May 2, 2023 XR Creators
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Please give us an overview of your background, what inspired you to get into immersive tech, and your journey into the VR industry.

Born and raised in Colombia, my fascination with movies and film began at a young age, as they felt like the closest thing to magic. Alongside this passion, I developed an artistic inclination for drawing. Recognizing my talent, my mother enrolled me in drawing classes, marking the beginning of my lifelong devotion to the arts. Throughout junior high and high school, I continued to pursue artistic interests by drawing and attending art classes while also exploring other creative outlets such as music, breakdancing, and hip-hop, constantly seeking new ways to express my talents.

In college, I enrolled in a general studies program that allowed me to explore my talents further. I honed my drawing skills and focused on form and shadows. My aptitude for art led to my creation of an Advanced Portfolio Preparation program specifically designed for me. I discovered my preference for black-and-white drawings over color.

I had an epiphany while watching MTV’s Liquid Television program in my twenties. A 3D character interacting with a 2D surface caught my attention and reignited my passion for movies. Furthermore, it sparked a desire within me to pursue 3D animation. Bob Sabiston and his company, Flat Black Films, played a significant role in my decision to pursue this field. His early student films, such as “Grinning Evil Death” and “God’s Little Monkey,” were groundbreaking in combining 2D and 3D computer animation. I highly recommend watching Bob Sabiston’s “Steve Jobs’ Jobs” video to understand his innovative work better.

Following my college education, I worked for a company based in Orlando, Florida, that focused on producing demonstrative evidence for court trials. My responsibilities included creating 3D animations based on the evidence provided. This experience taught me the value of working creatively within structured guidelines.

I relocated to San Francisco in 1999 and worked in the field of Web 2.0 during the peak of the dot-com boom. Later, I joined Exponent, a company that specializes in Failure Analysis, where I focused on 3D animation. My role was to develop 3D animations that aided in investigating infrastructure failures and counterfeit goods.

During the mid-2000s, I established Keyframe Entertainment, where I acted as an executive producer for a compilation of electronic music and represented a variety of artists. Additionally, I served as the San Francisco representative for Ultra Music Festival. Although I succeeded, I still felt unfulfilled and decided to dedicate myself entirely to Keyframe Entertainment. I broadened my horizons by representing additional artists and launching a music label.

Recently, I redirected my attention from 3D animation to taking on the role of executive producer for a book called “Reinhabiting the Village.” The book outlines a plan for a brighter future using Indigenous knowledge, permaculture, and whole systems design as inspiration.

My journey took a significant twist when I learned about Oculus and the resurgence of virtual reality (VR). I put all my efforts into learning Unity 3D and got accepted into the Oculus Launch Pad and Oculus Start Programs. This allowed me to create VR demos and join Alt Ethos, a Denver-based company, where I conducted extensive research and development on the metaverse.

I have a successful track record as an AR Producer at Meta and currently offer top-notch XR, Web3, and world-building solutions as a part of my role at Metaverse Workshop. My unwavering dedication to creativity and deep understanding of emerging technologies enabled me to thrive in this field.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while on any project?

It has been challenging to navigate the XR industry without a background in gaming or programming. Another challenge is explaining the vastness of the upcoming Metaverse to clients, as it has yet to develop fully. To properly begin a project, educating our client base on the correct usage of the term is essential, as there needs to be more mislabeling. It is similar to the early days of website creation when standards were established, and nobody knew what they were doing. We are at the beginning of an entirely new industry.

Can you tell us more about what you’re currently working on?

I’m excited to announce my speaking engagement at AWE on May 31st, where I’ll share my expertise on Mapping Immersive Worlds.

Metaverse Workshop is a leading provider of XR ideation and training sessions, product development, and support services. We specialize in assisting partners across various sectors, including healthcare, education, XR prototypes, and immersive city projects. Our primary objective is to help our partners achieve their goals and thrive in their respective industries.

What were some of the most considerable challenges you’ve faced while working in the VR industry? How did you overcome them?

On a technical level, as a producer, I’m always faced with the transferring of files, distribution, uploading experiences to headsets, and onboarding new users to VR. Of course, these challenges have specific solutions, but we will see better advancements in these areas as the industry matures.

On a business level, procuring clients can be challenging as many people need help understanding the capabilities of the technology. So, to educate our clients, I create detailed storyboards and prototypes and work toward an MVP.

Overall, navigating the technical and business aspects of VR production can be challenging. Still, with a strategic approach and a willingness to adapt to new developments, I am confident that we can continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in this exciting and rapidly evolving industry.

What’s your vision for the future of VR? 

