Penrose Studios, the narrative VR content material store chargeable for the critically acclaimed Allumette (free on Steam) and Arden’s Wake(that includes academy award successful actress Alicia Vikander) introduced at this time it has closed a 10M sequence A spherical spherical of financing, led by TransLink Capital.
Along with TransLink, this spherical contains new buyers equivalent to SalesForce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, Grammy-award successful artistwill.i.am, Korea Telecom, Co-Made, and returning buyers Sway Ventures, 8VC, and Suffolk Fairness.
Penrose Studios launched a brand new VR sequence final 12 months, Arden’s Wake, which has two installments, The Prologue and Tide’s Fall. Arden’s Wake: The Prologue premiered at Tribeca Movie Competition in 2017 and acquired the highest Lion award from Venice Movie Competition for Greatest VR. The second piece within the sequence, Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall, premiered at Tribeca earlier this 12 months, and options Academy Award-winning actress Alicia Vikander (Greatest Supporting Actress, The Danish Lady 2016) and actor Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Captain America: The First Avenger). Vikander gave Arden’s Wake heroine Meena her voice. Arden’s Wake tells the story of Meena, and her seek for her troubled father, who disappeared throughout a deep-sea dive to retrieve artifacts from the ruins of previously nice skyscrapers on the ocean flooring.
“In what continues to be an early type of storytelling and leisure, the Penrose group has cracked the method to create VR tales and experiences everybody can get pleasure from,” stated Jay Eum, co-founder and managing director of TransLink Capital. “The corporate’s distinctive know-how paired with the great thing about its work communicate for themselves. We’re proud to work with the group and Penrose management to carry extra VR leisure to audiences world wide, particularly in Asia.” In line with its web site, Translink Capital, primarily based in San Jose, “has long-standing relationships with over 20 of essentially the most vital Asian know-how, Web, digital manufacturing providers, and telecommunications providers companies in Larger China, Japan, and South Korea. These corporations have invested within the TransLink Capital funds and have co-invested with us in our portfolio corporations.” Korea Telecom can be an investor, and significantly keen on 5G, Penrose Founder, CEO and content material visionary (producer, author, director), Eugene Chung, instructed me in a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday afternoon.
“VR continues to be a breakthrough type of leisure for all ages,” stated Eugene Chung, Penrose Studios founder, and CEO. “As we take part in taking this new type of storytelling to the subsequent stage, we’re proud to have an incredible group of buyers and artists with a shared imaginative and prescient of the way forward for this medium.” Chung, who was beforehand Head of Movie & Media at Oculus, based Penrose Studios in 2015.
I’ve written about Chung and Penrose on this column a number of occasions earlier than, most lately after seeing Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall, at Tribeca. I referred to as it one of many 5 most superior experiences within the competition. Critics agreed. I raved about Penrose’s earlier narrative VR expertise, Allumette, which Wired referred to as “the primary VR masterpiece.” After seeing the primary installment of Arden’s Wake at Tribeca final 12 months, I stated it was “the type of leisure that can make individuals need to purchase a VR system.” In a chunk in Forbes final summer time, I described Chung as “the D.W. Griffith of digital actuality.” The creative high quality of the work units a excessive bar for different storytellers working on this new medium.
The group of 20 at Penrose have produced over an hour of VR content material on a platform of their very own making, the award-winning VR improvement device they named Maestro, which gained an award itself on the South by Southwest Interactive Competition. Against this, it takes a number of hundred individuals at Disney greater than two years to provide an animated film.
Just like the early movie pioneers, to whom he has typically been in contrast, Chung wears three or 4 hats. “I’m 24/7,” he defined, including, “My holidays are quick enterprise journeys to wonderful locations.” When he’s not working, Chung is a voracious shopper of VR and popular culture. Chung credit his skill to handle each the enterprise and inventive work of the corporate to the management of his co-founder, Chief Scientist Jimmy Maidens, and Animation Supervisor Bruna Berford, who, like Chung, is an Oculus alumni. Amongst different issues, the brand new financing will permit Chung and his group to develop Penrose’s workers “sustainably with the market”. He says they are going to be very discerning when including to the group. “We wish solely the very best, most devoted artists who reside and breathe VR daily and have a ardour for nice tales.”
With Arden’s Wake behind them, the corporate is settling into a brand new mission about which Chung is characteristically mum. What he would say was that the corporate’s new tasks “could be more and more interactive and social, whereas emphasizing the corporate’s dedication to tales with emotional impression.” Whereas Chung stated he wasn’t carried out with the cloud kingdom of Allumette and the postapocalyptic water world of Arden’s Wake, for the subsequent mission will create one more, utterly new world.
With the marketplace for VR content material in a nascent state, and maturing extra slowly than predicted, producers have had a notoriously troublesome time securing financing, but Chung says Penrose’s Collection A was oversubscribed. They even opened it up in order that superstar buyers might take part within the spherical.
Chung and the buyers have religion that because the market matures premium content material will command extraordinary worth, because it does in different media. Allumette is free for all VR platforms on Steam, Viveport and within the Oculus Retailer. Chung and his buyers are usually not measuring the product’s success by income, however somewhat by the variety of downloads and the viewers response to the fifteen-minute expertise. “When our buyers appeared on the world efficiency of Allumette, they have been very excited. It was an enormous plus in our favor.”
Arden’s Wake will not be out there to the general public, although Chung promised distribution plans could be introduced quickly. He says the corporate is engaged on enterprise mannequin improvements and exploring rising markets for VR in public locations, museums, libraries, and academic establishments. Over a billion smartphones are actually AR succesful. Niantic’s Pokemon Go, Snapchat Filters and upcoming Google Maps upgrades all supply nice shopper AR use instances, however nobody has but provided a story leisure product for cellular AR. Penrose sees this as an enormous alternative.
Chung is likewise bullish on standalone units just like the Oculus Go, and Vive Focus. In the long run, his buyers are assured that the elevated bandwidth of 5G cellular networks will spur vital advances in shopper VR. “Our plans for the longer term embrace open sandboxes for the worlds we’re creating, the place individuals can enter and discover locations just like the cloud world collectively, and actually be contained in the story with the characters. Like a digital Disneyland that you could discover time and again,” he stated. “It could by no means be the identical twice.”
This publish was initially featured on Forbes.com on July 11, 2018
Critically Acclaimed VR Studio Penrose Secures 10M Collection A was initially revealed in Digital Actuality Pop on Medium, the place persons are persevering with the dialog by highlighting and responding to this story.