TetaVi, a Tel Aviv, Israel – based developer of an AI-based volumetric video capture technology company, has just closed a $6m Series A funding round. In conjunction with the announcement, Gilad Talmon, CEO, answered our questions about his background, the company, the funding and future plans.
FinSMEs: Hi Gilad, can you tell us a bit more about you. What’s your background?
Gilad: Hello, first of all, I would like to say that I am grateful for this opportunity and interview. I come from a background of business development and managerial positions in a high-tech setting. In my previous roles I worked for both large corporations and startups. In parallel I am a total geek and love both gaming (which I do whenever I have time) and pop culture.
FinSMEs: Let’s speak about TetaVi. Which is the market problem do you want to solve? Which is the real opportunity?
Gilad: At TetaVi we are trying to change the way people create and consume video and gaming content. We believe that the world has been steadily moving from 2D entertainment consumption to immersive 3D experiences. This is already common in the world of gaming and on-line social interactions; it is only a matter of time when this becomes the norm for all video related experiences. To cater for this need we are developing solutions for the creation, consumption and streaming of volumetric video.
Volumetric video allows the viewer to experience a real 3D scene, concert, or performer, in vivid detail, from every angle, on any device. With our portable professional capture studio, TetaVi enables creators to join the next evolution in entertainment by taking real people and bringing them into AR/VR experiences in a true-to-life manner.
When consuming a volumetric experience, the viewer can move around the scene and between the characters as naturally as in real world situations. We believe that this is the future of entertainment and that eventually true 3D will replace 2D video.
Entertainment and gaming are not the only sectors that are leveraging this technology. We believe that volumetric video will enhance on-line shopping, remote learning, telepresence and many more enterprise related markets.
FinSMEs: How does the technology work? Which are the main features?
Gilad: We’ve created an affordable and portable volumetric capture system that is easy to set up, easy to operate and offers smooth integration into game engines and distributed across platforms.
Our system was designed to be portable – we use 4 depth cameras to film a person or persons at frame rates that range between 30-60 fps.
The advancements in the past few years in the fields of computer vision and deep learning enabled us to develop an algorithm stack that can transform this footage to a sequence of 3D models with unprecedented quality. The presentation of these models over time create a hologram effect that is truly 3D, this means, for example, that any paused scene can be printed in a 3D printer. It also means that the director can decide on the point of view in post production or locate the camera in new places that help him tell the story better for example viewing a boxing match replay from the eyes of one of the boxers.
In VR/AR context the users are no longer limited in point of view and can decide from which angle they want to view the experience
FinSMEs: What are the features differentiating the product from competitors?
Gilad: TetaVi makes it possible to set up a high-end volumetric capture studio in under 5 hours in virtually any indoor space. As opposed to our main competitors our studio does not need a fixed installation with a special background such as green screen. The fact that our studio was designed to be portable has become one of our main advantages during COVID-19. With talent trying to avoid travel due to social distancing, we find that a lot of productions require that the filming be done in the close vicinity of the talent. This is exactly what we had in mind when designing TetaVi’s portable solution.
On the technical side, our AI-based processing software and editing tools allow us to push the envelope of existing volumetric video capture solutions. We can capture fast movement, a plethora of objects and materials with unmatched quality.
Finally, we work very closely with our partners and customers. We strive to help them maximize their volumetric capture capabilities, whether with fast action sports, game streaming or for 5G use cases. We believe in creating a community that will, together, democratize high-end, true 3D video creation and will allow a wider range of creators’ to gain access to this technology, making it a day to day feature in their creations.
FinSMEs: You just raised a new funding round. Please, tell us something more about it…
Gilad: Our current round, which actually finalized in mid August, consisted of returning investors as well as new investors from Canada and Japan. We raised $6 million this round, bringing our total funding to $11.3 million. The round was led by REDDS Capital (https://reddscapital.com/) an innovative fund that really understands technology and its market applications. REDDS partners worked with us throughout the round that were tremendously helpful, providing not only funds, but also good advice and hands on assistance.
APAC was first to adopt volumetric capture and work with talent from Jpop and others, so it was natural for us to partner with strategic investors in the region. We found such a partner in ADWAYS (https://www.adways.net/en/) and we are grateful for their support and guidance.
FinSMEs: Can you share some numbers and achievements of your business?
Gilad: TetaVi started sales in the last quarter of 2019 and in that sense we are still a young company. We have been blessed with customers who are also partners in our mission to advance video into the realm of 3D. We already have 5 volumetric studios with key partners around the world and while some cannot be mentioned by name due to NDA requirements, we can share that we’ve got studios across the globe in the US, EU and APAC and cater to the 5G industry as well as to the VFX and immersive performance industries.
We’ve been involved in some exciting projects. Our capture studio was used to create a first of its kind, Hyper-realistic immersive VR documentary movie, which was submitted to the Tribeca film festival and will be submitted to IDFA.
Our capture studio was also entrusted with creating the true-to-life hologram of Israel President Reuven Rivlin. It was a first of its kind WebAR speech delivered via hologram by a head of state. The experience had over 250K sessions during the first 3 days and the office of the president posted pictures taken by people with the hologram of the president on their website and social media platforms.
FinSMEs: what’s your medium-term plans?
Gilad: In parallel with our continued work with our existing and soon to join partners around the world we are constantly working to push the boundaries of volumetric video technology. We are focusing on making the technology more accessible and the output higher fidelity. We are constantly working with the market to see how the technology can better serve its needs, current and emerging.
In parallel, we are working on what we believe will be the next big evolution of AR and VR mass markets. We are currently deep in the development stage of this new technology driven solution and plan to soft launch it toward mid-2021.