Our Co-founder and CEO, James Hakesley spent a week at SXSW 2022 in Austin, Texas as part of the Department for International Trade trade mission as part of a cohort of next-generation creative industry businesses and agencies. After touching down in the US, DIT hosted networking, roundtable discussions on topics such as AR/VR and content, speaker sessions and IP advice at the Cedar Street Courtyard which each evening transformed into the British Music Embassy hosting the hottest new bands from the UK.
For a business like CUBE who work across video, animation, 3D, immersive content and virtual productions - it meant that all the different events throughout the week were of interest to us, which was great.
There were new films, episodics, features and animations premiering throughout the week such as:
The Lost City featuring Sandra Bullock, Daniel Radcliffe, Channing Tatum and Brad Pitt
The new episodic adaption of Halo
I particularly enjoyed Reggie Yates’ Pirates which is set in London in 1999 and portrays the story of 3 friends on a mission to go out for New Year's Eve. The film has 3 main characters played by actors with such a chemistry that you’d think they’ve known each other all their lives. Their amazing performances matched with great cinematography from Rachel Clark and the throwback 90s music makes it a must watch, and it’s currently streaming on Netflix.
There was a depth of AR, VR and MR on display at the Fairmont hotel with lots of educational and entertainment displays. I particularly enjoyed the Green Planet experience by Factory 42 where in front of your eyes David Attenborough shows you around and you learn about aspects of the forest. A seamless experience and one that I enjoyed. It was also unique to be in a room with tonnes of people with headsets on, maybe a glimpse of the future?
There was a lot of talk around the metaverse, what it is now and what it could be in the future. It’s certainly early days to see how that will develop, but there was a consensus on what it could be but the current examples are not what you’d expect! However, some thought leaders such as the CTO of Dell and Mark Zuckerberg helped paint a picture of what it could be, it’ll be an interconnected world that co-exists with the real one that has both a serious side for business and a fun one for social. It can certainly serve as a good product for business meetings, fitness and experiencing out of this world environments. It will be interesting to see when businesses adopt this as it will be hyper-realistic, but what if someone comes to the meeting as a dragon?
Certainly, for brands it should be on their radar, as soon there will be a whole new consumer market and revenue stream in the virtual world. A common concern throughout was who is setting the rules and code of conduct, as this will be key to its success.
I official exist in the metaverse as a Meta Avatar…
The creative industries expo has businesses from across the world showcasing their latest innovations and products. There was lots of VR, smart technologies and countries showcasing what's new. The Einride electric, self-driving transporter drew quite a lot of attention and you could even drive one remotely in another country from a control station.
With a stellar lineup of speakers, it’s also a great place to hear from some of the wise minds in tech, media, streaming, music, travel and film. Mark Zuckerberg was a great speaker.
The future of content discussion highlighted the growth of streaming platforms and the huge budgets behind them. With brands such as Disney+ only launching 2 years ago and becoming an instant big player with 10 million sign-ups on its first day. It seems that cable has been a big loser due to this seeing over 8 million subscribers not renewing each year with its future existence looking like it will only service sport. The creator economy is perhaps one of the biggest winners with a rise in viewing on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. With an already powerful footing in Asia social commerce is also tipped to become a big thing in the states and Europe.
On display was one of the largest collections of Banksy artwork which drew large crowds each day and the well-curated collection showcased some of his best worth and the depth of his critiques, humour and skill.
Austin is also tastefully decorated in street art and murals and when crossing the Congress Bridge into the city you are welcomed by a striking piece.
NFTs and blockchain were a hot topic with SXSW themselves doing a release, Dolly Parton and many of the brands at the show. For just attending some spaces and events you were rewarded with a free NFT to say you were there stamped in the blockchain, on top of this were purchasable NFTs with limited releases.
Mark Zuckerberg also announced that Instagram will soon release an NFT feature that can mint.
Each night saw the town turn into one big music festival with the hottest up-and-coming bands playing on stage. The British Music Embassy soon became a firm favourite with SXSW attendees with great performances from Gallus, buzzard buzzard buzzard, Wet Lips, Moonchild Sanelly and Walt Disco. There was also a special performance from Dolly Parton and a DJ set from Paris Hilton.
Overall SXSW attendees leave the festival leaving inspired, more connected, aware of what’s to come and in need of more sleep.