South by Southwest Interactive 2012: Competition

by Brad Berkner

Coordinator of Interactive Media Projects

Thirty-four students competed for six spots to attend SXSWi. The conference is held each year in Austin, Texas. It is packed with all the juicy bytes that form interactive media. http://sxsw.com/interactive  In this client style review, teams had a mere five minutes to sell their work. Pressure might be an understatement. The industry is calculating and, more than anything, competitive. The competition helps prepare them for what they will tackle roughly seven months from now when they graduate and enter the job market.

sxsw materials

student created presentation materials

The SXSWi Competition Schedule:

Tuesday, September 13th

Students were notified of the competition. Many of them quickly formed the required groups of two and began devising their plans. Their goals were defined by guidelines that included written statements, updated curriculum vitae and the final presentations demonstrating how they best plan to utilize their talents at SXSWi.

Final Presentations: Tuesday, September 27th  @ 8am.

Friday, September 16th

Nine groups or 18 students were signed up at this time.

We contacted Brad Mu class of 2011 and SXSWi participant. We were able to Skype with Brad, Associate Project Manager at Free Range Studios in San Francisco, to discuss his SXSWi experience. Needless to say it went extremely well…little did we know how many more groups wanted to participate!

Tuesday, September 20th

Nearly double the students signed up between that Friday and Tuesday. Venturing a guess, many of these additions were due to the Skype session with Brad.

While juggling course work, they worked diligently on their SXSWi projects and put in the necessary preparation.

Monday, September 26th

It was crunch time. The final touches to refine the projects were underway. They ran through presentations to nail down timing and key concepts. Teams were sure to take a look at the space, McEwen 213, to get a better feel of what they would encounter during their presentations.

Tuesday, September 27th

McEwen 213 – the boardroom: 

The long imposing table greeted teams as they entered the room. Judges lined either side of the table. Teams came dressed to impress and most certainly prepared. The bright lights and cameras documenting the event didn’t faze any of the participants.

The competition finished and the difficult task of choosing finalists began.

student presentation

student presentation

Interactive Media is a business, as evident by the spectacles of Facebook and Apple iPhone announcements. It’s not good enough to simply create something eye-catching or even useful. iMedia students are prepared to innovate and they most certainly dazzled the judges with their amazing ideas and professionalism. The theatre might be a good place to start when thinking about this type of sales pitch. The careful balance between professionalism and selling a product could be the difference between a used car salesman and Mark Cuban.

“Most people think it’s all about the idea. It’s not. EVERYONE has ideas. The hard part is doing the homework to know if the idea could work in an industry, then doing the preparation to be able to execute on the idea.”  – Mark Cuban

iMedia students did their homework. Their intensive research into SXSWi, the iMedia program and understanding the goals of the project were evident. Research is fundamental for starting any project. Architects, for example, need to understand how the building will be used. Building a shed to hold tools and building a computer lab are two very different things. This holds true for interactive media as each project has its own agenda tailored to specific needs and audiences.

Coming this March!

Stay tuned to iMedia as we approach South by Southwest Interactive. Students will create engaging interactive experiences sure to delight, entertain and inspire.

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One thought on “South by Southwest Interactive 2012: Competition

  1. Pingback: Austin here we come! | JRTR blogs iMedia

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