Living/Working May 6, 2022

Living/Working

May 6, 2022

Moviemaking meets metaverse in Hollywood North

B.C. technology expertise tapped to integrate cinema with immersive digital worlds

Departure Lounge CEO James Hursthouse: “Vancouver’s makeup – sort of this mix of Hollywood North with the robust mixed reality cluster that we’ve got – we think it’s the ideal location” | Rob Kruyt

Vancouver has cultivated a reputation as a city capable of transforming itself into anything from Pyongyang in The Interview to Mumbai in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Now, new advances in tech for the metaverse find film studios calling on Vancouver to transform into pretty much anything imaginable.

“Vancouver’s makeup – sort of this mix of Hollywood North with the robust mixed reality cluster that we’ve got – we think it’s the ideal location,” said James Hursthouse, CEO of Departure Lounge Inc.

His B.C. company recently entered into a joint partnership with Los Angeles-based Metastage Inc. that will launch a facility at the Centre for Digital Media along Great Northern Way specializing in Microsoft Corp.’s (Nasdaq:MSFT) volumetric capture tech.

Facilities outfitted for volumetric capture can deploy upwards of 100 cameras to shoot people and objects from multiple angles all at once before stitching those images together into a 3D rendering.

A movie extra can step into one of these facilities where their body is scanned and a 3D image of them can be inserted into the background of a busy crowd scene at a hockey arena rather than requiring hundreds of extras to fill the stands. Or else scans of people and objects – known as digital twins – can be used for gaming, VR or enterprise applications such as training simulations.

The metaverse refers to an evolution of the internet, whereby immersive digital worlds take the place of staring at 2D screens for everyday interactions such as shopping or hanging out with friends. Don a pair of VR goggles or hold up a smartphone to one’s eye-line and users can chat with their real estate agent in real time while touring a digital twin of a home on the market.

“More and more … we’re seeing human performance captured using the volumetric stage and then brought into television and movie production in post[-production],” said Hursthouse, whose company is expected to open the Metastage Canada facility by the summer.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) is on board with the effort, allowing Metastage to be the exclusive licensee of its volumetric capture tech in Western Canada.

Metastage has been deploying volumetric capture for just over three years in Los Angeles, where Hollywood productions have been tapping the technology, and Hursthouse said the Vancouver joint venture has already been receiving inquiries from businesses that want to use it here.

The film industry was worth $3.3 billion to the B.C. economy in the 2020-21 fiscal year – up 13 per cent from the previous year’s $2.9 billion, according to the Canadian Media Producers Association’s (CMPA) Profile 2021 report released earlier this month.

Most of B.C.’s production activity was concentrated on foreign-service work for Hollywood features and TV shows, generating $2.7 billion. That’s 52 per cent of all foreign-service work done in Canada this past year.

“Virtual production is huge right now in all of the studios,” said Mary Lim, Vancouver Film School’s (VFS) manager of education and program development lead.

The film school launched a VR/AR design and development diploma program in April 2019, and students have worked on client projects that have tapped virtual reality to help train about 200 University of British Columbia medical students.

It also recently partnered with Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq:TSLA) on a training simulation for its auto-manufacturing workers covering everything from operating equipment to assembling parts.

Beyond Capture Studios, which specializes in the same kind of motion-capture technology that brought The Lord of the Rings character Gollum to the big screen, is based at the VFS campus in Gastown, and Lim said students have been able to use the company’s facility as part of their learning.

“A former production design instructor from our film program approached me to see if he could just audit some of the [classes] in the program because he wanted to learn more,” she said. “There’s definitely a need.”

Meanwhile, Hursthouse said Vancouver’s mix of gaming, animation and film expertise will continue to draw enterprise partners that might only be able to find deep knowledge in one or two of those sectors in other cities.

“All of these things come together, and it’s really the perfect storm for volumetric capture.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton

 

 
Leading

How much bark and bite is left in this Tory leadership underdog?

