An Interview with Mike Wozniewski from Hololabs

 

We want the online universe we are creating to become a resource for kids, parents and teachers interested in computational literacy – and we need support to make that happen. -Mike Wozniewski

Mike Wozniewski came from the world of academia, where he was studying virtual environments and game engines in Montreal. Yet, he gravitated toward artists and how they push the boundaries of technology and creativity. “The most satisfying work for me is building technology that helps artists create new art.”

Mike launched Hololabs in 2010, and then moved to Victoria with his wife and three kids. He set out to ensure that every project he worked on – from video games to virtual and augmented reality, to web portals – would help empower people to be more creative. When asked what Hololabs niche focus is, he was quick to respond: “We make wacky, experimental, weird things! Most importantly, we want to empower people to learn and be creative through technology.” Yet, there’s something even bigger motivating him these days. “Two of my kids are young girls, and as they started to engage with technology – mostly through the app store – I was frustrated with what was available to them. Everything was so gendered and stereotypical. And then I met Jordan.”

 

 

Jordan Stratford, who lives on Salt Spring Island, wrote The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, a book series featuring positive female role models in science, technology, engineering and math. Based on young Ava Lovelace, the first computer scientist, and young Mary Shelley, the first science fiction author, the series follows two young girls in the 1820s as they set out to solve mysteries often connected to other female trailblazers.

 

 

Mike is now turning that literary world into an online universe. “Our hope is to create a video game that can play across platforms, as well as a web portal that gives kids the opportunity to engage with the characters on an ongoing basis. They can learn how to become a better detective, they can read about female pioneers, and they can even interact with a mechanical computer. We want this website to become a resource for every school that is teaching computational literacy.”

With the support of Creative BC, Mike is building the online portal, yet he knows that’s only the beginning. Hololabs is self-funded, so they not only have to find development money, but they also need to figure out how to maintain everything once it launches. Mike believes that finding people who will champion his vision is key.

 

 

 

BLACKBIRD INTERACTIVE

Blackbird Interactive Inc. (BBI) is an independent game development studio dedicated to creating uncompromising, immersive games with a strong narrative and distinctive art style. They were founded in 2007 by a team of former employees from Relic Entertainment and Electronic Arts. In true start-up fashion the company started out in the garage (also known as Studio 0) of CEO Rob Cunningham. In 2010, after outgrowing the garage, BBI moved to its current location (Studio 1), a 9,000-square foot space at 577 Great Northern Way.

In 2016, they released their first game, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. The critical success of Deserts of Kharak springboarded BBI to a global stage landing several new projects with major publishers. These projects are still unannounced, but stay tuned as the team is extremely excited with the opportunities for growth that they will provide the studio. Additionally, Blackbird is working to develop their own internal projects with the goal of expanding their own IP and game development tools and technology.

Over the course of the last 16 months the studio has doubled in size and will reach over 100 employees by January 2018 which will bring them close to 150 employees by this time next year.

To accommodate this rapid growth they are expanding into a brand new 28,000 square foot space (Studio 3) at 565 Great Northern Way in Q4 of 2018.

While BBI is full of industry veterans with decades of experience it is also extremely important to them that they foster young talent within the creative and technical disciplines. To this end they remain actively involved with local universities, art schools and game design programs and remain on the lookout for exceptional artistic talent.

Visit Blackbird Interactive

 

 

 

 

Electronic Arts- Vancouver

Electronic Arts Vancouver (EA), is no stranger to the creative industry as they are the largest Video Game Developers in British Columbia. Electronic Arts purchased Distinctive Software, the original developers of both the NHL and FIFA video game franchises, in 1991. Twenty-six years later, Electronic Arts Vancouver is still a pioneer within the Sports Video Game sector.  The Vancouver campus handles all the lead development work for FIFA Online, currently the largest and most widely played sports video game in Asia.

