SVCC 2017: Your Guide To All The Guests, Panels, And VR At The Show

by Joe Durbin • April 20th, 2017

It’s been a busy first half of 2017 thus far. F8 just wrapped up earlier this week and now the Silicon Valley Comic-Con (SVCC) is kicking off tomorrow in San Jose, California. It’s going to be three days of pure, nerd paradise. We’ve collaborated with the show to bring you this roundup of all the most important VR/AR things you’ll be able to see at SVCC. Check it out:


SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 18: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak addresses the attendees at the Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016 at San Jose Convention Center on March 18, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by John Medina/WireImage)

With Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak at the helm, Silicon Valley Comic Con celebrates America’s two greatest superheroes: pop culture and technology. Founded on the premise that people are just as passionate about science and technology as they are about movies, TV and comics, the inaugural SVCC was a massive success.

Until SVCC, there was no place where people passionate about technology and pop culture could come meet their icons, check out the latest innovations, and hear about new advances across a myriad of industries. SVCC features top Hollywood celebrities, tech innovators, top game developers, comics, scientists, independent artists, cosplay, gadgets, apps, music and more.

DATE: Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23, 2017

LOCATION: San Jose Convention Center, 150 W San Carlos St. San Jose, CA 95113

AUDIENCE: SVCC 2016 drew more than 60,000 attendees, 750 press outlets and 350+ exhibitors, resulting in a larger economic impact on San Jose than the 2016 Super Bowl weekend. 75,000 – 100,000 people are expected to attend SVCC 2017.

PROGRAMMING THEME:The Future of Humanity: Where Will We Be in 2075?”

Will we be living on Mars? Will virtual reality be our reality? Commuting in flying cars and living in automated houses? Implanting computers in our brains? Engineering our DNA? In contact with aliens? Serving machine overlords? The brightest, most creative minds in science, tech & entertainment will share their ideas.


Highlights include the 30th anniversary cast reunion of Star Trek: The Next Generation, William Shatner, Buzz Aldrin, John Cusack, Steven Yeun, Pam Grier, Tom Felton, and many more to be announced.


Show Floor:

Acura ‘Mood Roads’ & NSX Supercar display

The NSX will be on display in Booth 624. Acura’s booth will also include ACURA MOOD ROADS:

Acura Mood Roads, a new, first-of-its-kind immersive virtual journey inspired by the brand’s signature performance technologies that define the exclusive Acura driving experience. Mood Roads offers attendees a full-sensory virtual driving experience, using brainwave technology to tap into 30 of the driver’s emotional, cognitive and physical inputs to create a unique environment with landscape, color and music changing in real time to reflect the driver’s moods.

8i Reality


8i will screen “Buzz Aldrin: Cycling Pathways to Mars,” for SVCC attendees throughout the weekend. Cycling Pathways is the first legacy VR project featuring the celebrated astronaut’s hologram as he takes viewers on a journey through space and reveals his plan to send humans to Mars. It’s a groundbreaking educational room-scale VR experience with stunning visual effects and the first room-scale VR experience featuring a real human!

SVCC attendees can also “meet” a photorealistic 3D hologram of Buzz Aldrin a.k.a. #HoloBuzz and take a photo or video with the celebrated astronaut. The #HoloBuzz showcase follows 8i’s recent announcement that Holo, a consumer mobile app that gives people an easy way to create mixed reality content with holograms, will be launching later this year. Holo lets users add holograms to their real-world environments and take videos and photos they can share with friends across their social channels and messaging apps.


Lifeliqe Microsoft HoloLens Pilot_Renton Prep1 (1)

Lifeliqe is a visual learning tool with interactive 3D on multiple platforms proven to increase student learning and engagement. Lifeliqe has over 1,000 interactive 3D models and augmented reality. Lifeliqe’s available on standard devices such as iPads, tablets, and laptops. Lifeliqe has a mobile version of its platform that includes three, year-long science courses with over 300 lesson plans. It’s the first digital science curricula aligned to NGSS and Common Core, and correlated to the three best-selling science textbooks in America. Lifeliqe just successfully completed the first education pilot in the world with Microsoft HoloLens, which is a mixed reality platform. Lifeliqe also has its 1,000+ learning experiences in virtual reality available on the HTC Vive who selected Lifeliqe to be their strategic partner in education. We are the most downloaded education app in the world on HTC Vive.