How is it possible to be the underdog in a political party leadership race when you are:

a) a former leader who kept the lights on at the party’s lowest point;

b) a former cabinet minister who soothed sentiments at the front lines of a constitutional crisis and

c) a former premier in a province crucial to the party’s electoral success?

How is it also possible that this underdog holds a distinct advantage over rivals in ticking the boxes on beliefs Canadians broadly endorse that, on the surface at least, would make the party under his leadership most electable?

How is it that even Jean Charest himself acknowledges this is where he is stationed in his effort to return to public life?

“I have been an underdog all my life,” Charest says. “I keep reminding the media that I’m not good at winning polls. I’m better at winning election campaigns.”

The Conservatives have lost three such campaigns in a row now. Its caucus earlier this year was the first to use the 2014 federal Reform Act – interestingly, a Conservative concoction – as retribution to oust Erin O’Toole as a one-and-done leader. When it did so, few were arguing that it needed to push itself hard to the right. Certainly, it needed to be a clearer alternative to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, but probably not that kind of alternative.

Hovering for an opening to declare his candidacy was Ottawa MP Pierre Poilievre, ferocious on his feet in the Commons but until recently little regarded as legitimate leader material, much less a prime minister-in-waiting.

Poilievre was initially considered a shock-value, front-running distraction who would flame out swiftly when a more moderate, less visceral candidate emerged – an ideal Mr. Knuckles sidekick to the leader’s Mr. Chuckles. It can be argued that the party brass prolonged the contest so someone like Charest would have time to campaign and someone like Poilievre would have time to implode.

So much for best-laid plans.

Poilievre has to date been the one with the large crowds and the large mouth to rally them. Charest’s three prominent decades in politics, as can be expected not without their hiccups, are startlingly glossed over in the process by the party to identify the shiny new object – not quite a tussle of steak versus sizzle, more like one of experience versus expedience, and perhaps tortoise versus hare. What is unclear is why the party membership would believe Poilievre as-is will play well to the general population.

Poilievre would kill the carbon tax, defund CBC, strive to make Canada the world’s blockchain capital, slay inflation by eliminating deficits mainly through cuts, and – most importantly as a message – aim to make Canada “the freest nation in the world.” Freedom is a watchword of his campaign; that he gave oxygen to the Ottawa truckers’ convoy has defined him.

Still, while his speeches sometimes veer into the strangest of weeds, he has been the candidate most able to stir sentiments and scavenge support. It is a distortion, handy to his foes, to compare his techniques to those of Donald Trump, even if he is the candidate most likely to inherit his supporters.

He appeases audiences by lumping rivals Charest and former Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown – now mayor of Brampton – as carbon-tax candidates who would simply impose Liberal policies. It is smart politically for the Tories not to out-Liberal the Liberals.

But Charest isn’t that, of course. Fiscally restrained, socially progressive, he would shift the carbon tax on to polluters, as was done in Quebec. He overcame skepticism as premier to embrace Quebec’s $10-a-day child-care program, but he would refine the similar federal plan to provide broader tax credits if parents chose private care and more generous parental leave provisions.

In many ways, Trudeau’s tendency of sanctimony has made Poilievre possible. In other ways, it has provided Charest with a convenient target, something you will hear from him in conversation of a Canada “badly divided, very balkanized,” a country with “a choice of going down the route of American-style politics, of division and polarization and hot-button issues and slogans and attack dogs.” Poilievre’s support of the Freedom Convoy, he has said, disrespected the rule of law and disqualified him from credibly pursuing the prime ministership.

The two tangled Thursday at a preliminary debate in Ottawa, and it's going to be increasingly obviously a two-person contest heading forward. The official debate involving all six candidates May 11 (a French-language debate takes place May 25) is the first showcase for underdogs and the new overdog alike. But the larger matter involves selling memberships by June 3 and getting them to vote September 10.

