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As a child, Maureen Fan knew her dream job lay somewhere in the realm between Disneyland and her PlayStation console. "I played 'Final Fantasy 9' and animated video games and watched Disney films non-stop," she said. So when she went to college, she majored in art, computer science and psychology, with the hopes of becoming an animator.
But, as with many children of immigrants, "My tiger mom said it wasn't practical to go into film and I'd be destitute." So Ms. Fan ended up at eBay, where she worked in user interface and product management.
After a pit stop to get her MBA at Harvard, she made her way to Zynga, where she ultimately became VP-games. All the while, she never forgot her storytelling aspirations and still found time to study animation and fit in a gig as a production intern at Pixar. She even moonlighted on an animated short, "The Dam Keeper," which earned a 2015 Oscar nomination.
Today, Ms. Fan focuses all her business skills and creative passions as CEO of Baobab Studios, the VR company she co-founded in 2015 with "Madagascar" director Eric Darnell. Ms. Fan says the company's mission is "to inspire people to dream." Baobab, which observers have dubbed "the Pixar of VR," is home to the acclaimed original VR experience "Invasion!" about a bunny in the middle of an alien occupation. "Invasion!" made news in September as the first of its kind to be turned into a traditional Hollywood feature, with Roth Kirschenbaum Films, and the following month, Baobab raised $25 million in funding, led by Horizon Ventures. TechCrunch reported it as one of the largest single funding rounds to date for a VR studio.
Your love for animation is what got you here. What are your thoughts on the power of animation?
The whole reason I love animation is because it takes you to completely different worlds and makes you believe they're so real, that you could reach out and touch them -- that's the definition of VR. I watched "Finding Nemo" and I believed I could live underwater. That's what animation does for me. There's a lot of pressure in this world when you're growing up to conform to societal values of fame, power, beauty. But when I'm watching an animated film, I believe anything is possible -- it brings out my sense of wonder.
So you know the impact of traditional animation, but what about storytelling in VR? Have you discovered yet some of the key truths of storytelling in VR?
The first thing Eric [Darnell, my partner] usually says to everybody is that they should ignore everything we say. Even though we say we've figured out something, we want people to experiment and prove us wrong.
But what we've noticed is VR allows you to believe characters are real and let you care about them, in a way traditional 2D screens don't let you … Because you have feelings for the character, you want to see what happens to the character. That is what creates story.
In "Invasion!," our first experiment, we realized the reason why people loved it so much was because of this little bunny named Chloe. [The viewer] is a bunny too, but we noticed audiences would try to pet her, get down on the ground and start playing with her. Later on, there's a scene where she behind you because aliens come to attack and you are the only thing between them and her. The audience would say, "Oh my God, I'm the only thing between the alien and the bunny and I need to protect her. I feel her breathe on my shoulder" -- which was really just the air conditioning. The fact that we can get people to care so much about that character that they want to protect her, that's winning. That's something we could only have done in VR -- it's that magic in making the character real, the heightened stakes, the feeling that you actually have impact and agency, that is something that is going to make storytelling so much cooler because you can care about those characters so much more.
So how has that affected your company's approach?
The creative bent we've taken is -- what is it to make you a character? If you could be "Beauty in the Beast" or Jasmine in "Aladdin" -- what would that be like? "Invasion!" was an experiment to see if it was true, and it ended up far exceeding our expectations. But also, it's VR that is not just a tech demo. We feel a lot of VR is geared toward the bells and whistles and gee-whiz factor because it's so cool and new, but we believe when the novelty goes away, the things that humans are wired to love, as they have for a bazillion years, is the storytelling. The purpose of technology is to service the story and the art, not the other way around. VR is yet another set of tools a storyteller can use, but that does it in a special way that's never been seen before.
To you, what is creativity?
I don't think creativity is just for artists, it applies to business people [too]. It's the act of connecting disparate things, things don't seem connected to each other, and bringing them together to form a new solution. That's why a messy desk sometimes helps people be creative because they see connections between things on their messy desks. It's about not following the status quo and not doing what is safe or easy. It's not conforming. It's putting two things together that don't seem like they belong to create something new.
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Source : http://adage.com/article/news/creativity-50-2016-creative-people-year/307209/