What’s next for Anton Andreacchio and Jumpgate VR?

Bold moving images of the South Australian landscape changing over three billion years are soon appearing at the renowned Venice Biennale, and Anton Andreacchio is among the Adelaide creative team making it happen.

“It started with an exhibition in Adelaide at the Hugo Michell Gallery and everyone was so blown away in the contemporary space they suggested we submit to the Venice Biennale,” Anton says.

Now Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe by artists James Darling and Lesley Forwood with Anton’s Jumpgate VR, composer Paul Stanhope and the Australian String Quartet is the only Australian project this year selected as an Official Collateral Event.

The stunning installation headed to Italy centres on a shallow 30m-long pool flooding an historic Venetian building, rock-like microbial structures will emerge from the water while a 36.5m-long and 3m-tall moving image artwork towers over its sides.

James Darling & Lesley Forwood, Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe, 2018, Adelaide, digital video (20-minute loop), 1.5 tonnes Mallee root & 4,000 litres of water, 1612 x 464 cm; Installation view at Hugo Michell Gallery, 2018. Photo by Sam Roberts Photography.

It is yet another impressive achievement from the creative company Jumpgate VR that further adds to its growing global reputation. In 2015, Anton’s thriving business created what is believed to be a world first virtual reality symphony with the Adelaide orchestra, the performance attracting work from all over the world.

For Anton, Adelaide has been the ideal place to launch his creative businesses, with the first digital agency Convergen started in 2009 with his brother Carlo.

Since then they co-founded four other companies, virtual reality company Jumpgate VR, film production company Double Bishop, and data science consultancy GMTI Consulting. Just a few weeks ago they also started post-production company Artisan Post Group with Michael Darren.

“We are already doing some of the post-production work on The Hunting currently shooting at Adelaide Studios, and we’ve just landed our first Hollywood horror movie that is about to enter post-production,” Anton says.

As the businesses continue to grow Anton has also emerged as a leading voice promoting the state’s creative industries. He is now a board member of the SA Film Corporation Board, Adelaide Film Festival and the inaugural Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, which has supported the launch of the new SA Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.

Anton Andreacchio of Jumpgate VR is the latest I Choose SA ambassador. Photo by JKTP.

His business is also taking a lead in moving into the State Government’s ambitious Lot Fourteen hub being created at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital in the CBD to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The 7ha neighbourhood is designed to bring together start-ups, mentors, corporations, researchers and investors with creatives in a bid to nurture talent in some of the world’s fastest growing industries.

Anton’s team of 14 staff will be spread between Lot Fourteen’s Eleanor Harrald building and the current Adelaide Studios office, home of the SA Film Corporation in Glenside, “as it’s important to also be part of that industry base”.

An office in Melbourne has been closed with Anton saying it was an important space for building interstate relationships but has now served its purpose. The company is keen to remain nimble in a quickly changing world.

“It’s almost impossible to see more than six months ahead, particularly with how fast tech is changing, there was 100 years of change happening in 10 years and then that change is now happening in one year,” he says.

It’s not only the arts world where the suite of companies are rising stars. There’s a strong relationship with industry-based training organisation PEER and contracts in the sporting world after Jumpgate joined forces with the Australian Football League a few years ago.

Jumpgate VR created what is believed to be a world first virtual reality symphony with the Adelaide orchestra in 2015.

It’s cutting edge work with the game’s elite athletes to improve performance using virtual reality headsets to see replays or new game play simulations and has seen its AFL club clients swell from one to four.

Anton believes a key to building successful companies is taking “an Adelaide approach, let’s build relationships, then ask where it fits”.

“We’ve had to have a local sensitivity but a global focus, but wherever we work we like to act like we are local,” he says.

“We’ve found we have to be relationship focused and it’s not constructive to be over promising, in the entrepreneurial and tech space there’s a lot of over-promising.”

It is a consistent message from the young achiever who has a strong belief in the future of the state’s creative industries.

“I feel excited about the year ahead, we are in a great position, there is just so much to do and it’s good fun,” he says. “We are planning for our future as well as looking at what’s happening in SA and thinking this is a great time to be here, we are kind of countercyclical in SA from the rest of the country … we’re finding there’s more demand than ever.”

Anton Andreacchio is Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador for creative industries.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Farmer organisation key to sustainable ag in the Mallee

Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) is helping farmers in South Australia’s Mallee remain optimistic as they anxiously wait for a break in the drought.

The not-for-profit organisation services an area of more than four million hectares in SA, Victoria and NSW, stretching from Balranald in NSW to Murray Bridge in SA.

Allen Buckley from Waikerie in SA’s Riverland is one of the founders of the MSF, which began nearly 22 years ago.

He was one of the first Mallee grain growers to use no-till techniques, which reduced soil erosion and significantly increased yields of crops such as wheat and barley.