Gone are the days of a delegated convention; these days votes are conducted online with a preferential ballot, meaning voters rank candidates as first, second, third and subsequent choices. As the lowest-polling candidate drops off each ballot, his or her voters’ next choices scoop up that support. This would appear to be Charest’s only probable path to the party leadership – that Poilievre will have devout support to start but nothing much beyond that to grow into a majority.

At 63, this is very likely Charest’s last such rodeo, and he says he is “much more resistant to the temptation to modulate to convince someone. I want to stick very, very close to what I have learned, of what my experience has been, and what I believe in.

“And I guess it’s also part of the experience of being older and having been there – that that allows me to have this sentiment that … in the end, it’s about who I am and what I believe in, and I’m confident that people will want to support that. But at the end of the day, I’m going to continue to be who I am.” •

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.

 
Spending

NFTs aren't just for 'crypto nerds': How digital art is becoming mainstream in the music and art industry

NFT platforms and Metaverse portals may be the future of art and music in Vancouver

604 INFINITE and The Fomo NFT Gallery are elevating mainstream NFTs in Vancouver's art and music industries | Photo: Siro Rodenas Cortes/Moment/Getty Images

Perhaps this popular buzzword can seem a little out of reach, but NFTs are becoming more mainstream, and not just for 'crypto nerds'.

The NFT community in Vancouver has been on the rise, and the city is having its first convention-style NFT event in May. 

But what is an NFT? An NFT, which is an acronym for 'Non-Fungible Token,' is a "unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership," by its dictionary definition.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club is just one of many successful examples of how NFTs can mesh together digital and physical worlds.

NFT becoming mainstream

As a whole, the NFT market continues to grow on a global scale. According to a Market Research report by QYResearch Group on the global NFT market size, status and forecast for 2022-2028, the global NFT market size "is projected to reach US$ 7.63 billion by 2028, from US$ 1.59 billion in 2021," which is a nearly five-fold increase over seven years. In 2021, art and collectibles made up over half of the global NFT market at nearly 70 per cent, proving its relevance to the art world.

The mainstream popularity of NFTs is also partially due to celebrities and brands.

Jhordan Stevenson is the co-founder of one of Vancouver's few digital-art galleries, Fomo NFT Gallery. "The reason NFTs have really skyrocketed in popularity is because almost every major artist in the world, like Justin Bieber [who has] has his own NFT– all these mainstream celebrities are coming out with their own NFTs which are making [them] in general just more popular," he explains. 

Luxury brands, like Gucci, are also doing NFT launches. "I think they sold out $10 million or $50 million [of] virtual clothing for the metaverse, which are NFTs," says Stevenson. "A whole bunch of notable brands and artists are coming on board. They're kind of pumping up the popularity of NFTs in general." 

But what about music?

Jonathan Simkin, founder of Simkin Artist Management and president of 604 Records, manages both musicians and NFT artists alike, representing Coleman Hell, Mad Dog Jones, Marianas Trench and Carmilla Sumantry, to name a few. "A lot of people who buy NFT pieces, especially people spending huge money, aren't music fans, for the most part. They're tech nerds and crypto nerds," he says.

"Different people are in this space for different reasons," he continues. "There are some people who are really committed to [the] decentralized [financial aspect], there's people who are committed to blockchain technology, there's people who just [want] to get a teaser. For me it was very much an art thing," he adds.

Simkin says that to sell NFTs within the music industry there needs to be a very different approach: "How do you sell an NFT to a Carly Rae Jepsen fan or a Marianas Trench fan?" 

Aside from hosting the NFT BC event, Simkin's other big project is 604 Infinite– 604 Records' own NFT marketplace with a series of educational videos aimed at music fans.

"I see a new way for fans to interact with their favourite artists and their favourite recordings, to discover new artists, and to feel a sense of ownership in the art. And a way for us to breathe new life into artwork and music. It also adds a new revenue stream for artists, many of whom are hurting because of the pandemic," Simkin states in a press release for 604 Infinite.

