Jumping into a flatpacked, chipboard room wasn’t my usual experience of the UK's legendary Glastonbury Music Festival. But here I was, doing my best to dance around and test out this crazy new way of putting myself into the so-called Metaverse. It turned out to be a legit experience, as Bristol, UK-based startup Condense, showed me how my badly-dancing body had been instantaneously transported into a full-blown 3D landscape. What didn’t compute, at least for me, was how they’d done it so fast. Not just fast, but literally live.
What Condense has come up with is very interesting. A ‘volumetric' camera capture and streaming process that – the company claims – can live-stream any kind of human activity (music, sports etc) into a 3D environment, which an be put into a simulation, such as a game, mobile app or platform. And it can be created with Unity or Unreal Engine.
Crucially, to consume it, you don’t need a VR headset to watch it, because the video is streamed live, as a three-dimensional “real-world” video. In Glastonbury, I saw it basically live. The process I witnessed with my own eyes was basically instantaneous.
Condense has now raised a $4.5 million early stage funding round led by LocalGlobe, 7percent Ventures, and Deeptech Labs. Also participating were angels including Tom Blomfield (ex Monzo founder), Grace Ladoja MBE and Ian Hogarth (former Songkick founder).
Condense’s idea is that fans can attend gigs or sporting events with friends, get up close to the action, while artists can respond in real-time, giving shout-outs etc. All I all know is that this rarely happens in a live scenario these days.
“Hundreds of millions of people are hanging out in immersive 3D platforms like Roblox, Rec Room, Fortnite, Sandbox, Decentraland, and VRChat, attending virtual events, socializing, and being creative. At the same time, player demand for live entertainment inside these virtual worlds has never been greater. Condense has built the infrastructure to connect the two,” said Ziv Reichert, partner at LocalGlobe, in a statement.
Condense’s CEO and co-founder Nick Fellingham added: “The Video 3.0 infrastructure we’ve built takes out the technical complexity of streaming live into the metaverse, so people are free to put their creativity in. Video 3.0 is going to change not just how we experience live events online, but fundamentally how we engage with each other.”
To illustrate, here’s video of Grove performing live, captured by Condense.
Condense will now also launch a Metaverse studio in partnership with Watershed, Bristol’s cultural cinema and creative technology venue.