Ithra’s Creative Solutions 2021: Immersive digital content creation comes to life
Masterclasses cover variety of areas, including storytelling, experience design, immersive technologies, design research methods, and more.
Creative Solutions is the annual innovation program of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in which multidisciplinary art, science, and technology professionals collaborate with experts to develop viable solutions to a themed challenge.
The 2021 theme is immersive digital content creation.
From the hundreds of proposals, 30 teams and individuals were selected. Participants in the Creative Solutions program are guided by experts, advisors, and mentors from countries such as the U.S., Brazil, Canada, and the U.K. on an idea-to-prototype journey.
The world’s budget for this kind of content creation will surpass a half-trillion dollars in the next couple of years.
— Filipe Gomes, head of the Creative Solutions program
The goals of Creative Solutions include developing original content, unique experiences, and marketable solutions to build an ecosystem of innovators that supports the growth of the Saudi creative economy.
The 2021 cohort will produce innovative content, experiences and solutions using immersive digital technologies such as virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended realities, immersive audio, and haptics, the tactile feedback, such as vibration, produced by an electronic device.
The selected applicants participate in masterclasses, learning with experts, and strategic networking opportunities where they can pitch their projects to interested investors and potential collaborators. The participants have access to Ithra’s Idea Lab and its knowledge network and tools, including the first of its kind in the Middle East immersive technology lab, while engaging with the Idea Lab’s processes of design thinking, co-creation, and open innovation.
One of the 12 weekend-long masterclasses, for example, was focused on extended realities (XR) storytelling, led by London-based immersive creativity experts Hamish Jenkinson, from The Department, and Christopher Pearson, of The Experience Machine.
The objective of this hybrid masterclass was to expose the cohort to the process of how a story — a problem, challenge or unmet need, the affected audience, and the solution — is developed into reality. The session combined a mix of real-world case studies in XR with explanations by diverse international experts (who have backgrounds in theater, major cultural events, and game design, etc.) about how they approach storytelling.
Five finalists will be selected who will receive SR 75,000 to support the development of proof-of-concept prototypes over a 16-week period beginning in August. Supported by international innovation experts as mentors, project managers, and delivery partners, the finalists will present their solutions to the public and industry leaders who could help bring the projects to market at a Creative Solutions Demo Day in December at Ithra’s flagship creativity festival, Tanween.
The completed projects will then be showcased at an International Roadshow in the U.K. scheduled for Dec. 16.
A huge opportunity
“There are four outcome targets,” said. Filipe Gomes, head of the Creative Solutions program. “Some projects will become startups. Artists and creators can find new showcases, such as galleries, for their work. Some participants might find a new career path or a better job. And others can become more effective where they already work.
“The world’s budget for this kind of content creation will surpass a half-trillion dollars in the next couple of years,” he added. “The innovative content creation is not merely about solutions for the energy sector, but all industries, such as health care, etc., so this represents a huge opportunity for the Kingdom’s burgeoning creative and information economy.”