Interview with Jacquie Barnbrook
Lori: Ladies and gentlemen, I am coming to you live from San Francisco, where I’m hanging out with some fabulous clients and doing all sorts of cool technology talking, taking a little break to dial in to the Tech Cat Show; and I have with me, coming from Los Angeles, California, the fantastic Jacquie Barnbrook, who wears many hats— actress, producer, writer, very funny improv comedian, and we’ll talk about that in a little bit—but also Jacquie happens to be the producer of one of the most cutting-edge virtual-reality experiences in Hollywood right now, The Martian. And we’re going to dig into all of these things. So, let’s have a big hand for the fabulous Jacquie Barnbrook!
Jacquie: It’s great to be here. Hello! Hey, I think, Lori, I think you should refer to me as Jacquie H. Barnbrook because you’re Lori H. Schwartz.
Lori: Right, right. Are there a million Jacquie Barnbrooks out in the world?
Lori: Well, then, you can’t have that “H” then.
Jacquie: I thought if you had it, then I should have it, too. Lori: All right. Well, we’ll share it, for sure.
Jacquie: All right.
Lori: Well, Jacquie’s here to give us a taste of this immersive world that we’re calling virtual reality, which, if you’re in Hollywood and also if you’re just a regular person, you’ve been reading a lot and hearing a lot about the explosion of virtual reality. But before we dig into that, Jacquie, tell us about your background, because you wear so many different hats, all wrapped around creating great content. So, give us a little bit of your background.
Jacquie: Okay, so, I have been sort of a performer since I was four years old. I started out in dance and theater and all of that sort of
thing, and I have spent my whole life in some form of entertainment, either in front of the camera; behind the camera; like I said, theater; and I have even gone so far as to dress up in a character costume and dance on stage in one-hundred-twenty-degree heat.
Lori: Whoa, nice!
Jacquie: Yeah, so, there’s nothing I won’t do. The last sort of twenty- two years, I have been working in visual effects and animation, and I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of really A-list digital artistic talent and visual-effect supervisors and animation directors, people who were not animation directors who became animation directors, all kinds of amazing people. And I’ve had a lot of experience working in, what I like to call, bleeding-edge technology because there is blood.
Lori: Is that because people spill blood?
Jacquie: People spill blood. Yes. Yeah, they don’t die, but they do spill blood. So, we do end up giving a lot, and there’s a lot of smashing brains together to try to figure out how to make things work. And just one little tidbit, because I’m very proud of this, I did produce an animated short film in 2002 that won an Academy Award, called The ChubbChubbs!
Lori: That’s insane.
Jacquie: That was a good day. But I’m really proud to be on the sort of cutting edge of this new immersive technology and sort of brand- new era of immersive entertainment that we’ve created here called The Martian VR Experience, and this is sort of like a joint effort between Twentieth Century Fox and their Fox Innovation Lab, RSA Films, and the Virtual Reality Company; working with the director Rob Stromberg and Ridley Scott, which is like—
Jacquie: —a sort of dreamland; and just the team at Fox. Man, what a great group of guys. They’re really facilitators to make this kind of thing happen; and whatever you know about storytelling and whatever you know about trying to make something work, this is a whole new animal to try to kind of get through the experience and make it work in this sort of sensory explosion.
Jacquie: Sensory fireworks going off, you know? You’re not sure which synapses to pay attention to. So that’s the exciting part, and that’s also the challenge, but it makes it really, really fun.
Lori: Well, and to back up just a moment, because the way that you and I met was when we were working on a big blockbuster hit called Kazaam, which was a movie starring Shaquille O’Neal as a genie—and it was directed by Paul Michael Glaser, who is, what many people in our generation know as, the original Starsky in Starsky and Hutch, and he was just a dream of—
Jacquie: Oh my god, I love that guy.
Lori: —a person to work with. And the movie was kind of a goofy movie, a kids’ movie, but it had a lot of, what we would call, visual effects in it. And so your role at the time was to help execute on those effects, and that’s the kind of stuff now that we see in movies all the time, which some people may refer to as CG—
Lori: —you know, computer generated, but at that moment in time, that’s where we were with bleeding-edge or cutting-edge tech—
Jacquie: Oh, yeah.