No-till means crops are placed in the ground without turning over the soil and keeping the previous crop stubble standing.

The word spread about Allen’s success and other farmers in the Mallee region in SA, Victoria and NSW were eager to follow suit.

Waikerie farmer Allen Buckley was one of the founders of MSF and one of first grain growers to use no-till techniques.

Farmers in the Mallee realised they needed to be represented by a permanent organisation to help them become more sustainable.

Their determination attracted funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and support from the CSIRO to establish MSF in 1997 and it became an incorporated body in 1998. This collaboration is still strong in 2019.

The first core sites to demonstrate no-till farming practices were established on three properties, at Waikerie on Allen’s farm and at Gol Gol and Balranald in NSW.

More than two decades later, the Mallee cropping region once seen as a dust bowl has been transformed into a lucrative grain and legume producing area.

But Allen says one thing MSF can’t control is the weather.

The 67-year-old says last year was the second driest season he knows of around the Waikerie area since the 1982 drought when SA recorded its lowest rainfall on record.

“On our property we received only 88mm of rain in 1982 and in 2018 we received just 94mm,” he says.

MSF program manager and Jabuk farmer Tanja Morgan says the organisation tries to provide Mallee farmers with the resources they need to manage tough times.

MSF program manager Tanja Morgan who has a farm at Jabuk in the southern Mallee in SA says bringing farmers together is the key to helping them through the tough times.

The organisation’s 2019 research updates, which were held at Waikerie in SA and Murrayville and Manangatang in Victoria last month, were well supported by farmers. They also featured a session on handling stress.

“We try and provide them with the resources they need and we also run a lot of field days, where we get farmers together,” Tanja says.

Growing legumes has also become a way of reducing soil erosion and increasing farmers’ viability.

“Between 2012-2016, the prices for lentils and chickpeas were strong, ” Tanja says.

Participants at a MSF Field Day at Lameroo in SA’s Mallee last year learn about spade and sow soil amelioration treatment to improve production in sandy soils.

Fourth-generation grain grower Wade Nickolls from Pinnaroo says his family has been growing legumes such as lentils since the late 1980s.

However, Wade made most of his profit last season from hay, which he exports to Asia and receives about $300 a tonne. He has also been involved in faba bean trials, which performed well despite the drought and frost.

Australia’s faba beans are presently attracting about $800 a tonne, with strong demand from the Middle East due to a global shortage.

Wade, who is 40, says the future of farming in Pinnaroo looks bright and the MSF has contributed to this.

“In Pinnaroo, the average age of farmers would be 35, which is rare, as in most places it would probably be about 60,” he adds.

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Sailing in the desert as rivers rise

For enthusiastic boaties, a lake with no water is a little like a pub with no beer, but members of the Lake Eyre Yacht Club are accustomed to the dry spells. Sometimes, it can be two years between outings, but there’s nothing like a heavy north Queensland flood to put some wind in your dusty sails.

In the outback town of Marree, where the yacht club has its headquarters, the ice cold tinnies are being cracked open – and the larger floating tinnies are being cranked into action – to toast the swelling rivers in South Australia’s thirsty desert.

Club commodore, Bob Backway, says the volume of water bringing relief to the channel country could eclipse 1991 levels.

Commodore Bob Backway, left, with Australian business icon Rear Admiral Dick Smith at the 2013 regatta at Lake Hope. Photo by Doreen Backway.

“If we get to 2m, it means that we can sail on Lake Eyre itself rather than just where the Warburton River flows in, and if the basin completely fills, you can go out sailing for a week and will need a compass to find your way back,” he says.

Established in 2000, the yacht club deemed Marree the ideal central meeting spot for 250 Australian and international members with a taste for adventure.

“Marree is the like hub of the outback, because it’s at the junction of the Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks and not far from the Strzelecki Track,” Bob explains.

The clubhouse is located in a heavily renovated shed at “the Lake Eyre end of town”.

The Lake Eyre Yacht Club house. Photo by Bob Backway.

“We lifted it up and made it two-storey so that there was storage underneath for boats, and then we added a launching ramp so that it looked like a yacht club and felt like home,” Bob says. “There’s no water lapping at the bottom, but we do have photos with water all around it from when it rained and rained in 2010; it looked like the tide had come in!”

Marree Hotel manager, Joe Calvert, says the yacht club has become a town attraction.

“Their regattas really bring business to the town for sure, and we appreciate anything that gives people a reason to stay or look around a bit longer,” he says.

The club’s next regatta for both power and paddle boats will run on the Warburton River from April 16–19.

The regattas lead to an increase visitors in the town of Marree. Photo by Bob Backway.

“Normally we camp in the one spot, but this is a bit more adventurous as we’ll be sleeping under the stars at Clifton Hills and Cowarie stations – it’s more like bushwalking on a boat,” Bob says.

The concept seems almost as improbable as sailing in the desert, but anything is possible in the outback.

