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Idealog's Most Creative: Staples VR's Aliesha Staples talks creativity

Idealog's Most Creative: Staples VR's Aliesha Staples talks creativity

Aliesha Staples was one of the People's Choice winners for Most Creative in film/TV for Idealog and Accenture's Most Creative People. Staples got in on the AR/VR bandwagon early and is now creating some pioneering experiences with the technology, including helping develop a fire-resistant 360-degree camera for a VR experience for New Zealand Fire and Emergency. It also filmed New Zealand’s first live stream in 360 VR Video and it’s pushing boundaries in health, letting children experience procedures through VR to prepare them for the real thing. Not only that, her company also operates a successful rental business to give people access to these new technologies. Here, she talks creativity, expansion and the secret to success. 

What does creativity mean to you?

It means waking up everyday and going to a job that I love and building an environment where others can do the same. It means coming up with an idea and not just thinking it would be great to create it but actually going out and doing it.

What do you think it is about your nature/habits/interests that makes you creative?

Honestly I have no idea. When I am trying to come up with my next project or new concept, it's generally based on what I would enjoy making, watching or experiencing so its actually quite a selfish act as I assume if I enjoy it so will others and that seems to have worked out so far.

What first drew you to your chosen field?

I have always enjoyed telling stories, but even more so I like pushing the boundaries of what is possible so adding these together and working with emerging capture technology, building new workflows and new camera systems is a perfect mix for me.

What was your upbringing like, and how do you think that led you to where you are today?

I grew up in Napier, New Zealand and have a big family so there was always people willing to listen to my ideas. My mum understood I was going to get into film at a young age so rather then worrying about me performing well at traditional school subjects, she always pushed me to do more creative projects and when I dropped out of school early to go to a technical college for film, I don’t think that was a surprise to her and I was supported through out that as well. My Dad lived in Auckland so when the time came to move away from a small town where there wasn’t a lot of work, the transition was easy as, as Auckland was always a 2nd home for me. I think a bit part of how this lead me to where I am today is that no one ever said I couldn’t do this and in turn I was always under the belief that if this is what I wanted to do I would just do it and that’s exactly what has happened. There was no maybe this isn’t going to work or other options in my mind.

Where do your best ideas come from?

I don’t think I have any ideas that are solely mine, I have a group of creative people in my life, from friends to colleagues, and when I have a concept, I generally talk it through with them and hear how it is interpreted by others and build on it from there, then once I have a defined idea of what it looks like its already turned into a really collaborate project with more then one invested party, which helps if you ever lose momentum on a project there is always someone else to remind you why you started in the first place. Some of these concepts have taken years to complete so it’s a great thing to have others involved from the beginning.

What does inspiration look like for you?

Seeing someone doing something that they love and are passionate about and doing it on a scale or in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Is there an ethos/motto you abide by in your work?

I have a few, but the most important one is to make sure im always doing something that I enjoy, as this comes across in the quality of the work we do. I have spent a few of my earlier years working in jobs that I hated, so my drive now is to make sure I wake up everyday looking forward to what im doing and as a by product making sure the people around my and in my company are doing the same.

If there were a secret to success, what would it be?

Attitude = success.  

What were some of the challenges that you faced early on? What went wrong? Any regrets?

Starting a company at a young age was hard as it takes a lot of work to convince a client or agency to listen to a 25-year-old talking about a technology they haven’t seen or heard of before.

Do you work a lot? Do you have an obsessive part to your personality?

I work way too much, but in saying that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love working because my job is to create and that’s also my hobby and what I would be doing if I wasn’t at “work”.

What’s the secret to resilience?  

Trusting in your craft and yourself while remaining open to advise and criticism and not considering criticism as a bad thing. The hard jobs, conversations and criticisms teach you the most so be thankful for the hard times.

What have been some of the highlights of your career?

On an international scale, having some of the biggest cinematic players look at our work and be wowed, cant talk about who these are yet but the next 12 months will be pretty big for myself and Staples VR who have been working for the last 2 years under the radar on some of the biggest VR releases in the world. On a local level, winning the High tech awards young achiever of the year award for 2017.

What do you think New Zealand is like for creativity? Is there something about ‘Kiwiness’ that helps or hinders?

Kiwiness has been critical to our success, Staples VR has managed to do things in New Zealand like invent the world's first fireproof VR camera, this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for our Kiwi DIY attitude. We had some of the biggest camera manufacturer brands in the world saying this couldn’t be done and when we did it with their cameras, they themselves where unable to replicate what we did here. We don’t take no for an answer and end up punching above our weights in the tech world on a global scale.
 

Where to next? Do you have a goal you’re working towards?

We have just opened our UK office and aim to have a USA presence by the end of 2018 and on the back of this we will keep evolving and working in what ever new and emerging tech is next, hopefully we have a volumetric solution by the end of 2018 and start dappling in AI to bring the next level of realism to story telling and interactive tools. 

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