Lori: —and it was making people fly and doing all sorts of crazy things, and so you did things there that nobody had ever done before.
Jacquie: Absolutely, and the thing is is that you had a situation where people were asking you to do things and create images and create characters that had never been created before. Can you believe that my gardeners just showed up with their air blowers? Can you hear that?
Lori: No. It’s okay.
Jacquie: Oh, is it okay? Okay. Lori: Well, it’s very high tech. Jacquie: Okay. All right.
Lori: And it’s very real life.
Jacquie: Okay. But I wanted to say one thing, like, going back to thinking about, like, the very first job that I worked on was Waterworld; and at that time, we were using a water simulator that only the military had used called [Unclear] at that time, that water simulation had never really been done before in that way, and we were rendering it six hours per frame.
Lori: Oh my gosh.
Jacquie: And when you’re talking about shots that are five seconds long, you know, I mean, I think we calculated one shot, which was quite long, would take several years to render.
Lori: Oh my god, and when you say render, you basically mean that you’re cooking the digital assets so they actually turn into the shot that you’re making.
Jacquie: Right. Yes, yes. So that’s—yes, absolutely. So what happens is you set up all the parameters and you give it all of its technical information, and then you say, okay, go into the oven and bake, and then when it comes out it’s supposed to look like what you’d hoped; and when you get it back, there’s all kinds of things wrong with it and so the second time you send it in to bake, you just pray to goodness that you’ve corrected all of the mistakes properly, you know? So that was one thing, and then they ended up going from there—I remember getting a call from somebody that I had worked with, saying, what was the name of that software for the water, because we’re going to use it on a movie called Titanic.
Lori: Oh my god.
Jacquie: And so, I was like, wow. And I remember we were sort of like nodding our heads, yes we can do this, yes, yeah, yeah, we can do that and everybody looking around the room going, can we do that, oh gosh, I hope we can, which is definitely how the world of visual effects was when I first started in it, we were sort of nodding and smiling but we didn’t really know if we could make the things that the directors were asking us for.
Jacquie: And, obviously, we’ve come to a point now where we’ve made huge strides, and, like, for instance, we did a test on Alice in Wonderland where we were trying to put a motion-capture character and animated character and a live-action character all in the same set piece at the same time. Well, they all require different lighting, and it was sort of in stereo, and we had to have real-time backgrounds showing up, and I was, like—it was an amazing feat, and we ended up doing it, but it wasn’t something that would have been conducive to, like, timely production. That was, like, another big sort of technology hurdle that we got over; and then, of course, James Cameron did a magnificent job of putting Avatar together and working out all those different bugs. And then, sort of coming into this VR situation, we have visual effects, we have VR, we have real-time game-engine issues; and then on top of that, we have the fact that we’re using still- emerging technology and beta hardware that’s not even consumer ready yet.
Lori: It’s crazyland. And every time you do something, because you’re dealing, as the producer—which is what Jacquie’s role is in these scenarios—she’s managing software that has never really been used before, new hardware with cameras and other tech that facilitate the capturing of all of this talent—really big-name talent that’s being forced to deal with new tech that’s never worked before—and putting it all together so that new stuff gets born, and it’s insane and amazing because you’re dealing with really big names in your world.
Jacquie: Yeah, and there also, I’m dealing with film guys, and those film guys have an expectation of how things are going to be delivered, and so there’s never an opportunity where you can’t deliver, you know what I mean?
Jacquie: It’s not like, well, you’re not going to make this deadline, and companies that create games, even though ours is not a game, it’s more just interactive, is literally—god, isn’t it a lot quieter now?
Lori: Jacquie’s calling us from her home office and managing a gardener while also making cutting-edge Martian VR.
Jacquie: Yes, I’m going to actually go muzzle him, right?
Lori: Well, that’s a perfect time for us to take a break. You go muzzle your gardener.
Lori: And then when we come back, I want to dig a little bit more into the pieces of what doing something like The Martian really means, and how do you learn about all this cutting-edge stuff so that it actually goes out to the consumer. So we’re going to be back with the fabulous Jacquie Barnbrook, talking about cutting-edge virtual reality. And I know we’re going to get her to do some of her comedy hijinks with me very [unclear], because we used to do a lot of performing together on stage, as well. So we’ll be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show.
