Startup News: Transport yourself from Game-to-Game

Dean Takahashi | December 11th, 2008 | Repost by Jonathan Strietzel

If your interested in building a 3-D avatar, or virtual character, you might as well spread take it everywhere with you. That’s the point of Big Stage Entertainment’s PortableYou program.

Big Stage uses a highly advanced, facial modeling system to render an amazing digital replica of you in seconds which can be transported into numerous forms of interactive media.

Big Stage allows you then take your avatar from one place to another, as long as each desitination conform to Big Stage’s own applications programming interface, or API. For now, the API is proprietary, but Big Stage hopes to make it a standard.

Creating an avatar is easy.  An avatar can be created in a few seconds using three standard digital camera photos of someone’s face taken with any standard camera with a flash. This amazing process creates an amazingly accurate, high definition avatar in seconds and allows you to transport it into a number of environments.

Still, the idea could catch on because it fits with the theme of personalization that is taking over everything from YouTube personal video channels to social networks, said Phil Ressler, chief executive of Big Stage.

The first virtual worlds to integrate PortableYou will be Icarus Studios, maker of white-label virtual worlds for other companies, and The Venue Network, which creates 3-D avatars for virtual worlds that can be used for virtual conferences. The denizens who populate these worlds want better fidelity for their characters as well as cheap creation costs.

VenueGen is using PortableYou in its VenueGen virtual conference product, which will debut in 2009. PortableYou is a follow-up to Big Stage’s first product, The Digital You, which launched in November and lets members create animated 3-D renderings of themselves and then accessorize them with hair, glasses, etc. It’s available on the Big Stage site, Facebook, and MySpace. Ressler said that over time he hopes the company will generate revenue from sales of the accessories people use to decorate their digital selves. In a promotion with the upcoming film The Spirit from Lion’s Gate Entertainment, you can insert your photorealistic self into various video clips or digital content pieces related to the movie. It’s like putting yourself right into a cinematic scene.

Big Stage Entertainment is based in South Pasadena, Calif., and has 20 employees. Founded in 2007, it grew out of an R&D project at the University of Southern California with funding from the Central Intelligence Agency. Its investors include Mission Ventures, Selby Ventures and Tech Coast Angels. The company has raised $7.9 million to date.