

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