“It’s completely different to sailing anywhere else; for starters, you don’t have to queue for the landing ramp, but you’re sailing in wilderness and that’s why it is so beautiful,” Bob says.

“It opens up a whole new dimension to the desert, and I think the experience ends up affecting people’s philosophy on life a bit; they wind down and start to see things differently. It’s a very special place.”

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Haigh’s Easter treats in full production

Haigh’s $15 million investment in its Mile End manufacturing plant has been tested to meet Easter chocolate demand – which has taken effect since January.

The South Australian family-owned company has doubled its production capacity with the installation of Italian state-of-the-art roasting and German blending machines at its expanded Mile End plant. Haigh’s is the only large-scale operation in Australia making its own chocolate couverture from scratch, creating eight different chocolate blends to exacting family recipes – including one special milk chocolate blend for Easter eggs, containing more cocoa butter to make it thinner for running easily around egg moulds.

Each of the distinctive Haigh’s blends comprise cocoa beans from up to four different countries, and the highly efficient new Mile End plant can manufacture up to 20 different batches of chocolate each day.

“The investment in upgrading has been justified because the new operation runs so smoothly in times of peak demand,” says Haigh’s marketing manager Fiona Krawczyk.

Large dark chocolate eggs ready to be packaged for the Easter rush.

The lead into Easter is when Haigh’s unique operation is evident – not just as the only large-scale chocolate manufacturer roasting its own cocoa beans, but also for only selling through its own network of 18 Haigh’s retails stores across Australia.

This whole careful process starts with stringent selection of superior cocoa beans from UTZ certified sustainable farms in Ecuador, Ghana, Venezuela and Grenada. And because Haigh’s aims to only use certified beans, it is encouraging the owners of a plantation in Papua New Guinea, whose beans have formed an integral part of Haigh’s blends for 60 years, to also obtain certification.

This remains important because Haigh’s has made its chocolate from scratch since the company began in 1915, and the volume of beans it uses is substantial – about 10,000kg roasted each week, with its storage warehouse laden with about 1000 tonne of beans.

Individual parcels of beans are roasted at 116C for about 40 minutes, then crushed so the cocoa nibs can be separated from husks (which are recycled for garden mulch). Nibs are ground into a thick, rather gritty paste and mixed with sugar (plus milk powder for milk chocolate).

A Haigh’s employee pans through chocolate.

The resulting slurry is rolled and aerated in a giant, heated churn for a 10-hour conching process, to remove excess moisture, caramelise milk powder and develop flavours. Cocoa butter is added to make a smooth, viscous paste, which is pumped into 10 holding tanks (four for dark chocolate blends, three for milk chocolate, and three single origin blends), from which 20 tonnes of chocolate get transported by tanker each week to Haigh’s chocolate shaping factory at Parkside.

“The Parkside factory is where the magic happens, transforming molten chocolate into the familiar shapes that are so popular,” says Haigh’s new products co-ordinator Robert Fowler, a 30-year employee responsible for creating some of the company’s most beloved individual chocolates, including salted caramel, through to the more daring mango and chilli centre.

While these are standouts among 250 varieties of chocolates produced by Haigh’s, Easter focuses on a different production output, with the first chocolate bilbies and eggs wrapped in tinfoil from early January.

Marking chocolate by hand is a finicky process.

Haigh’s trademark Easter bilbies have introduced a proud Australian tone to the season, and signal an important production milestone for the company. Bilby shapes were the first polycarbonate moulds introduced at Haigh’s 26 years ago that replaced traditional tin moulds.

Hollow Easter chocolate shapes are created when these moulds are attached to a spinning machine filled with molten chocolate as it rotates, then cooled to set the shape. They are then wrapped individually by up to 30 staff, deftly snipping ribbed tinfoil for an elegant finish.

Haigh’s is particularly fussy about its metal foils, choosing a different suite of colours each year, with this year’s being mint, raspberry, gold and mauve (no Easter colour range has ever been repeated). Haigh’s even purchased a rare tinfoil ribbing machine from an Italian manufacturer last year to ensure its preferred foil crimping process.

The Haigh’s ‘Egg-strodinary’ package.

Haigh’s will present new product this Easter, including multi-coloured sugared almonds, which have been modified after several years of trials before being put into full production.

Haigh’s largest chocolate egg weighs an imposing 600g, and the season’s final eggs have been wrapped as late as Easter Thursday.

Easter is such a busy time that it even affects Haigh’s most popular item, Chocolate Speckles. This unique product is made differently to rival choc buttons that are rolled in sugar sprinkles, because Haigh’s drops large dollops of chocolate into trays filled with multi-coloured nonpareils (manufactured by Dollar Sweets in Melbourne). It’s labor-intensive and requires strenuous cleaning of conveyor belts and other work surfaces before another type of chocolates can be produced.

