Content Creation

#34: Creative Entrepreneurship, Working with Beyoncé, and Creating VR/AR in Unreal Engine with Andre Elijah

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
1 HR 46 MIN
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Episode Description

Andre Elijah joins Josh for a wide-ranging conversation on creative entrepreneurship, mixing technology and art, big opportunities in the virtual and augmented reality industry, and working in Unreal Engine to create multi-platform interactive products.

About Andre Elijah

Andre is an award-winning Immersive Director, Creative Technologist, and New Media Graduate that has built a reputation for delivering cutting edge technical projects.

Andre led the technical elements of both production and post-production on Beyoncé's certified platinum "Live at Roseland" concert film, which served as the first 10 camera multi-cam shoot of its kind on the RED Digital Cinema Camera system.

2017’s project, "Drizzy Manor", an interactive VR ArchViz project received over10 million views within 6 months and got coverage from international media outlets including Teen Vogue, Esquire, GQ, Hypebeast, Polygon, and more.

In the last year, Andre directed a VR product for, built a virtual performance platform for Deadmau5, was an AR Creator In Residence at Snap and joined the Advisory Board for the AR/VR Program at Vancouver Film School who’s previous alum include director Kevin Smith and Oscar nominees Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell.

Connect with Andre:

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  • 00:41 — Intro
  • 03:35 — FITC Conference for Digital Creatives
  • 04:57 — Beeple became a crypto Millionaire
  • 05:01 — NFT
  • 05:36 — Beeple has made art for 5000 days in a row
  • 05:57 — Andre introduces himself
  • 06:47 — Andre worked with Beyoncé on her Live at Roseland concert in New York at the Roseland Ballroom
  • 07:47 — After working in film, Andre started an architectural visualization company and attracted clients by doing renders in Unreal Engine.
  • 08:17 — Minecraft demo that Microsoft did for HoloLens.
  • 08:22 — Oculus Rift Kickstarter
  • 09:12 — Drake's mansion floorplans in Toronto had leaked at the BBC
  • 09:36 — Autodesk Revit
  • 10:05 — Andre made Drizzy Manner, which went viral and reached 10 milliion views in 5 months. This is what kicked off Andre's career and started getting a whole bunch of calls from potential clients.
  • 11:14 — Andre's company used to be called Opiates VR because he compared VR to getting hooked on drugs.
  • 14:23 — Being a generalist vs. specialist
  • 14:44 — Andre received an Epic Mega Grant
  • 14:49 — Andre prefers working in Unreal Engine than Unity
  • 15:12 — With Unreal Engine, you can create that content and ingest it once, and all of a sudden it's everywhere in so many different ways and mediums and devices.
  • 15:37 — Visual Scripting with Unreal Engine Blueprints
  • 15:56 — Using blueprints instead of code makes the transition between engine versions that much easier in Unreal.
  • 18:10 — Matt Workman - Virtual production and Unreal Engine expert
  • 18:46 — Spheres VR experience
  • 20:34 — Andre is making the "Spheres" of Earth with his latest project Innocence in the Fire
  • 22:47 — CMF funding in Canada for media content
  • 23:53 — Distribution for VR titles
  • 24:10 — The VR headset sales are rising. There's a few million questions out there at bare minimum as of Q1 2021.
  • 24:40 — Oculus just tweeted that over 60 games or 60 titles on the Quest store reached over a million dollars in revenue
  • 26:19 — Steam Spy and SteamDB (tools to see sales and user numbers for titles on Steam)
  • 27:57 — Andre has a section of rejected pitches on his website.
  • 30:23 — Getting the room with decision makers
  • 31:30 — Leveraging passion projects for your portfolio
  • 31:38 — Andre's Beeple VR game
  • 33:48 — "do weird creative exercises or technical exercises, and somehow they pay dividends down the road. You just got to do them in the first place."
  • 35:11 — Collaborating with other creatives & working with friends
  • 36:52 — Working with reps vs. working with artists directly
  • 42:15 — Pico Neo 2 VR headset
  • 43:20 — Facebook spends about a quarter million doing QA on every game that lands on the Oculus Quest.
  • 44:04 — If you're an unreal licensee, Oculus will pay your 5% a cut to Epic for the first million bucks.
  • 44:50 — Google used to invest in VR, but have completely left the industry.
  • 45:16 — HTC Vive
  • 45:28 — Google Seurat is a software tool to take these really high poly environments from your game engines and shrink them down to work in six DOF mobile VR.
  • 47:35 — People losing trust in Facebook.
  • 48:15 — Competition against Oculus / Facebook
  • 49:04 — Wireless link with virtual desktop
  • 49:14 — People are now using virtual desktop with like a shadow PC on a server. Right. So they're playing all their games remotely on a server, wireless streaming to their house.
  • 50:44 — App Lab for Oculus Quest
  • 56:24 — If Amazon wanted to, they could get in on VR.
  • 57:00 — There's room for any of the big tech companies to jump on board and do their thing.
  • 57:23 — Apple VR Headset
  • 58:57 — Andre was a Snap AR creator in residence
  • 59:59 — Why Snap is now Andre's favourite company
  • 01:01:51 — Snapchat has a couple hundred million active AR users. They have an audience of proper AR users that you can reach.
  • 01:03:36 — How Andre approaches spatial design when it comes to immersive projects
  • 01:05:22 — Andre: "I think the emphasis on the hand tracking moving forward will be really key."
  • 01:06:24 — how do you make VR accessible?
  • 01:07:01 — the Quest is growing organically by you taking it off your face and showing it to a family member
  • 01:07:34 — VR as a virtual drug.
  • 01:07:57 — the psychology of drugs
  • 01:08:49 — Gaming & social media addiction
  • 01:11:30 — increasing the availability of apps and content.
  • 01:12:00 — Oculus Half Dome prototype
  • 01:12:28 — Andre: "I was all in, on VR before AR because I didn't want to overlay virtual stuff on a small space. I want to escape to a big space."
  • 01:13:43 — The Climb VR game
  • 01:14:00 — Why haven't people seen the value in VR yet?
  • 01:14:31 — What experiences are enabled by VR down the road? What is the Uber or the Uber eats or the Twitter of VR?
  • 01:15:21 — Andre made a VR app with ChatRoulette
  • 01:20:06 — Something that will be really big is pairing VR users with AR users and phone users.
  • 01:21:54 — Topgolf VR app
  • 01:25:35 — Epic online services allows you can use the same networking stack that Epic uses for fortnight in your own app.
  • 01:26:10 — previz, post and even on set filming on the Mandalorian now that's all being done in Unreal Engine.
  • 01:26:59 — Where Andre thinks Unreal Engine shines as a tool
  • 01:28:05 — Gears of War Mad World trailer
  • 01:31:04 — The exponential progress of graphics hardware and software capabilities of Unreal Engine and Nvidia graphics cards.
  • 01:33:08 — The Mill
  • 01:34:13 — Unreal Academy (free courses to learn Unreal Engine)
  • 01:35:16 — Andre is on the advisory board for the VR AR program at Vancouver Film School
  • 01:35:29 — A Fornite modding kit is coming out soon, which is a "watered-down" version of Unreal Engine
  • 01:36:38 — Epic is really good about releasing free resources and Unreal Engine project files for the community to take apart, mod and learn about how it was made.
  • 01:38:09 — Art by Rens Twitter account:
  • 01:38:43 — Blaire Renaud Twitter account"
  • 01:38:52 — Lo-fi VR game
  • 01:42:40 — Working under NDAs
  • 01:43:23 — /now page movement - Josh says everyone should now have a /rejected page
  • 01:44:26 — to make beautiful pitch decks.
  • 01:44:56 — Connect with Andre at
  • 01:45:45 — Outro

Andre: And so here's these headsets and AR and Hololens  and it was like really exclusive and cool. I'm like, okay, that's totally going to be my thing. I don't have a headset. I don't have a computer that I can run any of this shit on. Like, I've got nothing, but I want to do it. So I ended up ending my company with my business partner on a Saturday, spun up my new one on a Sunday and had to figure out how am I going to get into VR when I don't own a headset, I don't have a computer that can do VR. How the hell do I do it?

[00:00:27]Josh: Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves and welcome to Mind Meld. This is a podcast where I have in-depth conversations with some of the brightest people in the known universe. My aim is to spark deep conversations around interesting topics to find the tools, tactics, strategies, and philosophies that we can all use in our daily and creative lives.

[00:01:01] In this episode, I sat down with Andre, Elijah. Andre is an award-winning immersive director, creative technologists and new media graduate that has built a reputation for delivering cutting edge technical projects. Andre has worked with some mega celebrities like Beyonce. He did her certified platinum concert film live at Roseland and he built a virtual performance platform for dead mouse.

[00:01:26] In 2017, he created Drizzy Manor, which is a interactive virtual reality architecture project where you could virtually walk around Drake's mansion. It received over 10 million views within the first six months after launch and got coverage from international media outlets, like Vogue, Esquire, GQ, hype, beast, polygon, and a lot more.

[00:01:46] In the last year, Andre directed a VR project for chat roulette. He was an AR creator in residence at snap. And joined the advisory board for the VR AR program at Vancouver for film school. This conversation is wide ranging, and we talk a lot about creative entrepreneurship, mixing technology and art, big opportunities in the virtual and augmented reality space.

[00:02:09] And we talk a lot about working in the unreal engine to create multi-platform products. We do get pretty technical with some of the stuff we talk about, especially when we bring up technology unreal engine in virtual reality. So if you want to learn more about any of the stuff that we bring up, you can find them in the detailed show notes.

[00:02:26] For this episode, you can find the link to it in the description of this podcast. And you can also find the show notes directly on my website over at Josh That's J O S H G O N S a L V E O D C a S T. If you find this podcast valuable or interesting, please share it with your network on social media and get the word out there.

[00:02:53] And if you haven't yet, please consider subscribing to the podcast. You can subscribe on whatever podcast app that you're currently listening to this on. So you can get notified when I publish new episodes every Monday. I hope you enjoy this wide ranging conversation on creative, entrepreneurship and technology.

[00:03:09] And I hope it inspires you to push the boundaries on technology and creativity yourself. So let's get right into it. I'm Josh Gonsalves and this is Mind Meld with Andre, Elijah.

[00:03:20]All right. Well, Andre, thanks so much for joining me on Mind Meld man. This is awesome we finally got to do this.

[00:03:29] Andre: Yeah, it's been a long time in the making.

[00:03:31]Josh: I know, man. Last time we saw each other was IRL real life at a FITC I believe, which I miss so much due to quarantine.

[00:03:39] Andre: is so I've been going to FITC since I was 16. So this last year would have been my 15th one. So I'm like, I'm hurting a little bit because that's, for me, like that's the kind of the kickoff for conference season. And when I start to like branch out, so, you know, you go, you go through the fall and the winter and like, things are kind of crazy and stressful and you know, it's fucking cold up here.

[00:04:06] And then, you know, you go into the spring, it's like, FITC is the kickoff. You know, you got the parties every night, you've got the conference stuff, you've got the creativity flowing, and then it unleashes your beast for, you know, the rest of the spring and summer. And then a little bit in the fall when like the VR conferences are happening and then back to the cycle.

[00:04:23] So I'm hurting now because we're about to do two we're about to miss two FITCs.

[00:04:28] Josh: Yeah. Yeah. The second one coming up. It's so sad, but I'm sure they'll do another virtual kind of event. It's not the same.

[00:04:35]Andre:  It's not the same. I want to, I want to party with all these people. Like,

[00:04:38] that's the fun. You do the day, you do the day every day, and then you party at night and yeah, it's, it's how you bond. It's how you make those memories that like, you know, cement, everything moving forward.

[00:04:49] Josh: it should totally has made us not a FITC  until you see Beeple just like drunk as fuck. Doing crazy. Yeah.

[00:04:55] Andre: Exactly. Beeple who is now a multi-millionaire in crypto.

[00:05:00]Josh: Yeah NFTs man. Crazy

[00:05:03] Andre: fucking weird. It's like I was talking to him about a month ago. Like, I can't believe that this just happened two months ago. I didn't know what crypto art was. Then all of a sudden, boom!

[00:05:14] Josh: I I know it's that wild?  He didn't even really follow like Bitcoin, that, that much either

[00:05:20] Andre: no. It was just like, Hey, do you want to do this thing? Yeah, let's do a thing. And then he's the King of that thing. It's really weird.

[00:05:25] Josh: Literally the King of NFT. It makes total sense though. Like you see all the building blocks, like just building up, it makes total sense that he would, and I think he'll do it every year. Cause like he puts out so much fucking art every year.

[00:05:36] Andre: 5,000 days in a row. Five thousand!

[00:05:41] Yeah. Unreal, man. That's just the next level of creativity, but man, you yourself too.

[00:05:45] You're a crazy creative in your own right. All the cool stuff that you've been doing. And I'm excited to talk about some of the shit that you've been working on lately. Finally catch up and hear about these projects, but also for anyone listening to this, I want you to maybe back this up a bit, I want people to understand who you are, where you're coming from and some of the cool shit that you worked on in the past.

[00:06:04] Then we can bring that into the future.

[00:06:06]so yeah, so I mean, I'm an immersive director is kind of the title that I go by now. cause I'm typically directing and building projects in the immersive space, either AR VR. How I got here, there's a little bit of a winding road, kind of started with, being in the film club when I was a little kid, all the guys that were in the older grades that were also in the phone call, kind of teaching us, ended up going off to New York and LA working in film.

[00:06:28] So like initially when I was younger, really wanted to work behind the camera against the film industry, do my thing.

[00:06:34]Started partnering up with some of them on, you know, random productions. I was editing stuff for radio and television, Hong Kong. Uh, I was doing post-production and onset workflow stuff for like projects here, a little bit in New York and, uh, kind of.

[00:06:47] The coolest thing that I ever did in the film industry was, working with Beyonce. Uh, 10 years ago, I did her live at Roseland concert, uh, in New York at the Roseland ballroom, which is now closed down. It was like four nights back-to-back-to-back, a live via satellite segment, uh, for the Michael Jackson tribute concert, which aired eight months later.

