The Wellington-founded company announced on Thursday it had attracted funding from RRE Ventures, Founders Fund Science, Horizons Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Dolby Family Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Sound Ventures, Signia Venture Partners, Inevitable Ventures, Freelands and Advancit Capital.
Securing the funding coincided with 8i’s announcement of the opening of its showcase studio in Culver City, Los Angeles, which it says plugs the company directly into the global hub of entertainment. 8i plans to offer free access to the recording studios in addition to community events such as workshops, demonstrations and introductions to the technology.
“As the Internet transitions to 3D with adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality platforms, we want to give people the best way to connect in this new medium,” said 8i founder and CEO Linc Gasking.
8i is building a consumer media platform that enables users to create, experience and share immersive lifelike 3D video of real people. Its proprietary software transforms regular video from off-the-shelf cameras into realistic experiences for VR, AR (augmented reality), and the web.
The company says it is the first to enable true 3D (fully volumetric) video of people, enabling freedom to move around in a VR environment, while delivering the realism of human movements, face and hair, faster than other existing technology.
Gasking says 8i’s team of visual effects and technology leaders hail from Weta Digital, YouTube, NVIDIA, PayPal, Microsoft Research, Sony Computer Entertainment, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar and Valve (the company behind HTC Vive).
And, he says the company is rapidly expanding its engineering team, particularly in its R&D hub in Wellington, described as a breeding ground for talent across computer vision and graphics, data compression, cloud infrastructure, software and design.