On the hunt for ‘the Pixar of VR’ a cast of big names have joined for a $6 million series A investment in virtual reality animation studio Baobab.
Baobab Studios today announced a series A funding round led by Comcast Ventures, with participation from HTC, Samsung Ventures, Advancit Capital, Chernin Group, Freelands Ventures, along with Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Co-founded by Maureen Fan, former VP of Games at Zynga, and Eric Darnell, former DreamWorks Animation director behind Madagascar, the Redwood, CA based Baobab Studios has attracted a collection of ex-DreamWorks, Pixar, and Lucasfilm employees, along with a host of impressive advisors.
The studio aims to apply their traditional animation expertise to the world of virtual reality. A sneak peek of their first animated experience, Invasion!, is available now on Samsung’s Gear VR headset through the Milk VR app.
The Invasion! sneak peek puts viewers face to face with a curious mushroom-shaped alien who seems bent on destruction, though mishaps caused by his co-pilot might just foil any would-be Earth conquest. The preview is pre-rendered as a stereoscopic 360 degree video in impressive quality, along with directional audio. It isn’t clear if Baobab will stick to a pre-rendered approach or explore interactive/real-time elements in their productions.
In a press release from Baobab, HTC’s Phil Chen, Chief Content Officer of the HTC Vive, calls Baobab “one of the strongest teams in VR,” and wastes no time in identifying a desire for the VR animation studio to become “the Pixar of VR.”
Oculus Story Studio—if not existing animation studios like Pixar and DreamWorks—is perhaps Baobab’s nearest competitor in the world of virtual reality animation. Story Studio, formed under the umbrella of VR headset manufacturer Oculus, is so far aiming for purely real-time VR experiences. The studio has released two VR shorts thus far, Lost and Henry.