Lori: And we’re back with the fabulous Jacquie Barnbrook, who I’m calling our Immersive Producer. She has muzzled her gardener. So Jacquie is the producer of a really cutting-edge and very much talked- about project called The Martian VR project, and she’s still struggling with the gardener, as all people do, but I had some questions for you, Jacquie, because I know since this stuff is all cutting edge, and I know you’re dealing with software and hardware but you’re also dealing with, like, a major piece of IP, like The Martian and someone like Ridley Scott. So, like, how do you juggle all these pieces, because I’m sure he doesn’t care if the software or hardware isn’t working, right?
So how do you as a producer manage all this?
Jacquie: Nobody does care if it’s working or not working. They want to see the finished product. And the interesting thing is that anytime you’re doing something in real time, you have the issues of that there are always bugs. Any game that you would play online or that you would get that’s streaming or whatever, you’re going to have patches that come through on a regular basis, and so there’s a level of whether those bugs are there or not there and how conducive it is to game play or interactive process or not. So the question is, where is the level of—
Lori: Acceptance in all of this?
Jacquie: Acceptance of, yeah, what’s the tolerance, ultimately, right? So we’re constantly battling that. And the thing that happens when you’re in an interactive environment, different than when you’re cutting a film on an Avid or whatever—I mean, if you have something and you drop it in, you just drop it in and it’s there, and with the real-
time situation, if you add a piece of something, a piece of sound or a piece of an added element or an added piece of effects, you could throw off the rest of that level, or it could break something in a different level, and so you’re constantly balancing between what your intention is for that scene and what the real-time experience can manage. And different things cost a different amount of density and experience, if that makes any sense.
Jacquie: And so, I mean, I rely heavily on my tech team to inform me, and I inform them with, hopefully, not too heavy of a stick to say, hey, we have a review on Friday; you better have it working. And they’ve been amazing so far. But, again, I have a team of guys at the Fox Innovation Lab and RSA Films where they understand that we don’t know what we don’t know and that they understand that we’re in an environment that’s new to them and that they have to be somewhat forgiving, and they’ve been just, like, amazing collaborators. It’s kind of sickeningly sweet how wonderful the process has been working with these guys.
Lori: Now let me ask you another question, because you and I were just at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.
Lori: And, of course, we didn’t see each other because we were both insane, but you were demoing The Martian VR Experience, and the way that this works is you sit in a special chair. Can you tell us about that, because I don’t think people realize—I know a lot of people understand you put on a helmet or you look through glasses—
Lori: —or maybe you stick your phone in a piece of Cardboard and you see VR, and it makes you feel like you’re there. But what you’re doing is the next step. So can you explain to people what’s going on there?
Jacquie: Yeah, yeah. So we have a couple of different things. I mean, ultimately, we’re trying to be platform agnostic, right? So we have created this VR experience for—we have a teaser that lives inside the Samsung gear. So if you have a headset and a Samsung phone, you can watch the teaser in there, so, like, a preview that gives you a
sense of what it looks like and everything and that’s kind of fun. And then we have created a version for the Oculus with the controllers and with the Vive with the controllers. We’re also working on the PlayStation VR with their controllers. And that has its own issues, trying to have it work in every one of those platforms in the same way because they all have different rules and parameters, but what was fantastic is that they guys from DBOX came to us and said, hey, you know what would be really fun is if we were to code motion to the experience, and we were, like, okay, you can do that; we can’t help you because we’re busy.
Lori: And when you just—to back up one second—so, when you talk about different platforms, so, basically, someone may have Oculus, which is a company that Facebook bought—
Lori: —or somebody may have Vive, which is another company, so there are all these different solutions for experiencing VR.
Lori: So it’s just the same thing as having an app that works on Android or IOS; you have to create the same experience—
Lori: —multiple times, and then along comes a third company, a fourth company and they say, we want to do something even cooler with this, and that’s what DBOX is.
Jacquie: Well, no, DBOX is its own entity, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the movie theater where they have DBOX chairs.
Lori: No, tell us.
