KELLI FITZPATRICK, COMMUNICATIONS
Tech Days 2016, hosted by Disney Consumer Products & Interactive Media, kicked off on Tuesday, April 12, at the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) in Glendale, Calif. Nearly 350 employees gathered at the historic site, and more than 220 tuned in via live stream, to listen to tech industry leaders at Disney and some of the top tech companies share the latest insight into up-and-coming products and technologies.
Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, DCPI, and Mike White, SVP & CTO, DCPI, opened the day of speakers. Leaders from within DCPI shared updates on products, tips on best practices, and sneak peeks into the future of technology in consumer products and interactive experiences. Speakers from Google and IBM Watson also joined to give enticing glimpses at their companies’ innovations in machine learning.
“Just about half of you in this room today come from non-tech roles,” Pitaro said in his opening remarks. “To me, that shows that as a business, we all truly understand how critical innovation is in terms of developing our stories on new, advanced platforms. At DCPI, our focus is really on one critical thing – and that’s extending the stories generated by all our fantastic partners and colleagues across the Company.”
Tech Days 2016 presenters offered a variety of insight, but they all shared a theme of leveraging technology in storytelling. A fascinating presentation from Walt Disney Animation Studios opened audience members’ eyes to the technology of movie magic, when Zootopia engineers discussed the science – and art – of rendering lifelike fur in a range of textures, colors and species.
Rob Bredow, CTO of Lucasfilm, took the audience behind the scenes of virtual reality projects at ILMxLAB. He gave attendees an in-depth look at immersive cinema, including stunning prototype visuals from a familiar galaxy far, far away.
A robust update from DCPI Games discussed the craft of creating immersive storytelling in mobile gaming.
“What we’re seeing in gaming is a phenomenon that’s unlike any other medium, which is that you don’t just consume it, but you participate in it,” Chris Heatherly, SVP Disney Games, said. “There’s a back and forth in the audience that’s incredibly powerful. [In games,] we’re about storytelling, we’re about immersion, and we’re about creating magical experiences between people. There’s no better place to do that digitally than in gaming.”
During her presentation about flexible commerce, Nikki Katz, VP, Mobile Network & Product Management, said, “it brings to the forefront of what we can do when you bring together DCP and DI into one union … [We] get new experiences out to market really quickly, really efficiently, in a way that’s brand authentic and brand appropriate, and puts the guest first.”
Following the speakers’ lineup, attendees gathered outside the GCAT to enjoy refreshments, network among teams and discuss what they learned that day. People from across the company were able to connect through conversations of technology and innovation while enjoying the late-afternoon sun.
The next day was Demo Day, an open house of more than 20 hands-on product demos. Nearly 600 employees made their way to the GCAT once again to check out multiple Virtual Reality experiences and the newest games, products and prototypes from DCPI. Hack Days teams were also on-site to share their projects, including Amazon Echo’s Star Wars Trivia.
Check out the event photo gallery here and watch the video recap below: