VFX Pros Tell All: Nonny de la Peña

Nonny de la Peña

Founder, Emblematic Group

Nonny de la Peña, founder of Emblematic Group, is a pioneer of virtual reality and immersive journalism – a phrase she coined to describe the groundbreaking application of VR for social impact.  She was named Wall Street Journal’s “Technology Innovator of the Year” and one of CNET’s “20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech,” as well as “The Godmother of Virtual Reality” by Engadget and The Guardian for her leadership using cutting edge technologies to tell important stories.

Under Nonny’s leadership, Emblematic’s team of award-winning filmmakers, journalists, designers and game developers lead the industry in creating fully immersive environments that place the user inside the scene, allowing them to move through, interact and play with the story.

Her VR projects include Across the Line, which helps viewers understand what some women go through to access reproductive health services; After Solitary, which takes viewers inside the Maine State Prison to experience a harrowing story of solitary confinement; One Dark Night, which traces the sequences of events leading up to the shooting of Trayvon Martin; and and Out of Exile, which uses VR to draw attention to the plight of homeless LGBTQ youth. Other projects have explored the Syrian civil war, Guantanamo Bay Prison, experiences of refugees and the impact of climate change on the landscape of Greenland.

Nonny’s latest breakthrough is Emblematic’s WebVR platform REACH, a no code toolset which creates scalable distribution in the medium, democratizes content authorship, and empowers new voices to share their stories. A Yale Poynter Media Fellow and a former correspondent for Newsweek, she is widely credited with pioneering the genre of immersive journalism.  Nonny was selected by Wired Magazine as a #MakeTechHuman Agent of Change and Fast Company named her “One of the People Who Made the World More Creative” for her work in immersive storytelling.  Emblematic has built a critically acclaimed body of work using a range of technologies from 360 video, to VR, AR, and XR technologies, and AI and machine learning.