Jacquie: They’ve been doing this for a while now, it turns out. And I’m just, like, first to experience it a couple months ago. When I found out about it, I went and saw one of the movies that was playing at that point over at the Pew Center in Los Angeles and sat in the DBOX chair, and I was exhausted by the time I got out of that movie because I was so immersed in the experience with the help of the movement of the chair. So what they do is they take everything that’s happening in The Martian VR Experience, and they code a motion to go
with whatever is triggered. So it’s a lot of coding, right? Like, if you’re driving the rover on Mars and you go to the left, then your body kind of counters to the right, and so the chair will move as if you’re actually in the rover moving. And what’s kind of fantastic about this is that it just ups the experience, it ups the ante, it ups the pressure—
Lori: God, it’s so cool.
Jacquie: —like, a hundred percent. So, for instance, there’s one section of The Martian VR Experience where you have to load solar panels to the rover, and there’s this huge dust storm coming on the right-hand side towards you, so you’re rushing to try to get this solar panel hooked up. It’s like one of those claws—remember we used to go to a diner, and they’d have that thing in there where you could pick up a stuffed toy with the claw, and you bring it up—it’s that same kind of claw, but you’re picking up the solar panels and you’re trying to load them into the rover, and the chair is going crazy now because the dust storm is on top of you, and the computer voice is telling you to hurry up, and you’re trying to get the solar panel—I literally screamed, I’m going to die! I thought for sure. You just feel like you’re so in the middle of it, and the pressure is on, and it was so fun. People were howling with laughter when I was screaming. I was, like, literally screaming. And I know what’s going to happen—I know it intimately.
Lori: But it’s just so intense and so real when you’re experiencing VR.
Jacquie: Totally, and it’s so much fun. I mean, that’s the whole experience of The Martian VR Experience is that you’re meant to go through all of the different tasks that Mark Watney had to perform, and you kind of get a perspective of what it might be like to facilitate your chances for survival and rescue, you know?
Lori: Yeah, I love that. I love that. Jacquie: Yeah.
Lori: And especially if you’re a fan of the movie to be able to interact with the brand and the storytelling and all of that in this kind of environment is so great, and if you go into a theater with these chairs, why not, like, why not have it all connected?
Jacquie: Yeah, I’m looking forward to when I can interact with
Outlander. I’m sorry, [unclear].
Lori: Oh, no. Yeah, you and I both, sister. Switching to—
Jacquie: Men in kilts—wait a minute, let’s go back to men in kilts for a second.
Lori: Well, you and I can definitely go back to men in kilts, but for our listeners—I wanted to jump into another topic that you and I talk about a lot, which is the role that women, and women producers in particular, are playing in VR right now in Hollywood, because there’s a lot of chatter this year or last year, 2015, the year of women in terms of acknowledging that there’s a dearth of women in technology or that women in technology aren’t being given the proper kudos or being given the opportunity to take leadership roles. And there’s certainly a lot of chatter in our community about the fact that there are so many women in virtual reality—why aren’t they more public about it, why aren’t there more women speaking and just taking the mantle. It seems to be very male dominated, but the reality is that a lot of women are the producers in virtual reality, and I don’t know if that’s because you’re all coming from visual-effects backgrounds, because a lot of women are in visual effects, and women are great managers and great—or what it is, but I was wondering if I could get your feedback on that.
Jacquie: You know, I think for the most part we deal with a very—and I say this with all the love in my heart—sort of a nerdy group of guys mostly, and I think they feel comfortable with women managing them. That’s that part of it. I think that we have to go all the back, Lori, to where it starts as, you know, when you’re growing up. A friend of mine told me this great story about her daughter was watching her brother’s soccer game or something like that, and the guy next to her—one of the dads—was, like, hey, when you grow up, are you going to be a princess, and she was like, or a doctor. Five years old, you know? But the mentality of everybody and parents and all of that is to consider that the girls or the women are going to do more frilly, frivolous-type work, and I think that we need to start at home sort of saying, you can do anything you want to do, and, by the way, you can be a great animator or a great effects artist—which there are very few women who are animators or effects artists—you could be a great director, a visual-effects supervisor. You know, I’ve had the privilege of working with two of the greatest women visual-effects supervisors out there, Sheena Duggal and Wendy Rogers. There’s a handful of women that do that role, and I think—I mean, there’s so much to say about the potential for women in technology, because women tend to have quite logical thinking, and it requires a lot of logical thinking. So
I mean, I think there’s much to say about it, and I think we can only probably talk on the tip of the iceberg, but I think that people are ready to embrace—
Lori: Acknowledge? Embrace.
