Sunnyside VR was founded in 2015 by Emma Mankey Hidem. Emma has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember and a media maker since she was an adolescent. Her first movie was an action-sci-fi short shot in the hallways of her high school. Emma's passions took her to film school at the illustrious NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her career, which spans more than a decade, has been spent primarily in non-fiction media of all kinds, including documentary, news, corporate, and interactive media. She has had the privilege to work with and learn from talented documentarians such as Academy Award-winner Ross Kauffman (Born Into Brothels) and Emmy-nominated Joe Fab (Paper Clips). Through her work in interactive media for museums, she learned to film 360° video in 2013, before virtual reality was even a glimmer on the mainstream radar, and immediately fell in love with the medium's ability to transport audiences.
"So how did you end up in VR?"
Emma was part of the team that produced almost all of the media - from films to high tech interactive exhibits - for the new state of the art College Football Hall of Fame when it moved from South Bend, Indiana to Atlanta, Georgia. In particular, one exhibit became "her baby" - it was called Virtual Stadiums. This exhibit featured 360° video (shot by Emma) from games across the country of things like the teams running out onto the field, touchdowns from the sidelines, band halftime performances and more! Emma had a lot of fun filming at games in the 2013 season, including the 100th Rose Bowl and the championship (pictured above). Someone once told her that she was likely one of the first 1000 people in the entire world to shoot 360° video. But it was really seeing people react to the exhibit once it was installed that cemented her love for this medium. The new Hall of Fame opened in 2014 - even before virtual reality headsets were on the market, so the 360° video was playing on iPads originally. But even in that format, people were blown away by having the opportunity to see their favorite teams run onto the field from the perspective of being on the field - an experience few get to have in real life. When Emma realized the power of transporting people to places they might never otherwise get to experience, she knew this was where she was meant to be. With her background in interactive media, she is adept with technology and thinking from a user perspective more so than traditional filmmakers. As an early leader in her field, Emma has spoken at events across the country about the power of virtual reality.