VCUarts Could Transform Richmond into a VR/AR ‘Powerhouse’

Gallery visitor tries on a VR headset.

VCU alumnus David Waltenbaugh, Founder and Creative Director of Media Plural, says that Richmond has everything a city needs to be the new Mid-Atlantic hotspot for virtual and augmented reality. The city’s cheap cost of living, start-up friendly culture, increase in tourism and growing millennial community all point to Richmond’s future potential to lead the emerging tech industry. But it’s the influence of VCU and VCUarts that convinces Waltenbaugh that the future of VR/AR tech and content production points to RVA.

Between its top-ranked film school and innovative platforms like its Advanced Media Production Technology program, VCU’s School of the Arts could grab the reigns and play a major role in developing the thought- and production-leaders of the new frontiers of immersive cinema. … The state of Virginia invests heavily in promoting tourism and film production and in recent years has reaped the fruits of its labors: during Governor Terry McCauliffe’s four-year administration the state saw the tourism industry grow by $2.2 billion. The same benefits that directed the production of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, AMC’s TURN, and most recently Showtime’s Homeland to Richmond should entice future immersive media productions to the area.

The city, he says, also benefits from the work of advertising juggernaut The Martin Agency and VCU’s nationally-ranked Medical Center.

See for yourself this Wednesday—head to the Workshop in the lower level of Cabell Library Feb. 14 from 3–4 p.m. to play around with VCU’s immersive virtual reality headsets. The workshop is free and open to every member of the VCU community.

Waltenbaugh earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from VCU School of Business. His company Media Plural produces “360-degree video, spatial audio and music for VR, and traditional digital media for brands, entertainment, education, and beyond” in Richmond.


February 12, 2018