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Major Takeaways:

  • Wevr is well-positioned to be a leader in both the production and distribution of VR content as VR becomes more and more mainstream
    • The company has an impressive, and growing, list of clients that includes Time, Inc., Deepak Chopra, cable network Adult Swim, and more
  • The company is committed to invest heavily in building not only individual experiences with content creators, but services, software, and platform capabilities to support that community
  • Wevr’s Transport – a triple-play solution for serving, hosting and producing VR content across every headset – It’s what CEO Neville Spiteri refers to as the “Netflix of VR,” a sort of platform-agnostic, one-stop browsing shop
  • Spiteri believes that hardware is ahead of content today in VR, and that Wevr’s platform will enable content creators to produce content and monetize using their platform
    • Wevr is working to empower creators and boost high quality content creation efforts to help further the “mainstreamization” of VR

From the Engadget article:

It’s pronounced “weaver.” And you might not be familiar with it now, but the LA-based virtual reality outfit is quietly positioning itself as the backbone of the industry. With one foot firmly planted in the production side of the business (the studio’s recent slate includes Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue) and the other in distribution, Wevr is primed for the impending mainstreamification of virtual reality. So when the public eventually goes gaga over VR goggles, Wevr will be right there, ready to deliver that content.

That approach has helped Wevr amass an impressive roster of clients. The company has dipped into the music scene with rap group Run the Jewels, dabbled in stoner fare with cable network Adult Swim and produced an episodic thriller, Gone, made for Samsung’s Milk VR platform. Then there’s a planned VR project with spiritual guru and friend of Oprah Deepak Chopra, a partnership with Time that will see Wevr propelling the media company’s many brands into the VR space and a collaboration with writer/director Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction, The Rules of Attraction). And that’s just what Wevr’s talking about openly.

“We have very big, bold, brave plans to grow a community of VR creatives that really love VR and are really committed to the medium,” says Wevr CEO Neville Spiteri. “And we’re going to invest heavily in building not only individual experiences with content creators, but we’re starting to think through what services, what software, what platform capabilities do we need to roll out to support that community.”

At the time Spiteri made that comment, Wevr hadn’t yet taken the wraps off Transport, its triple-play solution for serving, hosting and producing VR content across every headset. It’s what Spiteri refers to as the “Netflix of VR,” a sort of platform-agnostic, one-stop browsing shop. That analogy is slightly off, though: Users will have to download these sizable VR files, not stream them. In that sense, it’s more akin to Steam, the online portal for PC game downloads, albeit with an available set of production tools for developers.

“We’re using the term ‘engine’ instead of ‘player’ because it’s much more than just a VR player,” Spiteri says of the Transport software, which will allow creators to make VR content. “It’s actually a purpose-built, high-performance, cross-platform software engine that allows real-time video and computer graphics to be blended together. That’s based on an open VR medium format.”

A snapshot of Wevr’s Netflix-like Transport interface

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Wevr debuted three new VR shorts created in conjunction with various collaborators, including Reggie Watts. In the days that followed the studio’s successful showing, it announced Transport — now available in a private beta — in addition to more than $25 million in funding from the likes of Samsung Ventures and HTC. It’s a reassuring vote of confidence from industry players that see a lucrative future market for VR but don’t quite know how it’s going to take shape.

“The situation is that the hardware is ahead of the content today,” Spiteri explains. “… So if you’re an early pioneer developing compelling experiences, you’re going to be able to win over an audience and also monetize it.”

Spiteri is quick to point out that his interest in VR predates any of the buzz (and billions) that surround Facebook-owned Oculus VR, whose Rift headset launches next month. While he and his co-founders participated in Oculus’ Kickstarter debut three and a half years ago and received one of the first developer units, it was another form of media that ignited his passion for VR: a book. He credits Howard Rheingold’s 1992 tome, Virtual Reality: The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds — And How It Promises to Transform Society with opening his eyes to the medium’s possibilities.

But that was back when VR first rode its way in on the zeitgeist, only to fizzle out and fade away as a fad: The tech wasn’t ready for prime time. Oculus’ DK1, as the first dev unit was called, is part of what set Spiteri and his team on their current course.

“We got the Blu running on the DK1 and it was a turning point,” he says. “All of a sudden we really realized that, oh my gosh, there is something very compelling about wearing a headset where you are fully immersed. You are now inside of the experience.”It was a visit with video game developer Valve, however, that fully convinced the Wevr team to go all in on VR. There, at Valve’s offices, Spiteri and co-founder Scott Yara had an opportunity to demo the Vive, a high-end VR headset created in partnership with HTC.

“That was a life-changing moment for me. I was up there with my co-founder Scott Yara and we both walked out of that room completely transformed,” he says of his first brush with the Vive. From that meeting,theBlu: Encounter was spawned. The demo, itself a spin-off of a web-based experience (and subsequent Samsung Gear VR iteration), was created specifically to showcase the Vive’s room-scale tracking, a feature that follows a viewer’s body and lets her move freely in the virtual world, when the headset was revealed last year

Head to Engadget for the full feature article.