Digital Domain Holdings and Immersive Media are partnering in a joint venture called IM360 to create hardware, software and actual shows for the intriguing new world of virtual-reality entertainment, 3-D video that surrounds a viewer and provides a completely enveloping visual experience.
Digital Domain Holdings is the Hong Kong-based parent company of long-time visual-effects house Digital Domain. It was looking for an opportunity to broaden its holdings beyond the challenging business of production services and move into creating and owning content in a new kind of entertainment, said DDH’s Rich Flier.
“To drive the content revolution, it’s crucial for us and our partners to be ahead of the curve,” said DDH Chairman and CEO Daniel Seah. “Immersive Media shares our vision of innovation, and this joint venture allows us to combine our unique complementary strengths.”
Immersive has been working for some years with defense, tech, consumer and entertainment companies including Disney and Turner to build the look-everywhere cameras and software technologies that can capture and seamlessly stitch together images that can surround a viewer. Digital Domain debuted a computer-generated VR film at Sundance earlier this year, but in working with Immersive, it plans to create live-action immersive content as well. Immersive’s tools were used in both footage shot for an app connected with Conan O’Brien‘s late-night show and for a recent immersive music app based on Taylor Swift’s song Blank Space. Both can be watched on a smartphone, tablet or many other devices.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the talented people at Digital Domain,” said Myles McGovern, President and CEO, Immersive Media. “It’s an exciting time for virtual reality and Immersive’s IP is essential in the growing VR space. The combination of these innovative companies will make immediate impact on the rapidly changing world of VR entertainment.”
The technology has potential in a variety of areas, including videogaming, advertising, brand marketing and new kinds of narrative storytelling, an area that creators are just beginning to explore. The IM360 partnership is designed to give DDH and Immersive a chance to help shape the new kinds of entertainment programming in those various sectors.
Among other key parts of the process of creating, distributing and viewing this new kind of material, Immersive has developed golf-ball-sized omnidirectional camera systems that can capture the needed video for immersive filmmaking, as well as production pipeline for immersive VR. Digital Domain will bring its expertise in content creation to make new kinds of entertainment experiences, Flier said.
Immersive’s VR technology allows a user to see not just the image in front of them but to look up, down, left or right and see what’s happening in those directions as well. Several companies have been exploring the new virtual-realities technologies, most notably Oculus, which Facebook bought for $2 billion, and Sony’s Project Morpheus. Samsung also has a VR initiative, and has worked with Immersive on it.