CFC Media Lab: Where Innovation Hits Home

Posted: Jun 26, 2019

On June 19, the CFC Annual Garden Party was host to the CFC Media Lab IDEABOOST Innovation Zone. Two IDEABOOST startups, Pixils by AccessAR and The Funhouse by Mondo Forma, demoed AR and immersive media, and the Zone featured a VR project born directly from the strategic partnership between CFC Media Lab and OCAD University (OCAD U), from OCAD U’s Digital Futures graduate program.

“At the CFC Annual Garden Party, we’ve got more than 200 industry guests looking to grow and sustain a media and entertainment community here in Ontario,” says Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC. “We’re showing them how they could actually benefit from so much AR/VR/XR innovation with the work we’re doing at the Media Lab.” 

A sign with six different 'snapcodes' displayed on it.

What can AR do for a corporate brand?

“It can extend your marketing campaign’s reach far beyond your immediate target market through viral sharing on social media” says Chrissy Gow, founder and CEO of AccessAR. “We create augmented reality lenses and filters for Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook for that exact reason,” adds Gow, “and we’ve been garnering success for large agencies like the Ad Council and social media marketing teams for diverse clients, such as professional eSports Teams, major music labels and universities across North America.”

Pixils is the new product AccessAR offers, and while it’s only been available for six months, it’s already been sought by top brand names nationally and internationally. “What’s most important to me,” adds Gow, “is that this tech means there’s no excuse for marketers and advertisers to use outdated, anxiety-inducing tactics reliant on aspirational imagery. AR lens and filter users are transforming followers into influencers, as they are placed front and centre in a campaign.”

Two large illustrations of two people in a white room with illustrations on the floor and ceiling.

What do you get when you cross music, art and technology?

Interactive immersive media entertainment and a thriving local arts community. When Jonah Brotman first joined Network Connect he was the founder and CEO of House of VR, a prominent VR arcade venue in downtown Toronto. After a successful two-year run, he is now one of the founding team members of Mondo Forma, a company currently being accelerated by the IDEABOOST Accelerator’s Cohort 8.

Mondo Forma is responsible for Toronto’s hottest new ticketed art attraction, The Funhouse. “We’re interested in growing and sustaining local artist communities. That’s why we partnered with Universal Music Canada to bring a platform for creativity and interactivity to life,” says Brotman. “This is an all-ages event best shared with others, so it’s a natural fit for everything from families to a corporate function.”

A person sitting at a desk wearing a VR headset. On the screen in front her is an image of a forest.

How does VR become an optimal learning tool?

By transporting the viewer into another world, using visual pedagogy to promote experiential learning for environmental advocacy. Kylie Caraway is a recent graduate of the Digital Futures graduate program, presented by OCAD U in partnership with CFC Media Lab. Caraway created Mother of the Forest, a VR experience that brings environmental urgency to the fore as its viewers journey through a sequoia tree’s lifespan. “I was interested in environmental communications and as a storytelling platform,” Caraway noted. “VR really transformed this project from just talking about the environment to experiencing it from different species’ perspectives.”

Guests young and old marvelled at the beauty and synchronicity of the piece and came away spellbound. “Amazing that a student created this,” said one guest. “I really need to step up my game.”

In bridging art and storytelling with commerce, entrepreneurship and learning, CFC Media Lab’s IDEABOOST Innovation Zone showed a cross-section of different types and uses of immersive technologies like AR and VR. The creators also gauged how audiences receive and process this immersive information. It’s a valuable exchange for both creators and guests, and a key part of CFC Media Lab’s mission — to reveal what these new technologies can do.

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