If you go to Samsung’s Milk VR Store right now and try to watch any video you will be presented with two options, “stream” or “download.” Pixvana aims to eliminate the need for one of those with a cloud-based video processing and delivery platform built for VR and AR.
Launched today, Pixvana boasts both an impressive team of ex-Apple, Adobe, Microsoft and Lucasfilm guys and a $6 million check from Madrona Venture Group, Paul Allen’s Venture Fund Vulcan Captial, and angel investors. The team’s goal, as Pixvana’s CEO Forest Key puts it, is to “make viewing video on VR headsets a profoundly magical experience for consumers.”
Key, who worked on Flash at Adobe, likens the current state of virtual reality video to the early days of video on the web. In the early days of the web it was “hard for consumers to configure on their devices and often stuttery and unsatisfying to watch,” he says. “VR video is facing similar challenges.”
The problem that Pixvana is trying to solve is an extremely important one. Virtual Reality video file sizes are through the roof large compared to standard fare. Because of this, there is a significant amount of downsampling that is done in order to stream a VR video to your phone, resulting often in a less than ideal experience. And this is only now, in the near future file sizes could get exponentially larger, with light field video likely running in the terabytes per hour.
Putting that into perspective, an average HD H.264 video runs about 11GB/hr, about a hundred times smaller than what light field video will likely be. This bloating of the average file size highlights the need for what Pixvana is trying to accomplish. In order to meet the needs of a society used to instant gratification, VR video needs stream instantly and clearly, every time.
“It’s exciting to back the Pixvana team that has been at the forefront of the massive shifts we have already seen in the industry – from film to digital and from TV to web and mobile video,” said Tim Porter, Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group. “This team has the experience and vision to create the industry standard technology platform for VR video.”