Alongside his MBA studies, he co-founded Go VR Immersive, a creative agency specializing in developing immersive Virtual Reality content.
Already, Howard’s worked on a range of Virtual Reality productions, from advertising to games and movies – like Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs – reaching millions of viewers worldwide.
Now, he wants to disrupt the entertainment industry and make Virtual Reality the future of cinema.
BusinessBecause caught up with Howard to find out more.
How did the idea for Go VR Immersive come about?
I previously worked for an established filmmaking equipment rental house and production agency. Around the end of 2013, we signed a deal bringing specialized 360-degree filmmaking technologies to Hong Kong to become the first company in Hong Kong to offer that kind of service.
We started experimenting with Cinematic VR game development and made the first interactive VR game in Hong Kong, combining real-life live-action drama with interactive VR gaming. The game won a Special Mention at the 2015 ICT awards.
As the industry took off in 2016, I saw an opportunity and started Go VR Immersive along with some partners and investors I’d met on the way to focus on developing this kind of Cinematic VR content.
Where are you at right now? What do you hope to achieve?
So far, we've been mainly serving commercial clients and making promotional 360 videos, mini VR game experience for brands or institutions at events.
The most well-known project we've done to date is a VR series for the famous movie ‘Infernal Affairs.’ The project was funded and in collaboration with major mainland online video platform iQiYi and Media Asia – the IP owner.
The interest is there, but we need to educate the market on what VR is, what it can do and what it takes to make good content.
We also do cinematic training in collaboration with different institutions and partners to also help promote VR and educate the market. Up next, we are raising funding to develop our own VR game, which hopefully can bring the company to the next level.
My vision is to make VR the future cinema format. Instead of watching a rectangular flat screen for movies, in the future, audiences could each wear a headset and "participate" in a cinematic universe - each having its own unique cinematic experience.
I hope to grow Go VR Immersive, be a successful entrepreneur, and a successful VR director that directs good, quality, long-form VR movies.
How has the CUHK MBA helped you in developing your business?
CUHK is the only university that offered an entrepreneur stream on the MBA course. It had a number of courses particularly focused on being an entrepreneur, how to run a startup, raise funding and grow a business. We also had real-life projects in collaboration with real startups in Hong Kong to help them develop and refine business plans to raise funding by pitching to real investors.
CUHK is also among the top three universities in Hong Kong and its MBA program is the longest established in Hong Kong, so it has a strong alumni network. The education and practical experiences as well as the networking helped my own financing preparations and got me in touch with some prospective investors as well.
Do you have any advice for prospective MBA students?
Do your research before applying, and find the right program for you. Also, don't just focus on studying while in the program. Networking is a big part of MBA programs, go on field trips and expand your horizons.
What do you see as the future for Virtual Reality?
I’m making a huge bet that VR will become a mainstream medium for the entertainment industry and maybe even communication. That’s why I want to get in the market early. Traditional mediums are saturated with existing companies, but VR is new, which allows new up-and-comers like myself to establish a presence.
In 2016, VR got big, but it’s still only in the hype cycle. It needs more content, quality content and market education to be able to sustain the interest. 2017 is about sustaining that interest. As more hardware like the Rift, Vive and PSVR become popular, VR content should have a bright future in the upcoming years.
One of a kind
I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.
general education courses, unique college system, large campus
The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.
The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.
Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment
Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.
One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.
Innovative and Supportive
My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.
Small, New But Friendly Law School
To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.
A place to explore your interests
As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.