Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Noora Abu Eitah is an Executive Producer for two-time Emmy® Award-winning Secret Location – an Entertainment One Company, a content and technology studio for emerging platforms based in Toronto, Canada. For the past ten years, she has been supervising production management and operations, working closely with the rest of the leadership team on new business opportunities. Focusing on utilizing emerging technology and development in VR and mixed reality, Noora has produced high profile interactive projects for several ad agencies, entertainment producers and broadcasters, and supervised several innovative properties that tap into wearables, 360 video and VR technology. In 2017, Noora moved into Secret Location’s product team for Vusr, a white label platform that allows publishers and creators to distribute and monetize premium VR content. Using her experience in content production, Noora guides the development and management of VR apps for publishers such as The New York Times and AMC.
Noora, what does your current job role entail?
As the Executive Producer and Head of Production Services at Secret Location, I oversee the applications developed using our product, Vusr, and build partnerships with some of the top publishers and content creators to distribute their VR and interactive content. I lead a team of producers, art and tech leads, as well as manage the resourcing, budgeting and forecasting for future projects. I also collaborate with the product, content and strategy teams to achieve the company’s overall business and strategic goals.
How long did it take you to be where you are now? What was the biggest obstacle?
It’s taken over 12 years of hard work, determination and loyalty to those who I work for; I’ve been with Secret Location since its inception and I am proud to be a key contributor to its growth. My biggest obstacle was resourcing from a small talent pool. I search for incredible individuals who are passionate about their work and have high standards for quality, and I’ve been lucky to find some for the company. Secret Location’s body of work is beautiful from both a visual and technical standpoint, and it takes a great team to get there.
What projects are you are currently working on?
I am working on a few confidential Vusr publisher apps that will be accessible with some of the newest VR headsets, and the apps should be available for the public in the next few weeks. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more information once the details are announced.
What does the #WomenInVR movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur and woman in VR industry?
The movement unifies women working in VR by encouraging collaboration and discussion about shared issues and/or experiences. The community is also a source of inspiration, particularly for newcomers to the scene. Highlighting the successful women making headway in VR is an important step to encourage VR creators and innovators of the future. The goal is not to promote women in VR because they are women, but to build awareness about those who are successful and pioneering in the industry.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Aside from the awards which I proudly share with my team, I would say my biggest ongoing achievement is adapting with the ever-changing entertainment scene to produce cutting edge projects that are well-recognized internationally. On a more personal level, moving to Canada in pursuit of a better life encouraged me to set a high standard for goals and to put all my effort into achieving them.
What will be the key trends in the VR industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
We’re getting closer to easily building physical installations with motion detection and personalized 4D experiences at home with minimal hardware. With the emergence of VR location-based experiences and standalone VR headsets, we’re constantly iterating and innovating on the existing tech to create more turnkey solutions for location-based entertainment.
Mixed Reality applications haven’t fully taken off yet, but they’ll be developed further over the next couple of years. I think the focus for upcoming MR apps will be on developing them as platforms for in-home entertainment using smart technology and voice detection. This can include online shopping, interior design, and entertainment co-viewing.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs in VR out there?
Surround yourself with smart people who can run with your vision and make it a reality. Being genuine and transparent is key when establishing trust, so share your knowledge, thoughts and aspirations for your company. Do this and your team will support you as you cross obstacles you cannot overcome alone.
Also, do your research and ask a lot of questions. This is a new brave world of emerging technology and everyone is constantly learning.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in VR?
The “Godmother of VR,” Nonny de la Peña, who transformed the world of journalism and worked with VR HMDs before Oculus Rift existed.
AltspaceVR’s Head of Product, Debby Shepard, who spearheaded the creation of a social platform for VR and worked with many talented women to develop it.
I also work with several talented women at Secret Location, including our Head of Content Kathryn Rawson; Head of Core Product, Michala Duffield; and Vusr’s Lead Art Director Erin Ackerman – among many more powerful and brilliant women. If you want to meet a group of kickass women in VR, you definitely need to come to my office!
LinkedIn: Noora Abu Eitah
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.