Therefore, speckles production is accelerated through summer before ceasing during January for a three-month focus on Easter chocolate production – which ensures that Haigh’s still produces about 14 million speckles each year.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Local talent behind SA-made film Hotel Mumbai

South Australian-made film Hotel Mumbai has hit cinemas across Australia and overseas, based on incredible events that unfolded at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai during deadly terror attacks in 2008.

Hotel Mumbai is SA director Anthony Maras’ debut feature, filmed partially at Adelaide Studios within the SA Film Corporation, as well as on location in India, in 2016.

The film is based on the real-life events that unfolded at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008, when gunmen stormed the building in a string of attacks carried out across the city over three days, killing 164 people.

Filming started in 2016, with Adelaide Studios transformed to replicate the opulent interior of the luxurious palace hotel, where heroic staff made sacrifices to save their guests.

On set at Adelaide Studios during the filming of Hotel Mumbai.

Anthony Maras, who is well-known for his 2011 short film The Palace, spent a year researching and interviewing survivors and co-wrote the film alongside John Collee. The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs, and Adelaide actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey and received a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year before its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Julie Ryan who heads Adelaide production company Cyan Films was one of six producers on Hotel Mumbai and says about 230 people were employed during filming and post production, with 66% of them from SA.

Although the Glenside film precinct is a world away from the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Julie says the set was adaptable in replicating the hotel’s interior.

Director Anthony Maras, centre, on set.

“Given the Adelaide Studios were built in the late 1800s – and the Taj was early 1900s – it meant that some of the architecture could match and we could build the sets and utilise things like the window frames and high ceilings,” she says.

“The studios and tenants were extremely adaptable and helpful, particularly the tenants on the second floor who allowed us to film in their corridors outside their offices.

“There are moments in the film where you come out of a corridor in Adelaide and literally walk into a set in Mumbai – and that’s the genius of (production designer) Steven Jones-Evans.”

Completing post-production and assisting in the execution of the seamless transitions between interior scenes in Adelaide and exterior scenes in India, was local company KOJO.

Dev Patel plays Arjun, a brave waiter at the hotel.

KOJO’s post production and VFX team was engaged in post-supervision, picture and sound services and VFX on the film, taking on additional staff to work on the project.

Executive director of KOJO’s post production/visual effects department, Marty Pepper, was Hotel Mumbai’s VFX supervisor and DI colourist.

Marty, whose portfolio of work includes Storm Boy, I Am Mother, and soon-to-be-released Top End Wedding met director Anthony Maras back in 2005 when working on Wolf Creek.

Actor Angus McLaren plays Eddie.

He describes Hotel Mumbai as an “all-consuming project” after being involved from pre-production stages and travelling to India three times during filming.

“It was a very holistic thing, I feel as if I almost lived it (the film) for those years,” he says. “There is an incredible sense of respect in the film (for victims and survivors) and that was led by Anthony.”

KOJO worked on 750 shots in the film, with the company’s entire post-production and VFX team involved “in some shape or form”.

“When we shot at Adelaide Studios the art department was quite incredible in turning the space into a luxurious hotel, and we played a part in how that was all integrated into the scenes in India. Part of the VFX was making sure the light and colour transitioned seamlessly,” Marty says.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey on set.

Hotel Mumbai is one of a string of films recently made in SA, a state which producer Julie Ryan and KOJO’s Marty Pepper both say punches above its weight in the film industry.

Julie notes the representation of SA films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with four of the six Australian films screened at the event having a connection to SA – I Am Mother, Animals, The Nightingale and Top End Wedding.

“When you look at the recent Sundance Film Festival and add up how many of the Australian films had connections to SA it really does show that we are punching above our weight,” she adds.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Meet the chefs leading SA’s food waste movement

Banana peels, vegetable skins and corn husks aren’t ingredients typically associated with fine dining but local chef Kane Pollard is on a mission to change the way we think about food waste. He’s the head chef and owner of Topiary, a restaurant that’s nestled amongst towering gum trees in Tea Tree Gully.

He’s worked there for nine years and owned it for seven, successfully transitioning it from a cafe that sold sandwiches and scones to an award-winning restaurant that’s leading the charge when it comes to the South Australian food waste movement.

The Topiary’s housemade halloumi and its ricotta, semi-dried tomatoes and garden basil.

Everything you eat at Topiary is made on the premises – the butter, cheese, cured meats and fish, sour cream, yoghurt, all the breads, mustard – but Kane doesn’t stop there. Everything that’s bound for landfill is given a new purpose: corn husks become a malty corn bisque soup, excess sourdough starter is turned into a flaky tart shell, the stones from fruit are used to infuse oils and vinegars, and whole bananas are roasted in their skins and turned into a banoffee parfait.

