Letter from the Chair July

Halfway through 2017, we reflect on one of our best UDEN meetings yet, UDEN #15 last month, and look forward to our BIGGEST event yet, UDEN #16!  Also a soapbox from me about why game companies leave Utah, plus a look at upcoming events.

Happy Independence Day! We hope you're enjoying this glorious Utah weather as much as we are. 

We're half way through 2017, a year that UDEN chose to focus on AR and VR technologies, as we believe they might offer us a collective opportunity to put the entertainment creators of Utah "on the map".  At the beginning of last month, we held UDEN #15 (recap here) in which we showcased local developers who are already active in this space. Many attendees afterwards expressed to me their surprise at the high quality of work being created as well as the diversity of content. I agree, it was impressive on both counts.

We're now heads-down planning UDEN #16, in which we'll go one step further, and dive deeper into the tools and technologies used in creating AR and VR projects. It's looking to be our biggest event ever; we're in talks with major companies about presenting their tools and hopeful that, in addition, we'll have an expo to allow you a hands-on of a wide range of products, tools and technologies. We're giving ourselves time to pull this together, so expect announcements of speakers, dates and locations throughout the summer.

We'll be following that up later in the year with UDEN #17, in which we will look at other aspects of working in AR/VR, including:

  • how you create AR and VR film projects
  • the process of making an AR or VR game
  • the state of the AR and VR market in 2018 - the players and how you make money

Of course, as with all UDEN meetings, networking will remain a key component of what we do. At every UDEN meeting, we have everyone you could ever want to be involved with a creative business: designers, developers, artists, writers, producers, financiers - you name it, they're at UDEN. So if you can get over your shyness and say 'hi', you may well find your next collaborators at the next UDEN meeting! RSVP as these meetings will fill up fast!


Are The Game Makers Leaving Utah? 

At first you might think so, with the very sad news that CastAR is closing its Salt Lake City game studio, less than a year after opening it. This, on the heels of EA and Disney leaving. But each of these closures happened for a different reason. While some game companies may be leaving, the game makers are not - but we do need to change the way we work if we want to stop this cycle. It goes without saying that UDEN will do it can to help the employees affected by the CastAR shutdown to find a new job - and hopefully one here in Utah! 
Read more of my soapbox on this here: http://utahden.org/leaving


If you haven't yet JOINED UDEN, please take this opportunity to do so. We're really getting traction now and it is helpful to be able to show the support we have. You're a member if you have your BIO listed on the website membership pages. Please #GetInvolved!


As you know, UDEN is a non-profit run by industry volunteers. We try to make membership and all UDEN events FREE for our members, which we can only do thanks to the generosity of our sponsors. We will soon be accepting donations to help us scale the work we're doing and help us keep the membership open and free. More on that soon!

Upcoming Events


Spy Hop’s Heatwave Festival showcases the next generation of musical, radio and music business professionals from Spy Hop’s Loud & Clear Audio programs.  The Loud & Clear Youth Radio DJ’s will emcee the night with music, radio plays and interviews. Closing the night is the Spy Hop Musicology band, Paper Planes, performing their new album. Bring a picnic and join music and radio industry professionals, students, friends and families to celebrate their accomplishments over the year.  
More details here: http://utahden.org/spy_op_heatwave_festival


Join the Motion Picture Association of Utah and Utah Film Commission for the kick off of our quarterly networking events! This will be a great networking opportunity for those in the film industry or interested in getting started. We will have a raffle for summer gift baskets and Lake Effect will have a cash bar and serve film themed drink specials at a discounted price! 
More details: http://utahden.org/mpau_ufc


Over the course of ten months, Spy Hop's design students create a fully functional game that is ready to be launched for everyone to enjoy! With Adobe’s Creative Suite, Unity’s game engine, and lots of brainpower and collaboration, our students have designed and developed a game about perseverance and self-discovery. The Power Up! Game Design Lab is sponsored by Google Fiber and made possible by a grant from Utah Department of Workforce Services STEMlink grant. Spy Hop programming is funded in part by the Salt Lake City Arts Council, ZAP (Zoo, Arts & Parks) and Utah Division of Arts & Museums.
More details: http://utahden.org/spy_hop_power_up_party_down

Most Days in July - FREE FILMS!

Almost every day this month you can find terrific, engaging independent film showtimes all across the state! The wonderful Utah Film Center maintain a great list here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/UtahFilmCenter/events/

Weekly – SL CIRCLE

Our friends at SL Circle hold weekly lunch & learns and other events on different topics. They also have a monthly beer social last Friday of the month. Details of all these events: https://slcircle.com/events/

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – ENTREPRENEUR LAUNCH PAD

As previewed at UDEN #13, ELP helps startups and small businesses on the Wasatch front. Mentoring, education, resources for growth. These occur at five different locations including Orem, Kaysville, Sandy, Ogden and Brigham City. 
More info here: http://elpnow.org/

 - GamesIndustry.biz maintain a comprehensive list of upcoming events for the gaming industry, here: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/network/events

FILM - Our partners at the Utah Film Commission have an events calendar, here: https://film.utah.gov/calendar/

- The VR/AR Association maintain a growing list of events relevant for those involved in the creation of VR and AR, here: http://www.thevrara.com/events/

Finally, if you have an upcoming event you would like to share with UDEN members, you can add it to our website for FREE here: http://utahden.org/upevents

Our thanks, as always, for your support!

     - J

Jon Dean
Chair, Utah Digital Entertainment Network

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