Interview by Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)
Resh Sidhu is one of the most well-regarded names in Virtual Reality and one of only a handful of women driving the medium forward with her fearless creativity and innovative approach. Resh’s most recent work is the groundbreaking Fantastic Beasts VR experience launching on Google’s Daydream Headset. She is the creative vision and driving force behind the idea, from concepting, creative direction to delivery. Working closely with Warner’s, Google and J.K. Rowling to deliver the most immersive virtual reality experience to date. She has recently been awarded The Voice a Woman Award for her pioneering creative work in Virtual reality.
Resh’s influential work is recognized worldwide for its pioneering approach that continues to define and lead the Virtual industry. Since joining Framestore’s VR Studio has become one of the most prolific and awarded virtual reality studios. Resh joined Framestore from Award winning innovation agency AKQA in London where, as Creative Director, she led a multi-disciplinary team across a wide client base. Resh has a diverse skillset with specialties in Virtual Reality, creative direction, interaction design, conceptual ideas, strategy and team leadership.
Resh has worked on a huge variety of award winning projects for clients including J.K. Rowling, WarnerBros, PlayStation, HBO, Xbox, L’Oreal, Nickelodeon, Nissan, Infiniti Red Bull, Nivea and Samsung. She’s a frequent contributing author to publications such as Advertising Age, Campaign USA, The Drum, Financial Times, LLB Online, Marie Claire, and Digi Day, where she has challenged the industry to stop cannibalizing the medium and delivery content that makes it truly indispensable. She was recently named as a leading female pioneer in VR by Marie Claire Magazine.
Resh, what does your current job role entail?
I'm Creative Director of VR at Framestore. My diverse portfolio ranges from immersive virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, event based activations, global digital marketing campaigns, strategic thinking where I use unfamiliar mediums to drive forward digital transformation. My work continues to push the boundaries of interactive design, art and technology to create experiences that connect with consumers on an emotional level. I'm a frequent contributing author to publications such as Advertising Age, Campaign USA, The Drum, Marie Claire, and DigiDay, where I have challenged the industry to stop cannibalizing the medium and deliver content that makes VR truly indispensable.
What is your dream job or are you doing it already?
I've always wanted to create beautiful things whether that's a VR experience, a piece of art or graphic design my passion has to make things that engage, excite and bring joy to people's lives. Working in the ever changing medium of VR is challenging and rewarding all at the same time. My dream role would be to take my years of VR expertise and work alongside directing greats like Spielberg or Lucas.
How has your career progressed since your degree? Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
When I was younger I trained as a Graphic Designer, many of the technologies and mediums we have today did not even exist. Taking my skills and talent and adopting new technologies has always been a strength of mine, I've done this throughout my career. Everything is self-taught, diving in and learning from the ground up, it's the best way. VR was much the same after receiving the first DK1 headset by Oculus I knew I wanted to create beautiful experiences in VR. If you aren't challenging yourself or trying new things then you're not pushing to reach your full potential.
Has your arts degree helped in your product design process for VR industry?
My entire career has helped me achieve the success I have in VR today. Everything you learn in graphic design, web design, app designing, ideas and creative thinking, digital innovation and advertising can be applied to this medium, the core values of a compelling creative still remain regardless of the medium, the biggest question is always does this have a reason to be in VR, is it the best user experience it can possibly be, does it add value to people's lives and is it memorable.
How long did it take you to be where you are now? What was the biggest obstacle?
I graduated from University in 1998 and got my first graphic design job a few days after my graduate show, always think I should have taken a break. I have not stopped working since then, that's 19 years of experience working for some of the world's best and most awarded digital agencies, from DigitasLBi to AKQA. There are no obstacles only the ones you create in your head, nothing has stopped me from believing I can be the best at what I do and nothing has thrown me off my vision. It's all about hard work and staying humble.
What are your projects you are currently working on within your company?
At Framestore, we help brands understand when and how to use VR to help maximise their business and reach. We work across all headsets and have created award winning experiences for the Google Daydream to the HTC Vive. We work on all types of VR and AR projects that push the boundaries of the medium.
What does the #WomenInVR movement mean to you?
In a very male-dominated industry, women need to stick together and support each other, just like the guys do. Women in VR is a great example of a community intent to nurturing and caring for each other and driving the message of diversity. I want to contribute in as many ways as possible and always share learnings and advice. Supporting this group and the people in it will add value to the industry and community.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur and woman in VR industry?
The work should always speak for itself, do great work it's as simple as that, nothing else matters.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Juggling a career whilst being a mum of two boys. Moving my entire life and family to live and work in New York to follow my dream about VR. Winning Voice of women award for Technology in VR. Named leading female pioneer in VR by Marie Claire Magazine.
Since joining Framestore’s VR Studio it has become one of the most prolific and awarded virtual reality studios.
What will be the key trends in the VR industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
So in 2022, I imagine the world where …
VR ownership will hit 90% of households. With home use ranging from gaming, entertainment, education, health and news, VR will become the most quickly adopted consumer technology in the history of the world.
New Realities will transform human communication and interaction. Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and VR will merge into an all-powerful new dimension that’ll be greater than the sum of its parts. Information will be tailored to our needs and desires, responding in real-time and constantly evolving to help us realise our full potentials. AI (IBM Watson) will be everywhere; an early taste of the AI-dominated era to come.
Entertainment will never be the same again.
Can you name any prominent women in the industry that you admire?
The Godmother of VR Nonny De la Pena.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs in VR out there?
Keep pushing the medium forward, lest not put up substandard poor conceived VR ideas, if we want the medium to have a rich future we need to deliver great content.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in VR?
Nonny De la Pena. Yelena Rachitsky. Helen Situ.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, co-founder of Women of Wearables and 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.