This spring has been a prolific season for me to explore the imaginative power of movies and visual effects. I have been joining film festivals and (re)discovering acclaimed movies from the 95th ceremony of the Oscars to the upcoming 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
My mood for movies has inspired me to start reviewing a list of the top 250 films in a movement I call ‘The MooDvies IMAGINAList.’ This comes in addition to ‘The CREAtive TECHnologist’, which focuses more on tech companies and tools, ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Extended Reality (XR) to Visual Effects (VFX).
To start this journey, I couldn’t have found a better community than the Visual Effects Society, which organizes screenings for its members and networking events from Los Angeles to London. The society also publishes the magazine VFX Voice; its latest Spring 23 edition was particularly insightful in exploring the paradigm shift of Virtual Production (VP) described by major VFX studios.
As generative AI is becoming trendy, the magazine couldn’t skip examining AI Art from the protests against this new set of CreaTech tools to understanding the limits of AI. I would also suggest reading another article which argues that AI will make human Art more valuable.
The VFX Voice magazine also highlighted the VES Awards winners, in particular, Avatar: The Way of the Water, which, as one may expect, won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects three weeks later. It is also worth mentioning The Art of Being Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, the sensational winner of 7 Oscars during the 95th ceremony, for its VFX with a budget 10 times lower than James Cameron’s production.
These movies demonstrate how imagination, from the VFX of big productions to indie movies, can reveal simple facts about our human nature, family, friendship, and love through Sci-Fi while acknowledging the immense possibilities and absurdity of our condition in this world.
Let’s start the ‘Voyage to the Edge of Imagination’ with the Science Museum and more specifically, the Science Fiction Film Festival, which was a great opportunity to join IMAX screenings and several talks. The panels included ‘Building Sci-Fi Worlds‘ with Paul Franklin — Academy award-winning VFX supervisor for Interstellar and Inception, as well as ‘How to Build an Android’ to discuss the imaginal power behind Blade Runner and Artificial Intelligence in general.
As we enter a new era of space exploration to the moon, Mars, and beyond, movies or even TV series, such as The Expanse with the Rocket Science VFX, are transforming our imagination in the same way as the seminal work of Stanley Kubrick, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ did five decades ago during the Apollo program.
The visual effects, and practical effects in real environments cherished by Christopher Nolan, extend our imagination with a sense of accuracy and even discovery. A good example is VFX studio DNEG’s collaboration with Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne to create gravitational lensing by spinning black holes not only for the aesthetics of Interstellar but also for the publication of two scientific papers.
Sci-Fi movies and VFX are a starting point for imagining the Design Futures of work, space, and species, or in short, ‘The WQrksPACE Futures’ that we can foresee as design futurists through architecture and (bio)engineering to develop autonomous machines and new construction in space without compromising the climate as well as biodiversity, thanks to the bioeconomy and hydrogen revolutions.
Blade Runner 2049 is another great artwork of a sci-fi world created by John Nelson — Overall VFX supervisor of the Academy Award-winning movie. He supervised a combined team from DNEG, Framestore, and six other VFX studios involved.
Ridley Scott’s and Denis Villeneuve’s versions of Philip Dick’s novel explore, in their own ways, the status of being a person in the advent of artificial general intelligence (AGI). I would say that humanoid robots are more like a metaphor for understanding our cyber identity, personalized medicine, and personal assistants in the rise of chatbots (for now), and ultimately our desire for power and immortality.
From this other perspective, sci-fi movies and VFX are also sources of inspiration to imagine business solutions for digital wealth, health, and care, or in short, ‘The W3althCARE Solutions.’ As business solutionists, we can implement these solutions through product management and (bio)marketing to improve ourselves using artificial intelligence and extended reality without compromising our well-being and, most importantly, our freedom.
Recognizing that fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth, as in V for Vendetta, we should be aware that the imaginal power of movies and visual effects can also be a means of propaganda or, at the very least, uniformity.
That’s why I embrace the diversity of films, which provide us with different images, stories, and even revolutions of our times. The recent Hong Kong Film Festival UK, for example, reflected on identity as a migrant and raised questions about artistic freedom.
The second part of The MooDvies Imaginalist journey would be to explore different mediums for telling stories and showcasing moving images, especially in the face of deepfake technology and the convergence of moviemaking and gamemaking.