 The future of VR lies in a fully realized metaverse created by user-generated content and AI. The Metaverse is a virtual world that offers unparalleled immersion and scope, enabling people to engage, socialize, and create in ways impossible in our physical world. User-generated content is already a significant aspect of the VR landscape, allowing users to customize their virtual environments for a more personalized experience. However, with AI’s automated content generation and curation, we can elevate this to the next level, creating a dynamic and ever-evolving metaverse. Combining user-generated content and AI can erase the boundary between virtual and physical reality, providing people with new experiences and the ability to switch between the two seamlessly.

What parts of the VR industry do you think need to be changed? Why?

The VR industry’s distribution pipeline needs improvement to address developers’ content delivery challenges. The current system needs to be more bureaucratic and time-consuming, which can significantly deter developers. However, we can confidently tackle this problem by implementing a more efficient and straightforward distribution process that simplifies the delivery of VR content. By making it easier for developers to reach users, we can foster innovation and accelerate growth in the industry.

What are your thoughts on privacy and ethics?

I have been contemplating privacy and ethics for quite some time. As a member of the XR-Guild, a group of professionals in XR, Spatial Computing, and Web3 who uphold ethical standards, I strongly believe in fairness and accessibility. It is crucial to protect vulnerable groups, such as individuals with disabilities, older people, and children. Surprisingly, some parents allow young children to explore VR worlds without supervision. Platforms should take more measures to reduce this risk. To ensure privacy, educating the public is essential. Everyone must understand that social media sites are not public utilities but businesses that profit from users’ data. Thus, educating today’s children is vital to creating a safe metaverse, as they will be future professionals.

What advice do you have for people (entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, and students) looking to enter the XR industry? And how can they best position themselves for success?

Collaboration is critical to success in the XR industry. Seamless integration of various skills is essential for creating successful VR and AR projects. Aspiring XR professionals must possess excellent communication, teamwork, and technical and creative skills. In addition, staying up-to-date with the latest hardware and software tools and industry trends is crucial for success.

Practical experience and valuable connections can be gained by participating in hackathons, game jams, and community events. Attending conferences and online communities to network with leaders and peers in the industry is also crucial. Invaluable insights and guidance can be obtained through mentorship, aiding individuals in advancing their careers.

For entrepreneurs aspiring to succeed in the XR industry, building strong teams, staying informed, and developing essential skills are necessary. By adhering to these tips, individuals can position themselves for success in this rapidly evolving field.

Who have been your most important mentors? Why? How did you meet them?

 Scott Macdonald was my first 3D animation teacher in the mid-’90s and taught me the basics of 3D animation using the Electric Image Animation System. I am very grateful for his teachings.

Right out of college, Robert Scott from Juris Corporation recruited me to work on 3D animations for court trials. These years were formative because I learned much about project management, presentations, and delivering top-quality projects at the highest level, creating animations that couldn’t be refuted in court.

Chad Lonberger of ModeTwo was my Unity3D teacher. His teachings were integral in my VR journey from a technical perspective and strategic and tactical ways of looking at VR development, file management, and project delivery to HMDs.

I am also grateful to Lewey Geselowitz for his vision and patience. He has helped me along my XR journey in many ways, primarily through inspiration

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? What about the quote inspires you? 

M.C. Escher. “We adore chaos because we love to produce order.”

I find it inspiring that life has endless possibilities, and beauty can be found in various forms.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Yes, thank you for making that space available. I want to express my gratitude to all of the fantastic women in our tech industry and those who have supported me along my journey by speaking at my events or granting me the time to chat and collaborate. Some of the women who come to mind are Evo Heyning of Realitycraft, Karen Alexander, Dulce Baerga (a long-time college friend and early tech adopter), Georgina Wellman, Scarlett Arana, Sonya Haskins, Sophia Moshasha, Celeste Lear, Emily Olman, Cathay Hackl, Robin Moulder, Amy Peck, Caitlin Krause, Leila Amirsadeghi, Amy LaMeyer, Julie Smithson, Fifer Garbesi, Lisa Padilla, Paige Dasinger, Cynthia Crabtree, Brianna Amore, Lisi Linares, Liz Sparber, Rosario Casas, and so many more trailblazers.

I am honored to be part of the XR industry, full of visionary and influential women leading the charge toward a better future. Most importantly, I want to thank Natacha Pavlov, who helped me generate unique content at my company, Keyframe-Entertainment.”

Lastly, a vital project I am honored to share is the book “Reinhabiting the Village,” which utilizes principles of indigenous knowledge, community building, art, and permaculture to map a better tomorrow for our planet.

Thanks again for the opportunity to share part of my journey!


Discover Julian on LinkedIn and explore his VR portfolio to gain insight into his company, Metaverse Workshop

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