[00:07:05]so I ended up working on that. Prerecorded. Oh yeah, because I start at the time she was pregnant with the first kid. Um, and so like, this was like the stop gap thing to make a bunch of money while she was off pregnant. so we did that. And then that was kind of like my last film gig.

[00:07:19]then had to figure out kind of what I wanted to do. Like I was back up here in Toronto, and, you know, it's like, where do you go from working with Beyonce? Like it just, everything else, everything else was just kind of boring. So I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do. Um, and I played a lot of video games and was like, Hey, I'm going to go make a video game because that's like the cool thing. Um, I had no idea how much money it cost to make a video game   and all the shit that went into it much more.

[00:07:47] so ended up doing, uh, architectural visualization for a little bit. Um, and the funny thing was, so I had a company with a business partner that went to school with  and the funny thing was we would get all of our work and attract it by doing stuff inside of Unreal Engine, but none of our gigs were Unreal Engine gigs. Like they'd always come to us for like traditional renders. It's like, Oh, you do that Unreal thing. Right. That's really cool. Let's talk. And then it was always the traditional jobs that went through.

[00:08:10]you know, at the time, Unreal was becoming this like tool that was used everywhere and AR was really starting to pop off with the Minecraft demo that Microsoft did for HoloLens. That was like amazing. And then around the same time was the Kickstarter for Oculus. So I'm looking at this and I'm thinking, this is a really cool, and I like doing cutting edge tech stuff. So like, before I moved into film, I was working at Canada pension. I was doing a bunch of server stuff. So like that was, you know, cutting edge IT technology stuff on like million dollar servers, that's totally my jam.

[00:08:42]And so here's these headsets and AR and Hololens  and it was like really exclusive and cool. I'm like, okay, that's totally going to be my thing. I don't have a headset. I don't have a computer that I can run any of this shit on. Like, I've got nothing, but I want to do it. So I ended up ending my company with my business partner on a Saturday, spun up my new one on a Sunday and had to figure out how am I going to get into VR when I don't own a headset, I don't have a computer that can do VR. How the hell do I do it?

[00:09:10] So at that time, Drake's mansion in Toronto had leaked at the BBC, like a few months prior and everyone was talking about like, oh my God, this huge monstrosity. And I was like, okay, wouldn't it be really cool if it existed in VR and you could just go to it and you can explore it, and all kinds of weird shit would exist because he's like a rapper. and so I started building it and so like, I'd never 3d modeled in my life. And I learned Revit on the fly to like build out all the walls and the floors and stuff.

[00:09:40] And then I brought it into Unreal and I had a computer. Wasn't anywhere near fast enough to render this thing. And like, I'm a total new, but 3d. So I had thousands and thousands of meshes. I didn't know how to optimize. I didn't know any of that shit. And my computer was dying, trying to keep up. So couldn't render, shadows had to like fake it with ambient occlusion. My lighting was like garbage. It was bad. Anyway, ended up making a website for this thing called the Drizzy Manner.

[00:10:09] And within like, I dunno a month, I had a million hits within 5 monts.

[00:10:14] Josh: thing went viral, especially in Toronto. You got like blogTO shouting it out. It was insane.

[00:10:18] Andre: Yeah, everyone was covering it. So like, I think we got coverage from like verge or polygon one or the other and like Hypebeast and GQ, everyone was covering it. So within like five months it was 10 million views. And then that's kind of what kicked off the whole VR thing. So like, it was literally in the last couple of weeks of me building and I finally got a Vive and could like try this thing and like, it ran it, I don't know, 20 or 30 frames per second, it was garbage,

[00:10:42]but like, you know, big rapper VR cutting-edge tack like done that was it. And so for the next, yeah, and for like the next 18 months that like all the calls that were coming in, that's kind of how I started the whole VR thing.

[00:10:56] Josh: that's sick. How'd you get the floorplans for that, by the way. I've always been wondering, man. Oh, no way. So the actual floor plans leaked?

[00:11:03] Andre: The actual floorplans leaked. So, uh, yeah, BBC ran them first when they were just like everywhere and it was just like, okay, this is exactly.

[00:11:13] Josh: That's cool, man.

[00:11:14] Andre: how it started then from there, yeah, that was opiates. Yeah. So, um, I was like, you know, VR, you try it and you're hooked.. It's like a drug. Right. And then. I never done drugs in my life, but why not have a drug reference in your business theme and like offend everyone. It's totally me. so yeah, so then I did that for a while and that was, that was cool. And so I was doing a bunch of B2B stuff, helping startups that were kind of trying to navigate the space and didn't know anything about immersive.

[00:11:40] And you make a little bit more than them at the time. So it was like, yeah, I'll do the gigs, built a lot of cool stuff and then just kind of, ramped it up from there and now I'm kind of everywhere and it's weird. It's cool though. Keeps me busy.

[00:11:52]Josh: definitely keeps you busy. We're I think we're chatting on Twitter before. You're so busy and I'm like, man, get like an assistant. Like, I don't want anyone up in my shit. I just want to do with my shit. And it's just such a creative mindset. Right? There's so many other people on Twitter, it's like, here's how I optimize work and life with my five assistants running all my email for me. I'm like, I can't do that...

[00:12:10] Andre: No. I mean, I've been in this thing now for a few years and people know what they're getting with me. And every time I've worked with other people, like, you know, they try to act like the grownup in the room, but you know, you kind of need me to be me to do all this. Maybe one day, if I ever scale up to like a couple hundred people, then I'll need help with that. But like right now I got my team. We, you know, we work well, I'd rather be doing this all day, then like, what am I going to do? Go sleep. I'd rather work to make cool shit.

[00:12:35]Josh: So after you did all that and you started  opiates, I know you closed down right? So how are you working right now? Is it just a separate business or how is it formed right now?

[00:12:42] Andre: Yeah. So it's me. It's just, everything's coming through me right now. I'm working on a rebrand, not willing to announce it yet. It'll come soon. but yeah, I mean, so I had a couple other companies. In between then and now. Um, and the other ones were with business partners and it's just like, I do really well alone.

[00:12:59]Everything I do is this, after I'm done with you tonight, I'm gonna go do more work. I got a proposal that's to go tomorrow. Right. I was in like, I dunno, 30 hours of meetings last week. So this is like, I'm all in, right. So it's just like, why not just do your shit own it all and be all in. I can rest when I'm retired or something. I don't know.

[00:13:17] Josh: Yeah, no. Yeah. You're in that mode. If you have like the momentum, just keep it going. Just let it pull you push as far as you can, a hundred percent, especially when it comes to creativity. Right. And especially client work, you just have to kind of ride the wave. Cause, um, a lot of times it can be like feast or famine, right. So right now, are you seeing like the whole feast? Is it just like so many people coming through, especially in this new virtual world that we're living in?

[00:13:38]Andre: I mean kind of, but it's one of those things, like I've been laying the foundation for this for years, right? Like one of my buddies, we've got a gig that we've been on since August and I'll go until next August. You know, we've known each other for years. Like my first trip down to LA, we hung out for six, seven hours. We met on Twitter. Then we hung out and we just like vibed really well, and like, we became really tight. And so now, you know, years later after having that relationship and being known as the unreal guy to him, cause he was a Unity guy. Well, he's like I have this unreal project. Can you like be lead dev?

[00:14:06] It's like, yeah, sure. Right. So it's. one of those things where I've been kind of laying the foundation for it for years. And now, finally, some of this stuff was starting to pop off, but it's always been consistent and now it's like, okay, cool. Everyone kind of knows me as the unreal guy or whatever.

[00:14:20] And it's, you know, it's kind of going crazy.

[00:14:23]Josh: That's awesome. I didn't even really think of that. Like, I've been asking other people on the podcast about becoming, you know, either generalist or like specialist, cause you've done so much. You've done everything from like film and TV to like IT, and now obviously immersive, it's kind of all, it all comes together with immersive.

[00:14:37] I think. And are you, cool with like being known as the Unreal guy, do you want to be known as the Unreal guy?

[00:14:43] Andre: I mean, I have a mega grant, so it doesn't hurt being known as the, like, I got the co-sign now from Epic, that's cool. but I've never been a Unity guy. It doesn't make sense to me when I look at the end, you know, I've done projects on it. Don't really like the workflow. so for me, you know, I think an unreal, it works and the guy who can kind of connect everything.

[00:15:02]so people want to think of me like that. It's been good for business. It's been, you know, it's been cool to kind of help people realize what it can do as a tool. And you know, how you can kind of create that content and ingest it once, and all of a sudden it's everywhere in so many different ways and mediums and devices.

[00:15:18] Josh: Yeah, that's awesome, man. And jeez, like, I've been to also just going all in on unreal since  probably like early last year. So pretty recent I was on and off trying to learn it. Same thing. Like for me, I don't know what it is, but I, my brain maps to unreal so much more than Unity, especially with blueprints more than anything, right.

[00:15:39] Andre: Exactly. Yeah, visual scripting is everything.

[00:15:41] Josh: Yeah. I mean, it's like almost like low code, right? Like there's this whole no-code movement going on. It's almost kind of

[00:15:48] Andre: Yeah, I mean a little bit. So, so to the Question that you're asking then kind of, I do most of my stuff in blueprints, uh, cause it makes the transition between engine versions that much easier. Uh, there a project that I took on a year ago, year and a half ago, it's a, it's a friend's project, that was mostly in C ++. And migrating engine versions just kind of broke everything because so much was deprecated between the different early versions of unreal. There's so much shit that we just had to throw out. Meanwhile, you know, I've got projects from like the very first version of Unreal 4 that I can bring into 4.26 today that are pure blueprints and they just work.

[00:16:25] Right. Like maybe one note in the blueprint graph is like offer something. But like for the most part, it just works. Right. And it looks better and has, you know, everything going for it. so when there's a project that we think that there's a chance that we'll move in time, it'll be, you know, iterated upon, and maybe there's a feature down the road that we'll want blueprints are our best friend. And if it's something that like, Hey, it's a sprint, you know, we need to bang this out now. We're never revisiting it again. We can do C plus plus that's fine.

[00:16:49]Josh: True. Yeah. That's sick. And you actually brought up a really good point. It's the sort of transmedia aspect of unreal. That's what makes it so powerful. You're bringing in the assets and then you can then export it to, or not even export it really. You're kind of just like using it for all these different types of mediums,

[00:17:04] Andre: Yeah. I mean, you can, you can bring in really high-end assets that are like, you know, crazy, full poly, whatever, and it's like, yep. Can bounce it out to AR on the phone. Yep. You can put it on a Quest. Yup. You can pixel stream it to a phone, but it's running full quality on a server on Amazon. So you can kind of do whatever you want with these files.

[00:17:25] And it's just like, they only get better. Right? Like my old unreal scenes from, you know, ages ago, bring them into the new version, turn on Ray tracing. It's like a different project, right? So it's kind of the best tool ever. And, I might like not going to totally rag on Unity, but you know, you see all these devs that are stuck on ancient versions of Unity, because so much breaks in between version.

[00:17:46]I don't really have to deal with that, which is really great.

[00:17:48]Josh: I didn't even think of that. I really did not think of moving projects between different versions. I assumed they would just work, but you're totally right. I've had projects on Unity stuck in like Unity, 2017. And then you're just so limited in what you can do, like so much stuff. keeps getting added, like with unreal engine, just 4.26 that came out, I'm like reading all this stuff that came up and like, even for people who are pros, like, people, even like Matt Workman, he's like, I have to dive into this. I need to spend like two days just to like, figure this thing out. I'm like, Holy shit.


[00:18:17]you know, as soon as unreal engine five comes out, it's going to be a whole different ball game.

[00:18:21] Andre: Yeah, but the best part is right. It'll be like just another engine version. So like import project update done,

[00:18:28] Josh: Yeah,

[00:18:29] Andre: all of a sudden you're gonna have all these benefits.


[00:18:32] Josh: It's so cool, man. So tell me a little bit about the mega grant. What was it for? I don't know how much details you can talk about it. How did that come about? Uh, yeah, walk me through that.

[00:18:42] Andre: Yeah. So there was a project that was popping off, in the press two years ago, three years ago called spheres. And it was a VR project, by Eliza McNitt, kaleidoscope was behind it as well. And Darren Aronofsky, the director, he produced it. so being the ex film guy, I was always paying attention to like Hollywood reporter and variety and all of a sudden this one January, all of a sudden they're talking about VR a lot, usually it's like virtual reality, this like thing.

[00:19:08] It's like, okay, cool. Like once every couple of months, you'll see what, but like in January that month, all of a sudden it's like VR, VR, VR, VR, VR. It's like, what the hell is going on? So at Sundance, the first chapter of the spheres thing, premiered to  acclaim like everyone loved it. was amazing.

[00:19:23] And so I was reading about it. I'm like, I really want to check it out, but I can't because I'm not at Sundance I'm in Toronto. and they announced that it was coming. So they're going to premiere a second year chapter of it at Tribeca in New York. So headed down to New York. And the lineups for this damn thing were insane.

[00:19:42] Everyone at Tribeca to try back. I wanted to try this thing almost didn't get in. Finally, I have to check it out and it was everything everyone said it was, it was like beautiful. The script was great. it was a piece of content in VR that was really accessible. They had the flourishes of interactive, but it was, you know, narratively, it was really strong. And so the first chapter was narrated by Jessica Chastain. Uh, the second one was like Millie Bobby Brown. And third one was Patty Smith, or like maybe I shuffled those around, but, and it was those three. It was great. And it was the first piece of VR content that I'd seen that kind of resonated with people, that didn't traditionally get VR that didn't get games.

[00:20:20]And it was all about the space and the cosmos and like, you know, the sounds that, the cosmos makes in space and like the rhythm of it, and just like how there's this delicate balance of everything.

[00:20:28]And so, you know, the thought was kind of that's cool. Who gives a shit about space when the world is dying? So I was like, I want to go make the spheres of earth, but with the climate change, twist on it. So in my head in New York, that's how it started.  the thought was, was who really gives a shit about space at the end of the day when the world is dying.

[00:20:48]so, in a hotel room in New York, the idea for innocence in the fire was born. So basically. it's inspired by spheres, but ultimately it's a VR God game tackling the climate crisis.

[00:20:59] So we're going to go around six environments in the world, and you can control, moisture and what animals are present and what plants and all that sort of stuff. And basically your goal is to balance out the ecosystems and try and save them.

