HBO and Discovery are two very different television networks. HBO is the home of massively popular must-see shows such as Game of Thrones and True Detective. Discovery, on the other hand, is best known for dedicating an entire week of programming to sharks every year. Today, however, these two wildly different outlets have found a slice of common ground: OTOY.
Both Discovery and HBO are investing in the holographic rendering company. At this time, details as to exact amounts and ownership stakes are being left unsaid. During an interview this morning OTOY’s co-founder and President Alissa Grainger stated “the partners involved here want us to focus on the work we are going to be doing. We’re not to discuss financial terms…I can say that HBO and Discovery have made a cash investment to take an equity stake in the company.”
An official statement issued this morning on behalf of OTOY further clarifies that this investment will be used:
“…To forge the development of next-generation media and content publishing platforms and services. The investment will fuel development and distribution of original holographic content, enabling HBO and Discovery to deliver new entertainment experiences to consumers across TV, mobile, web, social and emerging wearable technologies such as virtual and augmented reality. OTOY is currently working with Jon Stewart on the development of upcoming content for HBO built using this platform.”
OTOY’s founder and CEO Jules Urbach was able to shine his own light onto exactly where he’d like his company to focus now that they’ve achieved such a high level of recognition from the content creation and entertainment communities.
“At OTOY we’ve been working closely with HBO, for example, since before the Jon Stewart deal,” Urbach said. “You may have tried our platform through the OTOY tab on your Gear VR in Oculus 360 Photos. What we really want to do to do is be able to take that level of image quality and add positional tracking…we want to be able to move around scenes like that and add audio and media.”
This is certainly a compelling notion for anyone who has experienced 360 content within VR. High-res 360 photos are beautiful to look at, but disappointingly static. Combining resolution with exploration could be a massive step forward for VR content. OTOY is a logical choice to provide this happy medium as well. The company’s Octane software is a powerful tool that Urbach describes as “Photoshop for virtual reality creation.”
It is sometimes unclear exactly what this company – which has dabbled in everything from imaging software to light field cameras – is actually capable of. For Urbach, however, it is very cut and dry:
“We’re a software company first and foremost. We dabble in hardware because we want to prove what our software can do.”
Urbach went on to explain how his company’s main service is cloud-based rendering for high resolution holographic digital images. This type of power allows users to, “play a game from Unreal Engine in a web browser,” Urbach said.
Much of what Urbach hopes his company will be able to provide is future-proofing methods for content creators. He believes that by providing top of the line light field cameras and software to shows like Game of Thrones, OTOY will be ensuring that its quality is preserved for future generations.
“Think about old episodes of The Simpsons,” Urbach said. “They look terrible now because they’ve been cropped to run on modern televisions…by using something like a light field camera – which is the highest resolution we ever could need – we can ensure quality over time. It can always be scaled down to run on other devices, but you only record these things once and we want that to work at the highest levels.”
Urbach and Grainger did indicate that part of this investment will involve OTOY working with HBO and Discovery to create content specifically for their IPs. More information on what exact form this content will take will be “coming soon” according to Urbach.