Global reach a reality for Adelaide creatives

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By Belinda Willis

Anton Andreacchio is waiting for a flight to take him to the Taipei Film Festival when he grabs a few minutes to run through the swathe of projects his virtual reality company Jumpgate VR is delivering in the coming financial year.

It kicks off with Anton’s presentation at the festival and leads onto a series of meetings with some of Taipei’s most important cultural leaders, including from its symphony orchestra and performing arts centre.

This thriving Adelaide business has certainly piqued the interest of cultural institutions around the world after creating what is believed to be a world first virtual reality symphony with the Adelaide orchestra back in 2015.

“We have about 35 projects on the go, most are in South Australia and Victoria but we’ve got some in Northern Territory with some mining companies, in the arts, film making, entertainment, to high performance training in sport and safety training,” Anton says.

The company, based in Adelaide but also with an office in Melbourne, is currently touring an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra virtual reality production throughout SA that brings its unique performance to life for those unable to make the town hall.

The Jumpgate VR team Genevieve Rouleau, left, Carlo Andreacchio, Anton Andreacchio, and Piers Mussared at a football game following the company’s joining of forces with the AFL to incorporate VR into the game.

Its successes are also seeing a growing number of contracts in the sporting world after Jumpgate joined forces with the Australian Football League a few years ago.

The work ranges from bringing new VR elements to the games for fans to helping its elite athletes improve their performances – with players donning headsets to observe replays or new game play simulations.

“Each club uses it very differently,” Anton says.

This nimble and creative business is not the only one in Adelaide making its mark in the creative and virtual reality space with Adelaide companies like Monkeystack and Untethered VR also working to push the boundaries.

Animation and interactive design studio Monkeystack recently won a substantial international 2D animation contract.

It’s keeping the details under wraps but expects it will help swell staff numbers by 40%.

Its Adelaide-based team is equally as adaptive working across 3D animation, VR, simulations and visual effects, growing from its three founders in 2004 to a team of 36 artists, producers, programmers, designers and project managers.

Untethered VR has also found its own niche, creating Adelaide’s first virtual reality arcade with its doors officially opened by Adelaide Lord Mayor Martin Haese in March this year.

Anton says companies are recognising Adelaide is a great place to work but they needed to remember that it shouldn’t be trying to mimic other cities.

“Our whole business plan is to reach really high in Adelaide and to pivot across Australia, it’s a great testing ground,” he says.

Jumpgate may have burst onto the arts scene with its virtual reality show of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, but now its joint owners including Anton, his brother Carlo and Piers Mussared, are winning international recognition for their cutting edge approach to all kinds of genres.

It has a close relationship with the Australian String Quartet, and its recent collaboration with famed Australian photographic artists Narelle Autio and Trent Parke The Summation of Force was selected for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

The work, co-directed with Matthew Bate, appeared in the New Frontier program of cutting-edge digital art at the prestigious Sundance event in the United States.

The program aims to push storytelling boundaries with new technology.

Anton says another artistic collaboration, this time with artists James Darling and Lesley Forwood and the Australian String Quartet, is currently showing at Hugo Michell Gallery in Norwood.

Jumpgate VR managing director Anton Andreacchio.

Their Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe installation has involved flooding two thirds of the gallery and generating a landscape spanning three billion years.

“It’s virtual reality without the headset, it’s showing where the building is and how it looked three billion years ago,” Anton says.

Meanwhile, Jumpgate is also finding a growing interest from industries around work, health and safety.

It has formed a relationship with industry based group training organisation PEER, along with mining and construction companies, as they discover virtual reality’s potential in giving them an edge in training staff.

“We’re really excited about the art world work and the potential with virtual reality but the other one we’re really excited about is the PEER relationship, industry is really interested in being engaged,” he says.

“It will be a paradigm shift.”

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