Jacquie: Yeah, embrace more women in technology. I think that’s ready to happen.
Lori: Well, now let’s talk more about this when we come back, because—
Lori: —it’s a huge topic. We have to take a little break now, but we’re going to talk more with Jacquie Barnbrook, The Immersive Producer, and we’re going to get into what’s happening with women in tech, because, hey, we are women in tech, so why not? More with the Tech Cat.
Lori: Hello, and we’re back with the fabulous Jacquie Barnbrook, our Immersive Producer, and we were just getting into the tip of the iceberg of the conversation about women in technology. Jacquie has been involved in tech as it relates to the creation of virtual reality and visual effects, and a lot of her colleagues are also women in this business, and so we were just getting into why is there this weird disconnect in sort of the public world about the role that women are playing in this space. So, Jacquie, you had some thoughts about that.
Jacquie: Yeah, I mean, I think that—I just sort of feel like it’s not— we’re not sort of pushing young girls into those arenas early on. We think that those are sort of guy-driven areas. Like, for instance, you know, it’s sort of like, it’s called sort of computer science at school, when I went to school, maybe that’s like, you know, now we have electricity, I don’t know, but that’s a long time ago. But, you know, it’s like computer science, and any time you have the word science, I think girls tend to shun away from that and they shouldn’t, they shouldn’t. I think that they should be equally as excited and eager to see the potential of it as men are, but I don’t think we create a
mentality around that. I think that we sort of like, sort of go this is a boy’s—like boys wear pants, girls wear skirts kind of thing.
Lori: Right, right.
Jacquie: And I think we could be a little bit more open minded about that sort of stuff, and I think that that would help change things. But I think there’s bigger stats, actually, about the fact that, for instance, there’s a certain percentage of people that love to play video games, but there aren’t the same percentages that love to make video games.
Lori: Right, right, right, right.
Jacquie: So, they’re always looking to try to get more people, both men and women, involved in the actual creation of technology, whether that’s computer science or engineering or whatever that is, and then just on the other side of things, Lori, making more female- centric projects, right? So we have to remember that women control, usually, ninety percent of consumer purchases, and they also are responsible for about sixty-three percent of messaging on social media.
Jacquie: And when you start to hear those kinds of numbers, you go, wow, okay, so—you know, and women are buying over half the movie tickets. I think Shonda Rhimes said something like that—gosh, I hope I didn’t get that wrong, that quote—but there’s a lot of purchasing power out there that’s female driven, and so why aren’t we catering to them more?
Lori: Right, right, right.
Jacquie: And, you know, I find, for me, you know, I’ve spent a lot of my career doing movies about battles and explosions, and it certainly becomes a little wearisome. Now, obviously, those things kind of drive more visual-effects-type work, but I think there’s a potential to create more female-centric stories and content, both in the normal entertainment world as well as in VR. I think we’ve only created a small field for what’s possible for women, and I think we could open that up and have it become so much grander than we ever imagined.
Lori: That it could be, yeah, where it won’t actually matter what your gender is and all that.
Lori: I mean, one of the conversations that I’ve had with Shelley Zalis, who was on the show, who runs an organization called The Girls’ Lounge, and it’s all about empowering women in business, but she wants to change the C-suite conversation, which is not bring on a woman here because you need to have a woman here but bring on a woman because, to your point, women are good managers of multiple things, and when you talk about just how we work, just how we’re wired, and so with someone like you, you’re managing tech, vendors, and technology people, you’re managing hardware people, you’re managing filmmakers—
Lori: —you’re managing the studio and the networks and all of that, and you’re managing a lot of pieces, when it comes to creating VR. So it makes sense to me that women would be well suited for this area where there are multiple things that you’re balancing, you know?
Jacquie: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, women just, I think, in their DNA can spin a lot of plates at the same time. That’s just how they’re built, you know?
Lori: We’re plate spinners. However, we’re not—I know that I’m not a good plate cleaner.
Lori: Yeah, I’m not a good cleaner, but I’m a good spinner of plates, for sure.
Jacquie: I’m not a good plate juggler. I can spin the plate pretty good, but I can’t juggle it, because I can’t catch them when I need them to stop. They just crash to the floor.
