Thursday 17 January 2019

Framestore takes Magic Leap into world of VR and mixed reality


Framestore was involved with work on the film Thor: Ragnarok
Framestore was involved with work on the film Thor: Ragnarok

John Reynolds

Dubliner William Sargent's Oscar and Bafta-winning animation business Framestore has formed a strategic partnership with secretive US 'mixed reality' startup Magic Leap, a so-called tech unicorn - valued at more than $1bn (€850m) - that has raised over $2bn in funding from investors including Google and Alibaba.

It's understood the London-headquartered movie, gaming and TV special effects firm has been quietly working with Florida-headquartered Magic Leap over the past few years on original content and new experiences.

"We are storytellers at Framestore, first and foremost; innovation courses in our veins. The promise of mixed reality excites us enormously. Our collaboration with Magic Leap provides us with the chance to experiment with and show the world the extraordinary potential of this new medium," said Sargent

An online launch of Magic Leap's hardware earlier this week received some unflattering reviews, and the VR goggles and controllers may cost as much as €2,000. It also has formidable rivals including Microsoft's HoloLens and Facebook's Oculus Rift.

The firm says its technology enables new ways of gaming, having virtual meetings and immersing people in mixed reality experiences. In February it announced a partnership with America's National Basketball Association, aiming to improve fans' experience of watching a game more interactively, with 3D life-sized virtual players that can appear in front of you, and multi-layered virtual screens with statistics, replays and other information.

Framestore employs 2,500 people across seven offices around the world. Last year, martial arts movie star Jackie Chan became a backer after a Chinese firm he's backed took a majority stake in the business, valuing it at about €175m.

Sargent is understood to retain a minority stake of about 10pc.

Earlier this year the company won a Bafta award and an Oscar for its special effects work on Blade Runner 2049 while its work on Thor: Ragnarok also garnered praise.

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