Examples from Lifeliqe’s library of 1,000+ learning experiences in its mobile app and virtual reality include: students can fly in outer space along the International Space Station, into a plant cell or swim inside a shark as they study its anatomy.

Mars Odyssey VR from Steel Wool Studios

Mars Odyssey is a single player VR experience. Land on the red planet. Walk the surface of Mars in your living room and interact with full-scale, realistic NASA Landers and Rovers. Learn about the Red Planet, its history, and its geography in this interactive experience.

Rogue Reality

SV Comic Con Virtual reality experience you have been waiting for! Rogue is kicking off the Silicon Valley Comic Con early where you can experience the HTC VIVE Room Scale or Oculus/Game GR with you and your friends in our immersive playing environment built at the Westin “St Claire” Hotel that is walking distance from the San Jose Convention Center or other Nearby hotels like the Hyatt or Fairmount! Come experience the multiplayer competition with prizes awarded for participation like a Steam Controller , or a Steam Link or a PlayStation Link!

Outdoor Festival/Street Activations tied to VR:

Facebook – Oculus Rift

Sony – PSVR



7:00PM – 8:00PM

Room 212ABCD (cap: 330)

Syfy and Digital Domain Present VR-Powered Immersive Second-Screen Experiences

Virtual reality experiences have become synonymous with film and TV show premieres; these immersive second-screen experiences have the power to extend the reach of film and TV and change the way audiences view entertainment.

Digital Domain and Syfy will discuss their background in creating immersive VR experiences for Syfy’s hit series, Incorporated and The Expanse, outlining the key factors in creating innovative second-screen mobile experiences and how to overcome development obstacles.

Original immersive content is growing and impacting mainstream media, with virtual reality extending the reach of film and television. Digital Domain’s vast experience in Hollywood, VR and 360° video production can shed light on how viewers consume entertainment, and how VR transforms content into more engaging experiences. Syfy can also speak to the importance of connecting audiences with their brands, and utilizing the new medium to create a successful immersive experience.

Moderated by: Dean Takahashi

Rich Flier

Managing Director of Business Development, Digital Domain

Rich Flier was appointed Managing Director, Business Development for Digital Domain Holdings Limited (DDHL) in July 2015. A twenty year veteran of video game marketing and development, Flier held the role of VP of Interactive Entertainment at 3D video imaging company 3DV Systems. That company was later sold to Microsoft in 2009 and its technology became part of the foundation of Microsoft Kinect. In 2011 Rich joined Digital Domain as an Executive Producer. He was instrumental in building the division’s client base and expertise in the creative development and production of video game content for brands such as Activision, Electronic Arts, 2K Games, Microsoft and many other top publishers, developers and ad agencies.

In 2012 he was elevated to Vice President and in 2013 to President, Advertising and Games. Previously Rich was a Marketing Director at DreamWorks Interactive and co-founded Creative Domain’s Interactive Entertainment Division (now Trailer Park), where he worked with leading companies as well as overseeing creative brand campaigns for top titles. Prior to Creative Domain Rich spent several years at DDB Worldwide as an account director for the agency’s Griffin Bacal and Tribal DDB divisions. He began his career with legendary game developer, Looking Glass Technologies.

Matt Romano

Senior Director of Emerging Platforms for Syfy & USA Network

Matt Romano is the Senior Director of Emerging Platforms for Syfy & USA Network. In his role, Romano is responsible for overseeing the ideation and implementation of innovative content experiences across new digital platforms.

Since joining Syfy in 2006, Romano has lead such innovations as the network’s integration partnership with Philips Hue, which allowed viewers to sync Syfy programming with their home lighting. Romano has also managed Syfy’s expansion into virtual reality. He has been heavily involved in the network’s development of various VR and 360 video experiences for hit series such as “The Expanse” and “The Magicians.”

Romano recently added USA Network to his purview and now works closely with both brands to push the limits of innovative and immersive content experiences.

Romano studied broadcasting and mass communications at SUNY Oswego in upstate New York. He is based in New York City.


1:00PM – 2:00PM

Room 230ABC (cap: 830)

Architects of Storytelling through VR and AR

Is virtual reality on the edge of becoming a whole new entertainment medium? Will augmented reality change our expectations of how stories are told? Hear storytellers and developers from across film, television, games and comics discuss how they adapt their experiences working on popular film and game franchises to creating new kinds of stories and worlds for VR and AR.

Moderated by: Joe Durbin, Writer, UploadVR

Tracy Hickman

Director of Story, The VOID

Tracy Hickman is a 14-time New York Times best-selling author best known for his ‘Dragonlance’ series which has sold over 22 million copies. His works are international bestsellers that have been translated into 15 languages around the globe. He has been the guest of honor at conventions from Lucca, Italy to Brisbane, Australia and Singapore. He is currently the Director of Story Design for THE VOID, a company that inspires the exploration of fully immersive virtual worlds with combination of a physical set, real-time interactive effects, and virtual reality. At THE VOID, Hickman is conceiving and writing the narrative designs for the company’s ground-breaking fully immersive virtual destinations that engage the senses, bringing consumers closer to stories, characters and places than ever before.

Hickman has been nominated for a Grammy Award, has had screenplays optioned, and is an occasional lyricist as a hobby. He was also Lead Story Designer for ‘Shroud of the Avatar’ – Portalarium’s massively multiplayer online game (MMO), and has co-authored books for that game with Richard Garriott. He is the screenwriter, designer and editor of the first science-fiction movie actually made in space.

Jenna Seiden

Head of Content Acquisition and Partnerships, Viveport, HTC Vive

Jenna has spent her career in both creative and business positions in the entertainment and technology sectors. As Head of Content Acquisition and Partnerships for Viveport, HTC VIVE’s app store for virtual reality, she is responsible for building the global content strategy and portfolio for Viveport’s home, mobile, enterprise and arcade platforms. She formerly was the VP of Distribution at Maker Studios, Head of Entertainment Partnerships for Microsoft Studios and an agent in the video games division at CAA. She is a graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the University of Pennsylvania.

Josh Qualtieri

Co-founder of Steel Wool Studios

Joshua Qualtieri is a co-founder of Steel Wool Studios. Steel Wool Studios is a VR development studio led by film industry veterans eager to explore this new medium. Over the past year, Steel Wool Studios has released an eclectic selection of VR experiences including turn-based strategy title, Quar: Battle for Gate 18 to an award-winning physics puzzler, Bounce. Prior to co-founding Steel Wool Studios, Qualtieri spent more than 15 years at Pixar Animation Studios as Technical Director and an artist working on such films as The Good Dinosaur, Brave, Ratatouille, Wall-E, among others. For more than 20 years, Qualtieri has run a popular tabletop gaming company, Zombiesmith. His cat’s names are: Wash, River, Simon and Jessie.

John Moon

Director Relations Lead, Silicon Valley Lab Honda Motor Co.

John Moon is developer relations lead for Honda Developer Studio at Honda Silicon Valley Lab. At Honda Developer Studio, he explores the integration of Honda vehicles and products with apps and services from startups to established partners. He recently collaborated with DreamWorks Animations to create the Dream Drive platform. Dream Drive allows developers to create new in-vehicle entertainment experiences. For 2017 CES, Honda and DreamWorks developed an exclusive VR experience, which allowed passengers to interact with points of interest in a virtual drive, play a Troll’s movie mini game and even sing along with some of the Troll’s characters.

Before joining Honda, John worked in a variety of industries including mobile software development with HTC, near field communications (NFC) chip manufacturing with Kovio, video game middleware with Scaleform, interactive advertising with kissd and credit card security with 5PEG SECURITY. His leadership guided these companies to deliver on the full potential of their technology projects.

Brooks Brown

Global Director of Virtual Reality for Starbreeze Studios

Brooks Brown is the Global Director of Virtual Reality for Starbreeze Studios leading the charge for content and strategy.

Starbreeze is an independent creator publisher and distributor of high quality entertainment products, and the innovator behind the StarVR HMD.

Prior to Starbreeze, Brooks was the VP of Digital Franchise Development at Lightstorm, James Cameron´s production company best known for producing Titanic and Avatar. He spent many years leading creative and user experiences for Lucasfilm, including the award-winning Lego StarWars web-based MMO, which won a Webby for the best online game.

He recently passed 700 hours in Rust, and has a DOTA2 MMR of 3300.