[00:21:11] So. Tim Sweeney. Who's the founder of Epic, you know, every time he makes whatever amount of money off of Fortnite he goes and he saves more forests and he's totally a conservation guy. So I reached out to him like ages ago, being like, Hey, I want to do this thing, and he was really great at giving feedback, and contributing ideas to the project. And I applied for mega grant and was year and a half in the making. And then they, uh, they sent me one of those automated things being like, Hey, we like your project, but like give us more details. And I kind of just, laid it out. This is what I want to do. I really need your help to make it happen. once you guys come on, others will follow sort of deal. so last August they let me know that it was, that it was going to happen. September was confirmed October, The money showed up and we've been rocking and rolling ever since. Yeah.

[00:21:58]Josh: And they just gave you the money, just in the hopes that the project gets done and you're using unreal to do it.

[00:22:03] Andre: Yeah. So, I mean, the rule is, yeah, you, it's gotta be an unreal project, with the partners that, you know, I've been talking to and bring you on, it'll get done. so, you know, from my perspective, way that the mega grants work as it's almost like a VC firm where they don't take equity, they take your revenue split, uh

[00:22:20] So it is a grant, but when you, when you sell your unreal projects to the public, they take the, you know, the 5% cutaway for the licensing fee for the engine.

[00:22:29]and you know, they're looking to kind of make that back and like break even, but they really do want to support projects that, you know, a show off the engine and a really great way. and the projects that we'll actually ship and finish and all that. so that's kinda how I see it as like, you know, a VC firm without the equity, great.

[00:22:45] Josh: Oh, that's a, cool way to think about it. Cause I guess CMF here in Canada is a similar type of thing. Right. They take revenue share. So did you look into other? Yeah. So unreal is even better. There you go. Thanks Epic. you have like other partners, other funding partners to help make that happen? Or is it

[00:23:05] Andre: no. So I'm working through that right now. I'm working with a VC firm to kind of pull together the rest of the financing and we're talking to some other organizations as well.

[00:23:13]Josh: That's awesome. I'm excited to see this man. This sounds really awesome. And is it more of a game than a film where you still taking some of those filmic sort of elements?

[00:23:20] Andre: So, I mean, the way we're right now is kind of having a seven to 10 minute, interstitial between the chapters where we kind of teach and layout, you know, what's at stake in each ecosystem. And then from, you know, for each proper chapter, It's a, it's a God game, um, with, with a dose of education in there.

[00:23:39] Josh: Nice. And so is this an immersive game, like specifically for headsets?

[00:23:43] Andre: Yeah.  It'll, it'll be for VR. We're toying with the idea of maybe doing AR um, possibly, we'll see,  been doing some tests around that, but VR to keep it.

[00:23:53]Josh: how do you think about distribution? Like have you been thinking about where you want this thing to go.

[00:23:57] Andre: Yeah. And that's, that's a nightmare. We're trying to figure it out as well. Um, you know, we've had talks with Oculus. Oculus Is Oculus, so we'll see where that lands. but you know, we're paying attention to the headset numbers and. It's good. The numbers are going up for sure. there's definitely a few million Questions out there at bare minimum, plus whatever the Quest did.

[00:24:15]PC VR numbers are going up because of link, and the Quest. So, you know, the numbers are there and, you know, in a year and a half, when we're done this thing, the number this will be even higher. VR is finally entering into mainstream. So whether we go PC-based or Quest-based, you know, we'll have a market.

[00:24:31]it's just a matter of getting it in front of people and letting them know that it's there.

[00:24:34] Josh: Yeah, there's a market. All right. And there's kind of two things. I just on Twitter right before we got on this call. One was that Oculus just tweeted that over 60 games or 60 titles on the Quest store reached over a million dollars in revenue. So that's pretty encouraging.

[00:24:48] Andre: It is. I think we need the numbers to be even higher than that. I mean, you break down the budgets on, on some of these titles. What does a million get you, it still doesn't get you out of your, your dev costs for some of them. but you know, it's definitely, it's definitely good. I want to see where it's at in a year.

[00:25:02] And I wish, that it was broken down in a way where it's not like 60 titles made a million bucks and like six titles made 10 million. Like, I want to know. I want to know the details. You know, all the VR manufacturers are really cagey. Like we still don't know headset sales, right? Like Facebook came up the other day and they're like 800 odd million dollars were in our hardware division, which is like basically portal and Quest. but now with Oculus Quest, there's all kinds of accessories and shit. So like tell me what the numbers are for the sales. Like, tell me how many units are that I can possibly address. because you know, you basically have to back channel with other devs to, you know, have them work back their numbers and their metrics to figure out where the hell we stand. Right.

[00:25:44] And when you're addressing, you know, investors and you're trying to put together a business plan, what's our addressable market. I don't know. Right? Like for some reason, like that's, that's acceptable now because it's VR and no one tells the numbers. Like valve doesn't even tell the numbers of, of the index They break down their steam survey. What percentage is VR capable? What percentage has a VR headset then of that? You know, what's the split between all the different headsets it's like, can you just give me a fucking number? Like, are there 2 million headsets on, on steam? Let's just find that out.

[00:26:16]Josh: Let's just know. And I think people figure that out with, uh, what was a steam spy? Is that the one?

[00:26:20] Andre: Yeah. It's like steam spy and steam DB and all that stuff. mean, they're working it backwards. It's not a hundred percent correct. it's just, yeah, it's, it's this weird thing. Like we know how many iPhones are. We know that a

[00:26:31] Josh: we

[00:26:34] Andre: Yeah, exactly right. And we know what the split is, what the operating system split is like, how many are on iOS, whatever the latest version is. Right? Like we know that right. We know what the addressable market is by device by operating. Like we know all that. VR has just this weird black box of let's just take everyone's word for it. Things are on the upswing.

[00:26:53]Josh: It's so true. So how do you think about that, you know, as developer as doing like, I mean, client projects I guess are a little bit different because you don't have to think about that distribution as much

[00:27:01] Andre: I mean you do, because you've got to sell them on the idea of making this thing and where it can go. Right? Like if they're putting in, you know, a couple hundred grand, a million bucks into a project, they want to know that it's being seen.

[00:27:12] Josh: Right. Yeah. If they want to find an audience, right. I guess I'm thinking more like on the enterprise level where

[00:27:17] Andre: Right. Yes. And that's a different ball game.

[00:27:20] Yeah. Cause they're like, you know, buying the crazy expensive enterprise versions of all the headsets and they're deploying them themselves. So that's yeah, that's totally fair. Uh, when you're talking to, you know, a consumer facing company that  

[00:27:33] Josh: Yeah, no kidding. And you kind of just brought something up earlier, which is like, you know, having the numbers to put in your pitch decks, how do you go about pitching these things when it comes to like bringing them to businesses? Um, I want to bring something up I thought was awesome and kind of funny I'm I was on your website and you have this whole section of rejected pitches on your site. So I'll, I'll link the inscription for anyone interested. Cause I find it interesting that you would put the rejected pitches in that.  

[00:27:59]the rejected pitches in there I just want to know why you did that.

[00:28:02] Andre: Yeah, sure. So I mean, people creative as business owners, they like really like having their polished products everywhere. Right? Like, look at this fancy thing we just made and we got X number of hits, but no one talks about the process of getting to the hits. And if you don't have, you know, a consistent hit every six months, a year, whatever, like typically your cadence is for the projects.

[00:28:24]Everyone thinks you're just chilling on your ass, doing nothing. Right. Like. Hey, I see you play a lot of video games. You must've just spent three months playing. It's like, no, fuck. I'm doing work. So I mean, a lot of, a lot of the pitches, I do get me in the room with decision makers. Like total bad-ass is that you wouldn't even believe. And part of that is I will then leverage it to get my next gig, or I now know someone. So if someone comes to me being like, Hey, can we do a music thing? It's like, yeah, I know everyone over at rock nation. Who do you want to take it to? Right. Like that was a rejected pitch, but I now know everyone and I've had meetings with them and yeah, they know I'm legit.

[00:28:56]So I think people are way too precious with like this whole thing of everything I do is a Polish. No, the fuck off, like nothing you do is a polished product until the last 5%. Right?

[00:29:06] Like it's that whole game, game development thing where, you know, like things are looking good. Things are cool. Things are falling apart, look like shit, look even worse, look even worse. And then it's like in the last two months of development, Oh my God, it works. And it's prettier than ever. Right. That's what this game is, right? Like that's what this whole fucking business is. And being precious about protecting that image kind of doesn't serve you. So, the decks are cool. You know, everyone's got ideas, have at least, you know, where my head is at, in the things I'm trying to bring into the world.

[00:29:34]a lot of those, you know, they might not have ended up happening in that form, but they might live on through another person through another product, through whatever else down the road. Like half of those things are living on right now in some form.

[00:29:48]Josh: Oh true. Is someone else picking them up or like the company taking them

[00:29:51] Andre: Yeah. Yeah. for one of them, I can't say which one because of NDAs and stuff, but you know, like the pitch didn't land entirely. Cause they just couldn't dedicate the resources, but they definitely called me in to do like a smaller version of that. and you know, that smaller version won't live on my portfolio because I can't, but that pitch that I did to get me in the room in the first place. Yeah, that hints at something that I did for them. So, you know, it plays its role.

[00:30:14]Josh: It makes sense. Cause otherwise you have like long stretches potentially of like, ah, what was the hell was he doing just as you said. was he  sitting on his ass playing video games. Like no, I'm, I'm trying to make shit happen.

[00:30:23] So how do you get, how do you get in the room with those people, man? Is it just like through connections? Is it through brute force?

[00:30:29] Andre: I'm this dude from Toronto, like there's no connections. Like, you know, I, I feel like there's definitely, if you look to the States, right? There's these networks in California, right? Like you look at founders down there and it's. you know, Hey, I have an idea for a startup in like a week later funded, right. Or they have like a press release or some shit right there for that up here.

[00:30:51] There's nothing like that. Right. We don't have deal flow like that. We don't have the numbers. It's a bitch. Right. so you guys just do it through brute force and you know, I'm lucky in that, going back to Drizzy Manor, like I had an early win and those numbers were undeniable, right? Like a million views for a VR thing years ago, turned into 10 million views in five months. That's something. So you nee, you know, you drop that in an email. I was like, okay, this guy knows how to get attention. Let's see what he has to say. Right. And then it's like, okay, well you better come up with the goods to like justify the discussion. so it's really just about kind of leveraging what you got and figuring out  

[00:31:30] Josh: Yeah, totally, man. I think like even early on, sometimes you have to do this like free work almost where you just kind of you're testing things out. I saw that you also recently did like a Beeple VR experience that was at just like, again, a side project for fun on the side?

[00:31:43] Andre: Yeah. So like Mike, I hit him up, two years ago and I was just like, Hey, give me your files, but just make a VR thing and see, see what it looks like in room-scale. Cause it's like at the time, I didn't know what the fuck I wanted to do with his files. I just kind of wanted to see them, not on a page, not on his Instagram feed, but like I wanted to be in them.

[00:32:01]so I literally sent him a list of 150 files and he gave me 10 and I made it work. So, you know, I brought them into unreal because I just want to see, you know, what is the workflow working with this stuff? Like everything he does, is in Cinema4D, so like half the shit that I was working on was before there was even the cinema 4D plugin for unreal.

[00:32:20] So I was like manually exporting everything as either, you know, FBX and then remapping all the textures. And that was a whole bitch. or, you know, like the Olimbic uh, support came into unreal. So some of his animations I was exporting via limbic to actually leave them intact. Because if you take a look at like the Mecca Trump thing, where he has like Hillary in his stomach, He's like kit bashing, like fuck 10 models together to make that monstrosity.

[00:32:42] So it's not like a properly rig thing or anything. And so getting that into the engine and making it all run nice. It's, it's insane. So you're just trying to figure out the hacks to be able to take, you know, weird ass work that he bangs out every day and find a consistent way of getting it to work well and look right inside of the engine.

[00:32:59] Uh, so that was just a fun exercise and, we talked about turning it into a game and you know, that got, kinda got put on pause, but I'm always trying to bring that fucker back. So we'll see what happes.

[00:33:08]Josh: Yeah man, he has like just unlimited, assets. Like I want to know what his file or folder structures like, like he just must have so much

[00:33:16] Andre: it's chaotic now that I've had a look at it, it's chaotic, but it clearly works for him. Like he's got, you know, with a cinema 4d stuff. He's got his asset library pretty well organized. So if he knows what he wants, he can grab it really quick. But yeah, that was fun. You know, it's a rejected thing, right?

[00:33:30] It's like goes in the rejected pile, but fuck, I worked on it for six months. It's a cool portfolio piece. And everyone's like, and now, you know, that was two years ago and now he's the King of crypto. It's like why it did a thing with Beeple?. That guy that I saw everywhere with this crypto and like Joe Rogan, likes him now, and shit, like, you know, it's just, it's just one of those things, right?

[00:33:48] Like you do weird creative exercises or technical exercises, and somehow they pay dividends down the road. You just got to do them in the first place.

[00:33:56]Josh: Yeah, man. It's insane. Like it's so cool that you can do these little things. It's like overtime right, you have to play the long game.

[00:34:01] Like, I mean, you're in the VR industry, you know that it's the long game. Like none of this stuff, I feel you realized between twenties. Between 2015 to 2017. That's when you realize, okay, shit, this is not gonna happen overnight. This is gonna take a long time. But yes, a great mindset to have when you're doing these little things, it's like, Hey, let's just like put them in the back pocket.

[00:34:20] Let's put them in my backpack, keep going on this journey. And over time, you'll get this like exponential growth. And who knows if the connections that you've done years ago will kind of turn out to be something really cool that you never would have thought  actually would matter,

[00:34:33] Andre: Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. And I mean, like, you know, you never know who, you know, like I've known Mike for. Seven years kind of like, I met him through Ash Thorpe and GMunk and you know, like Beeple kept on coming back to Toronto and shit we just knew each other together. Like, that's really all it was.

