South Korean company Naver Z is the brain behind the popular 3D-avatar app Zepeto. Today, the company announced it made a strategic investment in the Danish animation and motion capture company Rokoko. The mocap (motion capture) company has more than 50,000 users all over the world, including some of the biggest names in the biz, but the majority of its customers are emerging indie creators who, until Rokoko came along, had no affordable way to use high-end motion capture and animation tools.
With Rokoko’s mocap suit and gloves and an advanced motion editing software suite, Rokoko’s ecosystem of tools is a lifesaver for creators who have to animate characters; without having to use a specialized studio with cameras that capture the movement, the suit itself tracks how the character is moving and translates that into movements that animators can use to animate their characters.
“We raised $3m as it was primarily a strategic round to bring Naver Z in, and then some of our previous investors wanted to follow up too,” said Jonathan Jeffery, director of growth at Rokoko, in an email. “We were profitable the entirety of last year so didn't have too much pressure on our back to raise a large round.”
The funding round values Rokoko at over $80 million, the company claims. The round was led by Naver Z, and the two existing lead investors, VF Venture and North-East Venture, both join the new round along with robotics specialist Thomas Visti (Universal Robots, MiR) and investment from new board member Brett Bibby.
“With this investment from Naver Z, we are joined by one of the strongest and fastest moving metaverse companies in the world, and our plans to expand our business into Asia just got supercharged,” Rokoko CEO and co-founder Jakob Balslev said in an email to TechCrunch. “Naver Z is planning to open its Zepeto ecosystem to let animators monetize animations that they create using tools like the ones Rokoko offers.”
Motion capture is one of those things that can be eye-wateringly, fantastically expensive, and very hard to use without expert, in-depth knowledge. It's fun to see technologies like the Smartsuit Pro becoming more available, bringing mocap into range even for advanced amateurs and midrange productions.
The company released a promo video for its suit a while back, and as an animation nerd, I'm psyched, so I'll leave you with this: