Welcome Sarah, our new VR Resident

Last week we welcomed Sarah Jackson to the Advance Party team. Like our last resident Wayne, she is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Virtual and Augmented Reality at Deakin University. However, unlike Wayne whose work was focused on augmented reality, Sarah instead will be working on an awesome virtual reality experience.

During her 12-weeks with us Sarah will be developing a super fun and immersive Virtual Reality Induction Experience for The Royals. When a new Royal joins the team, we want them to feel welcome and to get a deeper understanding of what life with us is like here. We think VR will help with this and we’re excited to see how it can bring to life to a seemingly dull induction experience.

In getting to know Sarah, I asked her some questions about herself and her interest in VR. By the sounds of it, she’ll fit in just fine!

Welcome Sarah, we’re looking forward to our next 12-weeks with you.

1. Tell us a bit about your background.

I’m secretly from Perth, and moved over to Melbourne when I was 18 to study a Bachelor of Communication (Media) at RMIT. In the couple years that followed I wound up working in the travel industry, and living in and exploring new cities.

Eventually the draw of Melbourne was once again too hard to resist, and I came back over at the start of this year to take on a new challenge as a Virtual Reality student at Deakin.

2. Tell us about the project you’ll be working on at The Royals.

I’ve been given the exciting task of creating a Virtual Reality Induction experience for the The Royals. It’s a concept designed to go beyond the typical induction booklet that new employees would traditionally receive when starting at The Royals – instead we’re going to throw them into a room, put a headset on them and give them a fully immersive induction experience. It’ll have a mix of interactive 3D elements and 360 video narrative to keep things interesting.

3. You’re a student of Deakin’s Virtual and Augmented Reality course, what prompted you to study in this area? What’s it been like to study?

I only really encountered Virtual Reality for the first time about a year ago. I was a Travel Consultant at the time and a sales executive for one of the travel companies had come by the office to present a product update. He’d brought along the company’s latest sales investment: 360 videos of some of their destinations on a Samsung Gear VR. I put on the headset and was immediately blown away – I had just gone from being in the office to standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, interacting with a tour guide.

I think some kind of career change had been coming for a while, but that was the moment I had really thought, “I want to be a part of this.”

Studying Virtual and Augmented Reality at Deakin has been an enjoyable and exciting challenge. I am one of a few people in the course that hasn’t come from an IT or Engineering background, so had a lot of catching up to do on the development side of things. But it’s been great learning about and experiencing such an exciting new medium.

4. What excites you most about Virtual Reality?

I love how creative you can get with Virtual Reality experiences, and the impact you can have if you achieve a truly realistic level of immersion. I get really excited when I hear about people experimenting with this kind of thing – using scents to add another level to a 3D virtual environment, or making use of spatial audio to create a focus point etc. Essentially the kind of immersion techniques you can only do with Virtual Reality.

I love seeing people experience Virtual Reality, especially if it’s their first time. You never really know how they’re going to react, and I find that really exciting. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 take to it with ease, and adults approach it with more hesitation because it’s such a new experience. One thing seems to always remain the same with first timers though – the true Virtual Reality experiences are frequently described in the first person; “I was fighting off a bunch of robots… I was in the middle of New York City… I was a chef making a sandwich”. I believe this is one of the things that makes Virtual Reality so powerful.

I’m really excited about the endless potential Virtual Reality has as well – we’ve already seen it benefit so many different fields, and I think it’s only really just getting started.

5. What are your goals and ambitions for your career?

At this stage I’m still finding my feet in the Virtual Reality world, and tinkering and exploring within it to try as many different things as possible. But I think I’d be happy in a role that blends the technical and the creative; I love working with people in creative environments, and using technology to produce creative things.

6. What would you most like to get out of this project?

I want to produce a really fun, engaging and creative Virtual Reality work, and develop my creative and technical skills in the process. It’s also a great opportunity to be guided by such cool and knowledgable creatives at The Royals and the Y2 Lab, so I’ll also be looking to learn more about agency work and their creative process.

So if you want to check out Sarah’s VR induction experience, you’re going to need to become a Royal!

Louise Richards
Program Manager, Y2