[00:34:53]Right. And now it's like, Oh my God, now he's a fucking superstar. And he's done how many super bowls and shit, like, you know, but like, it just started off as like, Hey, it's another creative dude. Let's do this thing. And I'm done, like, let's drink right, like that's all it started as now, it's like Beeple VR

[00:35:11] Josh: cool. So how you think about collaboration too? Like when you talk to other creatives or artists, how do you think about that?

[00:35:17] Andre: I just want a cool crew that's dependable and dope, and that I don't have to micromanage and worry about like everything that comes in, I like, I've got a buddy of mine in LA and he's one of the dopest visual artists ever, and an AR guy. And he's great. And so like now, as my stuff is coming in, I'm like, how do I wrangle him and get him on this stuff?

[00:35:36] Right. And then he gets opportunities was like, Hey, I want to do the art, but I don't really want to do the development side. Like, come on, come in on it with me. Right. So, I mean, we kind of have our crew that's growing and they're all badasses. And it's like working with your friends. Right. And so like, those are projects that I kind of try and gravitate towards now, as opposed to like, you know, a buttoned up agency gig, like with people that I don't know.

[00:35:58] And like, is your work good? Can I depend on you? Like I had an agency gig last year that went to shit and it's like, but everything that comes in with the crew, it's like, it. They're like, Whoa, didn't expect you to take us there. And it's a really great feeling.

[00:36:13] And it's fun working with your friends.

[00:36:15] Josh: Yeah, a hundred percent. You always, you just feel better about it. You feel like you're just playing, right. You don't really feel like you're actually working. So, and at that point, do you think about creating an agency with them to be like, Hey, let's like actually put this together or let's just stay independent and just come together when we need

[00:36:30] Andre: I mean, I've thought about kind of building it up and at some point I'm going to have to have like a legit structure to this whole thing, but like right now I just kind of want to ride out this way because feels good. We're doing great work opportunities are showing up. And, you know, like, fuck dude, you've seen LinkedIn, all the agency, people that go on there and they're just like, it's a different language and it's so smarmy. And it's like, that's not my, that's not my thing.

[00:36:52] Like if we're talking to musicians and stuff, I don't wanna deal with the reps. I don't want to deal with like, you know, every layer of agent and then like an actual marketing agency doing their weird thing. Like, I just want to deal with the artists. So like, Hey, what do you want?

[00:37:07] Cool. Let's kick that back and forth. And like, let's make a thing, right. I don't want to do all the layers of abstraction. small and intimate and just kind of jam on it and see where we land.

[00:37:19] Josh: Is that how it was when you were working with Beyonce? Was it like a lot of levels to it? A lot of People?

[00:37:24] Andre: Yeah, there's a lot of level to that. So that was, you know, at the time when she was, I think she just ditched her dad is her manager. And so she was like setting up things for herself. So, I mean, it wasn't too many layers of abstraction, but there's definitely a lot of layers to her. meanwhile, you know, you do stuff with like, Deadmau5 and that's him directly.

[00:37:41] Right. And like other there. Uh, we did like a VR thing last year. We were basically building out a virtual performance platform that linked his physical stage with like a, digital double, if you will. in unreal. So we're building that stuff out, but like with him, it's, you're dealing with him. Right. And like, that's, you know, I'd rather have, the artists messaging me on discord or texting me, being like, Hey, what about this? At like three in the morning, as opposed to an agent and then a rep and then like agency,  and then lawyers. And it's just like fuck that. You'll never get anything done.

[00:38:10]Josh: No, you'll get anything done. And also you, it seems like you have like this sort of Maverick, like more artist mindset at these things rather than a business mindset.

[00:38:19] Andre: Yeah. I mean now it's businessy too, but it's just like, I like getting shit done. Right? Like, dealing with, you know, I've done the agency gig now a couple times. And it's just like, well, what do you guys get paid to? Do you do nothing? And you know, you like overcome, like I send a one line email and they turn into like five, five paragraphs.

[00:38:39] It's like, really did have to be that you get a response 72 hours later. It's like, what did you guys do for three days? So I just, you know, if I'm on it, like I said before, right. If I'm on and I'm on it, and I just kinda want to keep it rolling and just keep the work dope. Like, that's kind of my goal because, you know, at this point we're so early, we're late in immersive, but we're also so early, right?

[00:39:00] Like none of the players have really shown their true hands yet or any of that. So I think we all have kind of responsibility to make dope shit. Right. And if you're like, you know, I say some pretty inflammatory tweets every now and then, but if you're not all in, get the fuck out because we need to lay the foundation that, you know, gets, gets in front of people.

[00:39:21] It's attractive work. It gets their minds going. And, you know, we have to show that this is a space where we can actually thrive. And if you're fucking it up, you're complicating it. You're not doing your best work. You know, it's do or die time for everyone right now. So just get the fuck out. And that's kind of what I carry with me.

[00:39:37]Josh: Really? Why, why do you think that.

[00:39:39]Andre: There's been a lot of investment in VR and it hasn't really paid yet. You know, you take a look at Oculus numbers that you just cited a little while ago, like 60 titles did, or yeah, 60 titles million six did 10 million. they're losing 50 or 75 bucks on every headset. So how many of those titles  need to do really well to be able to make back their money a quarter or a third of Facebook is working on immersive tech in some way, which all boils down to Quest right? That's a lot of payroll,

[00:40:06]those titles making a million bucks, don't pay for that.

[00:40:10]Josh: Right. And you're totally right. That they're bankrolling the headsets banking that they'll make money off the software, but it's kind of weird to me. Yeah, exactly. It's the software, but it's also like, they want to be just games, but then they're also like touting this going to be a business tool. Like, I don't know, man.

[00:40:27] I feel like a lot of people are very confused as to like where this thing is going. Like, people are like, Oh, it's a gaming device. People are like, no, it's the future of everything,

[00:40:34] Andre: So I'm kind of in the, in the realm of it's the future of everything. Um, I don't really play that many. Like I buy every game just to check them out, but I don't really stick with them. Um, but I still love watching movies on a giant movie theater. Like my, I have a TV on my desk. That's my work monitor. be in a VR headset with a virtual movie theater to watch my stuff. Cause it's just like. Yeah, it's fun.

[00:40:58] Josh: It's so it's so awesome. Right? I use my Quest all the time

[00:41:00] Andre: Yeah. So, I mean, it's great for that. And you know, some of the, some of the social gatherings that I've had in VR have been really great, like friends that I would meet at a conference, you know, you hop into rec room and just shoot the shit with them. Right. But there there's a sense of presence and it's really great.

[00:41:15] I think we're still trying to figure out what sticks, you know, the virtual office stuff. I think it's useful. I think it will be great. You know, the infinite office stuff that Facebook's touting. a lot of people you take a look at, listen, we live in Toronto, right? Real estate is really expensive.

[00:41:28] People's places are really small. So putting on it, the headset gets you a bigger virtual screen that you get to work on, or, you know, all of a sudden you don't feel so constrained in your physical space because you're wearing this thing. I think that's great. And I think that's where we're going to go with it.

[00:41:40]it'll take a little while to get there, but I think that, you know, Facebook's trying to figure out what works and right now they want maximum engagement and they want some that you can take off show to your friends and be like whizzbang. Wow. Right. Games are doing that.

[00:41:54] Josh: Quest 2, especially as a product. it's doing it.

[00:41:57] Andre: One of my buddies texted me today.

[00:41:59] He's like he hates Facebook and he was like, Andre, outside of the Quest, what headset should I buy? And I was like the Quest,

[00:42:07] Josh: Literally, there is nothing else,

[00:42:08] Andre: Get an index, but like really just go buy a Quest.

[00:42:11] Josh: dude. This is the closest thing. If anyone's listening to the audio version and I'm holding up a Pico Neo two, this is like the closest thing

[00:42:18] Andre: It's the closest thing.

[00:42:19] Josh: It's not that great.

[00:42:21] Andre: Okay. There we go. See  the truth comes out. So, I mean, okay. So, I mean, it's a cup, it's a couple of things though, right? Like sure. The hardware itself isn't as finessed the operating system, not as finessed, whatever. But then there's also the whole argument of content. Right.

[00:42:35] And this is the thing that, you know, it pisses me off to no end when people on Twitter like, Oh my God, Facebook is horrible for VR. They're taking it over. It's like, they're the only ones willing to put in money. Right. Like, are you going to go buy a Pico with eight apps? Are you going to go buy the Nolo VR thing with like 10 apps? No. Do you need, you need that content library,

[00:42:56] so, you know, it's the same reason why, you know, Microsoft says X-Box is the best place to play our games. Right. Because the whole fucking library from 15 years is there. Right. And it's the best way to play. so all these immersion platforms it's like. Cool. It's got an extra camera. Ooh. Yeah, it has extra resolution or like five degrees, extra field of view who gives a shit if no one is there and there's no content and, you know,

[00:43:20]Oculus right now or Facebook, I should say, you know, they spend about a quarter million doing QA on every game that lands on the Quest. It's an 11, week boot camp. They, yeah. Marketing team, technical, everything. It's. It's intense. And they  throw people at you and you got to pass muster and you got to have your shit in order and they'll help you get there. But it's basically a quarter million that they per app

[00:43:42]Josh: To make sure it can get on the Quest Store?

[00:43:44] Andre: Yeah, make sure that it, it hits certification and hits minimum, you know, like comfort levels and make sure that it hits frame rate. And then they do like the marketing thing with you and preparing your assets in the marketing though, all that shit, like, so you do that quarter million for every game that comes out or app.

[00:43:59] And then what? They also take a loss on every piece of hardware that goes out. And if you're an unreal licensee, they pay your 5% cut to Epic for the first million bucks. so, I mean, they do a lot. And if you're one of the bigger devs and you, you know, you've got either a known IP or, you know, you've have already had an app with them and you're doing a sequel they'll cover part of your budget.

[00:44:24]you know, we've got what, 200, we got 200 apps on the Quest or thereabouts right now, 150, 200. Right. So imagine that they pay for a part of, most of them anywhere between a third and a half of the budget. And they're taking a loss on every device and they're paying a third of Facebook employees on immersive stuff and they're putting every single one of them is a quarter million in QA.

[00:44:45]Josh: That's crazy. It makes you think how much they're investing. No one, no one is investing as much as they are. Google was I guess, for a little bit. And they just got out of the game completely.

[00:44:53] Andre: You saw my tweets on Google. I'm glad they're gone. Good riddance. you know, I love, Google for like fundamentally I'm happy that, you know, there's another big tech company. Like I think they need, we need the checks and balances, all different tech companies offering, you know, a different angle on all this stuff.

[00:45:08] Um, but you know, Google came out. I remember, dude, I watched the Google IO live stream and they're like daydream it's here. And they like announced the Vive Focus. Right. Like, Oh my God, we partnered with Vive and Vive was riding high, right? Based on the success with, with valve and everything. And, you know, they had that star Wars thing that they were showing off.

[00:45:26] And they're like, we devise this way with Google Surat to like, take these really high poly environments from your game engines and shrink them down to work in six off mobile VR. Right. Standalone. And then what happened? They got into a little fight with HTC, HTC, Vive focus, didn't end up shipping with daydream. They went with their own O S that they hacked together and their own SDK. Google ended up on a Lenovo headset that really didn't sell. didn't even have built-in headphones and Google pulled out a year later after getting everyone's hopes and dreams up.

[00:45:59] Josh: Yeah, it's awful. But you know, we're lucky that Facebook and really it Oculus like as the brand has kind of pulled through, they were the ones I know for you from myself, especially they're the ones that got me into VR after I used the DK one, seeing the Kickstarter, it's like, wow, these, these guys are it. Like, this is the company that will probably make it happen. So do you think now that it is a Facebook company completely, it's basically Facebook. It's a Facebook headset. So like you just said, a lot of people are getting pissed off. Like they're like, you don't have to log in with my Facebook account. Facebook's going to be tracking me and let's see, it's basically Facebook. I get it. You hate Facebook as a brand, but Oculus, I feel is something different. Like they're pretty well, autonomous, right? Each company I know is quite autonomous within

[00:46:40] Andre: I mean, no, but they're not really Oculus anymore. Oculus is a brand name, right? It's like, Facebook is Nike and you know, the Oculus headset is the Air, they're very much a product of Facebook now.

[00:46:52]I know a lot of Facebook people, they're not evil. They're just people doing their fucking job. they're developers, they're producers. They want to see you succeed. Like I've talked to Oculus now about a couple of different things going to Quest, and their biggest concern was like, are you going to succeed? Like, how can we help you?

[00:47:08] Like this whole, like, Facebook is evil. Like. You know, there there's a sentiment that, you know, washes over maybe the weird ass developer bubble, but to people like my parents, they don't know about what's going on. They don't give a shit. They're just like, Hey, I saw this device. That's cool. Right. And I think, you know, most of, most of the public. Yeah, they still let's be honest, man. There's like a few million Quest sold. Most of the world doesn't know what the fuck VR is. Right? Like it's gaining in popularity, but like all these things that, Oh my God, Facebook has cameras in our house. Like this doesn't apply to most people. They don't care. Right? Most of these people have Facebook accounts. They have WhatsApp accounts, they have Instagram accounts and they're all being fused anyway. So like, it doesn't really matter.

[00:47:49]In our industry. There are developers that are creeped out by Facebook don't trust. Facebook, believe that Facebook is like completely evil and everyone there is evil. I mean, a lot of people there just have happened to have a fucking job at Facebook. not any deeper than that.

[00:48:04] Josh: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And I think it's just, you know, I think there may be listening too much about the news when it comes to like the privacy issues and getting swayed one way. People are going to get brainwashed one way or another.

[00:48:15] But regardless of all that, do you think that there should be another maybe rival brand or rival company. Even for innovation purposes?

[00:48:21] Andre: Yeah. Yeah, competition's good. Like we had, we had valve kind of leading the way with HTC for a while. Right. And then Oculus, you know, back then when they were still Oculus, like, you know, early Facebook acquisition was like the only way to compete with this as an all in one, right. That gets away from needing a, a thousand dollars or $1,500 PC and a cable. there's something to the simplicity of just picking the thing up, putting it on your head and you're there. Right. So we have the competition that way. I want to see how valve responds. I love my index. It's great. I hate the wire. I love that device. I love lighthouse tracking. I love my knuckles. I hate the wire.