There is an increasing number of workshops and online courses dedicated to creativity, new technologies, innovation and design thinking which are crucial knowledge for sustaining the competitive advantages of firms. People who learn those soft skills and new competencies, altogether with creative and knowledge-based workers (artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs), are representative of the creative class which is described by Richard Florida as the leading force of growth in the economy. Those creative professionals are essential for the attractiveness of cities that we can call “Creative Technology Cities” or “CreaTech Hubs”.
Major Tech Hubs from all around the world cover almost any tech vertical based on digital and key enabling technologies. San Francisco, well known for web technologies, has moved towards BioTech and CleanTech. Moving over FinTech, CreaTech and DeepTech are tech trends taking off in London. CreaTech is a new core vertical promoted by the British Creative Industries Council which hosted the festival Createch 2017 to highlight sectors like fashion, games, design or media. Keeping in mind the wider range of the creative class, we should define CreaTech as a broader spectrum of Creative and Tech sectors.
CreaTech Hubs are cities at the core of the creative economy, a concept defined by John Howkins to bring together ideas about the creative industries, the cultural industries, creative cities, clusters and the creative class. In this way, CreaTech is a new paradigm that involves creativity, innovation and design at the intersection of technology to transform traditional sectors from RetailTech to Fintech. The digital transformation and smart cities are the factors of this incremental innovation process which, altogether with DeepTech (disruptive innovation based on substantial scientific advances), create innovation spaces.
During the StartMeUpHK Festival, I was curious about the FashionTechAsia event organised at the creative space PMQ after the Retail’s Cutting Edge. Both events put Hong Kong as a strategic place in Asia to lead a business in RetailTech/ FashionTech, such as GRANA, which became the eCommerce success story or the wearable rising star ORII. Among the speakers, Nan Fung Group introduced one of the most ambitious FashionTech projects, The Mills, based on the rehabilitation of a former textile factory. Another large company, the Fung Group, announced that Explorium, currently running in Shanghai, will expand soon in Hong Kong.
HealthTechAsia was another great event to discuss the digitalisation of healthcare, biotechnologies, and the so-called quantified self. In addition to connected devices, genomics is one of the most promising enabling technology. It allows personalised digital health with solutions such as nutrigenomics or pharmacogenomics provided by Prenetics. The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks gathers most of the other leading biotech companies in Hong Kong, including Novoheart that engineers bioartificial human heart or Sanwa that provides Lab-on-chip diagnostics.
Benjamin Joffe, one of the speakers at the HealhTechAsia event, uses the term “wearapeuthics” to talk about the connected things that can replace or complement various therapies. From the creation of connected things or fashion products to the digitalisation of healthcare, I had the opportunity to share new ideas during two “Startup Weekends” dedicated to those topics. The mentors and judges of both competitions inspired me just as much as the students of the HKUST Entrepreneurship Center, The BASE, with whom I have organised one of the competitions.
This article is part of the Hong Kong — Shenzhen Innovation Hub series.
After launching the French Tech Hub in Hong Kong with French entrepreneurs in 2016, I have come to find a new angle to talk about technology and startups, which prompted this new website createch.io. Crea Tech came to my mind because it represents the entrepreneurial and creative sides of the technology that should be seen at the intersection of business and design. The event VivaTech, which aimed to become the leading event in Europe dedicated to startups and technology, hence particularly interesting because it seemed to encompass the concept of creative technology.
Viva Technology Paris was organised from 30th June – 2nd July 2016 by Publicis and Les Echos for the first edition. The event gathered 2 500 startups to have a booth and join different challenges. I discovered promising startups through the spaces organised around several thematic labs (Automotive Tech, Fintech, Insurtech, Retail Tech…) at the event. Other areas were dedicated to Venture Capitalists, individual French Tech champions such as Devialet, global international leaders, local innovation centers and of course La French Tech.
VivaTech was a really good opportunity for me to catch up with the Parisian and French Tech scene through meeting the startups and innovation centers. I spent a few more days in Paris before the event to feel the vibrant Tech ecosystem visiting NUMA, La Paillasse and Usine IO. At the moment they are quite representative of the Creative Technology scene in Paris, but the grand opening of Station F which is going to operate as a huge campus housing 1000 startups will for sure contribute a greater boost.