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A man holding up cardboard VR box outside ACMI Aaron Jones and Loki Davison.
  • Meet the Hothouse 2016 Mentors


    Posted on: 10/05/2016

    Every year, our Hothouse program inspires a new generation of moving image makers. Held during the term two school holidays, 10 Victorian students are selected and given the unique opportunity to work with our education staff and industry mentors to create moving image works.

    Focusing on Virtual Reality, this year we're excited to introduce the mentors for Hothouse 2016 – Loki Davison and Aaron Jones.

    Loki has been busy producing some very interesting work in VR. Director of one of the first live-streamed machinima, Loki has been involved in VR since the start of the current renaissance. He currently heads Chroma Coda, makers of The Music Room, where you can play instruments in a virtual world created from live venues around Melbourne. He started studying computer music at Monash Uni and has directed a games studio, worked on documentaries (currently for the BBC) and produced sound design and media art installations for virtual reality.

    Aaron comes from a games development background after gaining a Bachelor in Fine Arts and then professional games development courses. In his final year of study, he was picked by a developer to join his company, where he developed Wander. He is working with Loki on The Music Room and helped create a VR installation piece at the Melbourne Fringe Festival called Digital Gardens.

    What do you like most about VR?

    Loki: A total different way of interacting with computers and getting information and experiences back. I feel it’s like when radio or film were invented and everything is new.

    Aaron: I just love how immersive it can be. Sure games are great and all but you can tell there are many who are still adapting to the medium. I am most interested in seeing where digital storytelling will go with the use of VR, whether that is through games, design or film. I most enjoy being taken to a place and being able to move and look around as if I had really been there. I've seen some of the samples of ideas from filmmakers going to places and recording live events and I just find it fascinating. I'm eagerly waiting for a VR game that is heavily story driven just so I can feel what it’s like to be a part of an alternate universe that's changing around my interactions. 

    What do you think are the best skills or qualities for someone wanting to work with VR?

    Loki: Bravery. Being comfortable with a constantly changing and mostly unknown ecosystem. VR is broad; telling stories, making instruments, treating illnesses, training miners or virtual tourism require different skill sets. All require an understanding of the technology but more importantly the audience. Film or video game conventions don't work for VR so you constantly need to think about how to make thing physical and physically rewarding, in a different way to any other medium. I think good VR has more in common with teaching a dance to someone than seeing a film. Physicality matters.

    Aaron: They need to have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of their preferred medium. If it’s for games, that person needs to have a strong design and creative sense. I highly recommend if a games artist wants to succeed they need to have the ability to draw to express their creative thinking, which is why a degree in Visual Arts needs to be paired with any games pathway. Your knowledge is far more broad just from contemporary understanding and will extend back to the art greats. It's similar for those who want to use VR for film and storytelling. Having a strong understanding in core film techniques and photography will greatly aid you in captivating your audience and career opportunities.

    What would you be looking for in a VR work?

    Loki: It needs to use the medium well and not try to rely on tropes from other mediums that don't work in VR. The initial VR experiences were mostly designed to work on traditional interfaces as well. Good VR experiences only work in VR because they use the unique physical nature of the medium and the unique feeling of presence effectively.

    Aaron: I would be looking for some unique ideas. Even though it is fun to recreate or enhance things from real life. I believe those who use VR to extend our experiences and really take us somewhere else will be the crowd favourites. We need to really fool our senses into believing we are in a separate reality.


    So if you think Virtual Reality might light your fire and you are in years 10-12, Hothouse may just be the perfect way to spend a week of your school holidays.

    Hothouse is supported by the Victorian Government and is free with assistance offered to Victorian students in rural areas.

    Now’s the time to get your application in! Entries close May 27.

    Find out more

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