The digital-art platform aims to "make the art affordable and accessible to fans," with how-to guides and learning resources for fans who may be intimidated by NFTs and cryptocurrency, writes the press release.

Metaverse Portal

Stevenson is also launching a project to help elevate NFTs in art, and to educate those interested in digital art and cryptocurrency.

The Fomo NFT Gallery serves foremost as a Metaverse portal, and will help individuals and businesses alike enter the NFT world through teaching, training and creating NFTs. The gallery is second-tier, according to Stevenson.

"We're planning to do a whole bunch of informational sessions, and we really want to emphasize that we want to be a place where people can come learn," Stevenson says. 

Though the gallery will display NFTs and digital art on screens, they will also create their own NFTs through 3D scanning and photo mapping technology, partnering with artists and displaying their own in-house NFTs as well. "It's really a studio where we create and then also promote other artists and NFTs in the space as well," explains Stevenson. 

The Metaverse portal and art gallery focuses on all kinds of NFTs and digital products for the Metaverse. "We have one of the best, highest resolution 3D scanners. So we're able to 3D scan any physical object, and then create a digital asset through that then create an NFT, or digital asset that we can then sell in a digital world or the Metaverse," explains Stevenson. 

The gallery has already launched its first in-house collection, Fomo Skullz– a digitalized Vervet Monkey skull that was 3D-scanned and made into NFT art. The Vervet Monkey skull is the first skull to be released, with a new skull added to the collection each month. 

With the increasing popularity of NFTs, platforms like 604 Infinite and The Fomo NFT Gallery are just some of the key players in making NFTs mainstream in the art and music worlds. 

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

One of Vancouver's coolest wine events returns this spring

Want to really impress your friends the next time you get together and uncork some wine?

Dozens of inventive wineries from around the world will be pouring terroir-focused wines at Top Drop Vancouver 2022 | Photo: Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Want to really impress your friends the next time you get together and uncork some wine? You can get a taste of some of the most exciting sustainably-farmed, handcrafted wines on the market at Vancouver's coolest wine event, Top Drop, which returns for two nights this month.

Top Drop takes place May 11 and 12 at the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre and will feature nearly 40 wineries from around the world with representatives pouring tastes and sharing knowledge about their terroir-focused wines.

For its return in 2022, Top Drop Vancouver's impressive roster of participants includes wineries from California's Napa Valley, Italy's Barolo, and France's iconic Champagne - not to mention several stars from B.C.'s own wine-making industry.

The event, which launched in 2014, is a more boutique experience for wine pros and enthusiasts keen to learn about the latest in naturally chic wine-making. Top Drop was co-founded by Vancouver sommelier Kurtis Kolt and Jeff Curry, who has a wine importing company called the Wine Syndicate. They work with a very small team of key trade to produce the event, explains Kolt, who adds that participating wineries are chosen by a selection committee of highly-touted local sommeliers and retailers.

Fall in love with something you try at the event? An onsite wine shop is stocking what the wineries are pouring. 

Event proceeds go to the BC Hospitality Foundation, an organization providing financial support to individuals from the hospitality industry facing a major medical crisis.

Here are all the 2022 Top Drop Vancouver wineries, plus who will be there as a representative:

Aldegheri, Valpolicella, Italy         

w/ Jane Glees, Export Director

 

Anselmi, Soave, Veneto, Italy       

w/ Lisa Anselmi, Family Proprietor

 

Ashes & Diamonds, Napa Valley, California, USA         

w/ Kashy Khaledi, Proprietor + Owner

 

Averill Creek Vineyard, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada          

w/ Brent Rowland, Winemaker

 

Azienda Agricola Bruna Grimaldi , Piedmont, Italy     

w/ Martina Fiorino, Family Proprietor + Sales Manager

 

Bella Wines, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada      

w/ Jay Drysdale, Owner + Winemaker

 

Benjamin Bridge, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada   

w/ Alexandre Morozov, Winemaker

 