“A good example is the cheese making process, during which you separate the curds from the whey,” says Kane. “It’s a long process and to discard three quarters of the total volume seemed nuts.” Kane and his team experimented with reducing the whey down and turning it into a caramel, and also using it in place of water to brine meats.

“Now, we add milk and draw the ricotta out of it, and serve it alongside the cheese that it came from,” he says. “So on the menu we serve ‘halloumi and its ricotta’, and the combination of the fried, salty, chewy cheese and the light, fluffy, sweet ricotta is incredible. It still blows my mind that they come from the same pot.”

The Topiary’s whole grilled eggplant, cultured buttermilk, cured yolk, and society garlic.

Kane’s not the only SA chef who’s putting waste on their menu. Tom Tilbury at Coriole restaurant Gather aims to operate a zero waste kitchen, with a stringent ban on single-use plastics and an expanding menu of dishes that use the whole animal and vegetable.

“All of our pork offcuts that don’t get used are cooked down, shredded and turned into a creamy pork rillette,” says Tom. “It’s served on a puffed bread cracker that’s made out of the odds and ends of sourdough. We soak it down, puree it and then deep fry until it puffs up. Absolutely no bread in our kitchen goes to waste.”

That mindset is echoed by a growing number of restaurants in the CBD, including regional Thai restaurant Soi38, South African BBQ hotspot Africola and Asian grillhouse Shobosho, who repurpose ingredient waste from Maybe Mae and the Shobosho kitchen into their cocktail list.

Coriole Gather’s pork rillettes, apple, savoy cabbage, sourdough crackers.

“There’s no such thing as waste – it’s just another ingredient,” says Africola’s head chef Duncan Weldemoed. Take their much-loved cauliflower steak: all trim goes in a pot, is cooked down and turned into a puree used to dress the steak. Their romesco pepper and barbecued carrot dishes are also marinated using trimmings that would otherwise end up in compost.

For Soi38 owners Terry Intrarakhamhaeng and Daisy Miller, the obsession with using waste started with mushrooms. “We use a lot of mushrooms in our curries and stir frys, and had all these stalks leftover,” says Daisy. “So we cook them down with peanuts and pickled sweet radish and turn them into dumplings.”

Africola’s head chef Duncan Weldemoed.

SA isn’t just leading the war on waste in the kitchen; the state is also home to a new national research centre created to combat Australia’s $20 billion food waste bill. Dr Steven Lapidge, CEO of the Fight Food Waste Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), says SA was the “natural home” for the centre.

“From container recycling to banning plastic bags, SA’s been a leader in sustainability for a long time. We also have the lowest food waste per capita,” he says.

Steven says dozens of initiatives are already taking place across the state: at the University of Adelaide, the 40% of potatoes that are graded out for cosmetic reasons are being turned into products like puree, dairy-free ice cream and vodka.

“SARDI (South Australian Research and Development Institute) is working a lot with the seafood industry,” says Dr Lavidge, “particularly with lobster waste, which they’re turning into lobster oil and powder for other foods.”

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, left, Interim Dean of Waite Campus Associate Professor Chris Ford, Dr Steven Lapidge and Food SA CEO Catherine Sayer at the Waite Campus for the State Government’s announcement of the Fight Food Waste CRC.

CRC’s mission is to grow these initiatives by identifying businesses with troublesome waste streams and assigning them dedicated research resources to help find ways to stop food ending up in landfill.

For waste to be taken seriously by diners, aesthetics plays a big part, says Kane of Topiary.

“We want waste to be the key ingredient, rather than just making sure it gets used,” he says. “That means the dish needs to not only taste exceptional but also look beautiful. We want to change perceptions.”

Join Kane for a five-course dinner that showcases his zero-waste approach at his Tasting Australia event, Waste Not Want Not. $60, 6.30pm, Topiary. Tickets on sale now.

Main image features Topiary head chef and owner Kane Pollard.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Blockchain’s next links – from online games to government documents

Blockchain has been an ambiguous technological concept in the minds of many – despite great excitement about its potential and enthusiastic recent spruiking by the South Australian government.

Now its function has gained some clarity for mainstream audiences through being used as a pivotal component within an innovative online game being devised in SA.

Forever Has Fallen is a conspiracy thriller game that will be played across different media types such as social media, websites, mobile and real-world events such as scavenger hunts and escape rooms.

The game will use blockchain technology to register ledger functions that players use to verify where they are in the game, along with ownership of digital goods and collectibles, and issuing rewards for completing tasks.

The attractive function of blockchain is that it allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. It serves an incorruptible digital ledger of separate blocks of information that are chained together in sequence, time stamped and managed by a cluster of computers rather than a single entity.

Blockchain is a pivotal component of the locally developed online game Forever Has Fallen.

Therefore, no centralised version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt, making it an especially secure system for transferring financial transactions and confidential documents.

