Volumetric video pioneer Arcturus has just raised $11 million in Series A funding, including investments from Epic Games and Autodesk. The funding will help Arcturus develop new tools and techniques, including AI tools, more live broadcast tools, and new ways to capture volumetric video with fewer cameras. It will also help extend the functionality of volumetric videos in Maya and Unreal Engine. Sources close to the deal told fxguide that “this will have a huge and (almost) immediate impact on character creation, virtual production and more, and is another sign of confidence in volumetric video.”
(See our fxguide story on Arcturus and Holosuite from February 22nd here)
As discussed in our Epic UE5.1 article yesterday, there is a lot of interest in volumetrically capturing people and props and adding them to VP projects and of course games. Volumetric capture enables interactive camera movements, key to any such implementation trying to go beyond “video on cards”. While point clouds or more advanced NeRF options are exciting areas of research, there is a real need to be able to edit a recording and manipulate it for movement. HoloSuite is available now and is compatible with most major 3D creation tools. It allows for interactive edits, touch-ups, refinements, sequencing, and more. The dedicated volumetric tools enable editing and compression, which in turn reduces project schedules and complexity, and the output is accessible in popular 3D volumetric file formats.
The financing underscores the potential of the volumetric video market, which is expected to reach $21 billion by the end of the decade. “We see the translation of real human performance as a fundamental building block of spatial experiences, including XR and the metaverse. Our goal is to empower everyone from multinational brands to independent developers with the tools they need to create authentic digital human representations in the metaverse of their choice,” said Kamal Mistry, CEO of Arcturus. “In this year alone, from Q2 to Q3, we’ve seen a 270% increase in HoloSuite adoption as more people make the leap from creator to 3D creator.”
As part of its efforts to bring volumetric video to a wider audience, Arcturus is currently consulting with a variety of clients working to bring volumetric humans into the metaverse, virtual production and more, while also assisting broadcast partners with the Introducing new options to support Live Extension events.
Arcturus will continue to develop its flagship platform, HoloSuite, to give content creators the ability to edit live-action 3D performances and stream those files to any screen – including mobile devices and XR platforms. Arcturus’ will also expand research into new AI tools to improve 3D data collection with fewer cameras and introduce new dynamic lighting and surface options that will improve the quality of volumetric video. In addition, Arcturus remains committed to inventing new ways to enhance live streaming concerts on digital platforms and offer viewers the opportunity to watch their favorite sports from every angle.
Arcturus plans to continue expanding the accessibility and capabilities of volumetric video within the Unreal Engine. Arcturus’ Unreal Engine tools allow developers to populate virtual production scenes with live-action talent—shot in 3D and in full motion—to create digital humans for VFX, characters for games, and more.
Other tools for Unreal Engine 5 are also in development, adding to a custom volumetric video player that was released earlier this year. “Arcturus tools make it easy for developers to compress, edit and stream volumetric video,” said Alasdair Coull, chief technology officer for special projects at Epic Games. “We’ve seen firsthand how Arcturus’ tools are opening the door to wider use of volumetric video, and we’re proud to be working with Arcturus to further accelerate the development of the technology.”
Beyond the planned enhancements to HoloSuite, Arcturus will continue to develop new tools and techniques for the world’s leading 3D creation tools. Combined with Arcturus’ real-time 3D codec and editing tools, volumetric video can be used to place people in any virtual world within the Unreal Engine, Autodesk, and Unity ecosystems. This opens up the potential to populate virtual and augmented environments with live-action performances for architects working on new designs, game developers building new worlds, virtual production teams filming in front of LED walls, and VFX teams the digidoubles create, just to name a few.
“Volumetric video tools like Arcturus’ HoloSuite offer artists a fast way to create photorealistic 3D content for countless industries,” said Diana Colella, SVP, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “We are very excited to help Arcturus expand the potential of their existing tools. By accelerating innovation, we can help users quickly maximize the potential of using 3D animated video in their work and deliver the compelling content the media and entertainment industry demands.”
Driven by the demand for augmented reality, 360-degree live broadcasts, and the growing need for Metaverse content, including personal avatars, volumetric video is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 30% for at least the next five years .
Arcturus was founded in 2016 by a team of experts from companies like Pixar, Netflix, Google, Dreamworks, Uber ATG and others. The Series A funding will help Arcturus build out its infrastructure, beginning with increases in R&D, engineering and sales staff. In addition to Cloudtree, Epic Games and Autodesk, the recent Series A funding includes investments from Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, LLLP and QBN Capital. It will be followed by an initial $5 million seeding round led by BITKRAFT Ventures in 2021.