[00:48:59] I don't even put it on anymore because I'd rather do everything

[00:49:02] Josh: Do you do the wireless link

[00:49:04] Andre: Yeah. With virtual desktop. Yeah, I do

[00:49:06] Josh: It's incredible. Right. I honestly didn't think we were at that point that it could work that well.

[00:49:11] Andre: No, and we are, and like people think the, the obsessive nerds are now using virtual desktop with like a shadow PC on a server. Right. So they're playing all their games remotely on a server,

[00:49:21] Josh: Whoa.

[00:49:27] Andre: the perfect server configs to pull the shit off, but like minimal latency. It's great.

[00:49:31]Josh: So that's the future. Obviously the cloud computing, the cloud gaming to get the higher

[00:49:36] Andre: Ideally, but I mean, right now it's really finicky. I think we'll get to a point where that'll be a thing, but like, look at COVID dude. Right. COVID hit. And all of a sudden our internet speeds tanked. Right. And all my, all my games, all my game consoles, my steam, like they don't even do updates live anymore. Like they stagger them and they schedule them. Right. So like the let's be honest, our infrastructure is not there yet to stream all of our games to us. There's a reason why Stadia is now dead, but

[00:50:02] Josh: Google again, you guys are dropping all the balls.

[00:50:05] Andre: was what, like a year,

[00:50:08] Josh: I thought thathad the longevity. I thought that had some legs. I thought they were gonna,

[00:50:11] Andre: didn't think it ha I didn't think it had legs with consumers. I thought that they would pour more money into it to make it feasible. I thought that was a five-year journey, not like a year and a half. I think this is kind of how the competition's happening, right? Like valve had a really compelling offering. Oculus is like, Hey, no, we've got to go all in one. Now we'll see how everyone responds. But you know, I think that we're past the point of we need good hardware. We've got great hardware in a Quest we've got great hardware and an Index. Now the Question is how do you cater to devs? How do you help them succeed?

[00:50:42]We're not seeing enough of that. you know, like today, they announced App Lab for Oculus and it's like, you know, cool. I can release an app. With no visibility on the store.

[00:50:52] Josh: Yeah. What are your thoughts on that with, we were just talking about it before this, the app lab that Oculus finally put out, because before you were just saying, you have to like get approved by Oculus to be able to get an app or experience or game on the app store and it's this whole involved process, but before with the Oculus Go, you could just. Upload your app and people can just get like a beta version, just kind of like test flight, right. With the iOS. So that's sort of what this is. And it seems like you just they'll give you a link. And I guess now the distribution model, like you have to just do it on the internet? Like just email people, links, get your discord group set up. It's a weird model.

[00:51:26] Andre: Yeah. And I don't, I don't know how I feel. I wish that, you know, again, asking a lot, but I wish they would quadruple their headcount for developer relations so they can handle the influx of apps coming their way and maybe get more stuff onto the store. I think the, you know, because they said, uh, in the document that I read, it was like, you know, exact name matches only in the search, and you have to like look in the app lab section, and it's like, so you're not getting listed. You're not getting listed on the store. You're not getting any promo deals. Like you are very much responsible for your own marketing.

[00:51:57]I don't know, like I want to see, I've seen a lot of devs leave the space, cause they can't, they can't break through like steam is a shit show. I love Valve. I love the fact that they've basically democratized game dev for everyone. And you can find an audience with the, the counterpoint to that is everyone's on there. It's very hard to find an audience. Um, you know, Quest is the only device that's sold really at scale, under a unified brandand has capture people's imaginations and wallets. And Quest right now, if you want to get a game on the Quest, we're talking a year long, wait there they're full up until next February or something.

[00:52:32]Josh: Just to be able to even get them to see it.

[00:52:35] Andre: Well it's to get a release window. So even if they approve you, you're not launching for at least a year. So, you know, how do you sustain your studio, your team for a year plus until you hit that release window, then you got to start selling at scale to then recoup your costs. You have to keep, you know, keep a float even longer. If you have a game, that's ready to go and you can't get on for a year, what do you do for a year?

[00:52:56]Josh: No, that's a really good Question. It like, seriously, what would you do? Like how could you sustain, like for you all these years, how have you been able to stay around in this

[00:53:04] Andre: Corporate gigs. Right. But like a, not a lot, but if you're pouring your heart and soul into a game, like, you know, I think there's this weird thing in the industry where like it's driven by passion and obviously like everyone's got a passion for what they do, but that's not enough. Like there has to be a business plan behind it, and you gotta figure shit out.

[00:53:21]Waiting a year. If you have something ready to go right now, because you've been slaving over it, or, you know, you've been trying to get Oculus to look at it for four months and times just a waste. And then it's like, Oh yeah, we'd have release thought free for like 14 months. What do you do?

[00:53:34]so, you know, I think that's kind of where the competition will come in. It's like, who else will swoop in pay for content? You know, either guaranteed minimums for sales or helping us pay for the budget or whatever, to keep them as a float, to, you know, get compelling content onto a platform. I think that's going to be the next war that's waged and not necessarily in specs or, you know, how light a headset is Who gives a shit? We need devs to stay afloat so we can create content for them.

[00:53:59]Josh: Do you think it will be like a Facebook or do you think it'll be a whole other company, that will come by and do that?

[00:54:04] Andre: I don't know.

[00:54:06] Josh: that an Epic kind of thing. Do you think Epic games coming in to do that? Do they care about VR enough?

[00:54:10] Andre: No, because what are they going to do? They're going to do, there's going to be another PC VR store, right? So we've already got Vive port. We got Oculus home, which is abandoned. No one actually likes Vive port. So then we got steam. We got Epic. Really how much money are you going to make? Right. I, think, you know, let's see who steps up in the all in one space. I think they're the best bets but like, this is why I say on Twitter. Like if you're going to come into the VR space and be like, Hey, we have a headset at this point who gives a shit? Everyone has a headset. How do you treat developers? You know, do you have a plan to acquire that content support, right? Like games now, aren't you one and done. They're supported, there's live events, right? There's all, you know, updates. Right? Compatibility updates. Look at between Quest one Quest two, right?

[00:54:55] A lot of games got updated with fancier graphics, better fram What if the dev couldn't stay afloat long enough to get to the Quest 2 update, how does that help anyone?

[00:55:04]Someone  will then go into a library, buy a game that's capped at 72 Hertz and has lower res textures and everything. But they're playing on a Quest too, and they expected a better experience, but the devs not around anymore to do it.

[00:55:16]you know, when people are thinking about platforms and hardware, like it's really about how do you, how do you grow the content library, how you sustain it and kind of be a place where everyone else is,

[00:55:26] you know, at this point, great beat sabers and exclusive to Oculus moving forward. Right. Okay, cool. But pistol whip is still fair game. So who's going to step up and pay cloud head, whatever it takes to get, pistol whip on their platform. Right? Super hot, same thing. Right. Who's going to step in and get super hot on day one. Right? We need these tiles. We need the bigger tiles and we need the smaller indie titles to come on over, to be a viable platform. And that just takes capital.

[00:55:49]Josh: Yeah. Do you see any other companies doing that? I mean, the only other one that I could think of is possibly Apple, but I don't see them doing it

[00:55:56] Andre: Now Apple's not doing that. They haven't reached out to any of the big names for their headset. you know, like Pico was making the rounds a year ago for their headset. The one that you showed off, um, and they're offering devs, you know, 1500 bucks to port their game. It's like, how was that worth anyone's time?

[00:56:15] Josh: So at this point then do you think just like Facebook and Oculus is so far ahead, like what other company will be able to get the cash to even do that in

[00:56:22] the first place? Unless it's

[00:56:23] Andre: if Amazon wanted to, they could overnight. Um, if Google wanted to, you know, everyone's still holding up for Google for some reason, you know, if they open up their wallets day one, they would match, you know, the Quest library, if they wanted to pay for it. Apple will get everyone poured it over if they have like that M one class chip inside of an HMD. Cause you know, even better because you don't have to optimize as much so you can make prettier, fancier games, better performance out of the box. Right. And with, you know, with that, it's like, you know, if you're looking at the app store model, anyone can be there, get their stuff on the platform and you know, they have a shot  so I think, you know, there's room for any of the big tech companies to jump on board and do their thing. Just a matter of will they?

[00:57:04]Josh: Right. and for you, like thinking about the future, cause I know you're in this for the long game, are you kind of just waiting that out? Are you waiting to see another platform do that or are you just going to go all in, on Oculus at this point?

[00:57:15]Andre: I'm trying to remain friendly with Oculus, because I mean, they have users right now, and like obviously the mind share is there.

[00:57:22] I think, you know, Apple probably is the next big one to come out. Um, and I'll be there day one on Apple, you know, as soon as I can get my hands on a headset, you know, I'm there. if only because it evens out the odds, right?

[00:57:33] Like I know where I stand, I know I can get something on the platform and then it's up to me to market the shit out of it. But, you know, I'll have a good looking product there and it'll be accessible for people. And you know that because of Apple alone, like they'll sell a crazy amount of units that opening weekend.

[00:57:47] Right. look at what they did with the AirPods max. And like, some of the colors were sold out until February two hours then. So, you know, and that was like, I'm in Canada, right? You're in Canada with AppleCare, my headphones were a thousand bucks. So, you know, Apple can put a high price on a device, sell them in quantity, crazy quantities and you know, it's viable. So let's see what they do with an HMD. I think that'd be great.

[00:58:11]Josh: Yeah, I'm looking forward to, I think everyone's waiting for that. Everyone's like literally just waiting for Apple to drop their HMD. They're like what? Or whether it is a mixed reality headset, VR AR no one cares. So like just, I want to put Apple on my face. Like that's

[00:58:23] Andre: exactly.

[00:58:24] Josh: they know they'll do it well, and it will be really fucking well done. But for now, man, the Quest 2 is like the closest thing we have and I'm super happy with it, to be honest.

[00:58:33] Andre: It's it's great. It's polished. You know, the accessory ecosystem is dope. Like I've got the extended battery strap thing. I've got the anchor dock for it, as well as I just like slotted it in and charge. It's great. Um, and the, you know, the user interface is really great. You know, they've got the hand tracking now, so you don't even need controllers. The paint, if you want to surf the web or just do YouTube or whatever. I mean, it's a really good well-polished device that happens to have a bunch of fun games.

[00:58:57] Josh: Yeah. Yep. I'm excited to see where it goes, man. And I know that you've also been doing some AR stuff, right. Namely with Snap. So I'd love for you to actually kind of bring that up. Cause I don't really know too much about that. there's a creator in residence, right

[00:59:10] Andre: Yeah. So, uh, one of my buddies I was working with on, on a corporate project, he has a really close relationship with snap and he was just talking about how great they are. And I kind of flippantly said, you know, how great can they be? Because I've had relationships with all the big tech companies and they all kind of let you down in some ways.

[00:59:27] And he's like, no, no, no, no help. Snap is great. They're like my favorite company in the world. I'm like, What the fuck are you talking about? So he sent off an email, I checked their website and like they had to create a residency, for like, I think mine was the gaming one. so I was like, okay, that looks like fun. Can, can I get in? So we sent over an email and he made the intros and I was in. And, Oh my God, they're the best company in the world. They're the best. So like, so I did the, the residency, which was like five weeks or something. And so in that he was like, they basically want a  proposals on what I wanted to build.

[00:59:59] So I wanted to build like a climate change lens. There's like a little, little game about population control, fitting the themes of like all my other work now. so I reached out to them and they're like, yeah, that's really cool. And when the residency was done, they had reached out to me being like, Hey, we want to do a profile on you for the, uh, for a conference, the lens lens Fest conference.

[01:00:18] I was like, cool. So I hadn't had a chance to invoice snap for the residency and go through all that paperwork and stuff. And so their finance department was literally chasing me every other day, so they could pay me. I've never had a client in the world that's like actually chased after me to being like, Hey, we have money for you, can you just like do the paperwork so he can pay you. They literally chased me to pay me, which was amazing.

[01:00:39]Josh: What I don't even know it was paid and let alone them chasing you to pay

[01:00:43] Andre: yeah, it was great. And I've never had. Uh, I can't do that, but you know, like the fact that they just want it to chase me around and make sure that I was taken care of is like amazing because I've never, I've never had anyone do that.

[01:00:56] And, yeah. Right. And so, you know, that's really cool, but then just interfacing with the team, like they're accessible on snap. I can literally snap them and ask them Questions and like get in touch and they respond immediately. you know, we're talking about doing some more things together and, you know, I sent them an email last Thursday and Friday, I had a response like

[01:01:16] Josh: That's amazing.

[01:01:18] Andre: The cadence is great. And they literally just want to empower creators to make cool shit. And they are the best in the world than I love them to death. And now they're my favorite company.

[01:01:26]Josh: That's amazing. So do you use Snapchat like yourself quite a bit?

[01:01:30] Andre: Yeah. So I've got a few friends on there, but like really, I just love prototyping and building out, you know, with their, with their lens tools, um, Len studio, it's so fun and so polished. And the rate at which they're adding new features and taking advantage of like, you know, they had LiDAR  support on basically day one of the iPhone 12 being out. So, you know, they have a really great engaging ecosystem. You know, they've got a couple hundred million active AR users. They have an audience of proper AR users that you can reach. Right. Where else are you going to find that? it's, you know, and they're basically just live to empower creators. There's no weird corporate doublespeak. There's no bullshit. When I talk to them, it's just like, yep. Let's help you make cool stuff.

[01:02:08] Josh: They just want to make AR a thing and make it better. Cause they did the, glasses, right? The specs, I guess. They're I think they're probably good contender as least when it comes to that. AR space once we get over that hurdle.

[01:02:20] Andre: Yeah. I mean, a lot of what they're doing right now is kind of AR in posts, getting you to think spatially. So they're trying to get everyone to kind of warm up to the fact that, seeing the world in a spacial way, like, do you need. Like with the two cameras. Now there's a sense of depth. Right.

[01:02:35] So if you're going to apply an effect that you make or that you find online, right on Snap, how far away from an object should I be to have it like, kind of come alive? Right? How far should my hand be in front of the camera? on my phone. What, you know, how does the LIDAR react in certain lenses? So there, you know, the, the specs now we're on specs three.