4:00PM – 5:00PM

Room 230ABC (cap: 830)

Creators of the Universe

What is it that feeds the fandom for beloved films, games, comic book worlds, TV series and other forms of entertainment? The narrative? The depiction of the world? Complex characters? What are the secrets for developing a deep, immersive universe that make a long-lasting franchise? What helps these creations become cult classics? We’ll hear from creatives across film, television, gaming and comics discussing world-building and the future of franchise development across the spectrum of entertainment.

Moderated by: John Davison, Editor-in-Chief, Glixel/Rolling Stone

Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott de Cayeux is a founding father of the videogame industry and the commercial spaceflight industry, a flown astronaut, and an accomplished explorer.
He has been inducted into the computer gaming hall of fame and has received the industry lifetime achievement award. He is credited with creating the now ubiquitous term “avatar” for one’s virtual self and the category of massively multiplayer games (MMORPGs). He authored the acclaimed Ultima Series and has built 3 leading gaming companies: Origin Systems (sold to Electronic Arts), Destination Games (sold to NCsoft) and Portalarium where he is building Shroud of the Avatar, the successor to his previous works. As a principal shaper of the commercial spaceflight industry, he cofounded Space Adventures, the only company to arrange space flights for private citizens and is the sixth private astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station. The son of a NASA astronaut, he became the first second-generation astronaut and has been a key leader in civilian and commercial space as an investor and Board member of institutions such as the XPrize Foundation, Space Adventures, and Planetary Resources. Richard is an avid explorer, having traveled around the globe from the jungles of the Amazon to the South Pole, the deep seas of the Titanic and hydrothermal vents to orbiting the earth aboard the International Space Station. His nonprofit and philanthropic works include serving on the boards of The Explorers Club and The Challenger Center for Science Education. Richard’s new book, “Explore/Create,” chronicles his life from the early days of video gaming, through his spaceflight and to the present day and will be available on bookshelves January 2017.

Andy Weir

Andy Weir is a novelist and software engineer known internationally for his debut novel “The Martian,” which was later adapted into a film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott in 2015. Weir was born and raised in California, the only child of an accelerator physicist father and an electrical-engineer mother who divorced when he was eight. Weir grew up reading classic science fiction. At the age of 15, he began working as a computer programmer for Sandia National Laboratories. He studied computer science at UC San Diego, although he did not graduate. He worked as a programmer for several software companies, including AOL, Palm, MobileIron and Blizzard, where he worked on “Warcraft 2.”

Gary Whitta

GARY WHITTA is an award-winning screenwriter and author, best known as the co-writer of ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. He also wrote the post-apocalyptic thriller THE BOOK OF ELI starring Denzel Washington, co-wrote the Will Smith sci-fi adventure AFTER EARTH, and served as writer and story consultant on Telltale Games’ adaptation of THE WALKING DEAD, for which he was the co-recipient of a BAFTA award for Best Story. In addition to co-writing ROGUE ONE, Gary has written multiple episodes of Disney XD’s animated series STAR WARS REBELS. Most recently he wrote the feature film adaptation of the Eisner award-winning comic-book series MOUSE GUARD for 20th Century Fox. His first novel, ABOMINATION, was published last year to critical acclaim. Born and raised in London, England, Gary lives with his wife and daughter in San Francisco.

Mac Walters

Creative Director, EA BioWare’s Mass Effect

Few people know Mass Effect better than creative director Mac Walters. He spent 10 years working on the franchise, leading the writing team for the second and third installment, as well as writing several comics in the setting. Walters returned to the series as the creative director for Mass Effect: Andromeda, helping shape the universe and lead the development team in this latest adventure.

Jessica Brillhart

Principal Filmmaker of VR at Google

JESSICA BRILLHART is an American filmmaker and tech influencer whose longtime interest has been exploring the intersection of media and technology.

In 2009, she joined Google’s Creative Lab where she spearheaded numerous award winning shorts and documentaries before joining the company’s VR team in 2015. Today she is widely known for her pioneering efforts in virtual reality theory and for her growing body of live-action VR work at Google.

Brillhart was the first person to field test the 16-camera Google Jump rig that was the prototype for the GoPro Odyssey. Since directing, WORLD TOUR – the first VR film made with the Jump ecosystem – she has continued traveling the world, filming and experimenting, all in an effort to better understand and help inform others about this emergent medium.

Will you be attending SVCC? Let us know in the comments below and let’s get together and geek out! Be sure to keep it locked on UploadVR for all the breaking news from the show floor. Excelsior!

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