Originally devised for the Bitcoin digital currency, blockchain is now being applied by tech companies to serve other functions – with Adelaide-based marketing and communications entrepreneur Kimon Lycos being the first to apply it to entertainment and gaming with Forever Has Fallen.

Hoping to re-imagine the blockbuster screen entertainment format, Kimon has worked with his development team to present an interactive game that involves direct interaction with story characters, challenges and puzzles. At the game’s core will be Forever Coin digital tokens, a form of digital currency that will rely on blockchain technology to track and authenticate tokens used by game players.

“Our model is far more cost-effective at producing blockbuster storytelling than a conventional Hollywood movie franchise,” says Kimon. “We will be able to fuse the entertainment with game-like challenges that reward fans, and there is an entire economic system integrated within the story, where fans can buy, earn, trade and sell.”

Forever Coin digital tokens rely on blockchain technology.

While Kimon had initially planned to sell Forever Coin tokens by issuing SA’s first Initial Coin Offering, he has now abandoned this means of selling tokens. Instead, his company is planning to launch the Forever Has Fallen game concept via a podcast. He estimates that the company is about six months away from launching its podcast pilot.

“This is a digital democracy – truly interactive and live to all parties at once – which is why gamers in particular are excited by its implication,” says Kimon.

This wider application of blockchain being used beyond Bitcoin is, in the view of Kimon, the start of a fast-moving tech phenomenon. He sees the uptake of blockchain technology having a huge effect in government administration.

“Governments can address the challenges of trust and transparency while meeting the need for data protection and privacy,” Kimon says.

The thriller conspiracy game is based on a blockbuster story.

He points to Sweden’s land registry authority, the Lantmäteriet, wanting to allow buyers, sellers, banks and authorities to track a transaction from beginning to end digitally instead of using paper contracts, thus making tracking and transparency easier, because every party has information always accessible on the blockchain.

“The Dubai government is going all in. It wants all government documents secured on a blockchain by 2020,” says Kimon.

“It estimates its blockchain strategy has the potential to generate 25.1 million hours of economic productivity each year in savings, while reducing CO2 emissions.”

In a provocative article titled Death of the Bureaucrat published by the Hackernoon website, Kimon has written that “we can look forward to a revolution against governments and ironically enough it will be led by governments themselves”.

“This will be thanks to globalisation and a need for countries to be competitive in the struggle for talent, tax revenues and innovation to maintain prosperity.”

Forever Has Fallen founder Kimon Lycos.

However, the need for substantial computing power to realise all of blockchain’s potential uses means that many of blockchain’s more ambitious ideas are running ahead of current online capabilities.

“We are probably still five years away from having the readily available computing power to do all the blockchain things that people are talking about, because we don’t have the necessary storage, bandwidth and processing speeds of devices,” says Kimon.

“I liken this to the early days of the internet, when it took several leaps in the advancement of hardware and accessibility to reach where we are now. I think blockchain is on that same upward trajectory.

“Government can supercharge our competitiveness in blockchain technology,” adds Kimon. “Breakthroughs in new technology only come via support to make great leaps – and I believe that creating a world-class developer centre for excellence would result in SA having great exportable capabilities with blockchain, which is going to be enormous on a global scale.”

Check out the Forever Has Fallen trailer below! Contains very mild language and violence themes.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide’s Floodlight to illuminate interstate

Remember that television commercial showing a couple on the couch being transported to the Bahamas? Well, the Adelaide creative team behind its making is now doing some teleporting of its own.

Video and film production company Floodlight Media is opening a new office in Melbourne later this month as its staff numbers swell to meet ongoing demand.

“We found Adelaide an amazing launching pad for our business and that it continues to be an ideal place for an head office,” co-founder and creative director Cameron Roberts says.

“The city punches well above its weight in the big names it attracts to the state, and being here meant we were able to prove ourselves on a less competitive stage. It wasn’t long before clients were asking us to fly to the other states to create their content for them.”

The team started in 2015 and specialises in advertising, creative production, corporate video, online live streaming and event coverage, and Cameron says being based in the studios run by the South Australian Film Corporation in Glenside is a great fit.

“Adelaide Studios is a fantastic community and it’s great to be rubbing shoulders with the people based here,” he says.

The Floodlight Media team in its early days when the four team members once worked in close proximity. Floodlight has come a long way since then, expanding interstate.

Many among Floodlight’s clients are now from the global renewable sector including Tesla, Siemens, AGL and Neoen – after the company, established by Cameron and his brother David Roberts, also recently bought another business specialising in the sector, New Era Media.

There are many other sectors they cover including recently providing the live streaming for the Lifesaving World Championships in Glenelg and producing its television content to distribute worldwide.Then there are a number of festival nominated short films including Fisheries Cops featuring Triple J’s breakfast co-hosts Ben and Liam.