[01:02:54] It's kind of like a nice warmup app to get people thinking spatially because people haven't done that before. Right. So now when people walk around, like, you know, they take in their world, the sidewalk that they're on, or like a really cool piece of graffiti or something on a wall, it's like, how far back do I have to be? How do the colors, you know, mixed with each other? How will it interact with the lens? And then you go back to the app after and you apply the lens. It's like, Oh, cool. That like totally measured up to what I was thinking. Or maybe it doesn't let me go, you know, rethink how I'm gonna approach this, but it gets people thinking spatially. And that's really good because we don't have anyone else doing that right now,

[01:03:26] Josh: That's key. Yeah. For the end users. Right. Because us as designers and as you know, immersive directors, as you call yourself, you probably think about it quite a bit. Right? Like how do you think, or how do you, like, I guess, approach spatial design when it comes to these projects, how do you think about it, when it comes like it UX sort of perspective.

[01:03:45] Andre: I mean, it kind of depends on, on what we're trying to solve. Like if it's a medical thing, you know, to the people that you're working with or trying to like cater towards, you know, do they have some kind of physical disability that stops them from being able to use buttons? Right. Let's start with something as basic as that.

[01:04:00]If you're using, you know, gaze buttons, are they younger person or the older person is, you know, the gaze timer too quick, right? Like, that's like, that's a baseline thing. and then as you're talking about the experience, like, who are you targeting?

[01:04:12]if we're targeting my mom, you can't give her a touch controller with like 20 fucking buttons on it, cause she'll never know what to do. Right. Like for a marketing thing, right, depending on your target market, that's like a death sentence. but if we're talking something for gamers, it's like, okay, give them all the buttons, give them all the features, but just make them work in a, you know, a way that makes sense.

[01:04:30]so it really depends on, you know, the gig or the project, I think, you know, for the project, uh, innocence in the fire, we want to kind of take that into the educational space. We don't want to, you know, it, to be too much of a burden with the controls. Like it's a God game light. Right. Cause we're not, we're not building StarCraft.

[01:04:46]Right. There's no crazy like micro game Mike macro game, like resource management, all that shit. Right. Because you're never going to be able to keep up in VR. You don't have a keyboard and mouse with all the hotkeys, So you just kind of, kind of have to think about, you know, who your target market is and just adapt and kind of start at a baseline and go from there.

[01:05:02] But I think, you know what Oculus is pushing let's keep on saying Facebook is pushing with like hand tracking is really important, right? Because it'll, you know, it's kind of relating these spatial worlds and these interactions to the real world and starting, you know, where people are, right. You always have to reach people where they are and then maybe train them up to where you want them to be, and I think the emphasis on the hand tracking moving forward will be really key. So we, we designed these virtual worlds as worlds. Like you're used to, it, there's a physicality to it that you're, that you're used to.

[01:05:32]And I think that'll be really key for adoption as opposed to here's the headset, here's the buttons, here's the, here's the thumb pad, and like, that'll make you move, you know, like the left one who makes you go left, right. four backward and the other one will rotate you. the fuck? Like why, if I'm in VR, why am I pressing the buttons to rotate? Like that's confusing. Right? And then you got the actual buttons as well and the triggers, and then the grip that's a lot of shit to handle.

[01:05:54] Josh: It is a lot, I guess, maybe coming from like the gamer mindset, we're kind of used to that. Cause I'm used to playing with controllers. It's not that much different than like holding a PlayStation or Xbox controller. Really. They're just, you detach them and now they're in each hand and you can now use them as wands.

[01:06:10] Andre: You take off that headset and you pass it around to a family member that's not, that's not as hardcore as you and all of a sudden that's a hindrance. Right. And that takes them out of the experience. You know, it's kinda my thing of, you know, put up, shut up and make sure that we can grow the space. It's like, how do you make it accessible? So you don't alienate them. Right? Like we already went through a bad phase, a VR with 360 movies that like, you know, weren't, you know, like, fuck dude, Oh, a bunch of stuff that wasn't even stitched properly. Right. Or like, you know, it was the artificial movement and they just made you sick. Right. And then we had in the interactive space, we had stuff that wasn't well optimized or like, you know, how many VR rollercoasters, where people's first experience. Right? Like that shit will make you sick.

[01:06:52] Josh: Yeah. Even me, man, like I have a pretty, hard stomach with that kind of stuff.

[01:06:57]Andre: Yeah. So, I mean, you know, right now way the Quest is growing organically as you take it off your face and you show it to a family member, which is really weird to say, during a pandemic when you shouldn't be doing that. But, but, but that's like the natural way that this is going right. And you see it all the time, you know, Whether it's the Reddit stories, which, you know, I only believe half of them or like just the personal stories I know from people that I know, it's like, yeah, I took the thing off my face, I was having fun, showed it to them. And then they went to best buy and grabbed it like the next day. Right? Like that, that's the cadence that we're talking about with Quest and how quickly it grabs people. But if you're doing these hardcore experiences that alienate them doesn't help grow the market.

[01:07:34]Josh: No, you actually brought up a good point there with this sort of like take a hit and pass it along. You brought it up earlier when you were talking about your, company's old name, opiates I do see it as a drug. It's like a virtual drug, like even with our phones. Right. Even if it's a thing that you just hold.

[01:07:50]I took a couple psychology classes at Ryerson as well, sort of as like a minor, I did a psychology minor and like I did this one class, the psychology of drugs. And we went through this whole thing where we saw the brains being lit up from people getting likes and dings on their phone. Right. Getting the dopamine hits. And it was identical, identical to, taking a hit of cocaine.

[01:08:12] Like literally, like there's no difference if the way that it shows up in your brain and it lights up. So, when it comes to VR now it's like on a whole other level. And I think opiates, was a  really a good way to think about it. I see it as more of like psychedelics and more maybe like a heroin type of thing. Right. Cause it can be that addictive. It's insane.

[01:08:30] Andre: And I remember, I remember my logo was like literally a pill bottle and all the pills dropping into it, where all the different HMDs that were out at the time.

[01:08:38] Josh: I still have your, your business card somewhere. Cause it was awesome.

[01:08:44] Yeah. And so funny. Like, and then I dunno, you know, cause people always saying like, you know, like gaming addiction, internet addiction, social media addiction is hurting people's like psyches and whatnot. Do you think about that too? As we're doing this second we're, we're pushing this along, but do you think we're getting to a point where like, we're going to wish we didn't push it that far?

[01:09:01]Andre: I mean, I'm probably going to take shit for this, but no. like, you know, everyone talks about Facebook addiction. You know how I got over it. I stopped using it. Right. It's an app on my phone. I delete it. I have other things to do. I think, you know, the core problem when people talk about these addictions is that they just don't have anything else to do.

[01:09:18] That's productive or fulfilling. Right. I love video games. I buy literally every game. Do you think I've played half of them? No, because I have other shit to do. so I think, you know, like, you know, social media addiction, I think people are getting wise to it. Like we've seen the effects of it, but I think, you know, there's bigger issues at play than, Oh my God, people spend too much time on Twitter or Facebook.

[01:09:37] It's like, you know, if you want to bitch about that, let's bitch about the lack of resources and education or the never ending Wars where we could reroute that money to basically anything else, healthcare. Let's start there, random a pandemic. so, you know, I think it's the responsibility of the tech companies.

[01:09:51] I don't think it's responsibility of anyone, but the government who constantly fails the people.

[01:09:55]Josh: Totally. And like, we're kind of lucky here in Canada. Our government has been pretty good through this pandemic, you know, whether it's support for people who need it. We could probably get the vaccines a little bit quicker, but let's see. What are we going to do about that in the meantime? Like, all we really have are these tech as this technology, right.

[01:10:11] If we can imagine we didn't have the internet, like imagine if you and I, at the very least weren't talking through this virtual portal screen right now, like what would we really be doing? If there was no video games, what would we be doing if like, this was the 1920s, not 2020s. Yeah. Maybe. And maybe, maybe not you playing with fucking sticks.

[01:10:31] Like, what would we be doing, man? Like, it's, it blows my mind, all the stuff that we have, like the infinite options that we have online. And now it just got even crazy with the VR. It's like a whole other set of options in this whole other virtual world. And it's, it's incredible. It can be like overwhelming sometimes, you know?

[01:10:47]Andre: I think so. I think it could be. Yeah, I think w you know, we're not at the point though, because not enough people know what it is. Right. so I think, you know, some point in the future, yeah. the HMD will replace the phone a hundred percent. Right. We'll get to that point. you know, I think my watch has already replaced my phone for the most part as it is.

[01:11:04]but you know, I don't think we're there yet. and I think there's still a lot of ground to cover in terms of things that they can do, the ways that we can push it. You know, I think before we even get worried about any of this stuff, we still need people to be able to thrive in the space. You know, as long as companies are falling apart in everyone's going out of business, we don't have a space.

[01:11:20] So I think we should focus on that before we worry about all the dangers of it.

[01:11:25]Josh: that's true. What are some things you are looking forward to seeing, or that you would like to see in that space?

[01:11:29]Andre: you know, my biggest thing is increasing the availability of apps and content. I see a lot of people that have really great prototypes. I see a lot of people have great things that are kind of snuffed out. because they can't get on quest. Right. And they kind of just go away. you know, I see that all the time.

[01:11:44]I think that's kind of the biggest thing that I want. I'd like to see, you know, like Oculus slash Facebook had the, um, that one head set. W I can't remember what's called, but it had the very focal lenses and it was like really tiny, right. It was the, um, Oh, it was the a half dome. It's like half dome, two or something.

[01:12:03] So, you know, it's smaller, it has better optics, right? Um, they're talking about, you know, the codec avatars, being able to track your mouth and all that, like that level of presence, that computing power, where like maybe get connects to a server a way fashionable we have right now, you know, I want those things to exist.

[01:12:20] I would love. That, you know, if a student in really tiny dorm room could put on a headset and they're not confined to that little space, like I was all in, on VR before AR because I didn't want to overlay virtual stuff on a small space. I want to escape to a big space. like, I have a 55 inch screen on my, on my desk. I want a hundred foot screen. Right. Like VR gets us that, and I want it to be a, you know, a way that's more accessible. Like. I would love it. The infant office stuff is coming, but, you know, I would much prefer someone having an HMD and maybe like a server or like the laptop close somewhere and being able to do their thing.

[01:13:00] Multiple screens, maybe have their friend in a virtual space with them and they're at a park. Right. Like, it's just, just something weird like that it's simple, right? Like virtual environment friend looking over your shoulder virtually, but like we're here together and it, I think it would help get over the zoom fatigue, like provided that, you know, it's lightweight, it's comfortable and optics are there and everything. I think that opens up new and different types of experiences and it gets people away from their day-to-day grind.

[01:13:24]Josh: A hundred percent. Yeah. even at, at the end of the day to jump into a game, right? Like, like I said, we're, we're cooped up here at home. Can't really go out, especially here in Canada's fucking cold. It's like negative 20 or you don't we're we're yeah. We're, we're stuck in here, like, especially in this along winter.

[01:13:40] Right? So we're at the end of the day, I just even play like the climb, you know, you're in beautiful environments. It's amazing. Right. So to be able to expand the world, I think there's so much opportunity there and it's just interesting that a lot of people don't get it yet.

[01:13:53] Like, I don't know what, what do we have that we're like, Hey, like I instantly get it. I know this is going to be huge. There's so much value here. I don't know how people don't see the value yet.

[01:14:02] Andre: I just don't think they're exposed. I think you and I get off on being a creator and like creating the shit that we want to see. people need. Be shown a polished use case or an experience that just grabs them. And I think we'll get there as more people create experiences as more people think differently and create weird shit.

[01:14:21]I kind of think of it like, my killer app on the iPhone is Uber eats. Right? I've got a $2,000 phone and I use an app to order food. That is my killer app. Right. So what experiences are enabled by VR down the road? Like what is the weird, what is the Uber or the Uber eats or the Twitter of VR, right?

[01:14:40] Who the fuck knows? We're like day one of this thing, right? we don't, we're not even at like iPhone with app store level where anyone can get on. Right. We're very curated right now. Right. So we don't know what that'll be.

[01:14:51] So I think as we have platforms that more people can get on and maybe app lab is a good first step to that who knows, you know, certainly Apple model of having the app store down the road like next year, something will be great. Let's see what the Uber's the Twitters, I don't know. What's another major app, like, the next Instagram, the light, let's see what those, what those things are. In a spacial age, immersive age, and see what that creates some who that grabs.

[01:15:16]Josh: Do you think it's social? Cause I know you worked on this is might be a great way to sort of transition to this. I know you did some work with a chat roulette. It's do you think you'll be like a social type of experience? And I want to hear, I don't know how much you can talk about the chat roulette VR project, but it's interesting.

[01:15:30]Andre: the guy who started chat, roulette, Andre Russian Andre.. Um, that we've got very confusing and our group chats, you know, he he's had chat roulette for 10, 12 years, something like that. and he kind of wanted to figure out a way to prime it for new age, get some new.

[01:15:47]Momentum and new branding around it to kind of get away from the traditional thoughts of what Chatroulette is, which is just raging dicks everywhere, right?

[01:15:55] Josh: But it is even no, a hundred percent is I was just on chat roulette now. Cause I saw it on your website

[01:16:01] Andre: Yeah.

[01:16:01] Josh: was like, okay, I'm going to just, I haven't been on chat roulette in here. Let's go check it out. Dick, just a Dick slapping the camera

[01:16:07] on my K I'm getting off here. That's just confirms.

[01:16:10] Andre: yeah, so, I mean, that's, that's the, that's the problem. And you know, it alienates anyone that you kind of want to bring in for monetization, right? You can't do partnerships with other platforms. You can't, you know, advertisements are a nightmare, all that, right. so we were kind of discussing ways to bring it into, uh, spacial age.

[01:16:29] So what you saw on the website is just, you know, we did a sprint a few months kind of building out the framework for what it would take to build an in VR. Uh, so we had, you know, we kind of carried over the metaphor of the spinning wheel, right? Like chat roulette, you spend randomly paired with someone.

[01:16:47] And so for us, we were trying to think about how do you maintain a dickless version of Chatroulette. But the thing that Chatroulette is right, there's a, there's a speed and there's a cadence to it, right? Like the site is very basic. It doesn't take long to load like seconds. Right. You click the button and you're paired with someone and if you don't like dump, boom, you hit it.

