Volumetric video pioneer Arcturus just received $11M Series A funding, including investments from Epic Games and Autodesk. The funding will help Arcturus make new tools and techniques, including AI tools, more live broadcast tools, and new ways to capture volumetric video with fewer cameras. It will also go toward increasing the functionality of volumetric video 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 it’s another sign of confidence in volumetric video.”
As discussed in our Epic UE5.1 article yesterday, there is a huge interest in capturing and adding people and props volumetrically to VP projects and of course, games. Volumetric capture allows interactive camera movement, key to any such implementation that seeks to move 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 capture and rig it for movement. HoloSuite is available now, and compatible with most major 3D creation tools. It enables interactive edits, touch-ups, refinements, sequencing, and more. The dedicated volumetric tools allow for editing and compression which in turn reduce project schedules and complexity and the output is accessible in common 3D volumetric file formats.
The funding underscores the potential of the volumetric video market, which is estimated to reach $21 billion by the end of the decade. “We see the translation of true human performance as a fundamental building block of spatial experiences, including XR and the metaverse. Our goal is to give everyone from multinational brands to independent creators the tools they need to create authentic digital human representations in the metaverse of their choice,” said Kamal Mistry, CEO of Arcturus. “This year from Q2 to Q3 alone, we’ve seen a 270% increase in the adoption of HoloSuite, as more and more people are making the jump from creator to 3D creator.”
As part of its efforts to bring volumetric video to a wider audience, Arcturus is currently consulting with a wide range of customers working to bring volumetric humans to the metaverse, virtual production and more, while also helping broadcast partners introduce new options to help expand live-events.
Arcturus will continue to develop its flagship HoloSuite platform to further empower content creators with 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 help improve the capture of 3D data with fewer cameras, and introduce new dynamic lighting and surfacing options that will improve the quality of the volumetric video. In addition, Arcturus remains committed to developing new ways to enhance live-streaming concerts on digital platforms and offer viewers the ability to watch their favorite sports from any angle.
Arcturus plans to further expand the accessibility and capabilities of volumetric video within Unreal Engine. Arcturus’ Unreal Engine tools enable creators to populate virtual production scenes with live-action talent – captured in 3D and in full movement – to create digital humans for VFX, characters for games, and more.
Additional tools for Unreal Engine 5 are also in development, joining a custom volumetric video player released earlier this year. “Arcturus’ tools make it easier for creators to compress, edit and stream volumetric video,” said Alasdair Coull, chief technology officer of special projects for Epic Games. “We’ve seen firsthand how Arcturus’ tools are opening the door to broader utilization of volumetric video and we are proud to partner with Arcturus to continue to accelerate the evolution of the technology.”
Beyond planned enhancements to HoloSuite, Arcturus will continue to develop new tools and techniques for the top 3D creation tools around the world. When paired with Arcturus’ real-time 3D codec and editing tools, volumetric video can be used to place humans in any virtual world within the Unreal Engine, Autodesk, and Unity ecosystems. That introduces 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 against LED walls and VFX teams creating digidoubles, to name a few.
“Volumetric video tools such as Arcturus’ HoloSuite give artists a quick way to create photorealistic 3D content for countless industries,” said Diana Colella, SVP, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “We are thrilled to help Arcturus expand the potential of its existing tools. By accelerating innovation we can help users quickly maximize the potential of using animated 3D video in their work, and deliver the compelling content that the media and entertainment industry demands.”
Fueled 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 see 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 more. The Series A funding will help Arcturus grow its infrastructure, beginning with staffing increases in research and development, engineering, and sales. Along with Cloudtree, Epic Games, and Autodesk, the recent series A funding includes investments from Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, LLLP and QBN Capital. It follows an initial $5 million seeding round led by BITKRAFT Ventures in 2021.