Bisol Desiderio & Figli Societa’ Agricola, Valdobbiadene, Italy           

w/ Stefano Marangon, Export Manager

 

Bruno Paillard, Champagne, France      

w/ Pierre-Jules Peyrat, Export Manager

 

Champagne Gardet, Champagne, France       

w/ Maude Autran, Export Manager

 

Chappellet Vineyard, Napa Valley, California, USA     

w/ Mitch Boyd, National Sales Manager

 

Chateau De Pommard, Pommard, Burgundy, France          

w/ Victor Goichon, Export Manager

 

Chateau Dereszla, Tokaji, Hungary        

w/ Gábor Weiner, Sales & Export Manager

 

Chiorri Perugia, Umbria, Italy

w/ Francesco Strangis, Proprietor + Winemaker

 

Creek & Gully Cider, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada    

w/ Annelise Simonsen, Proprietor + Director

 

Elk Cove, Gaston, Oregon, USA   

w/ Shirley Brooks, VP Sales & Marketing

 

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada

w/ Gordon Fitzpatrick, President

 

Free Form by Okanagan Crush Pad, Okanagan Valley, Canada         

w/ Matt Dumayne, Chief Winemaker

 

Gekkeikan, Folsom, California, USA        

w/ Koichi Murakami, VP of Sales & Marketing

 

Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain, Washington, USA     

w/ Christophe Hedges, General Manager

 

Lightning Rock Winery, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada         

w/ Jordan Kubek, Winegrower

 

Long Shadows, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA  

w/ Dane Narbaitz, Director of Sales & Marketing

 

Marchesi Di Barolo, Piedmont, Italy       

w/ Valentina Abbona, Family Member + Ambassador

 

Martin's Lane Winery, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada

w/ Shane Munn, Winemaker

 

Medici Ermete, Reggio Emilia, Italy       

w/ Ermes Scardova, Export Director

 

Mirafiore, Piedmont, Italy 

w/ Chiara Destefanis, Export Area Manager

 

Montes, Colchagua, Chile 

w/ Bryan Steinsapir, Export Manager

 

Orofino, Similkameen Valley, BC Canada         

w/ John Weber, Proprietor + Winemaker

 

Pere Ventura, Penedès, Spain     

w/ Hortense Capelle, Export Sales Manager

 

Salcheto, Tuscany, Italy     

w/ Michele Manelli, Winemaker

 

Susana Balbo Wines, Mendoza, Argentina       

w/ German Pungitore, General Manager

 

Synchromesh Wines, Okanagan Falls, BC, Canada    

w/ Alan Dickinson, Proprietor + Winemaker + Farmer

 

Tenuta Di Trinoro + Passopisciaro, Tuscany + Sicily, Italy      

w/ Letizia Patane, Export Manager

 

Tenuta Valdipiatta, Montepulciano, Italy          

w/ Miriam Caporali, Winemaker

Terravista Vineyards, Naramata Bench, BC, Canada  

w/ Nadine Allander, Winemaker

 

Troupis Winery, Mantinia, Greece

w/ Pitsa Troupi, Proprietor      

Ursa Major Winery  Okanagan, Canada            

w/ Rajen Toor, Winemaker + Grower + Proprietor

 

Weingut Thörle, Rheinhessen, Germany          

w/ Christoph Thörle, Proprietor

 

Xanadu Winery, Margaret River, Australia        

w/ Douglas Elliott, North American Manager

 

Top Drop Vancouver

When: May 11-12, 2022 from 7-9:30 p.m.

Where: Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre - 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver

Tickets: $125. Available online at TopDrop.ca

Vancouver Is Awesome

 

 
Spending

Time Traveller: Craftsmen built the Japanese Tea Gardens more than 100 years ago in North Vancouver

An ornate Japanese tea house opened on Lonsdale Avenue in 1910

Photo: NVMA 2382

This image from ca. 1909 shows the construction crew for the Japanese Tea Gardens, located at 21st Street and Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver.  

