There isn’t a studio that can claim to be ‘The Pixar of VR’ just yet, but many heavy hitters in traditional media and tech are taking notice of the growth potential of animated films in VR, and specifically in Baobab Studios, the VR film studio known for animated shorts INVASION! and sequel ASTEROIDS!. Baobab today announced the close of $25 Million in Series B funding, bringing total funding to date to $31 Million.

Original investors included Comcast Ventures, HTC and Samsung, but now join Horizons Ventures, Twentieth Century Fox, Evolution Media Partners (backed by TPG and CAA), China’s Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund and LDV Partners.

The series B funding brings along with it Larry Cutler, Pixar’s technical director for Toy Story 2 (1999) and Monsters Inc. (2001). Cutler will be joining Baobab as chief technology officer (CTO).

Comcast, Samsung, and HTC Join $6 Million Investment in VR Animation Studio 'Baobab'

Chris Milk, founder and CEO of VR film distribution platform Within, will also be joining Baobab’s advisory board.

“We are on the cusp of a storytelling revolution with this medium, and VR gives filmmakers the opportunity to develop immersive experiences and take audiences into the story like never before,” says Mike Dunn, President, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Innovation Lab. “Baobab Studios is an innovator in this space, and we look forward to working with them.”

ASTEROIDS!, the second installment in the INVASION! series, was first revealed at the Oculus Connect 3 developer conference earlier this month. The full release of ASTEROIDS! is slated for 2017.

Baobab Studios was founded by Eric Darnell and Maureen Fan in 2015. Darnell is best known for his director and screenwriter credits on all four films in the DreamWorks Madagascar franchise, and also known for his work on The Penguins of Madagascar (2014) and Antz (1998). Fan comes to Baobab from mobile game developer Zynga where she oversaw three studios, including the FarmVille sequels. Fan previously worked on Pixar’s Toy Story 3 (2010).

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Akeydel

    The 3d ‘thing-jumping-out-directly-at-your-face’ gimmick is so old and boring it turns me off of anything it’s in. I hope they don’t use it too often in anything they make.

  • ike

    […] The series B funding brings along with it Larry Cutler, Pixar’s technical director for Toy Story 2 (1999) and Monsters Inc. (2001). Cutler will be joining Baobab as chief technology officer (CTO). […]

    WIthout taking any credit from Mr. Cutler’s work, he’s credited as Modelling Artist on those two films you quote. It seems he jumped to Character Technical Director at Dreamworks, where he supervised the crew in several films.

    But just FYI, when working on an animated feature, in a character technical department, everyone is referred commonly as ‘character technical director’, even though they (we, since this is what I do for a living) do not direct anything. ‘Director’ makes one sound more important; I prefer the term ‘character technical artist’ because it fits the position better.

    Just wanted to mention it since ‘Pixar’s technical director’ does not correspond to the reality, plus it might sound bigger than it actually is.

    That being said, congratulations to Mr. Cutler for the new position!