[01:17:05] And you're paired with the next person. And it's just really quick and dirty. Um, so we needed to figure out, you know, on, as an experience, how do you get in quickly? How do you have a really quick loading, you know, from the main menu? So the first, you know, environment in the game app, whatever, how do you minimize that to make it quick? Like you're going to the website.

[01:17:30] Then when you're pairing with random people, how do you also, you know, keep that connection quick. To pair you with the other person. And then if you like that person, how do you escalate the interaction in a way, keep them around for a while and not signal the fact that you're going hit the next button.

[01:17:47] So what we did was. Because chat roulette right now is like, it's literally just your webcam feed, right? There's no way to elevate the interaction. You talk, you get along and you pray that they don't hit the button. Right. Cause then it's all wasted. So we figure out a way like elevating too. And we had like a holodeck style laser thing where it's taken to different environments that you can hang out for a longer periods of time.

[01:18:08] So one area was like a Zen garden thing where like bridges and you could throw stones and like in the water and see them, you know, in a blue Vox, Ally's like sploosh. and then we had a hedge maze that you could do with other people. So you can like run around and maize and try and find each other, rescate each other, that sort of thing. We're planning on like, you know, a ski Hill that you can throw snowballs or, you know, uh, a beach and you can just like go fishing at the end of the dock, right? Like elevated ways of just chilling with other people. And it's, you know, really chill, low effort, low energy,

[01:18:41] but if you don't want the other person or you want to find someone that you connect with better, bam, bam, bam, you know, we replicate the speed and the Chatroulette so that was, you know, that was a thing that we worked on for a little bit.

[01:18:51] Josh: So, where did it go? What happened with the project?

[01:18:53] Andre: Nowhere. So, I mean, we had, uh, we had chats with Oculus about it, and they were interested in it. they're interested for quest. Uh, we had to stay away from the chat roulette branding. gonna, we were gonna call it CR next because they just didn't want the association with the d and you know, as most things that happened with Oculus communication fell apart.

[01:19:15] Josh: awful, but I feel like that could be a good candidate for like a WebXR project now.

[01:19:20] Andre: I mean, yeah, but WebXR is still in it's emphasis, infancy. There's limits to what you can do. Uh, visually, I mean, like despite the simple looking effects, they're kind of complicated in the VFX graph and stuff. Um,

[01:19:32] Josh: so

[01:19:33] Andre: definitely, uh, we did this one in unity. Yeah, so we need it. We wanted something really lightweight, um, that would be portable to different devices, uh, with a minimal, uh, installed, installed, uh, load.

[01:19:46] So we were actually toying with the idea of maybe doing an AR companion as well. So we'd have, uh, we have more scale in terms of users. Uh, so that was one of the other things we're toying with as well.

[01:19:56]Josh: Cool, man. I hope that comes. It's such a great idea.

[01:19:59]Andre: Yeah. I mean, I'd like to see it there's ideas that I've had for it that I kind of want to carry into another product. So we'll see.

[01:20:05] Josh: Okay. Yeah. Cool. Okay. I like that UX. I think that will be something that will be really big is pairing. VR users with AR users and like phone users. Like I was thinking about, games, like, uh, I guess more I can experience like big screen VR, right? There's so much you can do within it, not just watching movies together.

[01:20:20] They have like these mini games and be cool. If you can just have like a deck of cards, like imagine this playing like UNO, right? Two of your friends who have VR headsets, they're playing with their controller, the other two people, boom. They're using their phone and they're putting it in AR they put it on their table, and then their VR friends are like just floating and they're just kind of there with them. we don't see too much of that. I want to see more of that.

[01:20:40] Andre: So, I mean, the thing is with your phone, right? Like I've got the 12 pro max, so I got the lighter on mine. Right. So my phone always knows exactly where I am and then the front-facing camera can track my face and my mouth. So like, that's perfect for just having myself represented in a virtual space. And if I walked three feet forward, My avatar walk, three feet forward. Right. And my VR friends will just see me in their space. Like, that's fine. So, I mean, I think that's where we're going.

[01:21:07] There's, you know, there's a lot of stuff that I want to do even with an iPad pro right. It's still got the face ID sensor. You got LIDAR on the back. Apple's got the SDKs for hand and body tracking. So what if, you know, I've got my iPad pro in front of me. And it sees my hands as I reached by it and I'm using my hands and the iPad detects it and I'm moving virtual hands. Right. And then it knows where I moved my face left to right. And so my avatar's face moves left and right. So there's a lot, you can do melding, you know, an AR user on a mobile device with a VR user.

[01:21:38]Josh: Yeah, totally. And it makes so much sense. Right? Cause that way too, if you don't feel like going in into VR or like, Hey, all my friends were getting me ringing me because that's the other thing you need to be able to get your notifications on here, as well. Right. I know there's a company that does. Um, I think it's the top, top golf.

[01:21:55] You see the top golf game in quest, Ryan. Yeah. They're doing a great job and he's starting to think about, okay, how can we have leaderboards on like a mobile app and, you know, having your friends chatting on there and, you know, being able to get a link sent to you from, if I'm in VR, I'm like, Hey, I want you to join this game. You can get a link right on the app. You click it, open up a headset and you're there. Like it needs to be that seamless.

[01:22:17] Andre: Apparently I was talking to him the other week and people have business meetings in his game because they can't get out to a golf course during the pandemic. So they play top golf and do business meetings now.

[01:22:29] that's a thing.

[01:22:31] Yeah. the

[01:22:34] Josh: thing I've ever heard ever..

[01:22:35] Andre: Yeah,

[01:22:36] Josh: the past now that's the most 2020,

[01:22:39]Andre: but yeah, so I mean, people are, people are doing that now. And I think, you know, we can get to a point where it's really low friction as the install base for VR goes up. We can still find the critical mass for those digital experiences using mobile users and like the text there it's solid. It's great. You know, it's only getting better so we can kind of meld the two and start to build, you know, the brand names that will carry forward. Right? Like now we have, you know, sure. Top golf but then we have like the spacials right. And we've got the big screens and we got the rec rooms. Right. Rec room is fucking huge. And it's now on X-Box right. So you have traditional flat screen users with an X-Box game pad with VR Right. And now I think Rec Room's even on the phone. So I think it's on the phone.

[01:23:23] Josh: I'm going to check that out.

[01:23:24]That's cool. Fortnite. Can't get on, on iPhone, but they can.

[01:23:28] Andre: Yeah. So, I mean, you can see, you can see that interplay. and that's how people are going to start building the brands and have that recognition for the IP moving forward, that when there is a new device or, you know, there's a new whatever it's like, Hey yeah, we're there.

[01:23:40] We're present. Oh yeah. And all those items that you have, and those mini games that you love and like those shared experiences that you think fondly on, just do it on the new device. We're here.

[01:23:49]Josh: yeah, we were just talking about at the beginning here, it's like, you know, these tools like unreal and unity allow you to do that so easily now. And I'm assuming it's just as easy with unreal as it is with unity, right? Like

[01:24:00] Andre: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, for the most part, it's just, you know, unreal is a little bit haver heavier on the file size. I think I can, you know, the smallest compiled app for unity is like a couple of megabytes and unreal, still like 200, but you know, as long as you got the functionality in there, you know, it's still, it's still really great and unreal.

[01:24:19] The, the rate through adding features is insane. You know, I can take my four to four project, bring it to four to six. I'm already planning for unreal five, right? Like. So there there's that ability to kind of bring things forward with you, add new features, their functionality on the mobile is incredible with the rendering tech, right?

[01:24:36] Like you can have the desktop metal renderer for like Mac running on an iPhone, right at the desktop Vulcan run, render on, you know, desktop windows or Linux running on Android. Now. Like it's crazy what you can get away with.

[01:24:49]Josh: That's awesome. And it's interesting that unity is stolen the mind share with mobile developers.

[01:24:55] Andre: Yeah.

[01:24:56] Josh: I feel like unreal definitely has maybe the console and PC like market, but not as much the mobile. So it's going to be interesting to see how that kind of

[01:25:04] Andre: I mean we're, we we've seen that, but then also Fortnite mobile popped off and kind of showed what's possible, right. Especially with cross play. and then I think there's like that black desert online mobile game as well, which is the Korean IMO that's done in unreal now, too. So I think, you know, you kind of have to lead by example and Fortnite being present on every platform, getting simultaneous updates.

[01:25:27] That was leading by example in the best way possible, and we're going to see more and more games kind of follow that, And know that the can use unreal, Epic online services is now a thing, right. Which wasn't before. So, you know, you can use the same networking stack that Epic uses for fortnight in your own app.

[01:25:43] Right. They have leaderboards support, you know, all that shit now. So I think we're at a point where like the features are all there. you can kind of see what they're doing. You know, we're going to see, uh, with Fortnite modding later this year, right? So it's a custom version of the unreal editor that carries forward modeling.

[01:25:58] So you can bring stuff directly into the game. So I think as things, you know, initiatives like that kind of come to fruition, it'll get there. but you know, on the high end though, you know, you look at films that are being made and, you know, previz, posts and even on set with like Mandalorian now that's all being done in unreal.

[01:26:16] So, you know, they all, they both had their niches. but I think they're going to meet in the middle because you know, unity was, yeah, for sure. Like the, the mobile game thing, the free to play game thing, whatever. And then you see what they've been doing with like BMW and they're doing high-end visualization as soon as they added Ray tracing. Right. Uh, you see what they just did? Um, with Disney for some cameras were like maybe big hero six or something. They did like the Invidia G-Force now like streaming thing for mobile. That's a high end thing. That's running on unity and available. So, you know, as much as they like carve out their niches and they do their own thing, they're going to meet in the middle and you know, they're going to have parody in some areas and then other ways they're going to beat each other.

[01:26:56] So we'll see where it, where it lands.

[01:26:58] Josh: That's true. So as of right now, where do you think unreal shines? So I think that's where I want to put a lot of my focus as well, especially as more of a creator, I know that like even now unreal, they kind of rebranded or like maybe they have a new slogan. It's like unreal for all creators

[01:27:13] And they are focusing a lot on film and I'm really interested in the virtual production side of things. Have you delved into that at all?

[01:27:21] Andre: We've looked into it. Um, one of the tools that we're building as a virtual production tool, uh, but it's, multi-platform, it will support unity and unreal and then all 3d apps and everything. So we're in the space. whatever that tagline was. Yeah. I mean, we've had a few of them over the years.

[01:27:35]I think we're seeing kind of what can, what can be done with real-time engines. And unreal has always kind of led the way, like if we're talking architectural visualization, some of the first ones done in game engines were unreal. It was Unreal engine three. And it was like some football stadium right at the NFL wants to put together a new stadium and they visualize that in unreal three and like did a little walk around.

[01:27:57] And then they got the pitch, they sold it through and then bam, they started construction. Right. So they visualize that you take a look at virtual production, well, my favorite ad of all time is from Joseph Kazinski, the director of Tron Legacy and the new top gun. And he did oblivion and it's the gears of war mad world trailer.

[01:28:16] Right. So before. Before he did all the big baller films, he was doing commercials. So he did like a, a Jeep ad. the G monk did the visuals on, but he did the mad world ad for gears of war, which was all in engine. He was literally sitting with the Epic people and like doing his shots and rendering it out and everything that was unreal three. unreal has always kind of led the way in these like really large scale, beautiful projects, and then made it available for people like me to kind of jump in and do my version of it to make a living. and you know, you see that now with Mandalorian, you know, hand-in-hand collaboration with, you know, Favro and Disney to pull that shit together.

[01:28:53] And again, they're leading the way. And all of a sudden, you know, Sony is making these huge ass led volumes for like all the film studios and like some green screen studio in Vancouver just switched over to led volumes. To pick up the Slack where the rest of the industry fell off in Vancouver. So you ha like you see kind of how they're creating new opportunities for creators. , and then you take a look at, you know, a year ago, , Nvidia had a press conference for like the and they're showing off. I think it was like third floor was doing the previous for Aquaman and they literally, they did thepreviz for Aquaman inside of unreal.

[01:29:26]And so they're showing it off, like in this case, you know, show off the new laptops, look at us with Ray, trace lading on a laptop, and it's like the underwater fucking fight scene thing. Right. But it's like, they're literally using it the game engine for Hollywood. Previz planning out all these shots, like what? And then if you really want, you know, you add some interactivity and bam, you've got an Aquaman video game, you know, as a marketing in for the movie, like whatever the fuck.

[01:29:48] Josh: That's what I was thinking, man. That's the biggest thing. There's Transmedia. I think there's going to be a huge, huge resurgence in Transmedia. And like in ways we couldn't even imagine. I think like these games mentions, aren't going to do that. Like you said, you're going to have the assets. And now with the unreal engine five, you're going to have like film ready assets and you know, there's no poly count anymore or polycount. Yeah, you just do whatever you want. Throw in. Anything looks hyper-realistic, you can then make a PlayStation game and X-Box game and VR thing, mobile game. Oh. And you can all use that for the actual movie as well.

[01:30:23] Andre: Yup. It's crazy, but I think, you know, it took, it took the baby steps. the last few years it was like, Hey, Epic made these really beautiful demos. Right. And they took a long ass time to make like months. Right. And like, the assets are really expensive, but like they inched forward and then it's like, Hey, film, industry, look, we've got your USD imports, right? The Pixar format. So like all your film work flows are using USD. Well, we have USD import all you crazy as 3d, um, you know, animators. Oh yeah. Cool. We've got importers for your software. Oh yeah. Now we still have, you know, support Olympic. So now your stuff comes over perfectly, right? And it's like, Oh yeah, we now have Ray tracing.

[01:31:04] I still remember the first Star Wars demo that they did the, uh, the stormtroopers and the elevator. Right. I was in the crowd at the Nvidia press conference when they showed that off for the first time. And, you know, it was like, look at us with our four Titan viz and, you know, it took four, it took a custom version, one reel that, uh, had multi GPU support for the Titan V's, which were like together.

