Makers of The Metaverse: Tamara Shogaolu Of Ado Ato Pictures On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Creativity made me see the things I wanted to explore. My travels around the world opened my eyes to the reality of others and how I can leave a meaningful impact through the media I use. My creativity really emerges from my passion to tell stories and explore different mediums.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tamara Shogaolu.

Tamara Shogaolu is an interdisciplinary artist, director, and creative technologist. She wrote and directed five films, Half a Life (2017), Another Dream (2019), They Call Me Asylum Seeker (2020) and Un(re)solved (2021). She is a recipient of the 2020 Creative Capital Award and was nominated for The Netherlands Film Festival’s Golden Calf (also known as the Dutch Oscar). Shogaolu works on augmented and virtual reality projects, as well as installations, sculptures and video art.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up between the neighborhood of Catedral and Ancón. My family is from Catedral, so I was there every day during my childhood. I studied at the Simón Bolívar School in San Felipe in my early years, and then I transferred to St. Mary’s School until I went to the United States to complete my high school and university studies.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

My favorite book is One Hundred Years of Solitude. I grew up in Central America, so a lot of the stories in the book resonated with me.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I honestly have so many mentors I’m truly grateful for. To mention, Lisa Osborne, who is an amazing film writer, Raney and Dawn and, of course, Susan Cartsonis, who is also a film producer and co-founder of and partner in Resonate Entertainment. They really helped me in finding and building my path as a creative.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I do. Many of which are AR games. I’m also doing a sculpture project and of course my ongoing XR film project, Anouschka, which tells the story of Amara, a teenager from Amsterdam, and her journey as she tries to break a family curse using her unique power. I am equally excited about these projects.

I feel that these projects will truly elicit a sense of wonder in those who engage with them and, hopefully, encourage folks to further pursue media presented through the world of VR, AR, and MR.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

Using these technologies for work gives us more ways to enjoy and explore different media. Examples are the Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo immersive art experiences, which I think is romantic, the Megan Thee Stallion VR concert where fans will wear VR headsets to watch her, and our collaboration with PBS (FRONTLINE) for Un(re)solved, which is an award-winning web interactive where we share the lives and histories of 151 victims from unsolved civil rights-era murder cases.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

The use of VR, AR, and MR in healthcare is something we should consider. These technologies are making notable changes for health professionals and their patients. I’ve read about doctors using VR as preparations for surgeries and how VR helps decrease pain, especially for patients suffering from chronic pain.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

That you have to be a rocket scientist to understand these new technologies. For me, technology shouldn’t be intimidating, but rather, it should be used as a tool to tell your story and make it resonate with your audience. In that way, they will remember both your story and the technology that you used.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

I was surprised how this industry really uses a lot of my stamina. I am doing a lot of traveling, researching and meeting new people, so I really need to stack up energy, make sure I stay hydrated and just monitor my health, so I can continue to pursue my passions.

Creativity made me see the things I wanted to explore. My travels around the world opened my eyes to the reality of others and how I can leave a meaningful impact through the media I use. My creativity really emerges from my passion to tell stories and explore different mediums.

I can’t do anything without a good team backing me up. I’m very proud to say that although my team is small, I have the best people working alongside me. We’ve been working together for years, so I know that I can rely on them at anytime.

Be curious. Just having the thoughts of, Can I do this? Will this make a difference? These kinds of thoughts will push you to do and to learn more. This is where my curiosity leads me, and it opened a lot of opportunities up for me, as a creative.

And always do your best. While it sounds basic, this is the most important. When you’re working hard and just giving your all to anything and everything that you do, people will resonate with you, and you will appreciate your work knowing that you’ve given your all, right from the start.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to increase access to technology and the way that people utilize it. In this way, we don’t have to be afraid of allowing more collaborations across various fields, and also changing the extractive design approach to technology.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Definitely, Oprah Winfrey. I mean, who doesn’t want to meet Oprah? That aside, I think that what Oprah has been able to build is incredible, and I would love the opportunity to speak with her, but I also feel like bringing that level of empathy and humanity into the ways that technology and immersive technology are shaping the future, and how they can be beautiful and impactful. I think Oprah has the incredible ability to connect deeply with audiences, and her involvement in this world could expand the reach and have a positive impact on changing the landscape of who is included in the field.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!

Makers of The Metaverse: Tamara Shogaolu Of Ado Ato Pictures On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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