Lori: So, switching gears, because you’re also a performer, and I’m wondering, because I’ve seen your one-woman show. In fact, Jacquie’s one-woman show, about ten years ago, was how I met my husband, or, at least, my husband and I knew each other, but your one-woman show actually solidified us into a romantic relationship. So I guess my daughter should really thank you.
Jacquie: Yes! I will take any kind of kudos from anywhere for anything, yeah.
Lori: So, as a technologist, sort of, in your day job, and then as a creative performing as well, are you also looking at other technology trends all the time? Are you trying to keep up with what’s happening out there?
Jacquie: Well, I find as a performer I’m always having to see how my—how does my work change. Okay, like, let me explain what I’m saying. So, you know, when you’re a dancer there are different kinds of dance, right? So there’s tap dancing, there’s ballet, there’s contemporary, there’s jazz, there’s swing, there’s tango, there’s ballroom, there are all these different kinds of dance, there’s hip hop; and they all use slightly different muscles and they have a different tone, and it’s the same thing, like, if I’m doing theater or if I’m doing film or I’m doing television, or I’ve been very fortunate to do, like, four prominent mocap movies, and doing motion capture is probably more like doing theater than it is than doing film, even though it’s for film, and whether you’re doing a commercial or doing television or now if you’re doing something in VR—see, now, in VR—if you’re shooting something in VR, you have to shoot the whole scene, pretty much, because the camera isn’t going to be moving around that much; you’re going to do blocking and choreography to the camera, probably, and that’s not always the way it is, but that’s probably what it’s going to be—something like that—because you don’t want to see any of the normal tricks that we use in movie magic to create a scene. You won’t see any of the flags or the lighting and all that kind of—you have to dress the lighting, unless you have sort of googobs of money to paint everything out, but you’re going to want to hide the lighting or hide the lighting in the set dressing. You’re not going to have reflector boards and silks and stuff like that because you can see everything.
You’re not going to have the director standing behind the camera necessarily, so you have to choreograph everything to the camera, and so that’s going to be a different experience. So it’s about trying to figure out what your skill sets need to be and what the tone is of these kinds of pieces, and all of that kind of stuff. So it’s great because you never stop learning, and you never stop getting to try something new. How I work as a voice-over actor is different than how I work as a television actor.
Lori: And then how you work as a producer. I mean, I think it’s so interesting because you’re talking about understanding the constraints
of each of your different worlds, but more and more, it seems to me, they’re all blending together.
Lori: Like, are you paying attention a lot to, now, social-media technology so that you can promote yourself as an actress but then maybe as a producer you have to understand how social media is going to work for the making of these different projects that you’re doing, and so I see all sorts of overlap with these technology trends for you.
Jacquie: Well, it definitely inspires me to have ideas. I have a page on Facebook called the Jacquie Barnbrook Appreciation Society because they don’t allow you to say Jacquie Barnbrook Fan Page, so I called it the Appreciation Society instead.
Lori: I like it.
Jacquie: So, I have that, and when I was thinking about, like, I’m developing an animated feature and it has a big eco message, so I thought, wow, wouldn’t it be cool to make a couple of PSAs with my characters; I’ll put them up online for free and let’s see if people like them, and then we’ll put a little message together with the PSA and that will then achieve the mission to have some sort of conscious media happening; and then I was, like, that’s the beauty of the Internet and having social media is that you can put this stuff up online and have people respond to it. You don’t have to wait for a distributer to give you their blessing.
Lori: Is there a lot of—since a lot of the stuff that you’re doing now in your producer world, is there a lot of people who want to capture the process, because you’re doing things that have never been done before? So do you have a lot of people sort of tracking your progress, because you’re, basically, inventing something new all the time?
Jacquie: Yeah, I mean, when you say tracking my progress, not me personally but just for, like, how this is all coming—
Lori: Yes, yeah. Personally, I’m stalking you, but, no, I meant the projects that you’re working on.
Jacquie: Yeah, that’s not new, Lori. You’ve been stalking me for years. Yeah, I mean, the Virtual Reality company has a behind-the-
scenes crew, actually, that’s working to sort of document their progress and how things are coming to be, which I think is really sort of fascinating and still sort of early days right now, but, yeah, I mean, I think we’re really trying to understand what it takes to do this kind of work, and there’s still a whole host of unknowns, because, of course, we still don’t have consumer-ready hardware.