The Japanese Tea Gardens and tea house officially opened in April 1910 with local prominent city officials and business owners in attendance. The Rev. Goro Kaburagi, an influential community leader and editor of the first Japanese daily in Canada, Kanada Shinpo [Canada News], presided over the event.  

According to Vancouver Daily World newspaper accounts of the time, after the opening ceremonies were complete, “a trip through the grounds was the concluding item on the program, and this revealed the wonderful skill of the Japanese workmen.”

The sign beside the workers reads “Yugen Sekinen Japanese Garden Limited Liability Co.”  

Visit the MONOVA website for more information about the history of the North Shore and to plan your visit to MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver, now open at 115 West Esplanade in The Shipyards.

Currently, MONOVA: Archives of North Vancouver ,at 3203 Institute Road in Lynn Valley, is open by appointment only. Contact: archives@monova.ca

Navigate culture on the North Shore by using the North Shore Culture Compass.

North Shore News

 
Exploring

What are we reading? May 5, 2022

Photo: Chris Tobin-Digital Vision-Getty Images

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Frustrated with property crime, a group of B.C. mayors are pressing Attorney General David Eby for tougher action against repeat offenders.

In a letter, the mayors note that Vancouver alone has 40 “super-chronic” offenders, who have an average of 54 convictions each.

“Our police agencies also flagged a significant increase in the number of offenders routinely breaching conditions without consequence while on bail and failing to appear in court without consequences,” the letter says. – Global News

https://globalnews.ca/news/8787801/bc-mayors-letter-repeat-offenders/?utm_source=%40globalbc&utm_medium=Twitter

 

Russia has been using deepfakes – realistic-looking bogus video forged with artificial intelligence – as part of its war toolkit in its invasion of Ukraine. The West, warns researcher Kyle Hiebert,  had better be prepared to fight similar slick disinformation as authoritarian governments ramp up campaigns to destabilize liberal democracies. – CIGI Online

https://www.cigionline.org/articles/democracies-are-dangerously-unprepared-for-deepfakes/

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Reasons why there might not be any other humans in the estimated trillion trillion worlds of the known and expanding universe – Big Think

https://bigthink.com/13-8/humans-universe/

 

Reasons why the rest of the known and expanding universe might be thankful that there are no other humans aside from those on Earth. – Nautilus

https://nautil.us/i-have-to-admit-i-have-a-very-low-opinion-of-human-beings-16884/

Reasons to be cheerful in birdland. – PennLive

https://www.pennlive.com/nation-world/2022/05/after-a-130-year-absence-california-condors-soar-over-redwoods-once-again.html

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter:

High oil prices, fueled in part by Putin’s war in Ukraine, are providing big oil companies with some eye-watering first quarter profits, leading to calls in the UK to tax the windfalls. Royal Dutch Shell reported record first quarter earnings of US$9 billion, while BP recorded its highest quarterly profit in a decade. – Yahoo Finance

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/shell-reports-record-1st-quarter-104753126.html

 

“I need ammunition, not a ride…and American intelligence to target Russian generals with artillery strikes.” Ok, so Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky didn’t actually say that last part, but as The New York Times reveals, American intelligence may be one of the most effective weapons the West has provided to Ukraine. It’s that intelligence from the U.S. that has allowed Ukrainian forces to target and kill 12 Russians generals, according to the Times. – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/04/us/politics/russia-generals-killed-ukraine.html

 

Glen Korstrom, reporter:

I hadn’t heard of former Apple design chief Jony Ive before reading this piece, much less been aware of his influence. This piece written by Tripp Mickle, who wrote the book After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul, gives an account of some of the company’s backstory. – New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/01/technology/jony-ive-apple-design.html?referringSource=articleShare

 

The Great Resignation appears to be happening in the U.S., where a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March. This is a sign of a strong economy as most of those workers were also hired. Hiring exceeded the quits in each sector. – CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/economy/job-openings-quits-march/index.html