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USC, UCLA Announce Sixth Annual Immersive Entertainment Conference

Crosstown rivals USC and UCLA have joined forces for the Transforming Hollywood 6: Alternative Realities, World Building and Immersive Entertainment conference, which will take place at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television’s James Bridges Theater on Friday, May 8.

TH6, the sixth annual conference, will focus on the effects of new technology in entertainment — particularly immersive storytelling tools such as Oculus Rift and Morpheus goggles — and its impact on the industry’s artists, marketers and journalists.

The daylong conference will include panel discussions with titles such as “There’s Art All Around Us: The Aesthetics of Immersive Experiences” and “Hip Deep in Knowledge: Virtual Museums, Immersive Journalism and Scientific Vistas.”

Later in the evening, producer Jon Landau (“Titanic,” “Avatar”) will sit down for a special discussion about virtual production with Tom Nunan, UCLA lecturer and executive producer of “Crash.”

The conference is the brainchild of Denise Mann, UCLA professor and head of UCLA’s TFT Producers Program, and Henry Jenkins, the USC Provost’s professor of communication, journalism and cinematic arts.

“New digital technologies come and go, but the public’s desire to engage with immersive storytelling worlds is here to stay,” Mann said in a statement. “At present, there’s a glut of gadgets and not enough content to support them. Panelists at this year’s TH6 conference will come together to debate the value of new, immersive world-building tools designed to enhance audience engagement.”

Mann’s statements were echoed by Jenkins. “A key strand of this year’s event involves bringing together the perspectives of technologists with those of historians who worked on earlier moments of media change, a vantage point which can help us to qualify sweeping claims about the impacts of these still-emerging (and often precarious) technologies by looking at how earlier generations sought to expand sensory perceptions, to map and explore complex worlds, to immerse themselves into multimedia presentations, or to create intense collective experiences that remove us from the constraints of the everyday,” Jenkins said in a statement.

TH6 was announced by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and USC School of Cinematic Arts. The event will be presented by the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation with support from Havas Media Group and Variety.

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