Lori: Right. There’s a journey to when it will be mass appeal. Well, we have to take one more break in the show before we dig into a little bit more about where we can keep up, and I’ll stalk you, Jacquie. So when we come back, I want to learn more about where we can find you, what you’re doing next, and how people can see some of the stuff that you’re creating, both in the producer side of your life and in the actress side of your life. So more with stalking Jacquie Barnbrook, the Immersive Producer, and the Tech Cat when we come back. Stalking, stalking.
Lori: Rockin’ out here on the Tech Cat Show with the fabulous Jacquie Barnbrook, who is filling us in on all sorts of fabulous details about women in tech and creating virtual-reality content, and so, Jacquie, where can we see some of this stuff that you’re working on? Is The Martian VR project, is that available yet for people to watch?
Jacquie: No, like I said, we’re waiting for the hardware to be released. As soon as the hardware is released, then the content will be right on its heels, and we’re still waiting for confirmation from the different platforms about when those releases will happen. And, like I was saying before, with films you can make a deadline, you pretty much have to hit that deadline; with anything that’s happening in real-time or game-engine-driven stuff tends to be nebulous about when they’re going to come out. Like, they all say Q1 or Q2. First of all, they say 2016; then they say Q2, 3, or something; and then so, for instance, the latest that we heard was that there was a headset that was coming out Q1, Q2, but the controllers aren’t coming out until Q3, Q4. So it’s, like, well, this is an experience that needs those controllers, so that would be important to have those as well. So we’re just sort of idling our time until we have better information, because we’ll have to update drivers and update everything to whatever the final output is.
Lori: That is just mind blowing that you’re creating some really expensive, really high-quality IP, with major players in town—
Lori: —and the ability to see it right now hasn’t been released yet, and you’re not sure when. I mean, that’s just crazy, when you think about it.
Jacquie: Well, yeah, but, you know—
Lori: In a good way, I mean. Not in a bad way, but just different.
Jacquie: Yeah, I think as a producer you have to just take the information as it comes and try to make best choices for time and money. That’s everything that I deal with: time and money and managing expectations between our studio colleagues and our production colleagues and all of that, so just trying to make sure everybody understands what’s coming and how it’s going to happen.
Lori: Make everybody happy.
Jacquie: Okay, I’m trying. Well, I’m a people pleaser, that’s my problem.
Lori: And speaking about pleasing people, because I have seen you on stage and I’ve been on stage with you, when are we going to see you again?
Jacquie: Well, I’m working on writing my next one-woman show, so that will be a followup to the one that I did—the first one I did was called Jacks of all Trades, which is about all the crazy different jobs I’ve had in my life, and the next one is going to be about I’m just trying to exercise and I’m getting stopped at every turn. You know, I went to this beautiful, like, yoga class and somehow, you know, they had candles all around the room and I ended up with my socks on fire.
Lori: Oh my god, that’s hysterical.
Jacquie: So, I’m just trying to exercise. If somebody could just let me exercise, I would really appreciate it.
Lori: I wish somebody would do the exercise for me; I would really appreciate that.
Jacquie: I know, right? That’s what we need to do: find a way—that’s what we need is the technology to have somebody exercise for you and for you to reap the benefits of it.
Lori: Yeah, that would be fantastic.
Jacquie: I think I call—I call that a massage, actually.
Lori: You’re also working on, as a producer, some creative projects as well. Is there anything that we can look out for there?
Jacquie: Well, I’m really excited about my animated feature, and like I said, we’re building these PSAs, we have a couple of PSAs that are in progress right now. I am hoping that they’re going to come out in, like, May or June. So those will be coming down the horizon.
Obviously, you know, if you want to follow what I’m doing, I post when I have stuff coming up. I did some voice work in The Little Prince, which opens in, I think it’s March 18 of this year. I did some voice work, and I helped, actually, set up the visual effects for Jungle Book, which is the Jon Favreau directed Jungle Book for Disney that comes out in April of this year. I’m always doing different projects for Disney. I have a company called the Digital Makeup Group, and that’s a little bit more discreet, so we work on a lot of different high-end projects and take care of some of our famous actors, make sure that they look good. And then I have this fantastic idea for a new VR project that’s very chick centric.