Their campus, located in Burnaby, includes a full-size soccer field, arcade, on-site dry cleaner, guitar lessons and their own doggy daycare, these perks are one of the many ways EA is competing to attract the best talent to Vancouver. EA Vancouver employs approximately 1500 full-time positions, with an additional 500 part-time contractors on any given day. “We’re growing. We’ve probably added 100 to 150 [full-time] people per year,” says Jonathan Lutz, Vice President of Financial Planning & Strategy.

The Video Game Industry is extremely competitive and continues to grow at an exponential rate. This is why Jonathan Lutz is so passionate about career growth and training in the creative technology sector. “We need the best and brightest in the world on our teams in order to compete” urges Lutz. Play to Learn, a youth program developed in partnership with EverFi, is just one of the ways EA Vancouver is developing BC’s local talent. Students in Grade 8 through 12 can learn the basics of coding and are provided with the building blocks to pursue a career in the gaming industry. At the end of the course, students are given career recommendations based on their interests.

Harnessing the energy of BC’s youth and helping them develop their skills and talents to work in the creative technology industry is a major focus of EA Vancouver.  “We’re building the future pipeline of talent to come from BC as much as possible.”

Check out their internships and careers info.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ea/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/electronicartscanada/

Digi BC

The Interactive & Digital Media Industry Association of British Columbia, DigiBC, is a member-supported organization representing the creative technology sector. The Creative Technology sector includes video games and interactive, visual effects, animation, and digital creative and marketing industries. Lead by their Board of Directors, DigiBC ensures that Interactive and Digital Media continue to grow and thrive within the technology sector of our province. By exploring networking and sponsorship opportunities, public policies and promotion, the supported organizations continue to create new jobs, and develop new technologies.

According to their website, BC has over 600 digital media companies which employ over 16,000 people across the province. They regularly partner with various academic institutions that specialize in Interactive and Digital Media for new technologies, educational programs, research and development.

Make sure to visit DigiBC and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Congratulations to Finger Foods, Winner of the 2017 Exporter of the Year award!

The B.C. Export Awards are the province’s most-prestigious awards paying tribute to the success, economic impact and innovative approaches of B.C. export companies. They celebrate the valuable role that the export industry plays in the B.C. economy. Since their debut in 1982, the awards have recognized more than 300 B.C. companies.

The BC Export Awards annually seeks out BC’s Top Exporters and honours them for their excellence and achievements in 9 categories, including 8 directed at firms and 1 at individuals. The Awards are presented by, Business in Vancouver, the Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology and the BC Division of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters with support from annual sponsors.

Finger Foods Studios was selected as the 2017 Exporter of the Year.

In addition to the Exporter of the Year Award, Finger food also received an award under the category of Digital Media and Entertainment.

 FINGER FOOD STUDIOS

Finger Food is an award-winning technology company creating advanced user experiences across multiple platforms. The company works with global businesses to drive innovation and growth with solutions that utilize holographic computing, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Finger Food delivered the world’s first production holographic application, created the world’s largest coding education platform with Sphero and brought the future of retail to the world with virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. From its local community to global corporations, Finger Food is actively changing the way people interact with and use technology for the better.

To learn more about the B.C. Export Awards, visit: http://www.bcexportawards.com/
C
ongratulations to all of the other 2017 winners: http://bit.ly/2i4mVJS 

To learn more about the partners and sponsors of the B.C. Export Awards, visit: http://www.bcexportawards.com/2016-sponsors/

Kickstart Entertainment

Los Angeles based company Kickstart Entertainment is a film and entertainment studio focusing on development, live action production, animation, visual effects and literary publishing. Founded in 1999 by Jason Netter, Kickstart’s vision was simple: create a company that balances both creativity and flexibility as its pillars. Since then, Kickstart Entertainment has grown to over 100 employees with offices in China, Hong Kong, India, London and Vancouver.

Heather Puttock, President and Founder of Kickstart’s Vancouver location, started working with the studio in 2005. Realizing the potential for an office in Vancouver, she moved in 2007 to be closer to “Hollywood North”.  Kickstart Entertainment prides itself on doing a bit of everything and aims to continue to grow organically with maximum flexibility. Recently they’ve invested in a digital studio based out of Toronto, Relish Interactive.

