MackNeXT honours international pioneers of technology: AUREA Award 2021 goes to Germany and the USA
As part of the third AUREA Award, visionaries and experts from all over the world came together on 22nd and 23rd January 2021 to exchange ideas, to network and, last but not least, to see the best ideas from the fields of virtual, augmented and extended reality (VR , AR and XR). The AUREA Award, initiated by Michael Mack, took place digitally for the first time this year and was thus able to achieve an even greater international reach. Following a specialist conference and the presentation of the ten finalists, the world-class jury announced the four winners of this year's AUREA Award on 23rd January. The special AUREA Entertainment Award went to a final project of the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy.
For the third time, this year's AUREA Award honoured the best ideas, developments and products from mixed realities in the entertainment sector. Participants from all over the world came together virtually to exchange ideas and make important contacts. In a video greeting at the start of the finalist presentations, the Minister of State for Digitization, Dorothee Bär, thanked the Mack family for their commitment and their willingness to take on the great challenge of transferring the AUREA Award to a digital format. For the first time, the conference, with specialist lectures by international tech giants, ans well as the award ceremony were broadcast completely live on the Internet. Alexander Mazza moderated the digital event from the Arena of Football in the centre of Europa-Park.
The ten finalists had the unique opportunity to present their projects and developments to the five-person jury. The jury, headed by chairwoman Kathleen Cohen (The Collaboratorium), consisted of renowned experts and entrepreneurs. As in previous years, these included Thomas Wagner (Co-Founder & Managing Director VR Coaster), Cathy Hackl (Enterprise Partner Marketing, Magic Leap) and Frank Govaere (Animation Director, Producer & VFX Supervisor, UFA). For the first time, Nils Wollny, one of the winners of the AUREA Award last year, supported the jury as co-founder and managing director of Holoride.
Michael Mack, managing partner of Europa-Park and founder of MackNeXT, was impressed by the finalists’ future-oriented projects and congratulated everyone involved on the implementation of the first digital event in Europa-Park: “The courage to keep reinventing yourself is what makes family businesses like ours so strong. I am proud that, together with my sister and brother, now in the eighth family generation, I am able to promote Europa-Park with innovative ideas and projects. "
The awards were given out for the categories Experience, Impact, Interactive and Creative. The award for the new development with the best experience went to the start-up Feelbelt. The Babelsberg-based company produces a belt that translates acoustic signals into haptic impulses, allowing films, music or games to be experienced in a new and intensive way. At the same time, the belt offers people with a hearing impairment the opportunity to perceive sounds in a different way. The jury selected the German project Rebuilt from Memories as the idea with the greatest impact. The developers use Instagram photos to reconstruct the Syrian city of Aleppo before war destroyed large parts of the buildings. The photos on the social media platform serve as an archive of personal memories and form the template for the virtual reconstruction. The team from the US company Adventure Lab was pleased to receive the award in the Interactive category. The VR game ‘Dr. Crumb's School for Disobedient Pets’ particularly inspired the jury given the context of the pandemic. The players can take part from home using VR headsets, meet friends from all over the world in a virtual room and master a range of tricky tasks. The creative award also went overseas in 2021: the organisers of the famous Burning Man festival, which takes place annually in the US state of Nevada, also faced the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, the entire event was lavishly transformed by BRCvr into a virtual reality replica, which gives artists and visitors the opportunity to participate. The jury praised the diversity of the nominated projects as well as the creativity and innovation of all finalists.
Following the regular finalists, three graduates and students from the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg were also able to present their projects to the jury. They have already been recognised in advance with the AUREA Entertainment sponsorship award and received prize money of 3,000 Euros each. An experienced jury headed by managing partner of Europa-Park and founder of MackNeXT, Michael Mack, decided on the award. He was supported by Holger Tappe (Managing Director Mack Animation), Olivier Zitvogel (CTO MackNeXT / YULLBE), Ian Jenkins (Head of BlueBanana), Tobias Hollmann (Producer MackNeXT) and Anna Katharina Brinkschulte (Senior Lecturer Interactive Media Film Academy Baden-Württemberg) and Thomas Lechner (Production Management Film Academy Baden-Württemberg). On 23rd January, student Carly Schrader was also able to convince the AUREA jury of her planned diploma thesis ‘Cybercity Lovestory’ in the Arena of Football in Europa-Park, which combines the medium of film with an interactive VR game. In addition to the 3,000 Euros in prize money that she and two other award winners will receive, she can now look forward to implementing her vision of ‘Cybercity Lovestory’ in coproduction with the MackNeXT innovation laboratory thanks to the AUREA Entertainment Award.