Technology and Entertainment of Tomorrow: 5 Questions With Zú Montreal

How does one of Montreal’s leading companies think about the convergence of technology and creativity? We spoke to Guillaume Therien, Executive Director at Zú Montreal, to see how leaders at the helm of innovation approach this complex topic. Discover what a tomorrow that blends engaging aesthetic expressions with technology might encompass.

Zú is a non-profit organization initiated by Guy Laliberté that provides resources and specialized training for entrepreneurs in the entertainment sector working on creative technology.

1. How is Zú using technology to enhance the entertainment industry?

Essentially, we help the people we work with turn new, imaginative ideas into reality. Entertainment is a medium to tell inventive stories, and the technologies within entertainment allow us to create new, memorable experiences. As we’ve seen with inventions like holograms, mixed realities, gaming and streaming… the possibilities are limitless. We’re lucky to be located in Montreal, a city that is always comfortable to push the boundaries of what’s normal and what’s acceptable.

2. What would you consider to be the biggest disruption for creative industries in the last 10 years?

Overall, the advent of digital was way more challenging than everyone expected. The distribution of creative work changed the lives of every artist and the companies that work with them. A perfect example of this is the music industry, which was totally upended by the ability to download and stream music online, changing the model completely, from the creation, to the production and distribution. It was hard to adapt at first, but ultimately, it allowed for greater access to music for many. And that is a trend that will continue to evolve: technology allowing more people to access content anywhere, at any time, and enjoy different forms of entertainment.

3. What advice do you have for “traditional” businesses looking to amplify creative processes in their organizations?

First and foremost, I would express the importance of owning your Intellectual Property. This part is often overlooked but it’s the most natural, real resource for creativity. Secondly, it’s crucial for you to think globally. Don’t be afraid to get out and explore to look at new territories in surprising contexts. The next one is obvious, but it’s often forgotten: put the consumer at the center of everything you do. From a creative perspective, this means thinking very strategically about the way you can ignite emotions through digital touch. How can you immerse them in your ideas in a smart and relevant way?

4. What’s the biggest misconception around creativity and entertainment you encounter with the projects you work on?

AI is definitely a very hot topic in our world right now, as some see them at odds, but others see how inherently connected they are. AI is driven by data and algorithms, and it’s often produced to respond to a need. Art, conversely, looks at society and finds a new way to express it. Analyzing data is an objective, non-emotional pursuit, much different than art. Yet, factual representations of the world help artists and creators reflect the world around them in a more impartial, unbiased way. Data, facts, and therefore AI can augment the process of discovery and expression in surprising ways.

5. Where do you see the entertainment and creative industries of tomorrow?

Many people are talking about 5G networks and how it will impact the way we create and consume entertainment. But, from a more rooted and practical perspective, I think we’ll see creative industries invest more in talent with engineering and technical backgrounds. As of late, creative industries have been slower to adopt to the increasing need of developers on their teams. The gaming industry was the first to combine storytellers and engineers in an artful way, and they’re reaping the benefits. More will follow suit to create immersive experiences for humans.

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