Floodlight Media started out when Cameron finished studying film and television at TAFE and joined forces with his brother David – who has 10 years experience in the film industry including working on the popular Offspring television series, 100 Bloody Acres, Sam Fox Extreme Adventures and Red Dog.

When the first projects came up Cameron says neither thought Adelaide was capable of sustaining a full-time business in their field. But they were pleasantly surprised, work snowballed, and in 2015, David met Justin Counihan at the Australian International Pedal Prix.

Floodlight Media in action on an Adelaide Studios green screen shoot of a People’s Choice Credit Union commercial via KWP!

They recognised Justin’s important background in project management, he was installed as managing director and the company was formed. It did not take long for the company to quickly expand, moving from working in a spare room in a share house in the Adelaide Hills to an office at the Adelaide Film Studios hub.

In fact, the team has doubled every year for the last three in a row.

“We now have about 15 staff, we quickly grew out of our first small office and we’re now onto our third at the studios,” Cameron says.

The largest sector of work is in commercial videos for large organisations, and then there are TVCs, including that People’s Choice Credit Union commercial mentioned earlier.

Floodlight was approached by the Adelaide creative company kwp! to help with the credit union advertisement where two people sitting on a couch are transported to a renovated home and the Bahamas by swiping their iPad.

“That was a great project, we landed the VFX work, the backgrounds are completely built in a visual effects 3D space and animated,” Cameron says.

Floodlight Media (jokingly) tries to get into the Melbourne headspace by perfecting avocado lattes ahead of the move. From left, Trent Ninos (VFX), Emily Brockbank (camera operator), Marko Leosk (creative), and Holly Howard (head of production).

Other projects include ongoing work with UniSA, and working with JCDecaux to create a series of promotional videos for the 2017 Toyota AFL finals series.

JCDecaux developed live-link billboards, through which AFL stars could interact with fans, giving them the chance to win their way to the 2017 finals series. The campaign has been viewed over 500,000 times on social media with thousands of shares and comments. There’s also been work with Bendigo Bank, Australian Fashion Labels and the RAA.

“Given the business initially grew entirely from word of mouth, it was clear to us that our SA clients really appreciated our passion, quality and commitment to their product,” photography director David says.

Opening the Melbourne office on March 25 is about expanding the client base.

“We were surprised to find that our approach to film production was in high demand in Melbourne and we increasingly found clients willing to fly us over despite the fact the city has a lot of great production companies,” managing director Justin says.

“So it felt like the natural next step to officially set up shop there to be supported by our Adelaide head office.”

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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The man who took on Mt Gambier’s tower in the clouds

As a mobile travel agent, Ben Deering’s office can be anywhere with Wi-Fi and a laptop, so why not make it on top of a mountain?

Mt Gambier’s Centenary Tower had been closed for two years when Ben volunteered to become its caretaker shortly after relocating to the regional city from Melbourne with his young family.

“I kept asking people why such an iconic building wasn’t open; you can’t leave it shut!” he said. “In the end, I had to put my money where my mouth was and agree to take it on myself.”

Ben Deering took over Mt Gambier’s iconic Centenary Tower two years ago and it’s since turned into a busy tourist attraction. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

Opened in 1904, the tower was built to commemorate 100 years since Mt Gambier was first sighted and named by Lt. James Grant aboard The Lady Nelson. Every morning, Ben takes an invigorating hike up the volcano slope to raise the flag signalling that the castle in the clouds is open.

“It’s a beautiful spot to stop and contemplate life; if you got sick of this view, I think you would need a bit of a hug, because this is pretty good,” he says.

After 14 months at the helm, it’s clear that Ben’s unique brand of energy has brought the 114-year-old landmark back to life, with visitors from across the globe soaking up the epic view of the surrounding crater lakes and beyond.

Stunning views from the top of the Centenary Tower.

“Some come up here and say they have been in Mt Gambier for two hours, and others say they have lived here for 20 years and have been meaning to get up here,” Ben says.

Word-of-mouth is proving invaluable, but social media has been another critical tool to boost visitation, with Ben’s Centenary Tower Instagram page attracting a growing number of followers.

“Instagram is a very visual platform, and we have a lookout, so that’s a great synergy, and I also have the advantage that I’m sitting up here for hours and can wait for the right light,” he smiles.

The Centenary Tower offers panoramic views of Mt Gambier and surrounds. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

Earlier this year, a dedicated group of 34 yoga buffs saluted the sun rise during a dawn yoga session at the tower, while an enthusiastic group of photographers often visits to capture incredible images of the night sky. Ben has also recently teamed up with a local chef to trial private balcony dinners.

“The view is the mainstay, but I’m trying to do a few experiential things around it,” he says. “I’m a volunteer who charges $2 for an adult a $1 for kids, so there is no marketing budget and you are forced to be creative.”

During the tower’s quiet patches, Ben dons his other travel hat, booking itineraries abroad for corporate clients in Adelaide and the eastern seaboard.

