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Startup – Strietzel | Big Stage

Startup Mayhem – Strietzel‘s Big Stage Technology

“UM YEAH. THIS IS LIKE EVERYTHING THAT I’VE BEEN EXCITED ABOUT FOR A WHILE.” 

April 05, 2009

These are true words from an email I received earlier this week as authored by a well-respected digital marketing executive. What can I say… it resonated with me, not simply because of the boiled down truth, but because this same sentiment has been echoed in countless meetings since I joined this hot Startup founded by Jonathan Strietzel, Jon Kraft and Jon Snoddy – Big Stage nearly two years ago. Yes, reading this email made my day (thank you)! 

Why do people respond like this to Big Stage? Other than the undeniable wow factor of our 3D avatar technology, I believe it’s about an immediate connection to our unique vision. In brief, how cool is the idea of having a digital version of YOU that can be deployed on command across your digital life?

Well, this reality has already begun and the rest of our story involves taking a leap. Just think… How much fun would it be if you could play your favorite video game as YOU, competing against Tiger Woods, LeBron James, or even battling an army of super ninjas with the help of your buddies online. You could even go inside a virtual world as YOU, decked out in some crazy hair, Prada glasses, and the cool shirt that would absolutely freak out your mom… And just think about how much fun you could have by tasking your digital ‘self’ to represent you by way of your instant messenger, articulating to friends and family with life-like gestures as you type or [better yet] speak into your connected headset. It’s you, your way, online… as many ways as you want. Pretty wild!

Those of us who’ve been in the digital trenches since the mid-90s can well recall how personalization has evolved from custom emails to the use of collaborative filtering on websites to deliver merchandise and/or content experience based on your own likes/dislikes. These were considered game changers back in the day, and many of them were actually not about “you” but rather “them” trying to figure out a better way to sell you stuff. Fortunately for us, personalization has continued to evolve, largely to help us save time, gain access to better information, and generally make our lives a whole lot easier. But now, the age of personalized has gotten ‘photo-real’ thanks to the technology and early vision of Jonathan Strietzel, Jon Kraft, Jon Snoddy and the amazing team he built at Big Stage.

You are now free to roam across your digital life – as YOU.

Um yeah. This is what we’re most excited about, and it’s only the beginning. Stay tuned!

 

Posted By : Jonas Gray – aka Scoob

Starring You On The Big Screen

Forbes, CES 2008

Forbes, CES 2008

Louis Hau 1.9.08

CES 2008

Las Vegas, NV

How would you like to give yourself a starring role in your favorite videogame? Or music video? Or your favorite movie scene of all time?

South Pasadena, Calif., start-up Big Stage wants to help you do just that. The company has developed a technology that will allow anyone with a standard digital camera to create a life-like avatar of themselves. They will then be able to place that avatar on a blog, Web site or social-network page as a fun way of identifying themselves.

Even better: with a little know-how, users will be able to insert their virtual selves into a digital media file–or, say, place a 3D image of Intel (nasdaq: INTC ) Chief Executive Paul Otellini in the music video for Smash Mouth’s 1997 hit “Walkin’ On The Sun,” as Big Stage Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Strietzel did during Otellini’s CES keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday.

Big Stage’s technology has its roots in government-funded research in 3D imaging done at the University of Southern California. The work takes what had been a complex, time-consuming image-creation process and boils it down to a consumer-friendly means to create personalized avatars.

The company’s technology is currently focused on reproducing facial images, but full-body avatars are in the pipeline. Its avatar system will be available to the public in the second quarter of this year.

On Tuesday, Strietzel needed only a few minutes to create a 3D avatar of me and superimpose my face over that of Harrison Ford’s in a scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. There I was, in a dank room, slyly replacing a coveted idol head with a small sack of sand. Damn, I was good.

As startling as it can be to see a moving 3D image of yourself, these are very early days for the technology, which is bound to become more compelling as the ability to simulate intelligence improves to create an even more realistic digital you.

What sorts of revenue-generating applications could a life-like avatar have? You don’t have to think too hard to come up with a pack: Videogame publishers could license the technology to give customers the ability to place their avatar inside a game. Similar uses could be attractive to online virtual worlds and social networks. And here’s one of Strietzel’s favorites: Allowing customers to insert themselves into famous movie scenes could give studios a new way of generating fresh revenues from existing film assets.

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