Lori: Ooh, aah!
Jacquie: I’m super excited. I think it’s going to be great. I’m not in a rush on that one, because I just want to see what happens with the platforms and what’s the best way to manage that. So we’re just sort of in early days developing that for whatever’s going to be the best place to develop it for.
Lori: I love all of that, and I love that in today’s world you can wear multiple hats like you’re wearing in all your various projects, and they ebb and flow together, and it seems like technology is underneath sort of creative enabling all of these different things that you’re doing.
Now what about, are you active on social media? Can people follow you anywhere on social media?
Jacquie: Yeah, I’m on Facebook. Like I said, I have a webpage called the Jacquie Barnbrook Appreciation Society.
Lori: That’s right. That’s right. And then Twitter?
Jacquie: Yeah, I’m on Twitter as well as JacquieBarnbrook, and then also on Instagram as Jacquie Barnbrook, yeah.
Lori: As Jacquie Barnbrook because that’s your name.
Jacquie: Yeah, and you know, I’m kind of depressed now that I didn’t make it Jacquie H. Barnbrook.
Lori: Well, I’ll tell you, we’re going to have to battle for that H, because—
Jacquie: You want to like mud wrestle or Jell-O?
Lori: Yeah, Jell-O, I think, would be much more fun and the sugarless kind so we don’t have diabetic seizures. I don’t know if I ever actually told you the story about how my mortgage was actually being deposited in a different Lori Schwartz’ account.
Lori: And I actually was getting default notifications from Wells Fargo, and I called them, and I’m like, what is going on; I’m paying my bills. And they’re like, no, you’re not. And I’m like, can you check? And it turns out something just happened, a glitch, and they started depositing all my checks into a different Lori Schwartz’ account, so from then on I was obsessed with the H.
Lori: Which is, you know, I don’t even know who I was named after. I mean, it’s some dead person who was important at some point.
Jacquie: That’s funny. You know, just one quick thing, too. I do have an independent movie that I was in where I played the manager of this trailer park.
Jacquie: And what’s super fantastic is that at one point when I was on set I was waiting for my scene. This guy came up to me and he said, now who are you? And I said, oh, I’m the manager of the trailer park.
And he goes, oh, do you know what time the pool closes? And I said, you know, that’s how good I am. That’s how good of an actor I am. I am so good that you think I’m the actual manager of this trailer park, and that’s not true. I’m an actor.
Lori: As the manager of the trailer park, what recommendations would you have, as a final note to our audience, if they want to explore virtual reality? What is the best thing for folks to do right now just to try to understand it, either as business owners, as brands, as technologists, if they haven’t dived in yet?
Jacquie: I think the best thing to do is get yourself a Google Cardboard; get your phone in there; go to, I think it’s the Milk store; and get an app; download it; and just have that kind of experience. Experience what it feels like, even in Google Cardboard, because once you get inside it, you’ll start to go, oh, I see. The thing that is—what takes it to the next level with The Martian VR Experience is that then you go, I see the full value of the potential of this entertainment, right?
Lori: Right, right, right. When you add that great IP to it.
Jacquie: Right. Yes, exactly. But when you have—and also the controllers, but when you have the Google Cardboard, it’s going to give you a taste of it, right? It’ll give you a sense of what it feels like to be inside VR, but when you go to the next level, which is The Martian VR Experience, then you’re going to see, oh, wow; this has a bigger immersive experience. And like I said, it’s like a sensory explosion.
Lori: Yeah, I love that. That’s a great way to end the show, and let’s have a big hand for the fabulous Jacquie H. Barnbrook, the Immersive Producer. It’s been great to talk to you.
Jacquie: You too, the Lori H. Schwartz. Woohoo!
Lori: And we’ll talk to you next week from the Tech Cat Show. Check out everything and all things Jacquie Barnbrook and explore virtual reality when you get a chance. And thank you, ladies and gentlemen! Jacquie Barnbrook!
Jacquie: And that’s Jacquie with a Q, with a Q. There’s a Q in there. Lori: Any letter is open for anybody, ladies and gentlemen.
Jacquie: Yes, but Q, focus on the Q.
Lori: Take care, everybody. See you next week. Jacquie: Bye!