Thursday, 15 October 2015 21:32

8i’s NZ$20m funding more than a virtual reality


Self-proclaimed new consumer media platform for the VR (virtual reality) generation – 8i – has raised NZ$20 million from leading global technology investors.

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 records people in a new, more advanced approach than cinematic 3D, allowing viewers to move around freely and experience an authentic feeling of emotional connection with the person they’re watching. A young mother recorded a heartfelt message to her baby, a musician captured an intimate unplugged session, a woman created the first VR dating profile. We’re excited to see how creators will take this next step in the evolution of media.”

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.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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