“I’ve spent the best part of the last 14 years sending Australians overseas, so it’s funny that I’m now also selling ‘local’, but it’s a familiar dichotomy bouncing back and forth between the roles,” he says. “I really just think it’s about getting people to live rather than just be alive.”

The tower is open when the flag is flying. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

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VFX studio Resin reaching new heights as projects soar

Post production rebates, revolutionary high-speed internet networks, and a growing reputation for world class visual effects (VFX) work are just some factors Adelaide studio Resin says is boosting business.

The opportunity to grow at the small VFX studio specialising in long-form series and feature film VFX has prompted the Adelaide born and based Resin to branch out and open offices interstate.

At the end of 2018, Resin expanded with a new business partner to open studios in Melbourne and Brisbane, a huge feat for the relatively small business and its 14 staff and portfolio including the 2019 Storm Boy, Electric Dreams, Red Dog and Netflix series Tidelands.

The business’s founders, VFX supervisor Grant Lovering and VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, say Adelaide is a great location to co-ordinate production between the teams Resin is building in the other studios.

“The expansion opens up access to more projects coming into Australia and will enable more face time with less travel to be with our clients in those locations,” Grant says.

Resin was the primary VFX vendor for the beloved Storm Boy remake, creating a digital double of the famous pelican Mr Percival, along with ocean and storm VFX.

Resin’s VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, left, and VFX supervisor Grant Lovering are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors. Photo by JKTP.

“Virtually anything you see on TV, in a series or on film, will have VFX in it,” Lincoln says. “Sometimes it’s as simple as they’ve shot at a particular location and all the signage needs to be removed, to changing a half-built location in a studio set to a dense jungle.

“Sometimes it’s simulating something too dangerous to do practically, but the most common requirement is to fill in the gaps to make the audience believe what is presented to them on screen no matter how unbelievable that may be.”

Despite Resin’s work ending up on small screens and cinemas nationally and worldwide, the business’s founders say Adelaide will remain as the headquarters.

“Fortunately the opportunity to do this work from any location means we don’t need to relocate to Los Angeles,” Lincoln says. “Regular visits make me appreciate Adelaide’s five minute commute to the studio.”

VFX supervisor Grant agrees, adding that the rollout of the city’s Ten Gigabit ultra-fast fibre optic network has been a tremendous benefit, however, it’s the state’s sound training facilities and VFX education courses training the next generation of VFX professionals that is helping grow VFX as an industry in Adelaide.

“For the younger generation that’s coming through now, there are heaps of good (VFX and post production) courses available in SA through our universities and private education institutions,” he says.

“We have great training facilities all around us and we have brilliant physical infrastructure that allows us to compete internationally.”

A shot from TV series Electric Dreams (Sony Studios).

SA’s Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) rebate is also making Adelaide an attractive place for large budget international productions.

The offset sees companies receive a 10% rebate on their SA expenditure. Combined with the Federal Government’s PDV offset of 30%, international films can apply for a total combined 40% rebate on expenditure on post production, digital and VFX works on eligible projects.

Resin was born in 2006, with Grant and Lincoln partnering to create a post-production and VFX studio specialising in television advertisements. The work was consistently flowing and in 2010 Resin began working internationally for clients including Disney and Braun over a two to three year period.

Despite the distance between SA, the US and Europe, Resin continued effortlessly to base itself in Adelaide and complete all works from its small studio with about 17 staff at its peak.

But due to an economic downturn in the US and with the Aussie dollar soaring, international work for Resin began to contract and so the business focused itself on more local projects.

Resin’s Lincoln Wogan, left, and Grant Lovering, with the digital double of Storm Boy’s famous pelican Mr Percival.  Photo by JKTP.

By 2015, Resin had completed a few TV and film projects, including film Red Dog, when it became the sole VFX vendor for US series Hunters, with executive producer Gale Anne Hurd of The Walking Dead and Terminator franchises.

“At the end of that project we came away knowing this was our future … we pieced together that production in advertising wasn’t a growing market, shifts were happening,” Grant says.

“We were in the emergence of Netflix and all the other streamers as well so it was quite a good opportunity in the marketplace.”

With an increase in streamed content creating a demand for long-form VFX work, Resin changed its focus to rely solely on TV and film work, joining Ausfilm and focusing itself in LA. That focus led to the opportunity to work on Sony TV series Electric Dreams, an anthology of stories from Philip K Dick (Bladerunner). Resin travelled to Chicago and completed on-set supervision and VFX on two episodes, while also working on The Tick (Sony) and Queen of the South (Fox).

Growth at Resin has been on a healthy upward climb over the past three years. Grant and Lincoln say they are preparing for work to “explode”.

“We’ll need to make a decision about how much we want to grow in the next 12 months with some great projects lining up, it’s that significant,” Grant says.

Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors for creative industries.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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