[01:31:26] So do this thing and then they had the scene. And it looked real. Right. And then a year later, all like I had a Titan V I didn't have four. I had one. Right? Yeah. And that was like a $3,000 graphics card. So it took like over 12 grand and graphics hardware, plus a custom software, plus like the whole to be able to render this fucking cut scene a year later, it runs on a 2080. One  consumer grade card. And now I got to 30, 90 beside me. And that's how much faster? 75% faster than that. One 2018 at Ray tracing.

[01:32:00]Josh: So now you can basically do anything at that point.

[01:32:02] Andre: Yeah. Look at unreal five. And it's like their new lighting system isn't even retraced. That's just their rasterized lighting solution. Right. And then plus you got, you know, they've got their, their thing to do the like billions of polys crunched down. So you can run it, you know, at runtime on any device ever.

[01:32:19] Do you know how much graphics memory that would take on any, like any other generation software, hardware combo, like it's insane. Right. And it's just becoming more and more accessible. So when you take a look at a project like, you know, Aquaman. Legitimately with, you know, crazy high poly models and the beautiful lighting and everything, it's like shit, two years later that runs on consumer grade hardware.

[01:32:41]Josh: That's crazy. That's what I'm saying. It is, you could make these like Hollywood grade movies at home and people were doing that over those last year.

[01:32:48] Andre: you can make it at home. And then also you can take that stuff and you don't have to worry about the optimization. It just exists, right? Everything that you're used to just works. That's crazy. And you look at that, what, you know, what the mill did with their unreal, film that they did. Right. And it's just like, Holy shit, like completely rendered inside of unreal.

[01:33:07] It looks like it's The Mill, they're the best in the business. And it looks real. And that's an Unreal version from months ago. That's not even an unreal fi like the software time it was forward facing, right. Like towards the end of the year. And like, Oh, my God, the shit that these guys have been cranking out or months and year, right. Mandalorian came out a year and a half ago. It was in production two years ago.

[01:33:30] Josh: true. So yeah, you can only imagine what they're doing now and the stuff that they're working on right now. What we'll see in a year from now.

[01:33:38] Andre: it's nuts.

[01:33:39] Josh: It's unreal, man. Literally, literally unreal.

[01:33:46] The puns keep coming. Guess. So how did you, maybe we kind of end this off with some resources, like for anyone who wants to learn this, I really think unreal is that tool of the future. I think it's that like next level Adobe unity as well. I personally think from a creative perspective too, I think unreal is a little bit more approachable too. Especially with blueprints. Where would you go if you had to relearn it right now? If you had to like learn from scratch, you didn't

[01:34:11] Andre: if I had to learn it from scratch, I just go to the Unreal Academy, which is like their learning website. they've got courses for migrating from unity, they've got courses on that. Lighting blueprints, you know, basic interactivity. I think there's like an AI one. If you're into magic leap, they've got a Magic Leap you know, getting started thing. Uh, there's a VR course that they have, like, it's all spelled out.

[01:34:31] When I started, I was tearing apart their demo projects and watching really shitty YouTube videos. Right. Like, that's how I learned the stuff. Uh, but right now though, you know, like some of my friends they hire and it's like a legit course. Like they write up what their subject matter is going to be. They get it vetted by Epic comes back to them. They write the script. It's like, you know, verified and it's a whole process and it's a year to put out a course. So they're really high quality. They're edited and they're great. And the whole website just got like a redesign a year ago or something. So it's great.

[01:35:02]Josh: Perfect. I've been going on that for the last couple months, doing some courses. I wasn't sure if there's any other courses out there. I don't think like something like this, you really need to go to school for any more.

[01:35:12] Andre: No. I mean, there, there are programs out there. So I'm on the advisory board for the VR AR program at Vancouver Film School. And so they have a unity course and they have an unreal course and they're totally bad-ass. And the students coming out of that are amazing, but you know, this is something that you can learn at home with a computer.

[01:35:29]and I think that's only going to get more approachable later on this year when they unlock the Fortnite modeling and you can kind of see how things their work. How, how do the materials work on a glowing object fortnight? Right. Um, how does the grass move right apart? Um, how does the interactivity work? Like how does shooting and zooming hand work? Right. So think, you know, we've got the learning materials, which is great.

[01:35:50] And then we've also got the modeling, which has always been a part of the culture of Epic. Like I remember back when I was in high school, there was a thing called the, make something unreal contest, which every year they'd put up like a million bucks for like unreal 2 mods. And so there's a game that came out of that called red orchestra, which became a thing. It was like a world war II shooter and they got their start getting a free license and a million bucks from Epic. and I remember when I was in university, I'd always meet up with a couple of my friends, uh, at young and Angleton.

[01:36:17] There's a Starbucks there. And every Friday when we'd have our coffees and meet up there, these two guys that came in and their modding unreal tournament. And that was like the first time I ever realized that, like, everyone can make a game. They just had the editor up on their computers. So my friends always thought I was like meeting up with them to hang out. But really I was looking over their shoulders because we always had our designated spots at the Starbucks and I'd always watched the guys morning.

[01:36:38] So, you know, Epic's culture has always been like, let's release the game. Here are the tools, you know, let's lead by example and they constantly do that. Like, you look at the actual example projects, so they make available. Anything you want to make is there, they have a top-down action RPG for mobile, right? They've got a shooter game example. They've got their cinematics, like the latest one that they just did. The Australia one. All the files are there. So you can tear apart, literally anything that they've ever made and released and just see how they do it.

[01:37:07] And you have access to all those assets. So you can bring them into your projects too.

[01:37:10]Josh: That's so cool, man. Not a lot of people are that open that just kind of gave everything away for free like that. It's it's really cool. It's

[01:37:16] Andre: will you take a look even at like infinity blade, which was their big mobile game for years. Right. And then I think it was like two years ago, they said, well, we're not doing another infinity blade. So here's all the assets and they're all mobile optimized. Like they took them from unreal three, brought them in to unreal for updated materials, updated, like all the models, animations, everything. And it's like, yeah, here's millions of dollars. How about it?

[01:37:37]Josh: That's cool. That's so awesome. So there you go. There's so many resources to get in. I'll, I'll link all these in this scripture, too, for anyone listening who wants to like figure this stuff out. I'll put those links in here so you can dig into unreal engine.

[01:37:49]Yeah man, so are there any other resources that you'd point people towards, where they're like any people that really inspired you, were there sort of things that keep you going, anything that you would give to aspiring VR devs who want to get into the space?

[01:38:01] Andre: Yeah, I think there's a lot of cool people that, you know, they should probably follow just to be inspired by or see what's possible. you know, one Twitter account is art by wrens. Uh, Renz is like the dopest lighting guy  he kind of led the way with a lot of the architectural visualization lighting examples, like way back when, um, and he just followed me on Twitter like a couple of weeks ago and I was like, Oh, I got, I met a super fan for years. Um, you know, so I'd say like, dudes like him, uh, if we're talking about VR interaction, uh, I'd say Eric Provinger . he's like kind of leading the way with hand interactions. Um, mostly Unity's unrelated to, he works at unity now. Uh, but stuff he's been doing with MRT K, which is like the Microsoft framework for hand tracking is fucking exceptional.

[01:38:42]one of my friends, uh, Blair Renaud anti-clerical on, on Twitter. He's like a VR artist through and through. He's working on his cyberpunk game right now. lo-fi. And that guy is absolutely mental and he's just a purist and the art that he creates and his worlds and the lighting is fucking incredible.

[01:39:02] Um, so I'd say those are probably like my favorite people to follow in the space. And then, you know, you've got your weird quirky, uh, people like Gmonk and Beeple and stuff like that better just like, yeah, there are mainstays and we need them in the mix.

[01:39:14] Josh: Yup. They're like the new age artists, man. They're like art purists, just doing art art for art's sake. I know G monk did some crazy shit with unreal too. So I need to check that out now. Maybe post those links in description. I remember it back in the day he

[01:39:29] Andre: he's on cool shit, everything. I think there's one, there's one project he did with unity, um, project, a stereo or a story up. He did it for Adobe labs in San Fran. It was like an AR piece that wrapped around the ribbon wall at the Adobe bill or the Adobe building. And then it was like an AR piece that coincided with that. And it was like gorgeous. So that's worth checking out as well. Cause like perfectly melded, like, the physical world would like this digital experience on your phone.

[01:39:54] Josh: Yeah, that's awesome, man. And with all this crazy stuff happening, so many projects you're working on, but what is something you're really, really excited about coming up in the near future?

[01:40:04] Andre: Uh, I got some, like, obviously I've got my Innocence in The Fire, which is like men on my passion project for years. So I'm excited to get that out to the world next year. Uh, I got some cool stuff for coming with some musicians and, you know, we there's a, there's a void to be filled with the wave being gone now from the VR space.

[01:40:21] So we're looking to do some, some stuff there. and you know, I've got, uh, some fun stuff coming with snap and, you know, it's just going to be, I think right now, like the last few years have kind of laid the foundation to be more, uh, more focused on experimenting and just banging out cool work. Uh, so I think you'll see a lot more of that this year.

[01:40:39] I'm getting away from like, The hush hush corporate projects and like everything now I'm working on it basically can share, which is a really great place to be in. Uh, so I'm looking forward to just kind of doing weird, quirky shit, pushing the limits of the tech and sharing it and seeing how people react to it.

[01:40:54] Josh: Oh, that's awesome. And I can't wait for you to start sharing this stuff in public. I mean, there's a huge movement on Twitter people building in public. So it'd be really cool for you to be able to, to start posting this and being able to see what you're doing. I'll share it all on Twitter, follow Andre on Twitter guys, I'll put his, um, his, uh, Twitter profile in the description so you can follow him directly.

[01:41:13] I have one last question though. Now that you're bringing up all this stuff, how do you juggle all these projects? What do you have? Like frameworks or like things in mind or do you just, how do you make it all work, man?

[01:41:22] Andre: I don't sleep much. I think, I think that's basically it, like when I, it's funny, because when I run into like a hardcore tech problem that I just can't get my way out of, um, typically when I go to sleep, it's like, I've been at my computer, so I'm basically go to my computer in my sleep and I work out all the issues, and then when I wake up, I do it for real. Um, so like most of the emails that I write, I either write in the shower or in my dreams. when I'm out of the shower or like I'm out of bed, I just write them. so that's kinda how I get more hours in the day. It's weird.

[01:41:54]Josh: You man. That's what you need, like a neuro link kind of thing. So you can just like, okay. And send, do you don't have to wait for the phone.

[01:42:00] Andre: can't wait for that thing. And when Gabe was talking about BCI last week, I was just like, Oh my God, I can't wait for this. I need this. Now it's coming.

[01:42:10] Josh: That's awesome. And hopefully, man, maybe I guess not this year, but next year an FITC will happen again. And we'll party it up, but hopefully, you know, before then we get some kind of vaccine or we meet up and

[01:42:22] Andre: sure

[01:42:22] Josh: from each other being in Toronto. So hopefully we can do that. I'm looking forward to that, looking forward to all these conferences and I'm super looking for of the stuff you're going to be putting out, man. Like, I'm going to hold you accountable now, putting that shit on Twitter. I want to see this.

[01:42:35] Andre: It's all good. That's like literally the goal is just to put out as much as I can. So. It's not fun doing this stuff in secret. Like, being forced to hint at things, or like being reminded of NDA, you can't say that you're affiliated with us or you can't say what you did. It's just like, fuck.

[01:42:51] Like it's no fun. So, you know, it's like, I'm at the point where it's just like, I want everyone to know what the hell I did. And like my rejected section on the website is a way to kind of skirt around that. Cause it's like, I pitched you. So, you know, it's not protected under NDA because I hadn't signed yet. it is like a little teaser of what I've been doing, but yeah, this year is all about sharing.

[01:43:10] Josh: I love that I'm gonna, I think I'm going to steal that and add a rejected section to my website because I have a, I think it should be a thing. You know how there's like this whole, I don't know if you've seen it, but there's this whole movement of people doing a now page, like slash now, instead of an about me, you just have a now page. It's like, here's what I'm working on right now. Just, this is me now. So now I think the rejected page, this needs to be something that everyone has, that who has has a personal website. I'm doing it 100%.

[01:43:39] Andre: Good. I'm glad I want it to be a thing. I don't know why everyone's so precious. It's like, you know, we all spent how much of our time is like pitching stuff versus doing it right. Like people should know what we're in the mix for what we're talking about. You know, the stuff that we're trying to make happen, because I think it's just as informative as the stuff that we get through the door. Right. And it's not like half those are up to us. It's like, You know, it's maybe not a fit for the company, the budget isn't there, or like you a variation on it. So just because it's not as not accepted wholesale doesn't mean that it doesn't contribute in some way to something else. So

[01:44:11] Josh: totally. And if it's a nicely designed pitch deck like yours, then it makes for a good portfolio piece

[01:44:17] Andre: always that pretty. And there was a very ugly Pitchdeck phase, which I will not share.

[01:44:23] Josh: Okay, well, I'll give you a little tip. I don't know if you've seen the tool, but They have incredible templates and it's like a sick pitch deck, a software tool. Um, I think Notion used down a few use notion, but notion used it to raise whatever a hundred million dollars. So it's a great, great tool. Way better than using fucking PowerPoint or whatever people use. Yeah, keynote. Google slides, NA Guys. I'm not sponsored. I don't get paid. I think it's just great.

[01:44:56] Awesome Andre,, so one last thing before we get going and where can people find you online? Where's where's the best way to reach you?

[01:45:01] Andre: Yeah. Uh,, Elijah. Uh, I love Twitter more than email. So getting my DMS, um, my websites, Andre, so I mean, those are the kind of two ways to tracking now and then my LinkedIn and all that stuff and emails all linked on the website.

[01:45:16] Josh: Right. But website Twitter, I think the best places. Yeah. Awesome. Okay, Andre, this is awesome, man. I'm really excited that we got to do this. This is such an awesome chat. I really appreciate you just shooting the shit with me here. This is amazing chat, man. Yeah. I know, and we'll do this in person soon.

[01:45:35] Andre: Once we're vaccinated.

[01:45:37] Josh: Yeah. Or we'll play it

[01:45:38] Andre: that.

[01:45:39] Josh: or we mask it up, but the whole chart it's just kind of, yeah. All right. Well, have a good night, everyone listening. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for being on Mind Meld man. This is great.

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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