L.E.A.P. Conference 2018 Recap

(Delayed) Greetings!

I wanted to give an update of all the events that went down earlier this month at L.E.A.P. 2018, aka “Welcome to the Magicverse.”

(We’ve been hard at work since then finishing up Seedling, but wanted to pause and share with you some stories and photos from the event before the entire month escapes us.)

Our adventure started with six Seedling developers (beard to non-beard ratio of 1:1) traveling from NC to LA for a week to speak, give interviews, and help run the Seedling demos at L.E.A.P. Con 2018.

The venue turned out to be the perfect size for the amount of attendees; it never felt empty and never felt to crowded. Peoples reaction to Seedling were terrific. Almost every demo ended with an ear to ear grin, and no one left disappointed. There were plenty of “wows,” “unbelievable,” and “amazing” comments as the lightwear came off heads at the end of each demo. “Lightwear” is the official name for Magic Leaps headset half. One guest was unable to finish the demo due to tearing up after becoming emotional. More on that later.


The journey to LeapCon started with our group, of mixed reality pioneers, heading to the Burbank office to give other Insomniacs the opportunity to play the Seedling demo. It was great to see everyone again, meet a few new Insomniacs, and to give the demo team a test run at demoing Seedling before LeapCon.

Calill took the responsibility of protecting the Magic Leap we brought along very seriously. He never once let it out of his sight. The only point at which he felt comfortable enough to let his vigilant eyes rest was in the Burbank office; even then he felt the need to keep in constant contact with the cases cold unappreciative touch.

L.E.A.P. Con: Day 1

LeapCon Day 1 was press and VIP only. The demo team rocked this. Except for a few no shows in the early morning time slots, we had a full schedule, two demos every 20 minutes, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. nonstop. The team even managed to squeeze quite a few demos in for special VIPs between the scheduled slots.

Throughout day 1 I gave quite a few interviews to serval media outlets. Most of the articles specifically about Seedling have been relatively positive.

Road to VR
Venture Beat
Upload VR
Next Reality

I also want to point out that we were assigned three excellent engineers from Magic Leap who traded in their engineering hats for the week to act as our back of house support. These guys were real troopers! They kept an eye on every device to make sure there was always a charged one ready to go. They fitted every person that came in for a demo which involved swapping out: head pads, nose pieces, and prescription lenses. They also cleaned everything off after each demo.

L.E.A.P. Con: Day 2

Day 2 at LeapCon was a long day! Demos for the general public ran 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This time with a break for the keynote. Again we had a packed schedule giving two demos every 20 minutes. I think we squeezed about an extra 10-15 demos, between others, the second day.

The keynote was great. Rony and the rest of Magic Leap have some big plans; its clear they are thinking of this platform 10-20+ years into the future. The Insomniac crew all huddled around a TV in one of the demo rooms to watch the keynote on the stream. Of course, the most exciting part was the moment Ted came out on stage and revealed to the world that Insomniac is releasing its first mixed reality title on Magic Leap.

Demos to the public on day 2 went just as well. Several people commented on the visual fidelity of our tree; commenting it was the best-looking content they had seen on the device. All in all, the demo space worked out great. We only had one minor issue, for a few short minutes we experienced a loss of gravity. It soon returned. Crazy things happen in the Magicverse.

At the end of L.E.A.P., Magic Leap threw one heck of a closing party. It was really nice to relax and decompress with all of our new Magic Leap friends. Everyone deserves big congrats on a job well done.

Now about the guest that cried. I did ask first if she was okay with me sharing this story.

Towards the end of our Press and VIP day, one of our VIPs grabbed me after, and pulled me aside. I could see that she had been crying and was unsure where this encounter was going to go. Then she told me this story.

Her mother died in April of this year, and she has taken her mother’s death very hard. Soon after her mother passed away, she was walking to her car saw a white butterfly on the sidewalk. Having never seen a white butterfly she googled the meaning of seeing a white butterfly. As you have probably guessed, in many cultures, all white butterflies are signs that loved ones are thinking of you or that a deceased loved one is around you. In her own words, she is not one to believe in that kind of thing, but she liked the idea behind it. Fast forward to last week. She is having a terrible week for various reasons and cancels most of what she has scheduled except to attend L.E.A.P., as a VIP. Through happenstance, she finds herself in the Seedling demo, puts on the lightwear, and starts to turn a virtual scout manual page and what do we do to her? BAM! In the room where she is sitting, spawn about 100 white butterflies. It took her right back to April.

She was not upset with us in any way for causing her to leave a demo crying, if anything she was blown away that we were able to affect her in this way through this medium. If she had seen these same pixels on a tv screen, she did not think it would have phased her one bit, but those butterflies being able to live in her world made all the difference.

This is an extreme example. I know not everyone is going to be affected this deeply by our 2 polygon butterflies. However, I think this encounter sums up what the future of mixed reality can hold. We now have the ability to place content right in a person’s physical space, and have that world effect and drive the content. That’s powerful stuff. With this new medium of mixed reality, we can tell stories and create content for people to experience in a way that has not been possible before. It has been a real honor, for me, to have worked with the Seedling team as we dip Insomniacs toes into a new way for the world to experience our content.

Welcome to the future, we are among the first ones here.

-Nathaniel Bell