Kickstart commits to approximately 50% work for hire for companies like Mattel, Spinmaster, and PBS. When they are not working on other people’s projects they find time to work on their own, collaborating with local companies.

Recent work includes: Ready Jet Go! (PBS/Wind Dancer Films), Preacher (AMC), Greenlit, Back to Brooklyn and many more.

Be sure to keep up to date on Kickstart Entertainment’s many projects and collaborations by following them on Twitter and Instagram.

Casting Workbook

BC continues to lead the way in innovation and entrepreneurship, the newest example of the provinces creative endeavors is Voice by Casting Workbook. The head office is located in the heart of Vancouver and the newly developed software is proudly British Columbian.

With so many changes in the voice-over industry, Casting Workbook, recognized that a new solution was needed. At the ready and with a solution, Casting Workbook is excited to announce the launch of Voice. By consulting with industry leaders, Casting Workbook has now created a publicly searchable voice database to provide immediate relief to production companies, creatives, ad agencies, voice agents and casting personnel.

Locally built software with a global reach.

Casting Workbook, is the second largest film, tv, and commercial breakdown service in North America. With over 19 million agent submissions they work mainly in the film and on-camera world, and with over 20 years of experience in casting submission software, with the launch of Voice, they continue to provide powerful solutions for the creative industries throughout the world.

Canadian Media Producers Association – BC Producers Branch

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) is Canada’s leading trade association for independent producers, representing more than 350 companies engaged in the development, production and distribution of English-language television programs, feature films and digital media.

With an underlying goal of contributing to the continued success of Canada’s independent production sector, the CMPA established the BC Producers Branch to support the province’s local and regional issues, and to provide a means for dealing with national issues in BC.

The BC Producers Branch is a non-profit trade organization that works on behalf of over 90 British Columbia companies engaged in the production and distribution of television, feature film, and digital media content. As an integral part of the film and television industry, the BC Producers Branch promotes the general interests of its members municipally, provincially, federally, and internationally, negotiates and manages labour agreements with guilds and unions, and undertakes a variety of industry development initiatives to build the capacity of BC based companies.

Image Engine – World Class Visual Effects & Animation

Based in Vancouver, Image Engine is a world-class visual effects studio with a portfolio that reflects involvement from the very first stages of production including concept design, pre-visualization, and supervision, all the way to post-production with services that range from computer-generated animation and compositing, to explosive volumetric digital effects.

Getting its start in the industry as the offspring of the early digital video post-production environment of the mid-1990’s, Image Engine has established itself as a leader in creature design and animation. Best known for its Academy Award Nominated work on Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, Image Engine has managed the entire visual effects services of numerous notable films, including Straight Outta ComptonZero Dark Thirty and Elysium.

As Vancouver’s longest standing independent visual effects company, Image Engine continues to be a driving force in the local visual effects community while growing its capacity for other creative output such as complex digital environment work.

The Young Actors Project – Inspiring People Through Stories

Prior to founding The Young Actors Project, Robert Randall worked in the film and television industry for 15 years, primarily in the role of First Assistant Director. Robert’s unwavering passion for screenwriting and filmmaking lead him to establish The Young Actors Project, which initially started by providing acting workshops for young artists. These workshops were used to produce short movies featuring student actors, which eventually over the years, gained recognition from fans around the world.

With time, The Young Actors Project propelled beyond just an acting school and

has achieved enormous success on YouTube as a platform to share independent ultra-low budget film projects. With a mission to hit 1 million YouTube subscribers by the summer of 2018, The Young Actors Project shares stories that have touched the lives of young people and inspired them to show courage.

The Young Actors Project also provides drama workshops to B.C. students in elementary and middle schools, exposing the art of acting to approximately 30,000 kids each year.

Check out two of The Young Actors Project’s most recent films that are part of a series based on fairy tales and set in a contemporary high school.

The Girl Without a Phone – A Cinderella Story

The Girl Without a Phone 2 – A Frog Princess Story