Shaking Things Up: Shaking Earth Digital of West Liberty Earns Emmy Nominations, Enters Venice Film Festival

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

In early June, Shaking Earth Digital (SED), a software company that develops augmented and virtual reality programs and apps, first earned local notoriety. The group earned $11,000 in prizes at EntreFEST in Cedar Rapids for their Immersive Development Reality program. Since then, SED has continued to earn recognition, this time on the national and world stages. By helping two clients earn Emmy Nominations and by entering a creation of their own in the Venice Film Festival, SED continues to show how Muscatine County’s finest minds have a positive impact around the globe.

Earlier this year, SED developed the software for two Emmy nominated projects. First, SED partnered with National Geographic to create the platform they needed to produce, “Polar Obsession VR,” a documentary that allows large groups of viewers to take a 360-degree tour of some of the coldest places on earth. National Geographic earned an Emmy nomination in the “Outstanding New Approaches: Documentary” category. They also earned a Webby for this same piece.

SED also assisted Al Jazeera, an international news and media organization funded by the government of Qatar, create the infrastructure they needed for their news feature, “Yemen’s Skies of Terror,” which earned an Emmy nomination in the “Outstanding New Approaches: Current News” category. Though neither National Geographic nor AlJazeera won in their respective categories, the fact that both works earned consideration for these prestigious awards highlights SED’s talent for innovation and ability to create world class programs.

In addition to developing Emmy nominated productions, SED helped create a short virtual reality film show at the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Itlay, further showcasing their range of abilities. Created in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Co-Creation Studio, the film, A Life in Flowers, used virtual reality and artificial intelligence to allow viewers to create a unique floral sculpture, using the art of Japanese sculptor Azuma Makoto and animator Armando Kirwin, simply by telling the program a little bit about themselves. One of the world’s oldest and most renowned film festivals, the opportunity to screen A Life in Flowers puts into perspective the quality of SED’s productions.

Through all their recent triumphs, Jens Zalzala, co-founder and CEO of SED, has felt incredibly proud of his employees and of the outstanding creations they have put into their clients’s hands. “I’m thrilled by the success our clients are seeing in these emerging fields, and I’m proud of the work we’re doing to make this technology accessible to both our clients and their users, to enable story telling in brand new ways,” he said.

SED has taken part in many groundbreaking projects, both locally and around the world. As people continue to take note of their work, their fame and reach will continue to grow, and make West Liberty and Muscatine County hubs of innovation.

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